We just got off the phone. I’ve never seen that side of you. It’s a little scary. I don’t know what to say. You were so angry with me. I never meant to hurt you. I hope you know that. I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. You’ve been my best friend for so long. Can’t we just go back to being friends? Is that even possible? I hate this so much. I should’ve never done what I did. I know that now. I guess I knew it before now, but your anger really made me realize how much what I did, what we did, hurt you. I guess I was thinking with my dick. I was just thinking about myself. I wasn’t thinking there would be any consequences because it was me and you. I was just curious. I thought I could see what it was like. I felt comfortable to explore with you. I’m sorry if what we did made you think I might want something more than friendship with you. I don’t. I don’t have those feelings. I do want to be friends though. Close friends like before. Is there a chance we can go back? I know you’re sensitive. I wish I had thought more about that instead of just keeping my distance. We had a Brokeback moment, but that's all it was, a moment. I don't want it to happen again. I'm not going to run into your arms and duck behind the house at Christmas to have a make out session.
Listen, I hope you know that it doesn’t bother me that you’re gay. I hope that you’re happy. I hope you find a boyfriend. I hope that there will be a special person for you. That person just can’t be me. Not now. Not ever. I hope that you’re not afraid now that you have admitted you’re gay. I hope that doesn’t sound insensitive. I’m trying here, Atwood. I’m going to try and get us back to before. Can you try, too? I was a jerk. Please write me back or call or text. Please be okay.
Will you be home for Christmas break? Can we talk then in person?
Kinlin was right; it had been nothing more than a Brokeback moment. But Kinlin was not Ennis and he was not going to be Jack, pining away for someone who wouldn't or couldn’t be with him. Knowing that Kinlin was writing the truth didn’t make the words any less hurtful. Atwood had to rid himself of his obsession with Kinlin. Kinlin had to no longer matter. Obsessions, like smoking, can't successfully be stopped cold turkey; one needs help. Atwood knew there was no patch for unrequited desire.
He walked over to the bed and grabbed his phone. Now was as good a time as any to text Bobby and see if he could stop by and pick up his backpack.
Atwood: Hey. You home?
Atwood: What’s up?
He walked back to his desk and placed the phone face down to the right of his computer. He sat in the chair and stared at the email. He read through it again. He knew he should just erase it, but he was a glutton for punishment. He couldn’t. He minimized the email and created a folder on his desktop that read “Kinlin” and copied the email into a Word document then saved it into the folder. He knew he was being foolish, but the only way he could have the satisfaction of erasing the email, exerting his power over the situation, was to have a copy saved somewhere else so that he could read it again if he wanted to. His phone vibrated as he deleted the email from his inbox.
He picked up the phone expecting to read Bobby’s response. What he got was a visual answer to his question.
Bobby’s response was a picture of his erect penis. Atwood couldn’t resist laughing. Not at the penis, but that Bobby had been clever enough to send the photo as his answer to “What’s up.” He gazed fixedly on the picture. He had seen Bobby naked before, but it had been a while and Clancy had been part of the mix. This was the first time that he had no interference between himself and Bobby’s penis. He loved that it was perfectly curved toward Bobby’s belly button and that he kept everything nice and trimmed. He remembered how trimmed Bobby was from the first time they’d played around at the Delta Gamma house. It had prompted him to shave his balls—for the first time—the next time he was in the shower. He loved the way they felt, all smooth and hairless.
He realized that he had gotten an erection himself from ogling Bobby’s photo. It was a little fucked up, but he didn’t care.
Atwood: A visual answer. I like it! Now I’m up
Bobby: I thought you might be. Show me.
Bobby: Why not?
Atwood took a second to think about how he should respond. He was trying to be flirty, but didn’t really know how to do it.
Atwood: Some things are worth waiting for!
Bobby’s response told him that his attempt at flirting was indeed working.
Atwood: So you’re just hanging out in your room?
Bobby: Yep and I’m all by myself. :-(
Atwood: Could I come by and get my backpack?
Bobby: You can cum. :-)
Atwood laughed again. He liked Bobby. Bobby made him feel good about himself. Bobby seemed interested in him unlike Kinlin. He needed the distraction. He needed to feel good. He wanted to feel good. He wanted to feel wanted.
Bobby: Don’t you have class today?
Atwood: Yeah, but I’m blowing it off.
Bobby: I know something else you can blow :-)
Atwood: I bet you do.
Atwood: I think I can be persuaded to use that when I get there. Let me shower then I’ll head over.
Distraction was the best way to describe Bobby. He was a nice guy. He had a great body. He was handsome and he made Atwood feel safe. After the blow up with Kinlin, Atwood needed to feel safe. He needed to be around someone who wanted nothing more than to be in his presence. Bobby was that person. They had never asked anything of each other. They merely had fun together. There were no strings. As much as Atwood enjoyed Bobby though, he was afraid that he, himself, might want strings, and he might want those strings soon. For now he just wanted to forget and have a good time. He hoped that Bobby had a joint they could smoke.
He walked down the hallway toward the shower, thoughts of Bobby’s naked body enveloped in the swirling smoke of exhaled marijuana. He was running before he could stop himself. That was probably the quickest shower he had ever taken. He was semi-erect the entire time. His thoughts and desires coupled with the hot, soapy water made the blood flow to his penis relentlessly.
After he had rinsed his hair and body clean he turned off the hot water and stood face forward into the stream of cold water letting it alternately pound his chest and face. His breath caught in the back of his throat. He moved back and forth from one target spot to the next until he felt his balls shriveling between his legs. He looked down at his shaking body to see that the blood had indeed left his penis. That should take care of that he thought to himself. It was then that he turned off the water, dried his shaking body, and ran back down the hallway to his room to get dressed.
When he arrived at Bobby’s they tore their clothes off while simultaneously closing the door and moving across the room to the bed all the while trying to keep their lips together and their hands on each other’s bodies. They were mad with passion; nothing could stop them. He let Bobby go all the way that day. He had been scared, but he trusted Bobby and Bobby had eased him into the intimacy.
Atwood and Bobby had spent many mornings and afternoon’s together since then. Atwood had skipped a lot of classes over the past two weeks, but he felt content and happy, a little high—a lot high—but thoroughly at ease. As they lay in the spoon position (Atwood again the little spoon, wrapped in Bobby’s arms) the events of that day—the day of the email—played like a grainy pop up video in his mind: the email, the picture text, the shower, the cold water, the sex. The images were running through his memory like a tap that wouldn’t shut off. What should have been running through his mind at this moment of calm was the enormous step he had taken. He squeezed his eyes hard against this barrage of memory. He wouldn’t allow himself to entertain thoughts of all the classes he was missing or all the pot he was smoking. He only wanted the pleasantness of his time with Bobby to settle in his mind and take up residence.
Bobby stirring from their afternoon nap post blunt and blow jobs, freed Atwood from his recall. Bobby inched closer and closer until there was nothing between his and Atwood’s bodies except the clothes they were wearing. Atwood felt Bobby’s hardness against him. He turned over onto his back and looked at Bobby. Bobby looked so hunky; so handsome. Atwood wanted to devour him. Bobby leaned down to Atwood and their lips met, their tongues immediately exploring each other’s mouths. Bobby grabbed Atwood by his shirt and pulled him on top of him.
They continued to kiss and feel each other, flipping positions in the process. Flashes of Kinlin burst behind Atwood’s eyes. He closed them tight, trying to send them into blackness. Why is Kinlin in my head now? he thought to himself. The “Kinlin” moment had made him stop returning Bobby’s kisses. He hadn’t even realized it until he opened his eyes. Bobby was staring at him.
“Are you okay?” Bobby asked, his genuine concern apparent in the gentleness of his voice.
Atwood didn’t answer. He smiled back at Bobby and pulled him down to his lips. Bobby pushed Atwood’s shirt up, revealing his naked torso. He sat straddling Atwood, staring at him, drinking in his teasing nakedness. He rubbed his hand up and down Atwood’s chest and stomach then found his way to Atwood’s hardened cock. He moved his hand over the jeans, stroking him with firm pressure.
Atwood touched Bobby. He tweaked a nipple then rubbed his flat stomach. He couldn’t resist the bulge in Bobby’s jeans. Again, flashes of his night with Kinlin in the Ryland monument. The hardness behind the jeans. The uncontrollable touching. The inability to control the protrusion trying to burst from behind the zipper. He shut his eyes and held them closed as tightly as possible. He wanted the images to go away.
This is not Kinlin. This is Bobby. This is different he repeated to himself mantra-like. He and Kinlin had been in a rush. The night of the three-way with Bobby and “the girl” had been slow to build, but fast-and-furious after the clothes came off. This was not then. He opened his eyes to be in his present—this moment. He met Bobby’s intense gaze. No words were spoken. Kinlin and “the girl” were held at bay. It was only Bobby; Bobby and Atwood.
They stared at each other touching and groping; their familiarity apparent. They kissed with more passion. They didn’t rush to get naked. There was more excitement in being clothed; a shirt unbuttoned, a zipper unzipped. Seeing parts of the body, but not the full nakedness made each of them drip with anticipation. They continued to touch and feel each other. They took each other’s full weight as they rolled over and over each other on the bed. Body heat and kisses, wet and hot.
Finally, it was more than Atwood could take. He used one hand to undo the button on Bobby’s jeans and pull down the zipper. He never took his eyes from Bobby’s own, but he could feel the freedom no longer contained behind its prison as his hand gripped the hard flesh. He tore his eyes from Bobby’s long enough to lust after what he’d seen before; what he was seeing again with whetted desire. He looked back up at Bobby and smiled. With his hands on Bobby’s butt, he pulled him toward his face. The smile was returned as he put his mouth on Bobby’s virility.
Bobby was so gentle with him. His body ached with his desire for Bobby to touch him, to be inside of him. He longed to feel that closeness again. It always hurt when Bobby penetrated him, but the more they fucked the more pleasurable it became; desire replacing pain. Their bodies were entwined and moving like waves. Their skin was hot and sweaty, nerve endings tingling with every touch. Their breathing was heavy as Bobby thrust harder than he had in the past. Atwood lay there wincing and gasping as he took all that Bobby could give him. Bobby smiled at him and leaned down to kiss him—passionately, completely, wholly Atwood’s—their bodies combined as one.
Bobby straightened back up and looked at Atwood. He ran his hand up and down Atwood’s chest. Atwood moaned. Bobby’s breathing was intensifying. He was thrusting faster. Atwood knew he was close. Bobby grabbed Atwood’s cock and started stroking it. Atwood moaned again.
“No,” he said as he removed Bobby’s hand. “Just keep fucking me,” he said through labored breaths. Bobby continued. Atwood lay back and couldn’t prevent the image of Kinlin from entering his mind. He couldn’t stop wishing Bobby’s dick was Kinlin’s. He didn’t want Bobby to stop. He didn’t want the image to go away. He was in the throws of ecstasy; more aroused than he knew possible. He started to cum without touching himself. Bobby continued to fuck him while he climaxed harder than ever before. Atwood moaned, loudly. Anyone walking by in the hallway was certain to hear it. He didn’t care. He’d never felt so intensely stimulated in his life. He was breathing like someone hyperventilating and his body was shuttering beneath Bobby’s thrusts.
“I’m gonna cum,” said Bobby.
Neither of them had heard the keys in the door or the lock being unlocked, but neither of them missed the screech that accompanied Bobby’s climax. As Bobby came on Atwood’s stomach, his yells of pleasure were mingled with the voice of someone standing behind them.
“What the fuck is going here?”
Bobby jerked his head around and Atwood lifted his from the bed. Clancy stood in the doorway. She was seething with anger. Atwood felt like Eve when God had revealed her and Adam’s nakedness to them. He was covered by Bobby, but he was aware that he was exposed and he knocked Bobby off the top of him and grabbed his shirt from the floor to cover his vulnerability.
“Is anyone going to answer me? I said what the FUCK is going on here?”
“Clancy, calm down,” said Bobby.
“Calm down. You want me to calm down? Okay, Bobby. Then explain to me why my boyfriend is fucking a guy in the bed where he fucked me last night.”
She was so angry. If Atwood’s moans had been loud, she was even louder. There would be no reason to tune into Bright Horizons today. The soap opera happening right there in Bobby’s dorm room was juicier and more unexpected than anything that drama could produce.
“Oh my God,” said Atwood.
“Atwood,” said Bobby.
Atwood jumped up from the bed and found his jeans. He didn’t bother to clean himself off or find his underwear. He pulled on the jeans and then his shirt. He had never been more thankful to have remembered his shoes were sitting by the chair at Bobby’s desk.
“Atwood,” Bobby repeated.
“Don’t,” said Atwood. “You’re dating, Clancy? I feel like such a fool.”
“I’m sorry, Atwood.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Atwood asked. “What have we been doing?”
“I...” Bobby was clearly at a loss for words. He was caught between two worlds, and Atwood realized this mess was not his own to clean up. He was upset by the part he had played in it, but he had unknowingly participated.
“Clancy, I didn’t know,” he said as sincerely as possible.
“Get the fuck out.”
He grabbed his shoes and his backpack and walked into the hallway. She slammed the door the minute he was clear of it.
Atwood found himself running home again. Only this time he wasn’t running from Bobby’s toward home to talk to Kinlin, he was running from Bobby’s to get away from Bobby.
When he had run far enough that his legs ached and he couldn’t breathe, he realized he was in the Sculpture Garden. He paused. His side ached worse than his legs. He wanted to vomit; from the running, from the fear, from the anger, from the sadness. He found a bench and sat down. His shirt was wet from running and sticking to him from the cum. He’d never felt more emotionally and physically unappealing. The anger he was feeling began to overtake him. He was angry with Bobby for lying to him and angry for letting himself be duped again. He was angry for opening his heart and for being vulnerable. Then, as if on cue, he remembered wishing it had been Kinlin who was fucking him.
Days had passed with barely a passing thought of Kinlin. The reason: he had thrown himself into a love affair with Bobby. He felt wanted. He had replaced Kinlin with Bobby. That made him angry at himself and at Kinlin. He didn’t know why he was still angry at Kinlin though. He couldn’t let go of Kinlin. Kinlin had ahold of him. This was his, Atwood’s, problem. He wanted to chalk their night up to a teenage experience, a right of passage, a curiosity explored, but he couldn’t. Kinlin popping into his mind during sex with Bobby meant something. He hadn’t honestly dealt with his feelings. He had packed them away and refused to believe that he actually had feelings for Kinlin. He wanted to blame Kinlin for everything, but the truth was, he loved him and until he dealt with it no Bobby or anyone else would replace him.
He looked around the Sculpture Garden. It was peaceful, serene. He looked at the blank stares of the statues. It occurred to him that they didn’t register human emotion on their faces nor did they feel it in their hearts. They feel nothing. They are stone—cold, without a heart, objects to be gazed upon. They bring joy to the gazer but feel nothing in return. Atwood wished he was cold as stone. He felt the emotional pull of his feelings to Kinlin and to Bobby. He wished he could’t still feel Bobby’s lips on his. He wished he didn’t know what Kinlin’s touch felt like. He wished none of it penetrated his heart. He wasn’t stone though. He was real; flesh and blood and hurt feelings wrapped in confusion and frustration.
He wanted to run home and lock himself inside. He wanted to be back in Ryland locked in his room. He wanted to be anywhere but inside his head. He didn’t want to deal with his life at all.
He wanted to drink or get high. Something. Anything that would dull the senses and keep the present from pulling him under its crashing wave of reality.