Monday, October 22, 2012

Soy Sauce Face by Sedonia Guillone

AN EXCERPT from Soy Sauce Face

At the open door he pauses. “Okay, thanks.” His eyes lock with mine, the way they did in his mirror’s reflection. For a moment, other words seem to hover on his lips, and then he decides not to say them. He’s been doing this lately, leaving me to wonder what he would possibly want to say to me. Perhaps some day he will tell me, although if it’s something I’d rather not hear, then better he stays silent.
“Get there safely,” I say to his lingering form. I have my own ritual of unsaid things, one of which is, “Please stay home, Jun. You don’t have to go to that place. I’ll take care of you.” But I don’t speak out loud. When I’ve said it in the past, he’s resented it, insisting he needs to do this. He wants to be somebody and make something of his life, according to his own words. Yet, if he saw himself at all through my eyes, even for a moment, he’d understand how much of a somebody he already is. I cherish him and love him. Worship him really—just by virtue of who he is. He wouldn’t be so driven to make something of his life because he’d know he’s already accomplished his ultimate goal.
If he saw that, then he’d also understand what his working in Kabukicho does to me, how it makes me worry so much. How protective I feel of him. Though Jun is a grown man of twenty-seven, to me there’s something so little and vulnerable about him, I can’t help the eerie feeling that snakes through me each night he leaves for work. Tonight it’s especially strong.
“I will, Tomo. See you later.”
One more flash of his silver-and-black clad figure and the door clicks shut behind him.
I sigh, listening to his boot steps on the cement walkway until the sound fades.
Alone in the apartment, I go and kneel in front of my parents’ photographs. Smoke from the incense curls delicately into the air in front of their faces and emits a trace of sandalwood, a scent that echoes how wistful I feel. I look at my mother’s face. I was only five when she died. I don’t remember much about her except seeing her smile while she made sure I ate and was clean. She never knew Jun as my father did.
I turn to Dad’s picture, a portrait of him in the uniform he wore before he was promoted to detective and started wearing a suit to work. In fact, this is how I remember him dressed around the time he added Jun to our family register as a son, the act which I’m sure saved Jun’s life. After Jun was abandoned by both his parents, knowing that someone cared so much about him as to make him a son was very healing to his heart. I knew that for sure when Jun stopped calling my father “Nakadai-san” and started calling him Dad.
So why does Jun still want to go off and get a place of his own? Why can’t he let himself understand how much he means to me so he’ll be happy? Since we met, we’ve been best friends. In spite of our different interests—I loved motorcycles and Jun was into fashion—for the longest time he seemed happy just to hang out with me and Dad. Until Dad was killed. That’s when things changed.
I ask my father the questions silently to his equally silent image. When Dad was alive he used to say that Jun’s demons still haunted him even though being a part of our family had helped to make him happier. Dad said everyone has deep, driving forces inside them that remained a mystery unless they took the time to understand them. But, he would add, it doesn’t mean that you can’t always care about Jun. Dad had learned so much about human nature in his line of work. If anyone was aware of the dark side of human beings, it was my father.
Back in my room, getting ready to shower, I also stare at the one photograph I keep on my chest of drawers. To me the image encapsulates the great happiness of my life—me and Jun and my dad during hanami. We’re sitting on our plastic sheet in the park not far from our apartment, under an enchanting canopy of cherry blossom trees. In front of us are scattered the empty bento boxes that had held our meals of rice and barbecued skewers of pork. Dad had been taking a picture of me and Jun when a passing couple had offered to take the picture for him so that he could be in it with his sons. That night after we got home, Dad told me and Jun of his decision to put Jun on the family register.
I owe the fact that Jun hasn’t gotten into serious trouble to that one act of love from my father. However, Jun is still hosting, and nothing I’ve ever said to him makes him realize he can stop. I just hate thinking of him over there in Kabukicho. I know too much about that area of Tokyo from having a father who was a police officer. I wish Jun had gone to work in a fancy hotel, which is what he’d originally planned to do, but he’s so determined to make something of his life that my pleas sink, unnoticed like stones in a murky pond.
I stare a few more moments at the photograph before heading into the shower. From there, my evening unfolds as it always does. Supper—tonight, it’s nikujaga, a simple stew of meat and vegetables from last night—followed by a walk around the neighborhood, watching the kids tumble about on the complex’s monkey bars and swings. After checking on my motorcycle parked in its space, I change for bed and watch some TV before I fall asleep on the sofa. I want to wait up for Jun, even though tonight is Friday and any other regular guy would probably be out on a date or something social instead of passing the time until his friend gets home from work. I’ve often thought of getting some kind of work that would put us on the same schedule, but the job I have pays well and it’s our security should Jun ever come to his senses and give up hosting.
Then he’ll know he really doesn’t have to worry about money. Perhaps it’s all a fantasy in my head, but it keeps me going day after day.
Tonight, I’m in a twilight kind of sleep, the TV droning softly in the background, when the ring of my cell phone cuts through the haze. At first disoriented, I hold the phone up and see Jun’s name lighting up on the ID. The darkness outside tells me it’s the middle of the night, not a time when Jun would normally call.
Icy fingers rake through my chest. My sleepiness dispels as I press the button. “Jun, are you all right?” I don’t even bother to say a greeting I’m so alarmed.
“Is this Nakadai Tomohito?” The voice is female. Not Jun’s. My alarm escalates to terror.
“Yes. Where is Jun?”
She pauses. “My name is Michiko. I’m the mama-san of the bar where Jun works.” Her voice wavers. It’s a smoky-sounding voice that without the stress would sound confident.
“Something…has happened. Jun was…attacked. He’s being brought to the emergency room at Meiji Memorial. I found your name on his phone as the emergency contact.”
Oh my God. “I’m on my way.” I throw on my jeans jacket over the undershirt I’m already wearing. My pajama pants will have to do. I grab my wallet, keys and helmet, shove my feet into my loafers and fly out the door.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

X Bar by Michele L Montgomery


“How many times can one person go through this, Stevie? How many more times can you handle being told the same thing over and over? For your sanity and mine, let it go and accept it.”

Steven looked at the denial letter he was holding and shook his head. “I can’t, Jorge. I can’t accept it because it’s not fair, nor is it right. The same damn excuse. I’m a gay man. They won’t approve me because I’m gay. What a crock of shit. I’d do a hell of a better job raising a child then some het couples do. You know this is true. You’ve seen them. Standing on the corners with cardboard signs begging for a fucking quarter and they’re surrounded by four, five kids dressed in rags, their eyes sad and tired. Some of those kids should be in school but instead they are standing on a corner begging. How is that okay and my being gay isn’t?” He walked to his bedroom window and looked down at the sparkling pool in the backyard. He would not cry. He was too angry to cry. Thousands of dollars he’d put into two agencies and they both said no. What the fuck did they think he was going to do with a child? “Fuck! I can’t just forget it. They are violating my rights as a human being. I have shown that I can afford a kid—hell, I can afford a bushel of ‘em—but do they care? No. They are only concerned with the fact that I’m gay. How much do you want to bet that if I were a single straight man they’d allow it, or a single straight woman? I’d get one for sure then. But if you’re gay forgetaboutit. What era do we live in?”

“Steven, you need to drop this.”

“I can’t.”

“You can’t? Let me ask you this. Is it more important to you to adopt a child, to start a family, than we are? Because I’m telling you I don’t know how much longer I can do this. Add that to the other and I’m at my wits end.”

“What other? Jesus, Jorge, why don’t you just get it all off your chest and out in the open.”

“It needs to be said. I’m tired of biting my tongue. While you’re off on a mission to adopt a child, to start a family you can’t even commit to me. I’m asking you for something that should be easy for you to say yes to, yet each time I bring it up you freak out and we fight. I know what I want. I want you and only you. I’ve known it since the day we met in person. What’s it going to take? ”

Steven loudly exhaled as a way of covering up his nerves at that point. Jorge acted as if it was the easiest thing in the world and maybe it was to others but for Steven it was one of the hardest. “I told you, Jorge, I need time. This isn’t a big secret, you know how I feel. You know I love you; why can’t that be enough for right now?”

“Because,” Jorge huffed. “We’ve been dating for almost two years and I understood the first year, but come on already. I’ve agreed to your open relationship policy because you couldn’t come to terms with a monogamous relationship. But I need more now. I want more of you and if you truly loved me you’d be saying yes, but you can’t. And why is that? Huh? If I was the man for you, of your future, you would not have a problem committing to me and me only. Am I just a fill-in until your perfect guy comes along? And you want me to support your urges, your needs for a family when you can’t even commit to me?”

Steven spun around to look at his lover and while Jorge had a good point, as he usually did, Steven was scared to death to give in to what his boyfriend needed and or wanted. Steven tried the whole monogamous thing before and that was disastrous. He wasn’t ready to give his whole self over to one man. That gave the other man too much power over Steven, and that was one thing he could not allow for. Giving over all that power, that control, was a dangerous path for him, and he could not suffer through another broken heart. Not at his age. And as far as a child went, he had no doubt in his mind that he could do that on his own. But he had to be sure his partner would be as dedicated to his child as Steven knew he’d be.

“You know that’s not it at all. You know how I feel about you. Why does this have to come up every damn time you come for a visit? You know me; you know how I am, and you keep pushing me for something I can’t give you yet. All it does is put a gap between us when that’s the last thing I want. Why can’t we just enjoy what we have right here and right now? Take it slow and really be sure that we are perfect for each other in the good and bad times. Jorge, you don’t even live here. How often in the past year have we actually seen one another in person and not on the damn computer or on the phone? We don’t even live together. How can we know we’re meant to be to be together? “How can we know we’re meant to be this way? Is it because the sex? We used to take trips. We’d go hiking and horseback riding; we’d take long walks, and we’d dance. We had some of our best talks. We’ve been seeing each other for what? Almost two years and during that time I’ve seen you how many times?”

Jorge flopped down on the edge of the bed and just shook his head.

“How many times, Jorge? Is it enough for either one of us to really know this is it? This is the man I want to marry and hopefully start a family with at some point? I told you, baby, as soon as you graduate and we have that option to live at least in the same state we’ll re-evaluate our situation. Besides, you act like I’m out whoring around with as many guys as I can and that’s so far from the truth it’s not even funny. I haven’t seen anyone else nor have I slept with anyone else in over a year.”

“And that’s not saying you won’t.”

Steven brushed his fingers through his short blond hair and sighed. Steven knew he should give in to the younger man; hell, he loved Jorge, and in his heart he knew he’d found the man he wanted a life with but there was that little bit of fear that rose to the surface each time he really gave what Jorge was asking for any thought. Like now, and right now he wanted to run. That damn word felt like a ball and chain around his neck, and each time Jorge brought it up,

Steven felt it getting tighter and tighter until his airway was being cut off. “And that’s not saying that even if I do say yes that either of us won’t. There’re two here. You’re young, Jorge. Twelve years younger than I am, and what’s to say you won’t meet someone at school when I give into what you’re asking of me? You don’t know and neither do I. I’m asking you to take us one step at a time and when you graduate, we’ll take this another step ahead. That’s all I’m asking. We need to enjoy today for what it is, and let tomorrow worry about itself.”

“Well, how in the hell do we manage to get to that point, huh? Wait till I graduate? I’m ready now. I know I am. You won’t even give us a chance, and I come to San Diego as often as I can between courses and when I do you’re always too busy to really give us the attention we deserve. When was the last time we actually did anything together? We make love—we make lots of love—but there was so much more, and I miss it.”

“And I told you to give me time.”

“I’m not going to wait forever. You need to come to a decision and you need to do it pretty fast. I’m not waiting forever. You want me or do you want a child more?”

Steven swallowed back that ever growing lump in his throat. Looking at Jorge with shock in his eyes he said, “You’re asking me to choose between a family and you, us?”

“I’m asking you to just stop. This obsession you have and have had since I met you is taking you over. It’s like a cancer. It’s all you think about, it’s all you talk about.” Jorge walked closer to where Steven was standing, looked at him dead in his ice blue eyes and continued. “You had so many goals and then out of nowhere this one thing takes first place, grow roots, and bam, it’s like a possession. It’s taken you over to the point that even our friends are questioning your emotional health.”

Steven rolled his eyes, doubt taking over. “Jorge, really? Don’t you think that’s a little dramatic? And I disagree with your ‘we never do anything together’ statement. Whenever you’re in town, we’re always together. You even come to work with me and hang out at the bar until I get off. When I’m off, we’re here or at your folks’ place by the beach. And the only reason we don’t vacation as much is because that was last summer, and hello? You’re in school now. We don’t have the time to get away as often as we used to. Jorge, you just got back from seeing your family in Mexico, for two full weeks. You didn’t have to stay there that whole time, yet you chose to.”

Jorge sighed and stood up to get away from Steven at that moment. “You know how they are with parties and all that. Besides, that’s not what I was talking about. I’m talking about together, as in you and me. Just us. How are we going to get to that level of knowing each other the way you want if we don’t take the steps to see it happen? I want us to commit to each other and it’s clear you don’t. And yet you want to commit to a child. Call me confused.”

Steven sighed and turned away from his too handsome, doe eyed Hispanic lover. God, when he met Jorge almost two years earlier, Jorge was only twenty-three, a boy compared to Steven’s thirty-four year old ass. Shit, Steven considered himself lucky to have gotten the guy’s attention to begin with.

When Steven met Jorge, he wasn’t looking for another long term relationship or any relationship at all, if truth be told. He’d just separated from Clay, his abusive ex-lover, not six months prior to that. He’d always been the type of guy who liked the idea of playing the field, tasting what was out there. He was plenty young enough to play around before settling on the one. Then he met Jorge, and his eyes caught Steven, caught his heart, completely.

Jorge huffed and sat down on the side of the king sized bed. “Hell, you can kiss those little weekend trips goodbye because you can’t just drag a kid all over the place, and not only that, how will it be just us with a little one around? We’ll have no real quality time, Steven. Are you even thinking about any of that, or just yourself here?

“Steven, I’m going to go home. I think we need to spend some time apart and think about this, about us and our future. I do not want to fight with you. Not over the same old subject. It’s very tiring and I have school to think about. I have a report to do anyway.”

“Your flight leaves today?”

“My flight leaves Friday. I’ve told you that three times over the past two weeks. It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve forgotten, though.”

Steven heard the exasperation in Jorge’s voice and saw the irritation in his eyes. “So, what, you’re going to the condo on the beach, or to your place in Chicago?”

“Why does it matter where I go, as long as it’s away from you and all this fighting? I hate it. Even when I’m here with you, I’m not here with you, nor are you with me. Your head is always somewhere else. When you go to work and I sit there, you’re too busy to talk to me. It’s maddening.”

Steven counted to ten, exhaled, and said in a quiet voice, “Jorge. Just…” he paused, sighed, and turned around to face him. “Let’s not fight. I don’t see you often enough, as it is. Baby, come on,” he pleaded, closing the distance between them. “I’m sorry. I promise to work on my fears. I admit I’m fully at fault here; it’s not you at all. I love you more than I thought possible but I need to be sure. I need you to be sure because when we take that step it’s a forever thing. It’s not something we will take lightly. You know what my goals are and I know what yours are. They don’t exactly match up and we need to be sure. I mean, one example is the family thing you don’t like to think about. I do want to do that. And you said yourself you’re not ready.”

“Oh, brother,” Jorge whispered. “Don’t make this all me—my age, my school, where I live and the fact that I’m not quite ready to even think about starting a family. I’m ready to commit to you. Give me that same respect back. I love you and only you. Why can’t you hear me?”

“I hear you and what you’re saying and I’m not trying to make his all about you, this is about us.” Steven cupped Jorge’s face in his hands, and smiled. “Look, it’s still early. Why don’t we head to the beach and just kick back, take a walk, have some very bad for us food, and tie it all up with some serious fucking when we get back here.” Steven leaned into Jorge and licked his lips. “Please, baby. Let’s go have some fun.”

Jorge took a shaky breath as his eyes slipped close when their lips touched and nodded.

Steven probed those lips until Jorge opened them and let his tongue in and they both moaned, both grabbed the other in a strong urgent embrace, hands roaming up and down, front to back and back again. Steven had missed this man’s taste, his heat, his passion and it’d been only a couple hours since they’d fucked when they woke up. His dick was hard as a diamond, his brain fuzzy and his breath taken by Jorge’s maddening passionate kiss. He turned them and walked Jorge toward the bed, his hand tangled in Jorge’s soft black shoulder length hair.

The back of Jorge’s legs met up with the edge of the bed and they both went down, Steven on top of Jorge, his hands bringing Jorge’s over his head, weaving his fingers between Jorge’s, holding them down. Steven ground his dick on Jorge’s, side to side, back and forth.

“I need you. I need to be buried inside you. Now.”

Jorge panted beneath him and nodded excitedly. His hands went right to his pants, he unbuttoned them and shimmied out of them, yanking his socks and letting them drop to the floor. “How do you want me?”

“All fours, baby. I want deep and hard. You okay with that?”

Jorge nodded eagerly and got into position as Steven pulled his shirt off and grabbed the lube off the table beside the bed. “You should be still stretched, just a little lube,” he said already coating Jorge’s hole with his finger. He slipped it inside Jorge’s body and moved it around for a few moments then withdrew the digit to replace it with his dick. “That’s it, baby. Open for me. Let me in. Let me love you.”

Jorge moaned and stuck his ass out more, spread his legs and looked back at Steven, his eyes were hazed over, he was panting, his dick hard with pre-cum coming from the slit. “Do it. Fuck me.”

Steven lined his dick up to Jorge’s hole, wrapped his arms around Jorge’s body and held him tight as his dick slid into the man he loved. An instant tight, silky, warmth held his dick; he went slow and didn’t rush. He wanted to take his time and feel every bit that he could. The urge to move overpowered his wishes to just feel, though, and he pulled almost all the way out before sinking back into his lover. “You’re so fucking tight. I don’t know how long I’m going to last, baby.”

“If you don’t move, I’m going to flip us over and I’m going to ride the fuck out of you. Fuck me!”

Steven smiled, and gave Jorge exactly what he was after. He thrust in, skin on skin, hips forward and back, Jorge’s moans of absolute delight drove Steven harder, fucking Jorge fast, no mercy. He wasn’t going to last long, not like this, he felt the orgasm building, threatening to spill and he didn’t hold back. He took Jorge’s cock in his hand and pumped him in time with his thrusts and when Jorge yelled out, Steven let go, and the pressure that built in his balls and dick came rushing to the surface, rendering his world white.

“That is what I call fantastic sex,” Jorge panted as Steven pulled out of him. He plopped down beside him and pulled Jorge into his arms.

“That is what I call nap worthy.”

Jorge laughed and sat up. He traced Steven’s lips with his finger and said, “We just got up, no more sleeping today. You said something about the beach?”

Steven groaned. “Youth is wasted on the young. Just sayin’.”