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Sloane found Evil hyperventilating, lying in a sodden pool of bloody marys and fear with his caftan up around his waist.

You pathetic joto, thought Sloane. Why didn't he kill you? Like I should have us both back when.

Evil buried his heavy woolen head in Sloane's empathy, whimpering disgustingly, blubbering remorsefully over Pedro's behavior.

"He did not have to say those things! I let him do anything he wants!"

"He'd have done anything he wants, you nelly chingadera!"

Knowing they'd seen the last of Pedro for a while, Sloane helped Evil sit up. It was like lifting half a ton of congealed guacamole and beans. Evil's thighs were bruised. Stripes of blood from Pedro's scourge had leaked through his gown. His lower body was covered in a thin rind of Vaseline, or K-Y, whatever these unimaginative bastards had used to grease their progress.

"Where'd he go?!"

"Oh, Gordo--"

Sloane bitch-slapped Evil quick and sharp, like an Israeli commando dog-trainer treats the runt of the litter, the next step being Darwinian extermination:

"I told you never to call me that, hijo de la chingada!"

Evil snuffled out his apologies:

"Lo siento, Gordon. Sssorry. He did not say where he's going. I ask him to leave. He was not treating me good. Lo sien--"

"You asked him to leave!?"

Sloane hit the poor miserable creature again, full in the face with the back of his hand. It hurt both of them, but Sloane had grown frantic. It wasn't supposed to go down this way.

"Dignity…" Evil burped. "Quiero still my dignity."

In a dead pig's eye thought Sloane.

Consider the scene: The Third World's most notorious strumpet queer lay bloodied within six inches of his life in a rented nine million dollar Malibu beach house, sex toys and drug paraphernalia strewn from one end of the place to the other. He has spent the night being buggered by a sadistic convicted murderer who happens to be Gordon Sloane's business partner. And business has by no means been concluded.

"Where's the dope?" Sloane demanded. Evil motioned weakly to the nightstand:

"There. He give me the nicest little bejeweled box--"

"No, you stupid cow! The merchandise! Not your pinche trinket! MY dope!"

The Evil One looked confused and dazed. His frightened red-rimmed eyes darted this way and that.

"Evil? Where's my shit?"

Evil shook his head, terrified.

The sick-hearted feeling Sloane had carried with him ever since Fellini's, since Bolivia, the sense that his life was threatening to spin dangerously out of control, was starting to make him physically ill. Sloane scuttled over to the nightstand and helped himself to some of Evil's coke. As usual, it was primo.

"Si," said Evil. "Si. Es puro!"

Good shit and Mexican queers thought Sloane. The story of my life.

Something resembling panic had begun to well up inside Gordon Sloane. He fingered another blast of blow onto his gums, and another into both nostrils at once. His life was starting to feel like an outtake from Scarface, only Al Pacino was nowhere to be found. The machine-gun pistols were about to be leveled on him, and his only defense was his sleep-deprived coke-besodden brain and his frayed-around-the-edges charm. He had to find Pedro, and fast.

________________

Sondra loved Badedas. She poured three capfuls into the bath she had drawn at a perfect hundred and ten degrees and lit a joint. As she eased her aching body into the green kaleidoscopic swirl, her antic mind flew back to Germany, to her modeling days, to the time Before Gordon, to first tastes and the summer of baubles and the Glamour layout in the schloss auf Heidelberg.

There in the ancient castle she had learned to love The Camera. There she had learned to bare to the world that trifle that was her teen-aged soul, in that non-specific all-women-to-all-men sort of way that had earned her a fortune by the time she was twenty-three, but which was of course, in truth, a lie.

By the time she hooked up with famous cinematographer Gordon Sloane, a million miles down the road, a quintillion lines of Peruvian flake gone by, Sondra hardly knew who she was anymore.

All she knew, all that the ache in her heart, in her head, and in her bones told her, was that she was a prisoner--to the drugs and to the man who would beat her because of the drugs. She knew she loved them both.

And this, indeed, was no trifling matter.

back


I spent days alone in the room next door to Sloane and his addiction. I tuned the noises out as I dealt with thoughts of sex which seem to fire in my brain on a regular schedule. That schedule was the disease which was going to have to be overcome if I was ever going to go back to being Christobal, the name I'd been given at birth. It had been so long since I had even thought of myself as a Christobal, but it was time to return. It was time to become clean again.

But the throbbing temptation continued to pound at me, minute after minute. Thoughts of Pedro and other men flooded my mind and I had to keep something in my hands at all times to keep from touching myself. Knitting had become my new obsession.

A warm Saturday, the newest sweater for no one completed, the synapses overflowed with the bad, bad thoughts. I opened the door of the apartment (for the first time since Pedro had walked out that same door) and made my way down Creighton Avenue. I was telling myself that I was going to have a nice lunch, but my feet were headed to the gay porn theater; not to my favorite diner. The excitement building was a bit lower than my stomach.

The errant path I was on took me by a non-denominational Christian church. A group of men around my age were playing basketball on an outdoor court. As I walked by, one of the men said, "Hey, we need an eighth man to make the teams even. Want to play?"

________________


Not since I was a teenager had I even held a basketball. I did remember the feeling of satisfaction from swishing a jump shot. Then a vivid memory of my two older brothers, one fall afternoon after school, playing basketball at the local playground, flooded over me in a wave of sudden clarity. This shook me because I don't think I had ever remembered this before. If so, it must have been years and years. I must have successfully repressed this day in my past. No wonder. I broke out in a sweat as I saw that afternoon as clearly as if it were on a movie screen and I was alone in the theater. I had wanted to play so badly with them and the other big boys. They noticed me watching from behind a hedge row, and one of my brothers said, "Look at the little pissant over there. He's been watching every day this week. Let's let him play; you guys want to?" I realize now there must have been a wink and a couple of nods as they said, "Sure."

"C'mon, Christobal. You can be on José's team. Throw it in." I threw the ball to José and made my way to the top of the circle. I fully expected that this would be the last time I'd get the feel of the roundball, but just as soon as I got near the foul line, José yelled, "Heads up!" and I turned to see the ball coming to me. I caught it and turned to face the hoop and realized that I was unguarded. "They must be playing man-to-man, and my man is missing!" I thought excitedly. So I drove for the hoop and as I jumped to shoot the lay up, my other brother grabbed my shorts. I jumped up and the shorts went down.

There I stood in broad daylight with my shorts and my underwear down around my ankles and the boys were laughing and pointing at me. "Look at the teeny little chile on this girl! Is that a second belly button or a verga? What a shriveled pito!" I started crying, feeling so humiliated and lost, and that's when one of them (one of my brothers?) threw the basketball and hit me in the side of the head. Hard. I fell down, half unconscious, and a couple of them started kicking me in the stomach.

I never told anyone about this incident, and that's probably one reason I was able to suppress the memory so effectively. There were plenty of other incidents of comparable trauma which I had remembered very well. My brothers always disliked me. I guess two is company and three is a crowd when it comes to male siblings. My father was no help, either. He was not an evil man, but I think two boys was all he cared for, as well. I could never remember him touching me in any nice way during my entire childhood. Every time his had reached for me, it was in anger to jerk me away from something he feared I would break, or to slap me. Any hugs I could remember came from only from my mother and my grandmother and my aunts. All women.

________________


I looked at the man who asked me if I wanted to play basketball. He was smiling at me in a way which was unusual. What was it? Oh, yes. It was a smile of friendship and not one of, "I'm about to plug your ass with a load of hot jism." I hadn't seen a smile of friendship in what seemed like forever, so it took me aback. It took me by so much surprise that I found myself saying, "Yes. Yes, I would like to play, if you don't mind."

These seven men and I spent two solid hours that mid-day, playing game after game to 21, swapping teams, joking and laughing. Clean jokes. Clean laughter. After we were too tired to play another game, they asked me if I'd like to come inside and have lunch. Their wives had volunteered to clean up the church that day and had promised to make lunch for them. They were to do the hammering and sawing and painting that afternoon to fix up a couple of Sunday School classes. I ate with them and they asked me about myself and my life in Mexico. I told one lie after another, but I lied with such a clear vision of the past I wished I had lived that it all seemed OK. And they never seemed to doubt my stories.

That night I sat in my apartment and cried into my hands for what seemed like forever. I lost myself in the love I had been shown that day, and I realized that my whole life had been a frantic search for the love of men. The only way I had known to find the love of men which had been missing from my childhood was sex. I had forgotten how to find the love of men in fellowship and clean, honest interaction. My father who never touched me with love; my brothers who wanted me to quietly die and disappear; my classmates who taunted me and called me a queer, just because what few friends I had at school were girls; and the senior high drama teacher who had been the first to show me how men make love to each other, without my full consent . . . . All these memories were gelling now and showing me the reason I had lived as I had. My life had been formed into a monstrous, misshapen, unnatural longing for what most boys take for granted: Friends of the same sex. And I had gone about this in the only way that I knew how.

There was another way open to me now. And I was going to do my best to find the beginning of that path and follow it wherever it might lead. I would start by attending this church where these men played basketball on Saturday mornings. As this decision became crystal clear to me, Sloane and Sondra knocked on my door.

I opened the door and Gordon said, "You OK, fuckwad? We were getting worried about your sorry ass, in here all holed up and weepy. Have you not heard from Pedro?"

"Pedro is gone. He will not be coming back. And neither will I. I am moving tomorrow to a room on the fifth floor, where I don't have to trifle with the sounds of animals each night. And, Sondra, I'm going to church this Wednesday night. Would you like to go with me? I really think it might do you some good."

Sloane was speechless as a smile crossed Sondra’s bruised face.

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