Despite my best efforts, it didn’t take long for me fall back into the regular routine of partying, getting high and binning. One day that stuck out significantly was when I was invited up to smoke dope with his roommate Stan. Out of nowhere, Zack appeared in his dressing gown looking thin and pale like a ghost. Confused, because Stan had told us he was out, Zack knelt down in front of Stan and pleaded for a hoot; eyes bloodshot and filled with tears. At first, I thought it was just a game they were both playing until I saw Stan lording over him, rubbing the baggie of dope in his hands.
I didn’t know which was worse, witnessing such a public display of shame or knowing I’d contributed to it. Fearing I might either end up like that or actually be like that, I leered at Stan for not being the bigger man and knowing better; after all, he had a job, an education and an income, but who knew what they did when I wasn’t around? He continued. Daring to make a scene, I yelled for him to stop. When he didn’t I got up and left, repulsed to the core. I didn’t want to leave Zack all alone with him in that state, but I felt so impotent not knowing what I could do. When it came up in conversation later, people reacted like it was normal. They were both to blame for the twisted games they played on each other. Still, it didn’t make me feel any better. Another friend said there were two types of people in the world: those that got ahead by actually moving ahead themselves, with true initiative, hard work and dedication and those that pushed others down creating a false image of movement. Now I knew which side of the fence I wanted to be on.
The next time I went over, Zack was busy reprimanding Kurt, that same young, blond-haired kid from before, for talking bad about others even though he, me and everyone else did the same thing. Feeling sorry for Kurt, I let him know he didn’t have to put up with being talked to like that if he didn’t want to – nobody did. Then I went out on a limb and told him he could come over to my place and hang out f he wanted. He agreed much to Zack’s disapproval.
Safely behind closed doors he confided in me that he worked the streets at night, but didn’t want anyone to know. While I felt honored he’d confided in me, I asked if he’d ever thought about getting a ‘real’ job to make money. He had, but also had moved to get away from all of that. Having had ‘shitty’ bosses in my time, I let it go. I told him his ‘secret’ was safe with me – even though I wasn’t known for my keeping secrets. Changing the subject he talked about his claim to fame – his physical endowment. Shocked to see I didn’t know and didn’t care, he lit up like a light bulb realizing he was there for who he was and not for what was between his legs.
Enticing me with new ways to get really high from smoking crystal, he blurted out he was straight, yet didn’t mind having sex with other men as long as he had a straight magazine to read. I was too high and too busy playing the good host to even think about having sex. Smoking even more dope, euphoria took on sexual overtones. He asked for one of the magazine and invited me over. Maybe it was taboo, lack of acceptance, wanting the impossible or just sexual confusion, but I enjoyed straight sex magazines just as much if not more than the gay ones. It was interesting how men repaid kindness through sex. Either way, it felt good to be of service to such a willing recipient. After a couple of minutes, I realized I’d forgotten to tell him I was HIV, but it was just oral sex. Anyway, I assumed as a hustler he would’ve been smart enough to ask unless he was HIV too. Then it wouldn’t matter as much. I would’ve asked if I was in his shoes and not so high. Whatever the case, I didn’t want to ruin the moment by being overly serious. He left before the job was done to go back to ‘work’. Sure I was angry and felt used, but he wasn’t a prisoner either.
The Buddhists say your life can change in an instant. Little did I know this was mine.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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