Kiss Me and Know My Sorrow

an excerpt

I dislike small talk. My past consisted of encounters in which I approached a man and made it plain I wanted him inside me. I was new to the gay scene in Tyler, shocked a modest city in the middle of East Texas concealed these gregarious, slightly dim-witted men.

Marcus had invited me to his apartment before the actual party at Stefan's house. Plates of tuna-smeared crackers floated among the dozen or so men alongside red wine in clear plastic cups. I made an effort to sip, not gulp. In the kitchen, someone polished dishes and hummed a tune I didn't recognize.

His name was Edwin, and he'd been stealing glances since my arrival. He was cute, not handsome. Distinct difference. A little plump, but his cheeks had an appealing roundness. His blue eyes sparkled like newly discovered gems. I feared he might be dumb. Catching him each time, I smiled and stiffly nodded.

As time passed, I drank more quickly. I asked Marcus for a fourth glass. Were the other men feeling a buzz? I didn't know them well enough to ask. I peeked down the hall and glimpsed Edwin preening before a mirror. I find gay vanity disconcerting. If a man takes longer to primp than my mother, I cross him off my list. He's welcome to fuck me, but I consider nothing beyond simple ass-pounding. Still, Edwin's delight intrigued me. Imagine the joy when a new shirt flatters your shoulders or chest? I stared so intently that a younger man with wispy blonde hair was shouting my name before I heard. He asked if I knew some random local fag. I explained I was new in town. Well, not completely new. More like a refugee from the big, bad city. I needed somewhere safe and familiar. I came home because nowhere else would have me. I didn't tell the whole sob story to the blond, only some of it.

No one knew I'd left Houston because some fucking bastard made it clear my reputation would vaporize if I didn't haul ass out of town. I thought dating a guy so connected socially, who exchanged flirtatious smiles and gestures with a stream of passing men and also strolled into the newest nightclub before I knew it had opened-would be a dream come true. I was so invested in adoring this power by proxy, the fucking bastard became an afterthought. Our relationship derailed, and I simply watched the cars leap the tracks. When he finally sat me down for a chat, I was relieved. I could stop speculating how he'd ditch me. Of course, I never expected him to blackmail me into finding a new area code. Tyler was too provincial to spawn a faggot so omnipotent.

The welcome warmth from the wine bloomed within me as the gathering broke up. The men headed toward their cars, some speculating who might show up at the real party. Most of these men were attractive at a passing glance. It had been over a month since I'd felt a dick inside me. I crossed my legs and gazed about the room. Only Marcus and Edwin remained, both in the kitchen, giggling and teasing. Feeling abandoned, fearing it an omen, I slid into the kitchen and began laughing with them, as if I knew the joke. Marcus blushed when he noticed me and excused himself.

Edwin and I stood no more than three feet apart. He was an inch or two shorter than I was. Typically, I prefer very tall men. That fucking bastard was just a breath below six and half feet. It thrills me to tilt my head toward heaven just for a kiss. Edwin asked me if I knew Stefan. Small talk; I hate small talk. I asked him what song he'd been humming, but he didn't remember. He smiled, lips full and moist like a peach slice. My sexual past reads like a sports page, but I still believe in the sanctity of a first kiss. If it goes wrong, you may never establish momentum. I wondered if Marcus had left in order to facilitate this moment. Perhaps Edwin asked him to disappear once I made a move. I advanced two steps, but that wasn't enough. I refused to move again-he needed to show initiative. His eyelids fluttered, and his mouth parted. I feared he might stick out his tongue before reaching my lips. Nothing is worse than a man who can't keep his tongue restrained until your mouths connect.

The kiss lasted perhaps fifteen seconds. His tongue slipped across my teeth. I didn't detect a hint of aggression, no subconscious need to "claim" me as his new property. I wondered if he was happy, not just now, but generally. How many weeks before he realized that once I feel secure with a man, I start to forget him? Our lips finally parted. I tasted salt. I'm sure he tasted wine. I had already pledged myself to a man before arriving at the real party. What if I found someone truly handsome, not just cute? Someone thinner? A kiss doesn't obligate you for the night. Of course, maybe no man would enter my orbit, too timid to approach the new faggot on the scene. Edwin gazed at me with those bright, innocent eyes. I managed a low laugh and suggested discretion in case Marcus returned. Edwin sighed and tilted his head, told me Marcus likely hid behind the door. He listened to us like a mother does as her daughter and her date murmur softly, venturing into the dark.