D. Travers Scott
Smut filled the Victorian. The postcard-worthy collection of pastel bay windows, towers, and turrets sheltered within dozens of guests in various stages of undress. This fair assembly mingled amid an artfully hung exhibition of portraits ranging from coy to lascivious. A sign in the bathroom instructed, "Watersports -- yes, Scat -- no." A wood cross with leather restraints had been installed in the den. Étagères and curio cabinets had been pushed to the sidelines; plastic draped over the antiques that wouldn't fit in the storage room.
SM queens are always so nellie, Steve thought. He folded his clothes into a paper grocery bag, wondering if he'd know anyone here.
The portraits all depicted the same model: a boyish, rusty-haired man with a puckish grin and huge dick. Despite the fact that the subject of the portraits was an official Porn Star, many were not porn shots. Some weren't even nude.
Steve had known the subject. He remembered how his impressive dick had quickly paled next to his beguiling smile, honesty, and warmth. The subject had been Steve's mentor.
Steve bent over to peer into a light-box housing 3D stereoscopes of his mentor masturbating on a mountainside. He squinted -- it was hard to make the images fuse.
He pulled out at a tap on his shoulder.
"Shoulda known you'd be here. When'd you get in town?"
Steve turned and smiled at his friend, peer, and competitor. He and Juan were the same age, and had been friends for years despite living on opposite coasts. Simultaneously they'd risen on parallel tracks from GenX smut scribes to somewhat respectable young novelists. Juan had also possessed a mentor.
"You staying for the sex party?" Juan looked at Steve's dick and smiled.
"So what are you wearing those damn boxers for? You got plenty to show off."
"My plan was to build up the suspense." Juan turned sultry, eyes narrowed. "But why waste my time when you look so much sweeter than all these regulars?"
"Crap -- sorry, John and I are still being patriarchal monogamists."
"Dammit!" Juan rolled his eyes. "Are we ever going to get it on? How many years we been doing this shit?"
"Fate seems against us." Steve resisted the urge to run his fingers through Juan's lush chest hair.
Juan sighed. He nodded to a black-and-white photograph of Steve's mentor. Bent over kissing his own dick, the subject's curving erection and curving spine formed a near-circle.
"You ever get any of that?
"Yeah, we slept together years ago at OutWrite. I was all flattered he wanted to hook up, that things weren't just business anymore."
Steve remembered how his mentor, the Porn-Star-turned-Publisher, scooped Steve's come off his chest and licked it off his fingers. Chuck had locked eyes with Steve and swallowed. Downtown Boston had loomed outside the hotel room window, a claustrophobic curtain of concrete and lights.
Wow, Steve had thought, I guess he can do that. Duh.
All of his mentor's rants about the myth of HIV reinfection obviously hadn't sunk in, till now. His flaming 'HIV+' tattoo hadn't sunk in, till now.
"Writers conferences are slutty affairs," Steve murmured.
Juan shrugged. "At least the gay ones."
"Have you ever been to a straight one?"
"I've been to some Latino ones. There's flirting and fucking, but not as much as here. More talking. Or at least more people paying attention to the talking instead of cruising. I always feel like the slutty one."
"Gay men think everyone wants to sleep with them. Straight men think everyone cares what they have to say."
"What about us bisexuals?"
"You just talk about sex all the time. I bet you never had sex with Aaron."
Juan remembered the Famous Pornographer's come-on, eyes challenging him as the cool Atlantic breeze had ruffled his gray hair.
"You'll regret it," his mentor had said, tracing his finger across the pages of Juan's manuscript they'd strewn across the picnic table, weighted down with wineglasses, ashtrays, and cigarette lighters.
Juan had looked at Aaron, the oblique New England light carving his wrinkles deeper.
"What? Not doing it with you?"
"When you reach the end of your life, you won't regret your bad decisions -- which sleeping with me certainly would be -- you'll regret the decisions you were too afraid to make. Do you want to look back and feel that you were reckless, or a scardey-cat?
"I ain't afraid of sleeping with you." Juan had grabbed a page of his novel fluttering in the salt air. He weighted it with a jar of pickled herring.
"What-ever," his mentor had sighed airily and returned to the manuscript pages.
I'm supposed to say that, Juan had thought. I'm the 23-year-old.
Juan shook his head. "No. People knew he was my mentor -- I mean, he got me published. I didn't want people to think we were sleeping together, too."
"I didn't sleep with Chuck until after he published me, and I'd already won the award and everything."
Steve remembered lying in the hotel bed, post-coital, telling Chuck how he liked the pictorials in his new magazine. "They're regular guys; they're sexier than the typical shaved pretty-boy models or beefed-up porn stars -- uh, present company excluded."
Chuck had stuck his tongue out at Steve. "Sexier even than shirtless publicity photos of gay authors?" he'd asked.
"I've never done one of those!"
"I know, but wait until you have a book out." He ran a finger under Steve's balls, tickling him. "Why don't you do a full nude spread for us, so it won't look so fucking coy when you do your shirtless book jacket shot?"
"Hey!" Steve had said, squirming away, "that tickles!" He'd stood up, naked ass to the cold window overlooking the train station. Stretched across the bed -- basking in the yellow light of the hotel lamp, languorous, musky, and glamorous -- Chuck had grinned up at Steve with affection.
"Thanks," Steve had said, "but nah. I mean, that'd be cool, but I don't think so." Steve had wondered if Chuck could tell he was blushing. And getting hard again.
Steve rubbed his forehead, wiping away the memory. "Anyway, Chuck wasn't as famous as Aaron was."
"I don't know about that -- more people rent porn movies than read books."
"Maybe -- but Aaron had more literary cred. He was able to do more for your career than Chuck ever could for mine."
"My mentor was better than your mentor, nyah nyah nyah." They smiled. Steve felt it odd that talking to Juan naked felt so natural.
"Chuck asked me to pose for his magazine, but I thought no one would take me seriously as a novelist if I did."
"Yeah, you couldn't really ever deny having done it."
"But then two years later my book came out --"
"-- at the same time as Bree Lindquists' book, and he posed for Honcho."
"He posed in a graveyard drinking vodka from the bottle, with his dick hanging out. I don't know if they ever ran the photo. But his book did better than either of ours."
Juan snorted with derision. "Hey, but we didn't sleep with him! Or did you?"
"No." Steve looked over his shoulder. "He's not here, is he?"
Juan scanned the party with a sour grin. "Nah, I don't see anyone new here. Besides, I don't think he knew Chuck." He turned back to Steve and licked his lips, mischievous. "Did you ever do any porn?"
"No. Is that an invitation?"
Juan chuckled. "I know people who could set you up."
Steve remembered posing for his novel's jacket photo. He'd picked an edgy documentary photographer of street kids, hoping to get an aesthetic more attention-getting than the usual glossy shots. Drinking beer in the cobwebby storage room of a 1920s apartment building, the photo session had degenerated into a skin show. The photographer had taken a roll of Steve shirtless, then dick out. He'd finished the roll then finished Steve off. The photographer still had the negatives.
Juan smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as a passing woman in a claret-colored corset ran her fingernails across his chest. "I just thought you might've followed Chuck's footsteps," he said. "I would've slept with Chuck. He was more fun than Aaron."
Steve cocked his head quizzically. "How have we managed to never sleep together? I've always been hot for you."
"Yeah, but we didn't have sex."
"I know, that took a lot of effort. That was when Henri and I were being so good to each other."
Juan remembered the first night he and Henri had gone out together but cruised separately, not looking for a threesome. Henri had hooked up first, which meant, according to their agreement, that Juan got to use their apartment. Henri had left with his trick, and it hadn't taken Juan long to find someone himself.
They'd been going at it when Juan had heard Henri in the apartment. They'd agreed not to come home until morning, so something must've gone wrong. Juan remembered a drunken thrill of victory eclipsing his concern for his lover. He'd always felt Henri had been the cute one. He'd known Henri was out moping in the living room, but he hadn't stopping fucking the guy. He'd just gotten louder.
Steve shrugged helplessly. "And then when you were being bad, John and I were being good again."
"And once I was I was single, we were never in the same city at the same time. I skipped the conference one year, and it was cancelled the next. Whayagonna do?" He clapped Steve on the shoulder. "Someday, my man."
"Not that this ridiculously protracted foreplay isn't kind of delicious, but I wish we had." Steve put his hand on Juan's chest. "I don't want to look back at you with regret."
"Are you glad you slept with Chuck?"
Steve stroked Juan's side, along his ribs, down to his new fat curves. "Yeah. It makes me feel closer to him now that he's dead. Do you wish you'd slept with Aaron?"
"I wish I could've. I wish I'd been attracted to him. Do you think they ever slept together? Our 'mentors'?"
"I don't know. I hope so. I miss them."
Steve took his hand off of Juan's chest. Juan grabbed him and put it back.