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And then, one day, there was Stanford Dane—and eventually there was Abraham.
With Stanford everything was different, nothing unfolded according to the set plan, and, amazingly enough, Mrs. Childress purred through the whole process.
Dane came to Asheville at the height of an arts festival in which the new live drama theater was being launched. He came with a trumpet fanfare, striding in on a red carpet, as the guest stage director from Savannah, Charleston, and Baltimore. Our mayor had seen a production of his in Baltimore and had begged him, histrionically, I’m sure, on bended knee to deign to deliver the first play in our new playhouse.
The great man of the American theater, Stanford Dane, arrived at the doorstep of the Swannanoa Boarding House for lodging during the preparation for this three-month festival running of his play. He hadn’t intended to board at the Swannanoa, and the flattery of my being the reason he did became part of the unnatural hold he eventually was to have over me. For the entirety of our relationship I lived under the misconception that somewhere under that controlling, consuming nature of his that he cared for me.
I didn’t notice him standing there, at the top of the stairs to the front porch as engrossed as I was in what I was furiously writing, trying to capture all that happened the previous night and the thoughts and emotions that it had evoked from me. It was Sunday. Mrs. Childress didn’t make us work the special services on Sunday, and she herself spent most of that day in prayer and praise up at the Baptist church at the top of the street. So, itching to try to capture—and to come to grips with the previous night’s event, I had taken my paper and pens to the front porch of the boarding house and was sitting at the table out there, deep in thought and in making a short, dramatic scene of it.
The previous evening, a Saturday, a man had arrived, almost hesitating as he mounted the stairs of the porch to the front door, at twilight. I was in the dining room, clearing up the last of the linen from supper and spied him through the window. He immediately arrested my attention because of the incongruity of him. He was finely dressed, as if he worked in one of the banks or attorney’s offices here, but he filled his clothes out to capacity—at least in the chest and arms—like he was a man accustomed to heavy-lifting, repetitive work. He was of pale complexion, though, so it would not have been work in the outdoors—and his hair, although curly and a light brown, was unruly about his head, as if he knew little of the grooming that went with the cut and quality of his clothes. He wasn’t old, but he must have been a good ten years older than I was. And I clearly could see him through the dining room window that wrapped around in a bay at the side of the front porch right next to the entry door. He had a sad expression on his face, which, though handsome enough, was marred by the squint of his eyes. The hand that was raised to the door knocker was rough and gnarled—another incongruity with the quality of his clothing.
In my writing of it, I spent considerable time on this entry into the scene, wanting to convey the mystery of him from the very beginning—the incongruities I instantly latched onto. Scrutinizing people as possible characters in my works had become second nature to me.
The mystery of it only deepened when Mrs. Childress responded to his heavy knock and I heard him ask in a deep, raspy voice, “By any chance does a young man named Charles Bairr live and work here?”
“Yes he does. And is it about his work that you come here?” Mrs. Childress asked.
There was a pause, and then the man answered, “Yes, I guess it would be—unless you would just let me speak with—”
“That would be fifty cents for the room for no more than two hours, and a dollar fifty basic for Charles’s attentions—and seventy-five cents more for each time there is a . . . finish,” Mrs. Childress answered in an authoritative voice. Two dollars and seventy-five cents on nonreturnable deposit. I don’t think she had heard the man’s incomplete sentence. But I had, and I immediately thought that he must be shy and that in his hesitancy, I would have to work extra hard to get my needed chalk mark out of him—Mrs. Childress did not like to entertain claims of return on deposit for incompletion of the basic expense. Most of the men were easy. They customarily were only there for immediate relief and then, almost in embarrassment at their own preferences, were dressed and away with nary a comment on the experience or my performance—or the fulfillment of the contract.
I was to find that Stephen Bander was there for relief but none that he could name or that I could provide.
The man said nothing further at that point. He just took out his wallet and doled three dollars into Mrs. Childress’s talons. Having looked into his wallet as he did so, Mrs. Childress gave the small smile that I knew indicated that she hoped he would become a regular visitor because he clearly had the means to do so. She became especially friendly to him because güvenilir bahis he made no indication of expecting twenty-five cents returned to him on the deposit—nor did Mrs. Childress volunteer to give him change. With Mrs. Childress, money moved in only one direction comfortably.
She led him into the foyer. The door closed behind them and I heard my name bellowed out by Mrs. Childress. I had stopped picking up the dinner linen at his mention of my name—most of my clients not wanting to know my name any more than they wanted to reveal their real name to me. Upon Mrs. Childress’s summons, I walked out into the foyer, expecting the man to say something to her or to me why he had asked for me by name. But he just stood there, staring at me. I sensed even then his indecision on whether to bolt out of the door or not. But he didn’t.
The man shuffled along behind us, down a corridor to the very private room, with its own full bath, including a large claw-footed bathtub—quite a luxury in those days—at the back of the bedroom wing. Mrs. Childress had found that a favorite of her new-service clientele was to be bathed—and more—in a porcelain bathtub. And Saturday night was a particularly popular time for this, the men being able to see to two of their basic weekly needs at the same time. I often thought that during that period I must have been the cleanest young man in Asheville. As we walked in the purposely darkened hallway, the man looked down at his feet, and although his physique was magnificent, as I could clearly tell, he was hunched over as an old man with many burdening sins.
When we were alone, he walked over to the nightstand and placed something on it that I assumed, upon getting a glimpse of it, was an envelope—hopefully with money in it. Then he returned across the room, as far away from the bedstead as he could get, and sat in a chair facing the bed. I started to undress.
“You needn’t do that,” he whispered. “I just want to look at you and perhaps talk a bit.”
“We must fuck or I will not be paid my share,” I answered, while I continued undressing, taking my shirt off my shoulders. I knew that I needed to put him into arousal or this would not be a good day for me. Mrs. Childress demanded seventy-five cents for the first ejaculation upon nonrefundable deposit, but I only got my share of that seventy-five cents if there was an ejaculation.
“Well, if you must—if we must. I suppose I would like to see what you have become. My name is Stephen, Stephen Bander,” he said. And he gave me a searching look as if that might mean something to me, which it didn’t.
“I am Charlie,” I answered, as I undid the belt to my trousers. For some reason I did not want to give him more—they rarely asked and I never wanted to allow them into the personal corner of my life. I never lied by giving a false name; this was not a large town. I left it up to them to cling to that false protection if they wished. In this case, my reticence was nonsensical, of course, as I had already heard him enunciate my name.
I spent considerable time at the table on the porch the next morning trying to get that part of the scene just right.
“I know. Your name is Charlie. Charles Bairr. With two Rs.”
I looked at him sharply as my trousers and underdrawers dropped in folds onto the floor around my feet, wondering how he knew about the two Rs.
But all of his attention now was focused on my naked body, and by his gasp and the intake his breath, I knew that he did want me. For the next nearly hour, I kept telling myself that. That he really had wanted me. It helped assuage the wound of rejection.
I cannot claim that I did not enjoy the trembling, hardening reaction I had on other men or that I found the act of lying under different men—and sometimes in quick succession or even in multiples—of any thickness or length repulsive or even of indifference to me. At no time did I become a numb prostitute, shutting my mind to what was happening so that I could endure it—or needing to pretend that I enjoyed it. I loved the looks men gave me when I stood naked before them; it didn’t matter how unattractive they might be. What mattered was the effect my nakedness, my willingness to open my legs to them, had on them and on what was swinging—and rising—between their thighs. Their uncontrollable, naked desire was my arousal. And I loved being cocked—being held close and controlled and men becoming frenzied and captive of my sheath, not being able to get enough of me.
This perhaps was why I would melt at the likes of a black Samuel or an ugly-faced rough workman. If they were able to produce a hard pole for me to climb—the longer and thicker a challenge the better—their color or social standing meant nothing to me. Their involuntary hardness and their show of desire to have it inside me—that I had this involuntary effect on them—was all the arousal I needed. Their shudder and flow was my power over them and affirmation of my own worth to them—and therefore to myself.
I would never write of myself as a victim during those boarding house days—beyond the türkçe bahis fact that I was being prostituted for the profit of others for something I’d be willing to give away for free for the mere award of the lust and want in a man’s eyes when I stood before him naked—and his resulting need to have his most precious possession churning up inside me against any and all dangers to his own position, well-being, or dignity.
Here, in my writing of the scene about Stephen Bander, I had to make a choice—whether to write this for an audience or just for myself. As I was trying to capture it faithfully for myself, though, I chose to baldly write it as it actually happened. This would be a play for my eyes only. I couldn’t expect others to understand, let along condone, my attitude toward the lusts and weaknesses of men—but I was compelled to burst out of the bounds of denying the reality of me at least to myself.
Stephen Bander wouldn’t make a move at that point and for moments afterward as he sat there, staring at me and saying nothing. Deciding he was not going to come for me, I walked to within his grasp—usually that’s all it took with the initially reluctant ones—and leaned over and took his finely cut jacket off his back and started unbuttoning his vest.
“You needn’t. We needn’t.”
“We must. As far as I know, she is watching from somewhere.” I wasn’t lying in this, although I never could discern the presence of an eyehole in the room, I sometimes felt an unseen scrutiny and certainly didn’t put the practice beyond Mrs. Childress’s capabilities or interests. There were times when men came to the house who I thought were of particular interest to Mrs. Childress, and often, when this was the case, she instructed me to take them to that small room of mine where the headboard would bang against the wall of her bedroom when set in a rocking motion and from where she could hear his rough talk and my moans.
“And at the end of your time,” I continued telling Bander, “there must be a chalk mark on the slate over the board. More than one, though, and you will have to pay seventy-five cents more—each.”
“More than once?” he asked in almost a gasp.
“The younger local miners can provide four or five chalk marks in the two hours,” I answered. It wasn’t a boast. It was the simple, sore truth.
He winced at that, and I didn’t know if it was from some feeling of inferiority at the number given or from the mention of miners. He certainly had the physique to rival any of the miners who regularly took out their week of tension on me on a Saturday night.
“A chalk mark?” His breathing was heavier now, because I had continued undressing him. I was kneeling between his spread knees and had his vest off and was unbuttoning his shirt—to reveal a barrel chest of much breadth and depth and nipples standing out strongly, signaling a need I knew he had even if he was denying it.
“Yes. It marks each time you . . . come. It must be at least once or I will not be paid.”
His breathing was ragged and he let out a little moan from the effect of my lips going to one of his nipples. My hands were unbuttoning the fly of his trousers, and a hard cock nearly sprang free upon release.
But when my lips went to it, it began to whither immediately.
“I’m sorry. Please. Perhaps too quickly. Could you just go over and sit on the bed for a minute? I will finish undressing myself and join you on the bed.” The voice was stressed, and deeply apologetic. I was afraid he would bolt for the door then and escape, so I did as he bid, determined to earn my share of seventy-five cents—I was only paid by the ejaculation; I received nothing from the payment for the room or my basic presence—and I was aware that I had to try to do so less directly with this one.
As I sat down on the bed, I looked down at what he had put on the nightstand. It wasn’t an envelope; it was a folded piece of paper, and it had my name written on it—correctly spelled and in a familiar hand that I thought I should recognize but could not, at that moment, put a name to. I quickly concluded that this is how he had known my name. I had been recommended to him—by name. I looked up from the paper and saw that he had finished undressing and was giving me a look that was more stressed than lustful.
He had a powerful body; he was not built especially large for fucking, but the massiveness of his chest and biceps and thigh and calf muscles were very pleasing to me. He obviously did—or had done—hard labor with his body, which was still hard muscle and no fat. His ribs and abdomen lay on his torso like he was wearing Roman armor, and I wanted to run my hands over him to determine that he wasn’t made of steel.
His cock was engorging again as he stood there and watched me stroking my own cock for him. As he walked toward the bed, I stretched out on the mattress and raised my arms, welcoming him to stretch out beside me in the double bed. As he did so, I moved my lips to his taunt nipples again and encircled his waist with my arms and palmed his well-rounded buttocks, which were as hard and güvenilir bahis siteleri unyielding as the rest of him.
Our cocks were resting against each other, and I brought a hand around and encircled them both as I started to move my mouth down his clavicle en route once again to the root of him. But even as I rubbed the two cocks together, I felt him going flaccid again.
He brushed my hand away and pulled me back up along his body until we were laying face to face. The hardness of his body was arousing to me. I was not sure what his problem was.
“Do you want me to . . . is it that you want me to cock you?” I asked this hesitantly. This sometimes was required of me—but not often. It was usually me they wanted to fuck.
“No. It is nothing. Just let me hold you a moment and look at your face. No, no,” he said with a sigh at length. “There is no similarity. I should not have come. Nothing alike. It would be a disloyalty. For me at least.”
As he was saying that, I had taken one of his callus-hard hands in mine and was playing with his fingers. That’s when I noticed them. They were groomed well enough and seemed to have been cleaned thoroughly. But there, at the base of the fingernail, where it met the flesh of the finger, the black line. The line of blackness that I remember being told a hundred times would not wash away once you had worked with it. Coal dust.
“How is it that you know my name? Who has recommended me to you?” I murmured, suddenly all attention, my mind racing on the possibilities.
“I cannot tell,” he whispered. “It would be a cruelty. I should not have come.”
I watched him from my reclining position on the bed, as he hurriedly dressed.
“I’m sorry. I cannot get the rise,” he told me apologetically when he was done dressing. “It’s not you. Oh, god, it’s not you. It’s me.”
“It’s all right,” I answered, trying to use my reasonable voice, wondering if there had been anyone else turned away who I could have made money off of—but principally lost in thought about what this could mean—whether I was letting my imagination running away with me and it didn’t really mean anything at all.
I saw him take his wallet out.
“You have already paid,” I said. “Did you forget. It is not that the house will not have its money—what has happened has more than fully been covered by the deposit you gave—it’s that I will not be given a share.”
But as if he hadn’t heard me at all, I watched him take five one-dollar bills out of his wallet and lay them on the nightstand by the bed and, almost in the same movement, take up the folded paper that was there and slide it into the inner pocket of his jacket. And then, in an afterthought, he reached up and marked a vertical line on the slate over the bed with the chalk.
Saying nothing else, he turned and left me alone in the room.
No one visited me that night, but he’d paid for his time, so Mrs. Childress was happy and I certainly should have been happy, as I’d received pay for more than a couple of days of fucking without doing it. But I spent that Saturday night, awake, knowing that the incongruous gentlemen with the coal miner’s fingers had left somehow unsatisfied—and something grated on my sense of pride. I did not feel diminished when a man fucked me; I felt diminished when his mind or body told him he would not. And the circumstances were such that my mind raced all night, setting forth the scene as well as my recalling would do—as a play. Certainly a tragedy rather than a comedy.
* * * *
“What is that you are writing so intensely that you did not heed my appearance on the stage, young man?”
The voice was booming, rich-toned, and although spoken jovially, it’s message had a touch of pique below the surface, leaving me red faced with the impression that I had committed some act of inconsideration by not having seen the man mount the stairs to the covered front porch of the Swannanoa Boarding House. And when I looked up, I felt doubly embarrassed, because such a magnificent figure of a man as this was due a welcome everywhere he went—and he clearly knew it.
“It is nothing. Just some scribblings,” I answered in a stammering voice. “If you are seeking rooms, you are free to sit a few minutes here on the porch. The proprietress, Mrs. Childress, is at church but should be back any moment now.”
“I prefer to stand,” he answered in the booming voice of his. And I could see why that was so. His appearance was so commanding, his attire so flamboyant and colorful that he took center stage. Until his command of all about him was complete, he would be holding the spotlight. “And I am serious. What are you writing with such concentration? Are you a famous writer, my young man?”
“No, no, not famous at all,” I sputtered, looking up the full six and more feet of him, from highly polished boots and scarlet plush trousers to filmy and fluffy embroidered white shirt, covered with a shiny blue jacket cut high at the wrists and wide at the lapels to permit room for the white lacing exuberantly cascading there, past a finely chiseled face, with a flamboyant handle-bar mustache and thick, glowering eyebrows on to a healthy head of salt and pepper hair worn as a lion’s mane. If there had been a poster of Manifest Destiny in the making, he would have been the model for it.
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