Eric wants to know about teaching English. He has a lot of questions about his new career and can sense that am a minefield of answers. He is correct, but he is also a white boy with a ponytail and I don’t feel like educating another one of those right now.
We’re sitting on the floor of the Malaga airport, right in the way of everyone crossing Arrivals. He squats flat-footed and I’m sat atop my rucksack, chatting because I can, because my bus is a ways out, and because I must keep my mind active or risk prompt collapse from jetlag.
“This airport is evil. See the benches?” I gesture so Eric can see. “They put the bars on there to prevent sleepers. You gotta sleep underneath on the granite. I like it though, you can put your luggage there as a sort of guard wall. Block the masturbators.”
Eric is astounded that I have said “masturbators” aloud. He is from the East Coast of the United States and he moves pianos for a living. His ears are gauged, like mine. I assumed he would understand these things for some reason, a rookie mistake. “Masturbators? In the airport?”
“Oh, they’re everywhere, airports included,” I nod with affliction. “But that time I was out in the open, on the ground behind a cement column. The masturbator was facing me, sat on the bench. I woke up to him there watching me sleep. There was an airport worker down the way, saw the whole thing. Didn’t do shit though.”
“Wow,” says Aaron. “I don’t think I know any girls that’s happened to.”
“You do, dude. I promise.”
It’s possible Bators are more common in Europe where freedom is an actual thing you can feel and live, not like in the states where it’s a mythical idea like World Peace or Equal Rights. The Bator is an unfortunate by-product of the knowledge that one may do as one pleases without threat or fear of punitive consequence, paired with the painful dilemma of being a horny old fuck.
To be fair, now, there is certainly something about a good vista that just makes a person want to ejaculate. I’ve definitely rubbed a couple out on the tops of mountains before. That shit gets me hard. I’d bet money a lot of these dudes are just extreme nature enthusiasts (don’t worry, I don’t have any money.) I don’t need to hurl myself on a bench and crank it while watching a stranger sleep, but maybe it just depends on the particular stranger or whether or not I’ve taken my meds that day.
I tell Piano Guy about my full working list of Bators — the Guy On The Cliff, Shirtless Park Guy, the Guy On The Lookout Bench, the Guy Downhill Looking Up, the Lurker In The Meadow, Sleeping Bag Guy and the assorted collection of Brazen Beach Fellows. Piano Guy, having gotten exactly 0% of the information he had been hoping to extract from me, has heard enough. “Wow,” he says, “that’s terrible. I’ll keep an eye out so I can do a quick getaway if it ever happens to me.”
“Yeah, it won’t.” I get to my feet and heave my pack back on. Fucking white guys with ponytails don’t know shit about life.
Erizo was what you might call sencillo if you were a Spaniard. He had a somewhat tormented spirit layered like sponge cake under a thick slice of calm. The calm was as real as the torment and either all of it or nothing showed in his eyes, given away in splinters of olive green or sandy yellow. The colors changed frequently, perhaps depending on his mood, perhaps on my perception. I wasn’t sure and it didn’t matter.
I loved him very easily. There was little to think about. He slipped his arm around me and it had always been there. I was safe and would have human projects to tinker with over the summer — break this wall down, extend this conviction, sharpen that ability. Train him to eat perfect pussy. Help him figure out what he wanted from life and rile him up to get it — then release him out to sea like a bottle with something inside it. Not a message (frankly a terrible method of communication) but something better. Something helpful. Something good.
Though of course the good came with the package. The good WAS the package and man, he was a package. He was a local boy. a pueblo boy. Small-town country upbringing just like mine. Everyone knew everyone, he once got to fuck the neighbor girl — just like me, the neighbor girl. He wore unpretending clothes, brandless shirts and glasses that didn’t flatter him. Went bald at 25 and had greys in his beard. His hands were not beautiful, but his arms were thick and wrought like iron and felt like the island around my shoulders (everyone knows paradise is just a good warm set of arms.)
He told me many things that made me laugh. He had a disdain and a bitterness for the destruction of his homeland and though I was little but a product of that destruction he did sometimes look at me as if I was a precious creature, like he had stumbled upon me in some grove and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The times that he looked at me like this were not those involving nudity or sex; they were times I was dancing or giggling to myself, times I was playing with children. Perhaps he didn’t think I was beautiful, but to him i don’t believe that it mattered. That said a lot about him.
Yet something in there was unwell, something shriveled and very small. He once told me laughing that once as a child he raped a sow pinned in a crate with a pole in the ass and I cried but he said he didn’t feel anything then or now. He said there had been blood.
He said there were girls he had loved but he had lost them all, said he had regrets and a heart leathered up from repeated beatings and breaks. Said he more than once dated people who didn’t love him, stayed with them for years. Said he wasn’t attractive and meant what he said. I listened to everything because the sound of his voice made me wet and weak in the knees. I wanted him to feel better but I also just wanted his cum in my mouth. Sometimes my emotions don’t run cut and dry.
Maybe he was an event more than a person, a season walking on human legs and a nonexistent male ass. I looked at him as I looked at my surroundings because he WAS my surroundings, just like the sea and the buttery flowers and the palm bushes and the pines. I looked at him and I said to myself, “Do it right this time.” In the end I think I did. I left him and I told him that I loved him as I did so, kissed him as I shook my head and smiled. Love enough and lose enough and it becomes a skill. Do not love without ability to accept loss. Test frequently. Be prepared.
I knew the moment I saw the pillow that it would be an ace buy. just the look of the thing: the way it sat fatly atop a pile of its brothers, that stretchy-silk elastofabric bulging in the form of a heart, the faint shape of the beans inside pressing at it like little limbless fetuses captured in a space net. it was a relic of the fluorescent future, the most sickly shade of sugar-sweet lab-developed pink I’d seen for at least days (it was February.) the thing was surely one of the stupidest objects ere produced by living humans, marketed en masse to the European world. I saw it, hated it, carried it blushing to the counter and purchased it immediately. six bucks, stitched by wee little hands someplace in Thailand, without a doubt worth every cent.
it is supposedly a travel pillow.
I still have the one I had as a kid, back in storage at my mom’s place. sounds like an odd thing to keep just for the purpose of sentimentality, doesn’t it? here, let me make it more perplexing — that thing was terribly ugly, I mean just a downright displeasing thing to behold in every sense of the word. I do not mean that it became ugly over time — though it did contract a stain or two over the years — but that it began ugly, was designed ugly, born ugly. it had that same silky elasticane fabric stretched over a mountain of tiny styrofoam balls (just occurred to me how bad those things must be for the planet — also, real question: are they just old broken-down styrofoam that we couldn’t get rid of in its smallest possible form?) the pillow had this ugly, nondescript shape like a poorly executed image stretch, a useless thing to even try and describe. it was light brown, to make things worse, with pastel-pink polkadots, and a black elastic strap on the back for affixing it to a headrest in a car or on an airplane, intended for one of those living dildo-knackers who actually purchase styrofoam-stuffed luxury squish travel pillows and USE THEM IN PUBLIC.
I know what you’re thinking, and you are correct: I have two.
but let me just tell you this much: mine are never used in public.
(update: this is still unfinished so check back)
“fuck your God, your Lord, your Christ. he did this: took all you had and left you this way.” in the spirit of rapture and progressive rock, one lonesome teenaged boy burned this song onto a disc and upon it scribed a name in pink-red sharpie. the boy’s room was messy and saturated with a stale adolescent odor, the same one his teachers and classmates noticed on the rare occasions when he showed up at school. his absence was as palpable as his presence: the boy was a bear in camouflage, tall and broad, covered in scars from old facial piercings — one jagged through his eyebrow where a ring had been ripped clean out (the hairs still struggled to touch over the rift.) he also had scars carved in with a razorblade — a pentagram on the forearm, then a change of heart and a “John 3:16” carved above it. he was brawny and dark, with eyes a sort of jaded grey that too freely gave away his sentiments. he was “that kid.” you know that kid. everyone does.
it’s one am and the cd is playing. the boy leaves his window open a crack and the blinds up just a hair. he is “cleaning,” moving dirty clothes from one pile to another, waiting for glowing eyes to peer in from outside, for clammy shaking fingers to slip through the crack of his window and hook themselves to the frame for leverage. he never has to wait long.
the creature, not an adept climber, struggles through the window and fails to catch itself on the inside of the room. it tumbles awkwardly to the ground and curls up on the threadbare mattress, still shivering from the frigid night. the mattress is full of tiny prickled holes where the boy has lit it on fire to watch it burn. there is no sheet and the bedding is musty, heavy from being unwashed. the creature doesn’t seem to mind.
this is the routine: bare feet on wet grass, bloodied knees smeared with mud, the sordid night freezing the creature’s soft lungs from inside out, guts full of purple crystals. scale a small wall and tumble to relative safety: a few stolen hours after midnight clinging to each other on this filthy mattress, the burned cd playing “fuck your god”, everything stained an electric blue from the broken television propped on the dresser. the night is safer for their union as the world outside does not approve. the boy is too big, too scarred, too dangerous. the creature is small and dark and delicate, requires proper care that the boy cannot provide. this is what the world thinks: but love does not listen to the logic of the world.