dontravis.com blog post #321
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WARNING: Some readers will find language in the following story to be offensive, but it accurately represents at time that was—and in too many places, still is. Enjoy the story, don’t concentrate on such language.
Last week, we saw our protagonist Rob introduced to gay sex when he is seduced by his young brother in law. Now divorced, Rob yearns for something he doesn’t know how to pursue. He fixates on the poster of a young flamenco dancer, has it framed, and hangs it in his bedroom where he uses it as an altar to his lust. He’s reasonably satisfied with that arrangement until he spots his flamenco dancer entering a Turkish bath off Times Square. He follows the young man and realizes it’s not his dancer, but a look-alike. We last saw Rob as he enters a steam room where he finds his Adonis.
The door opened, disturbing the young man again. It was my unwelcome pursuer. “Outa here, cabrón!” the youth snarled. The man muttered defiantly but withdrew. “You new here?” I nodded. “Gotta watch your cojones around here,” he said in a husky voice.
“I’m finding that out,”
“It’s a shame. With me, sweat’s a way to relax. These queens mess it up and make it something dirty.”
I swallowed hard and said nothing.
He held out his hand. “I’m Carlos.” He did not exactly have an accent, it was more the rapidity of his speech and a slight lilt.
“Rob,” I responded. Even through the swirling waves of steam, he was excruciatingly handsome.
“That queer was after you, you know. He’s one of the worst.”
“Th-this is the first time I’ve been in a place like this. Think it’ll be my last, too. I’ll stick to the sauna in my building from now on.”
“What made you try this dump?”
“Saw you,” I blurted. He glanced at me sharply. “You looked okay, so I thought it was probably a decent place,” I added quickly.
He relaxed. “Sorry I misled you.”
“Not your fault. Uh, maybe you’d rather I left you alone.”
“You seem okay. You like the steam?”
“Never tried it before.”
“It’s good, but you gotta watch out in a place like this. You gotta let them know right away to keep their distance. First few times, they drove me nuts. Had to get nasty before they got the message.”
“Complain to the management.”
“Naw. It’s the queers that keep them in business. Faggots didn’t come looking for meat the place would close down. They probably wish I’d go someplace else and stop bothering their fairies.” He gave his deep laugh again.
“Maybe we oughta go to the sauna at my place. I’m sure as hell not comfortable here.”
“Weekends the maricónes are crawling outa the woodwork. Sometimes they do their thing right in front of you. I don’t come on the weekends any more. Mondays are the best. I only work half days on Monday, and my job’s not far from here.”
We talked easily while the wet heat stewed the living juices out of every pore of my body. Carlos was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, made it through high school, and took work with a silk-screening firm.
About five minutes before I was baked into an early grave, he made noises like it was time to go. When he rose, I padded after him to the shower where we brought our body temperature back to normal. Afterward, I felt better than I had in some time. I watched him as we dressed, frantic for a way to prolong contact.
“You hungry? There’s a pretty good deli not far from here.”
“Expensive?” he wanted to know. “Gotta watch my nickels.”
Some instinct warned me not to offer to pay. “Not too bad. Not as cheap as a diner, but not as bad as a French restaurant.”
He laughed aloud. “That leaves a lot of room in between. Sure. Haven’t splurged on anything lately.”
During a dinner of Rueben sandwiches, I learned Carlos was twenty-two and single. He broke up with his long-time girlfriend about six months ago and wasn’t in a hurry to make another connection. I also learned he was more than a mere physical paragon, he was an interesting individual. That night I lay abed for a long time staring at my purloined poster and imagining Carlos was the dancer hanging on my bedroom wall.
I beat Carlos to the sweat room by about ten minutes the next Monday afternoon and tried to ignore meaningful looks cast my way by an older man until he arrived. The youth whipped off his towel, glared until the man left, and then laughed as he sat down beside me.
“You know he’s gonna think we’re getting it on, don’t you?” As if to emphasize his point, the door opened a crack and then slammed shut as Carlos snarled angrily.
“I feel honored they believe you chose me over them.”
“Some honor! How you been?”
“Had a good week,” I said. “Got lots of work done. Think the sweat helped me last week, so I oughta try it again. And I figured you could provide protection with that fierce growl of yours.”
After the steam leached most of the moisture from us, we went to a diner that fit his wallet better than the deli. Carlos was pleasant company in addition to being great to look at. He was willing to share his history without being garrulous. I found myself genuinely liking him and suggested we try the sauna in my apartment building. He agreed to give it a try on Friday.
The next four days had trouble passing, but eventually made it. Carlos buzzed from the lobby precisely at six o’clock, and we enjoyed a crab salad I’d prepared and a bottle of good wine before we swaddled ourselves in terrycloth robes to walk on clogs two floors down to the sauna. Carlos liked the dry heat; I appreciated it because it was easier to study him without a room full of swirling steam. With towels draped demurely over us in case one of the women tenants happened by, we sat overlong in the place, partly because I did not want the evening to end.
The sauna enervated me so much that Carlos reached our landing half a floor ahead of me. He grinned down the stairwell and muttered something about a pantywaist. We showered in separate baths and then met in the den. After putting some mellow music on the stereo, we settled in a couple of easy chairs to admire the view outside the windows and sip a cold brew. The easy, companionable atmosphere ended with both of us nodding off in our chairs. I woke around midnight and showed him to a bed. He slept soundly in my guestroom while I tossed and turned because the handsome young man I wanted lay naked on the other side of the wall.
Confrontation! Now what will come of it? There’s a budding friendship… will there be more? Questionable because of Carlos’ adverse reaction to gays. Next week, we’ll learn the answer.
The fifth book in my BJ Vinson mystery series, Abaddon’s Locusts, came out on the 22nd of this month. I hope you’ll consider buying a copy. If you do, please post a review of the book on Amazon. Each one helps… as do letters to the publisher.
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See you next week.
New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.