Moment Thirty-One (Trade)


I told the tall man with the beard and the round glasses that made him resemble a teacher that I knew my way back home. I was already out of the bathroom when he asked me that. I had washed my hands in the sink by the green shower curtain, and used the fancy-looking liquid soap whose dark green plastic bottle reminded me of avocadoes for no apparent reason. I had dried my hands with the pink bath towel hanging from the wall by the mirror. It might have been his towel or his roommate’s. I had not met the roommate. The roommate was but an immaculate white door at the end of the hallway.

When I came out of the bathroom the man with the beard and the glasses, whose name I did not know how to spell, was wearing a different pair of underwear. It was the first thing I noticed when I came out of the bathroom and went into his bedroom, where he was moving around, supposedly arranging things. It was then that I told him I was going to take my coat and go because I didn’t know what else to say or do. It felt weird to come out of the bathroom and go straight to the hanger by the entrance door. That’s why I went into the bedroom one last time.

His eyes were suddenly so big that I couldn’t look at him.

I was so embarrassed I could only look at the high mattress bed with the white sheets and the white covers, their whiteness so blinding in the light coming from the windows. Those unforgivable rays of light coming through the shutters and the naked windows overlooking a parking lot. The light in which I had watched him fall asleep and heard him snore, felt his muscles twitching under me. In that same light I saw his face gradually relax, his lips parting. In that same light I saw a string of saliva extend between his teeth as his mouth opened to take in gulps of air. In that same light I saw dust motes dancing and his face catch fire when I was desperately trying to fall asleep but couldn’t. I tried everything except counting sheep. I tried measuring the symmetry of the white closets closed neatly, tried mentally silencing the whirring of the radiator. I looked at the laundry baskets stacked on the closets. I tried not to think about the fact that I had wiped my hands clean in his pajama top. I tried to ignore the smell of cum that mingled innocently with the smell of his eau de toilette whose name he couldn’t remember.

His body was unresponsive. I knew it when his hand slid down my back lifelessly. I felt it when I caressed his other hand lying on his chest.

And all I could think of was the roommate, the immaculate white door at the end of the hallway. Had he heard the man with the beard and the glasses moan? Had he heard that final release when the man with the beard and the glasses told me he was going to cum? He must have heard the apologies at least. The argument with the stress relief, he must have heard that.

Minutes earlier we had cuddled under the white covers, and while I pinned him down against the bed with my head lying heavy on his chest, he kept pushing my right hand downwards towards his crotch and moaned from deep inside his chest when my hand reached its destination. Slowly, I kept moving my hand over his erection just to hear him moan because here was a man who had picked me up, had bought bath tissue and avocado oil from Costco, had taken me to a park and then to his place, a man who had held all that power over me but who was now moaning because I was touching him.

There had been an uncanny detachment between me and my hands. As when I asked him whether he could drive his car with only one hand so that I could hold his other one. Maybe he felt the same detachment between him and his right hand, the one that felt warm and heavy against my knee. Maybe he felt the same detachment when I watched him take his sweatpants off.

Then I stopped touching him, and the moaning ceased, and he got on top of me and kissed my neck. There was hesitation before the kiss, I felt it, as if for a moment he had considered kissing me on the lips but concluded it was dangerous.

A visit to Costco and a nearby park doesn’t say too much about a guy anyway. Not even the jokes about the huge wallpaper with Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

When my hands were no longer moving, his right hand started to dig into my t-shirt until it found skin, and there rejoiced and bloomed into a series of circular movements that felt ticklish. I begged him to stop and he stopped. I told him I wanted to make that moment all about him and not about me because I was all about that, about satisfying a bearded tall man who was more than ten years older than me.

It was then that he told me I should continue doing my job.

And so I slid my hand under his shirt and felt the hairs on his stomach and chest; then found one of his nipples and circled it with my index finger.

He started moaning again, but only when my hand went down there.

I told him to slow down. Shshsh.

You can’t tease me like that, he said.

I can do whatever I please, I told the man with the beard and the round glasses whose name I did not know how to spell.

He knew perfectly well that it was going to happen.

It had happened already when I asked him whether he wanted me to go. He said he didn’t want me to go but he should probably get out of bed and take a shower because a friend of his was supposed to stop by in the next couple of hours. I told him I was going to go and he said okay. I got up and went to the bathroom to wash my hands.

He knew it was going to happen when we were still at the park. I saw it in the way he looked at my crotch when we were contemplating one of those works of art in the park by the river.

I believe it was called Trade. The work of art I mean.

We were looking at the little plastic animals covered in what seemed like petrol. One of them was a giraffe. Another one was an animal whose name I was unable to recall.

I’m sure it had something to do with trade because there, by the door, before I left his apartment, he hugged me and thanked me, and it all felt like a handshake, the kind of handshake merchants do at the end of a successful transaction.


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