[I’m taking a break from constructing playlists, writing about portmanteaus and puns, and all that good stuff, to post a bit of magic-realist fiction about Sundance and Butch. This is Not About Language. And there are moments of hot-hot man-man sex in plain language, so it’s not for kids or the sexually modest. Otherwise, I reserve metacommentary for another posting.]


Butch and I had started taking Sundays as well as Mondays off, away from Los Altiplanos.  The place didn’t run itself, but we had good staff and loyal customers, so that after a few years it seemed crazy that we should be knocking ourselves out, 10 a.m. to midnight, six days a week, just so we could be on top of everything.

We always took some time apart; I think we’re as close as two really different people can be, but it’s not those big differences that make trouble between you, it’s the little things: me going “huh”, real quiet, when I think of something, him always leaving the closet doors open.

The rule was that neither of us had to tell the other what he did when we were apart, but it was fine if you wanted to.  So Butch told me that he sometimes went to the nude beach at Land’s End and cruised — no big secret, since we sometimes went there together.  He didn’t tell me sometimes went to Mass, but our cook Consuela mentioned to me that she’d seen him at San Pablo’s a couple of times.  I think he mostly sits in the San Francisco Public Library and studies about accounting and restaurant management and food preparation — what an earnest workaholic! — but that would be a secret he wouldn’t want me to know.

He knows that I take garden tours on my own and work out regularly at The SuperGym (a.k.a. The SuperFag), but I don’t think he knows about the thing that our waiter Joselito and I have had going for a year.

Joselito is 22, so stunning he hardly seems real, and fiercely seductive.  To try to keep him focused on me, I buy him pretty clothes and listen raptly to his judgments on pop singers and let him call the shots, in bed as well as out — and I wryly play back my memories of Prince Max and his infatuation with me. It pisses the hell out of him that the things that make his other “friends” jealous — the smell of another man on the sheets, a note to “my darling Joselito” on the coffee table, condom wrappers in the bathroom wastebasket — don’t work on me, I don’t seem to be able to do jealousy.  (Joselito has no real meanness in him.  Still, I’d rather not know his history.  And I’d rather not have Butch know that I’m stuck in that half-crazy place between tricking and loving, it’s not something that could ever happen to Butch.)

On our days off together, Butch and I walk a lot, in San Francisco, in the mountains, along the beach, sometimes just along the streets of Mountain View or Los Altos, looking in shop windows, checking out people, enjoying little gardens, imagining that we’re buying houses, lots of houses, and planning how we’d fill them.  (Butch could have been an architect, I think.  I’m sure I could have become an interior decorator, or maybe a landscape architect.)  Sometimes we get together with friends for coffee; in the restaurant business you meet a hell of a lot of people, all types, and many of them are nice or interesting or both, so it’s easy to pick up friends — and (as Butch points out) it’s good for business too.  Butch and I are not much on eating out, but we do like cafes.  Occasionally we go dancing.  It took a long time for Butch to get comfortable dancing with guys, and he dances like a straight jock, beautifully coordinated but not a lot of soul and no dick-focus at all, but now he enjoys it, and I love shaking my ass for him and the other guys on the dance floor.

This Sunday Butch suggests doing the gay bar thing.  It sounds to me like he’d like a little novelty, maybe a three-way, that’s super with me, and if nothing develops — it is, after all, Sunday afternoon, during a wet weekend, true, but not prime trick time — maybe we can just meet some nice guys.  I like gay bars, so long as there’s enough lighting for you to see through the cigarette smoke and the music isn’t so loud it makes your bones hurt.  Ok, there aren’t a lot of places that satisfy those requirements.  But, Butch reminds me, there are two spots that ought to be fine, at least at 4 in the afternoon: The Hole In The Wall (which — no matter what Roy Parker, the current owner, says — everybody knows is named after the notorious glory hole in the wall of the last stall in its men’s room) and the Wilde Bunch (which used to be a biker bar, until Harry Longbaugh bought in and cleaned the place up, concealed the ceiling with ferns, started offering specials on excellent Chardonnays during Happy Hour, and invited the Oscar Wildebeest Society to hold its poetry readings there at 6 every Thursday).

I opine that the Wilde Bunch might be a bit too far on the effete side for Butch’s tastes, so we settle on The Hole In The Wall (Roy, who was born Leroy and would like to erase that fact, insists that Every Word In A Title, Even The Most Insignificant One, Must Be Capitalized). The Hole, despite Roy’s prissiness, is still pretty much a bare-bones place, a place for guys who know each other to have some beers and shoot the shit, and for guys who don’t know each other to play our version of the Mating Game.  This Sunday there’s twelve, fifteen guys in the place, scattered in twos and threes in a lot of empty space.  Roy himself is behind the bar in the back, and the music is mellow.  Sometimes Roy has these embarrassingly romantic moods.

Alone at the table closest to the door, which means a good fifteen feet from it, sits a fellow with dark curly hair and a totally impudent stare.  We lock eyes, he sits back slightly as if to invite me to join him, and one corner of his mouth turns up (a smile, yes, but is it approving or mocking?).  He seems oddly familiar, but I’m sure I’ve never met him before.  Butch heads off across the floor, aiming for a group of guys at the end of the bar and, generously, leaving me to my own pursuits.

“Mind if I join you?”  Impudent rolls his eyes at this cliche and motions with his hand for me to sit down.

The Hole’s tables are tiny.  Roy’s idea is that little tables oblige guys to get into physical contact, knees against thighs, that sort of thing; he believes this cements relationships fast and disposes guys to remember his bar fondly.  (He is right.)  Roy also thinks that it’s a good idea for guys to be close enough to smell one another’s bodies.  On some occasions — the one I’m in right now, for instance — this works, though later at night I imagine it could be a very bad concept.

He puts his elbow on the table and extends a hand. “I’m Nick Charles.  No jokes, please.  Call me Nicky, honey.”

He is wearing a really musky cologne; I’m a naturally musky guy myself, and I like the smell on other men.  He is also wearing bluish-purple eye shadow, just enough, quite tasteful.  He is a flat-out queen.  He is staring right into my eyes.  I am falling in love.  I can’t quite judge his reactions, but I think his nostrils are flaring — this really does happen, I swear — and he seems totally focused on me.

I take his hand, and hold it.  “I’m Charlie Kidd, but my friends call me Sundance.”  (Nicky’s eyes open wide in surprise.)  “Why do I think I know you?  This is not a line, honest.”  I feel clunky, rural, inept.

He laughs.  “My dear, if it’s a line it’s lovely.  If it’s not it’s even better.”  His hand stays in mine, and I enjoy its warmth.  “I’m one of those cliches, the gay florist.”  His gaze flicks briefly over my shoulder to the back of the bar.

“I’m another one of those cliches, the gay restaurateur”, I reply, proud at having been able to see his bet.  I struggle to shift the game.  “Are you here alone?  Or with a friend?”

Nicky looks again over my shoulder to the back of the bar.  “I’m here with my lover“, he answers, implying a boast, which I find touching rather than off-putting.  “Robbie Roberts.  My other half at the flower shop as well as at home.  He’s back there talking to the hunk you came in with.”  I catch a glimpse of a sweet-looking somewhat fleshy fellow, with blond-streaked reddish hair whose original color is hard to guess.  He is in the middle of some extravagant gesture that involves tossing his head back and extending a hand towards the sky.

My lover.  Butch” — Nicky gives me a really strange look — “My other half at Los Altiplanos” — Nicky’s left eyebrow raises in recognition — “as well as at home.”

We seem well matched.  I wonder whether it’s too early in our acquaintanceship to bring up the topic of open marriages, I think this guy is incredibly cute and I absolutely love his voice, a chestnut-colored baritone and gorgeously gay, gay, gay, but not to rush, Sundance, you don’t want to scare the fellow off.  Nonetheless, I feel an urge to order lots of flowers and feed the man.

“Your Robbie, does he care a lot about opera?”

Nicky puzzles, shrugs. “Robbie is a total opera queen.”

“Shit.  I think you and I should worry about what’s happening back there.  Butch has this, well, negative thing about opera.  He takes it as some kind of assault on his masculinity.”  (This is why Butch is wary about places like the Wilde Bunch.  He likes bars with pool tables, bars where guys wear serious boots.  Though in my experience, opera queens are a lot thicker on the ground in leather bars than in fern bars.)  Nicky shrugs again, smiles as if to say, Men, what can you do?  I smile in agreement, letting him know that he and I are of course the exceptions to all those rules about men being vain, uncommunicative, defensive, competitive, thinking with their dicks, taking what they want and giving nothing in return, etcetera.  Just when it has become clear to us that we are rare sorts, notably superior to our lovers, attractive though they are, and that we are certainly going to get it on together, real soon, a brouhaha erupts.  I hear Butch screaming, “YOU’RE THE GUY IN THE MOVIE!  AND YOU’RE WEARIN’ FUCKIN’ MAKEUP!”  A chair smashes to the floor.  Glass chunks against glass.

Roy, making excellent time around the end of the bar, reaches the scene same time as me.  Butch’s face is purple with anger.  Robbie’s face is purple from Butch’s hands throttling him.  Yelling “Let go of him!” I grab Butch’s wrists and pull him off Robbie.  Roy puts his arms around the panting Robbie and confronts Butch: “Get the hell out of here, you goddam crazy!”

I mediate.  “He’ll be ok, Roy, I swear.  Let’s just keep these two apart.  I’m sorry, Robbie.  It won’t happen again, I promise.  Hey, let me buy you a drink.  What’ll you have?”  A highball glass of sticky reddish liquid has spilled over the little table next to the bar.  Robbie certainly wasn’t drinking beer.  I keep my hands tight on Butch’s wrists and glare at him.  He hasn’t passed all the way from fury to shame yet, but that will come soon.

Nicky arrives, and Roy (looking dubious) hands a shaking, still frightened, Robbie over to him.  “Roy, be a dear and get Robbie a Campari on the rocks, with a twist of lemon, that’s what you’d like, isn’t it, honey?”  Robbie nods, buries his head in Nicky’s shoulder.  Nicky hugs his man, strokes his hair, makes soothing noises.

Butch has finished being aggrieved and is now contrite.  “I’m really sorry, man.  You pushed a button, that’s all” — I turn my megawatt glare on Butch, Jesus, he’s going to start a fuckin’ brief for the defense, goddam proud asshole — “uh, well, that’s no excuse” — he understands that I am a hanging judge and he’s going to have to beg the court for leniency — “no, there’s no excuse for what I did, I’m sorry if I hurt you, really I am, let me make it up to you, please.”  This sounds sincere; it might even be sincere.  I let go of his wrists.

Robbie lifts his head and looks into Nicky’s eyes.  He is no longer shaking.  In fact, there’s a small smile on his face.   “You sly bitch, you love it when they beg, don’t you?” Nicky accuses, releasing Robbie back into our social circle.  Roy appears with the Campari, plus glasses of his best Chardonnay (only a Kendall Jackson Reserve, nothing actually special) for Nicky and me and a Bud Lite for Butch (who thinks that drinking Lite will help him keep his weight down) — all of this, and a second round, he will charge to Butch, and expect a huge tip too — to find all four of us, Butch included, smiling like good buddies.  Which, it seems, we are.  There are a lot of things I don’t understand about men, and one of them is how fighting with a guy can end up making you love one another.  Hell, sometimes it even works that way for me.

We break apart briefly into the two original couples, so that Butch and Robbie can tell their stories to sympathetic ears, but then we will re-form into new couples, Nicky with me (yes! yes!) and Butch with Robbie (definitely an odd couple, but then stranger things have worked), so that we can get properly acquainted.

Butch delivers his hot news to me in an undertone, his mouth a few inches from my ear.  “Christ, Sundance, these guys are the guys in the movie!  The guys that Redford and Newman played in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”  No wonder Nicky was so startled to hear that I’m called Sundance and my lover’s called Butch.  Good thing I didn’t tell him about our years in Bolivia.  “But they’re such fags, honey!” — he sees that I’m about to give him the “We are fags, for Chrissake, get over it” lecture, maybe even my rant about the straight-acting mindset, which never fails to piss him off totally — “On the other hand” — a graceful avoidance maneuver here — “once you’re around him a little while, you don’t even notice the makeup” — Oh, Butch, I protest, it’s just a little rouge, he probably uses it to keep from looking like Vampira under all those Gro-Lites (I see that Butch is completely in the dark on the florist front) — “and anyway he’s really cute.”  I don’t understand sexual attraction, I really don’t.  I mean, Robbie is sweet-looking, like I said, but just looking at him or talking to him would never give me a boner, yet here’s one on Butch, I can feel it against my leg and I’m sure I’m not the cause, it’s been many years, it’s been since I was a wild and sexy teenager, since Butch got hot for me in public (though I’ve never had a complaint at home, I guess this is something about being married).

I turn to Butch and kiss him lightly on the lips.  “I think Robbie needs some comforting from a big strong guy.”  He smiles at this and walks across the room to replace Nicky at Robbie’s side.  I see Nicky and Butch standing side by side and I notice that though they are physically quite different from one another, they have the same hair, and maybe they could be brothers.  I like that.  Yet Nicky was Sundance and Robbie was Butch, I think the director got it backwards.

Nicky walks over to me, gives me a big grin and one of those buddy-buddy mock punches on the shoulder.  He says, in faux-macho voice, “I guess I should tell you that I’m a sucker, in several senses, for the stud type.”

“We do what we can to keep up the image.”  I’m uneasy, worried that I might be taken for something I’m not.  “Are we skipping right to truth telling?  You know, the what-do-you-like what-do-you-do quiz?”  Nicky nods, gravely, as we walk back to his, now our, little table.  We put our wine glasses down.  Still standing, so that he can back out easily if he wants to, I take the plunge: “I’m a bottom.  I love getting fucked.  I can’t always keep it up to fuck another guy, though sometimes that’s just fine, but I can’t predict my reactions.  Well, I’m crazy to have my cock sucked, what guy isn’t, but I can’t promise the other.”  I am sweating.  I can feel drops of sweat slide down my armpits and soak into my flannel shirt.  I’m starting to think I can smell my own sweat, is that possible?  Might as well go the whole way: “Oh, and my cock isn’t very big.  It does the job just fine, but if you need a big dick I probably won’t do.”  No visible reaction from Nicky.  I dither on: “On the other hand, I’m a sucker for the campy, obviously faggy type, which I hope you won’t be offended if I say you are.  I mean, I think you’re an incredibly sexy guy.”  Oh Christ, who could listen to this drivel and still desire me?

Nicky sits down, and I sit down, we slide thigh against thigh under the table.  “However did you ever get to be 40 and maintain that naive, stammering, country-boy charm?”  He goes on in a deliberately prissy voice, “One, my favorite indoor sport is dicking butt — not a refined way of putting it, but then I think crude animal fun ought to be described crudely — so that I think we’ll, uh, fit together very well.  Two, about dicks, as far as I’m concerned as a consumer, they’re all the same size.  Three, as for my being faggy, well, it does pay to advertise, doesn’t it, honey?  You don’t think this is some sort of accident, do you?  This is an achievement.  Precious artistry.  By the way, you should sweat more; the smell is delicious.”

I laughed out loud and we both leaned forward so that we could smell one another’s wine-sweet breaths as we talked.  Though we were both aroused, we talked not about sex but about our work, how the smell of hearty Bolivian peasant cooking got into your clothes and wouldn’t ever quite wash out, how plants would mysteriously shrivel up and die in a couple of days, apparent suicide, how much we loved the little worlds that our jobs made, with their own schedules and calendars and cast of characters, how much we hated the long days, how ambivalent we felt about working in tandem with our lovers, how it made a strong bond and a source of friction at the same time.  We talked about the odd previous relationship that the two of us seemed to have had.  Nicky said that he figured my name — let’s face it, Sundance is not exactly a common one — plus the Bolivian connection was really too much of a coincidence, so he more or less knew who I was early on.  I said I wasn’t the romantic lightning-strike-of-love-at-first-glance type, but this time the lightning did strike me, I guess because we were already connected.

We held each other’s hands on the table and leaned forward further to kiss, for a long long time.

Then the waiter arrived with the main course, Schnitzel Natur for both of us, and another glass of the pleasant little white wine from the hillsides above Krems, and reluctantly interrupted our kiss; poor fellow, he must have been standing inconspicuouly around for some time, not wanting to interfere with lovers but fearing our meal would grow cold.  Nicky ordered a Gurken-Salat for each of us, to follow the veal.

At the next table sat a most amazing couple; Nicky and I privately called them the General and the Countess.  He was obviously a military officer, probably retired, in a magnificent black uniform liberally supplied with medals, ribbons, bars, and insignia.  She wore a moiré silk ball gown, high necked with lace, in an off-white Nicky identified as fawn.  His hair was full and white, hers equally full but a soft brown that suggested great skill on her hairdresser’s part.  They sat with the perfect posture of those who have had long lives as public figures.  They each held a flute of champagne and were looking with quiet pleasure into one another’s eyes.

Then they turned to Nicky and me, smiled politely, and held up their champagne glasses in a tribute to our love.  Nicky and I smiled in return and inclined our heads to the couple, silently thanking them for their gesture.  We all returned to our meals.  I had noticed that the General was eating a grilled trout and the Countess a chicken breast in cream sauce, with potato dumplings.  I made a note to try the trout next time.

Between bites of veal, Nicky asked, in a level voice, “Perhaps this is prying, but can you tell me how you did this?  I mean, how did I learn to speak German?  How did we get here?  Actually, just where is it that we are, Sundance?”  I took in the dining room, pleasant but not pretentious, and observed, gratefully, that two men in flannel shirts, jeans, black boots, and black leather jackets were not actually out of place there. There were businessmen in business suits doing business together.  There were tourists in informal clothes, even another pair of what I was quite sure were gay men, but probably not Americans, maybe Germans; in any case, they had the boots and the leather jackets, like us.  There were quite a few students, women and men, undoubtedly from die Universität Wien, in jeans and flannel shirts; the students sat in tables of four, five, and six, talked a lot, and consumed much wine.

Actually, I thought Nicky was taking it pretty well.  No wonder I loved him.

“Well, I can only answer the last one.  We’re in the Hotel Schubert, just inside the Ring in Vienna, near the University.  It seems like a nice place, don’t you think?”

“The veal is absolutely delicious.  And this wine has a fresh, spicy fruit taste to it.  I don’t suppose it travels well, but it certainly is delightful in its youth.  As I am sure you were, my dear.  You’re not going to be able to tell me how you know where we are, are you?”

I had to admit that this was beyond me, that in fact I’d never been to Austria, at least so far as I knew.  “These things sometimes happen to me.  Well, not this thing, exactly, I’ve never, uh what’s it called, translocated before, not even by myself.  But I’ve flown” — flown?, queried Nicky, as he tore open a hard roll and thoughtfully began spreading Danish butter on it — “yes, flown, like through the air, but no wings.  And sometimes I just know things.  And sometimes people just know things about me.”

The cucumber salad arrived.  It was perfect, which our hovering waiter was gratified to hear. He added that he hoped the Jägersuppe and veal had been equally to our liking.  Nicky and I wondered to ourselves whether we had liked the soup; on the basis of the veal we maintained that it too had been delicious.  Satisfied, the waiter slipped out of sight, and I returned to our little adventure and its causes.  “I hope this won’t dim your enthusiasm for a night in bed with me — I’m just as turned on as I was before the Hauptspeise got here, and this wine is definitely mowing down any stray inhibitions I might have had left — but I’m not in control of any of this.  I do seem to be able to talk in German, which is a surprise, but then you do too.”  It occurred to me that I was starting to talk like him.

“What happens when dinner is over?  What do I do, go outside and flag a taxi to take me back to the Embarcadero?”

“Don’t get testy.  Anyway, you don’t flag taxis down here, you go to a taxi stand, there’s one on almost every corner.  And that might well get you a cab home.  It would certainly be worth trying… If you want to leave, which I seriously hope you don’t want to, man, I’m crazy for your body, please don’t go now, see you’ve got me pleading.”  He looked deeply disinclined to flee; naked emotions often do the trick, especially if they’re genuine.  In a voice so soft he could just barely hear it while no one around us could, I pressed my suit; “I want you to go up to our room with me” — how did I know we had a room here?  oh, well — “and boink the crap out of me.  Well, not literally; maybe that would be an interesting trip, but I had something more vanilla in mind.”  I thought “boink the crap out of me” had just the right level of crudeness.  And I was right.

We skipped dessert, which undoubtedly would have been stunning, but sometimes nature calls and men must obey, maybe we’ll do dessert next time.  We even skipped coffee, which is saying a lot in Vienna.

The room was big and airy, high ceilings, huge windows opening onto the street outside, where the bakery and coffee smells of breakfast would appear at dawn, a big feather bed.  I opened one of the windows to let in the night cool, so that we’d really appreciate the bed.

Nicky admitted that he needed to take a piss, bad, and I told him the w.c. was down at the end of the hall, we shared it with the other rooms on this corridor, which made him protest, “Jesus!  Do I have to go down the hall to wash my dick, too?” but I could reassure him: “Not for that, no.  The closet over there labeled Dusche is actually a shower.  Trust me.  I realize it’s small, but you’ll fit into it, there’s nice lavender soap, there’s a shower head that produces hot water, and there’s a drain in the floor.  I wonder some about the room under us, but, hell, let them take their chances.”

The other pair of guys were indeed gay, and German too.  They had the room below us, and if there was any problem from our Dusche, they were oblivious to it.  They were very very noisy lovers, which incited Nicky and me but might have been a trial for the other guests.  But who knows?  Sometimes sex, like sneezing, is contagious.

Nicky went off for his piss, and came back not only deeply relieved but also fascinated with Austrian toilets as a species.  Yes, indeed, I said, they collect the shit on that ledge, like a presentation platter, before you finally flush it away.  I think it’s a kick that there are still some things in the world to astound an old queen.

Nicky then said he wanted to take a shower, and I asked him, what, was he all sweaty and dirty from the long trip for Chrissake, and he said he wanted to make himself fresh and nice for me, which was a very thoughtful notion, but I said that I was really looking forward to the smell of him, not lavender soap, and he camped a big evil grin oooh at me, and folded his clothes carefully on a massive carved chair and came to me where I lay already naked on my back on that big soft firm bed and stretched himself out between my legs and sucked my cock.  Afterwards I rolled over so he could enter me, slowly, and fuck me gently and easily.  It was all light and elegant and raw and dirty too.

Later, when Butch asked if Nicky fucked better than he did, and I got angry with all this dumb ranking shit — where does his come from?  sports?  consumerism?  war?  relentless capitalism?  space aliens?  did people give scores to their cathedrals in the Middle Ages and make lists of the Top Ten Popes of all time? — and told Butch that Nicky was the very best of his kind and Butch was the very best of his kind and that there were an awful lot of kinds and so an awful lot of Bests of Kind, I tried to describe to myself just what Nicky’s kind of fucking was and what Butch’s was.

This is not so hard for Butch, because Butch has a jock take on a lot of life, fucking included: he’s psyched for the meet, he’s got the stamina, he’s gonna drive in there and win, he has a good record on getting points for style, and he’s a great team player.  Ok, I sometimes have a problem with the winning thing, but mostly his approach is easy to understand and satisfying to fit into.

Nicky’s got a lot of subtleties.  The warmth and mellowness of his love-making is like this music I heard in Bolivia, when the extravagant Max imported the Vespucci Quartet from Firenze and had them play a month of chamber music, one concert every night of the week, except Sundays of course.  One Thursday night was all Mendelssohn, luminous and elegant, but with this forward drive and inner strength.  I’d never heard anything like it before.  That’s Nicky, plus Nicky has a raw edge.

By the way, that’s not Max; with Max, he takes you, or you take him, sometimes one, sometimes the other.  Max is ferocious, and he brings out the raptor in you too.  (“Raptor” is a word I got from Max.)  Butch can be really rough and crude, but never fierce.  Nicky overlays crudeness on a Mendelssohn string quartet.  It’s like fresh asparagus spears in hollandaise sauce.  You get your fingers messy with the sauce, of course you eat it with your fingers, there’s this raw green almost bitter taste but it’s also slightly sweet and delicately complex.  Yeah, I know, the stuff is completely phallic too.  Jesus, I like asparagus.  I wish the rest of Bolivia, and not just Max, had discovered the stuff, so Butch and I could serve it at the restaurant.  We are cursedly authentic.

Nicky and I curled up under the comforter.  For a few seconds, I embraced him from behind, enjoyed the range of smells his body had, some of which were mine to start with, and then we both fell off the cliff into sleep.

In the middle of the night the Germans down below woke us with their loud moaning, cries of “Mein Gott”, and what was surely the sound of hips slapping against buttocks.  I was still, or again, spooned behind Nicky, and die deutschen Schwulen, or my dreams, got my cock hard.  I could hear Nicky surface from sleep, and he opened up to me, and I slid inside him, just like that.  I came very fast, like slipping on ice, and we scarcely made a sound, but Nicky was drawing in deep breaths and I could feel the skin of his chest flush hot under my hands, and I was pretty sure I had given him something like what he’d given me earlier.

Dawn arrived, along with the expected bread and coffee smells.  Nicky was spooned behind me, and slipped into me as soon as I was awake enough to welcome him in.  This time he hit my button and I went wild on his dick, thrashing and moaning, but he held my hips tight against his body until he came.  And then he jacked me off, nuzzling my neck and talking dirty into my ear.  Afterwards, I told him he was a fuckin’ dickhound fag, and he kissed me.

He gave me dibs on the Dusche, too.  I sort of hated to wash the smell off.

Nicky complained about having to put on yesterday’s clothes — he turns out to be an extremely neat and clean fellow — but I protested that I had no way of calling up magic laundry service as well as magic travel, what the hell did he expect?  He was understanding, but still a bit grumpy on the subject.

The breakfast room of the Hotel Schubert was utterly empty, and only one waiter was on duty — a gorgeous young man who was suspiciously like my Joselito, in both appearance and behavior.  Nicky, too, seemed to find him disturbingly familiar.  The boy turned out to speak appalling German, really almost no German at all.  We tried asking for eggs, he told us in pidgin German that we could sit anywhere we wanted.  Nicky shifted into English, but that was worse.  I did it over in Spanish, then French (wow!  I knew I spoke Spanish, but where were all these other languages coming from?  could I do Turkish?  Japanese?), which got some flickers of recognition, but still did not compute.

Nicky tried Italian, why the hell not.  (“I have 36 years with an Italian opera queen”, Nicky explained, “so of course I speak Italian.  Can you say accommodation?”  Jesus, 36 years!  Since they were little boys!  I am amazed, and envious.)  Instant click.  Tonio had, he told Nicky, an Italian mother and a Spanish father — oh, those looks! —  but his papa seems to have supplied only genetic material, no linguistic contribution at all.  The boy grew up in a gritty suburb of Milan, or at least so he says.

Tonio flirts extravagantly with both of us, in Italian.  He tells us he was hoping we would stay another day or two, he would show us a good time.  We are charmed, aroused, disturbed.  We figure that Tonio has the breakfast service because this meal is the most formulaic and therefore the least likely to get him into language trouble.  And they are probably paying him almost nothing, assuming that his, uh, charm will net him a lot from certain ones of the men who come through the hotel.

Through Nicky — ok, I don’t speak Italian, which is a pity — I ask Tonio about die deutschen Schwulen.  He laughs and says they are a scandal; they do not come down from their room before noon, they derange the chambermaids’ schedules, they leave towels with dubious dark brown stains on them, other guests complain about the noise they make.  But Tonio cants one hip up and says that in his experience they are very generous.  Who would want to argue with that.

Tonio manages to bring us a more than ample breakfast — with anchovies on the scrambled eggs, even.  With the bill he brings us each a snifter of clear liquid.  Breakfast for My Champions, he cries.  It is slivovitz, and we drink it reflectively, floating up in a cloud of plum fumes, while Nicky tells me about doing a Serbian guy in Chicago twenty years ago.  Tonio arrives to collect our pile of schillings, and when he turns around, Nicky stuffs a packet of tip money into the boy’s back pocket and feels up the kid’s ass.  Tonio is grinding back, it’s no issue.  Inexplicably, Nicky says that Carlito likes it this way.

The breakfast of bizarre champions is over.  We appear at the desk, where no one seems to care that we never had any luggage. I offer an American Express card, good all around the world, but Elsa, the stern young woman behind the desk, tells me that our bill has been paid already, by General Rakoczy, so that there is no necessity for further payment (I translate from the German).  She also tells me that our car will be ready for us in a few minutes.

And so it is.  Well, it’s my car, my dependable Toyota Camry, and Nick and I get in it, and I drive us over the Santa Cruz mountains on Route 17 (fantastic winding road, towering redwoods, with tiny blue hound’s-tongues — cynoglossum, wild forget-me-not, Nick says — blooming underneath them) while we tell our life histories to one another.  It’s amazing how much of Nick’s story is Robbie’s, and how much of mine is Butch’s, back thirty, forty years.  Nick tells me a disturbing tale about this sexy Peruvian boy Carlito — funny thing, Carlito was my road name in our Bolivian bandit days — from when he and Robbie lived on Potrero Hill, and I tell him about Max and his boys in Bolivia, a piece of my life I’m genuinely ashamed about, and about my seductive, infuriating Joselito, and we decide the two of us are skittering on a twisty road together, and I don’t mean Route 17.

When Nick and I get to my place, it’s almost 10 in the morning and Butch and Robbie are still in bed, all sleepy and stubbly.

I take Nick on to Los Altiplanos, to show off the place (and, I guess, to make sure things are ok; I’m not used to being away from the restaurant for two days in a row yet).  Nick is suitably impressed.  And there’s Joselito, and of course it’s Nick’s Peruvian Carlito, ten years older.  But my Bolivian kisses him and calls him Charlie — Charles Nicholas, Jose-Carlito explains to me — and Uncle Charlie the Candy Man, and starts to tell me what a dirty, dirty old candy man that Charlie is, but I cut him off — this is real meanness, Nick is humiliated, and suddenly I don’t care for Joselito, or whatever the hell his name is, any more — and take Nick into the city, so he can show off Belles Roses (and I can buy two dozen red roses for Butch) and take me upstairs to the Charles-Roberts apartment, where we end up in the bedroom and replay our first love-making at the Hotel Schubert.

On other Mondays I will lie on that bed tangled up with Nick, enjoying those moments when your body remembers the other man’s cock inside you and you are loose and still and satisfied and utterly outside of sex and unreservedly happy with your lover.  In that circle of pleasure, Nick and I will tell each other the dark things, the things we’ve done and the things we’ve fantasized about doing that we are too ashamed to say to anyone else, even, or maybe especially, Butch and Robbie.

In telling we start to erase history, so that we can re-invent ourselves and our lovers again.

3 Responses to “Vergissmeinnicht”

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