“I’m From Bridgeport, CT”
Story by Christopher Stoddard; Artwork by featured artist, Gio Black Peter
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My ripped, black fishnet stockings are draped over his helmet. It reminds me of those mesh gym bags usually stuffed with dodge balls, basketballs or footballs. Balls in sacks. JT is sound asleep, snoring behind me, cupping my skinny ass with his lean, well-built body. I can hear Mike snoring all the way in the other room, too. Mike puked so much last night, I’m surprised he’s still alive. I can’t believe I’m here, sleeping with JT Murphy, the quarterback of Fairfield Prep, the dude all other dudes want to be or are afraid of, the dude all chicks want to have.
He had me last night, kissed me, too. It’s weird, you know. There’ve been others: my best friend at thirteen, my best girlfriend’s boyfriend at fourteen. But before this I never felt anything for guys other than the relief after casually hooking up with them. There was no kissing, just me getting them off and then pretending it never happened. JT is eighteen, and I’ll be old enough to get my license in a couple of weeks. Maybe Mom will have the money next month to help me buy a car. Then JT and I can drive somewhere private, do this again and more often.
The color of my pale white hands, with nails painted black but chipping, are clutching his bruised, muscular arms. He told me last night at Myra’s keg party that he’s always getting into fights with his dad. His dad is a U.S. soldier who fought during Desert Storm. His dad is an asshole.
A sudden knock on the bedroom door makes me jump. JT breathes in deeply, pulls my back closer to his six-pack abs, my butt rubbing against his rock-hard thighs. There’s a knock again, harder this time.
“What!” JT yells, half asleep.
“Dude, let me in,” Mike, JT’s best friend, slurs from the other side.
“Give me a minute.” JT kisses the back of my neck then separates from me.
I feel like a hermit crab, no, a snail that lost its shell. It’s harder on a snail because it’s physically attached to its shell; if it loses it, it dies. I turn, lie on my back, cover my face with my hands, smell sex. JT tosses my stockings at me.
“Quick, dude. Get dressed,” he whispers while pulling on a white T-shirt and blue Nike gym shorts. “Hurry up!”
The JT who was holding me in his arms mere seconds ago has morphed back into his original self; our relationship has been reduced to what it is outside of his parent’s basement.
He finally answers the door. Mike walks in, wearing no T-shirt. From my seat on the bed, I’m eye-level with his sweaty, bloated belly. Behind long, dirty blond, unruly bangs, his sloppy looks around the room confirm my assumptions that he’s still drunk and oblivious to what JT and I did last night.
“Sup, freak show,” greets Mike through a burp. “How the hell you get in here?”
JT punches him in the arm. “Retard, remember? We were wasted, so he gave us a ride? I said he could crash.”
Mike burps again but gags as if he’s about to puke. He takes a deep breath and swallows what must be bile and booze. “Whatever. I want Dunkin.”
I did drive last night, but it was JT’s car; I’m only 15 and don’t have a license yet. Those driving school lessons definitely paid off, though. When I actually do take the test, I’ll surely pass.
JT hands me my black hoodie. “You all set, bro?” he asks.
Nodding my head, I take the hoodie and put it on in front of the flimsy dressing mirror hanging from the closet door. My bleached blond hair looks greasy, the black makeup on my eyes and lips is smudged and smeared, and I’m getting a really big pimple near the middle of my forehead. The two jocks are in my rearview; the three of us in the same room, our reflections caught in this narrow mirror, it doesn’t feel right.
But as far back as I can remember being horny, since I was thirteen, no, eleven, the only type of dude I’ve been into is the type that kissed me and slept with me for the first time last night. JT has all of the desired attributes: masculine manners, jacked body, deep voice, alpha personality. Now that it’s more than just a fantasy of sleeping with a closeted guy, now that it’s not just hooking up but also me that he wants, I’m not letting go.
“See you around,” says JT as he looks into my dark brown eyes.
“You know, Myra’s parents are gone for another week,” I say softly. “She said she’s having a sequel on Friday. Maybe I’ll see you then?”
Fat Mike sighs dramatically then grabs me by the shoulders and directs me toward the stairs that lead to the exit of the cellar. “Just ‘cause you gave us a ride, don’t mean we’re like bros now, freak. Now, unless you’re buying me a dozen doughnuts, I suggest you leave before I eat you for breakfast,” he says, his fists in my face.
JT walks up. I think he’s about to tell Mike to back off, or at least say goodbye, but instead he says, “Hurry out once you’re in the backyard. My dad will literally break my neck if he sees someone looking like you leaving my room at eight in the morning.”
The butterflies have turned into thick, squirmy maggots and are writhing around in the pit of my stomach. “Sure, no problem,” I mutter.
I do as he says, run across the perfectly manicured lawn, around the tall, formidable hedges and am out of sight. Painfully hung over, I walk back to Myra’s, which is a good three miles away. As I near her front door, sweating and thirsty, I hear loud moaning. After knocking a bunch of times, I give up and decide to sleep in her latest boyfriend’s unlocked car.
* * *
Myra and I used to date before we became so-called best friends. Other than a past relationship, there’s now something else we’ve both had. JT and Myra hooked up just before Christmas. The way I hear it is that she wanted more than he did, which may explain why she betrayed my trust after I confided in her about my time with him. Myra told Josie; Josie told Jay; Jay told Eric who’s on the football team at Fairfield Prep; Eric told Mike; and Mike told JT, who laughed it off as a lie from a goth freak faggot.
I knew JT would deny it, didn’t care about that. But tonight, at Myra’s keg party sequel, as I lie on my back on the front lawn of her parent’s house, JT on top of me, punching me in the head with his left fist then his right fist then his left fist then his right fist, crowds of partygoers surrounding us and cheering him on as if they were watching a pit bull mauling a cat and enjoying it, Myra staring down at me with her arms crossed and a satisfied look on her pockmarked face, I realize that the one night JT and I spent together is as far as our relationship is going to go.
* * *
Mom is snoring when I walk into her dark bedroom. After working a double at the restaurant, she’s only half conscious when I tell her I was in a fight.
“I got beat up, Mom. So don’t freak out when you see me later.”
“Oh, Chris. What happened,” she mumbles.
I take her hand that’s hanging off the bed and bring it to one side of my swollen head, then the other.
“Jesus. Are you okay?” she asks, more awake.
“I’m fine. Go back to sleep,” I tell her.
In the bathroom I get a good look at the damage: my head is in the shape of a football. He didn’t hit me square in the face, though, so I won’t get black eyes. Surprisingly, I’m not too sad, am embarrassed more than anything. At least I can now admit to myself I’m not just “bi.” I’m gay and capable of having feelings for another dude, even though the type I most want is bad for me. I’ll work on that, I think. Giving myself one last proud look in the mirrored medicine cabinet, I open its doors to grab some Tylenol.
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