Anel Viz

Anelas Viz, whose P’tit Cadeau won a 2011 Golden Rose for best contemporary m/m novel, has been a regular contributor to Gay Flash Fiction and Wilde Oats since their inception. His work has appeared in a number of other magazines, in anthologies, and as individual publications. He writes in many different genres, from flash fictions to very long novels, as well as verse, prose poems, stories, humor, and essays. His most recent publication, The Thought Collector, an urban fantasy, was released by Silver Publishing, and coming in late August, his first short story anthology, Kaleidoscope, also with Silver. He is currently working on more projects than he can keep track of.

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Current ANEL VIZ STORIES on Gay Flash Fiction

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The following stories appeared on the e-zine version of Gay Flash Fiction

Living Fossils

by Anel Viz

(c) 2009 Anel Viz

We were camping out at the beach. Late at night, when it was very dark, we sat watching the moonlight on the surf. The tide had come in. When the waves broke and flowed back into the sea we could see the ocean floor just beyond the shoreline covered with smooth stones.

“How did those stones get there?” Jordan asked. “The bottom’s all sandy here. At least it was this afternoon.”

“Let’s go see.”

Not stones – horseshoe crabs, hundreds and thousands of them, piled one on top of the other and stretching as far the eye could see.

“What are they doing?” he asked.

“Mating. They’ve been doing it for hundreds of millions of years.”

“Sounds exhausting.”

“Seasonally.”

“How can they tell which are the males and which are the females when they’re all all over each other?”

“Even I can tell. The females are on the bottom, and the males are crawling over them, mating with as many as they can get to, and the females’ eggs are fertilized by whatever males happen to be closest at the moment.”

“You see, they’re strictly heterosexual. Species where the same sex goes at it together developed later, not back in the good old days.”

I should explain. Jordan is not homophobic. He’s known I’m gay since the day we met, and it has never stood in the way of our friendship. I can discuss my sexuality – that is, my feelings – openly with him. He used to like to tell me that only humans went in for ‘that sort of thing’. When information to the contrary started coming out as scientists learned more about animal behavior, I’d set him straight, so to speak. Thus, his little diatribe on straight horseshoes was aimed at me, and I was not about to let it pass unanswered.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if having all those other males around them getting it off at the same time is what turns them on,” I shot back.

He ignored my remark, determined to tease me. He got in that mood sometimes.

“Just think of them, unchanged over the millennia, watching other species come into being and then go extinct, seeing dinosaurs turn into birds, and other animals gradually start to get it on with their own gender. I can imagine them thinking: ‘What’s the world coming to?’”

I teased him right back. “I can’t imagine them thinking. Just look at them – can you? ‘Oh look, that dinosaur is flying! Hey, what are those? Feathers? Are those stegosaurs really… Oh my god, how could they?”

“It’d take more than three hundred million years to turn me gay!”

“I won’t hold my breath.”

“You could suck me off and it wouldn’t turn me gay.”

What was with him tonight? Was that an invitation? A dare?

He went on: “If I fucked you it wouldn’t convert me.”

Who was he daring, me or himself? “No,” I agreed, “it would take a little more than that.”

“Like what?”

“Me fucking you.”

“No way! It ain’t gonna happen.”

“What won’t happen? My fucking you or you turning gay?”

“Either.”

“You’re probably right about my not fucking you. As for you turning gay, well, so you say.”

Carpe diem, that’s my motto. And Jordan is damn cute. The outline of his package when his wet trunks are clinging to him, that tight little butt… Yum! Just play along and let him talk himself into it. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t; and if it does… wow!”

He said nothing for a while. Thinking of how to push it further or looking for a snappy come-back?

I tried some minimal encouragement.

“Of course with all those living fossils here to see you… They’d be scandalized.”

Still nothing.

“On the other hand, you were watching them. Fair is fair.”

A silence, and then: “Will it hurt?”

“Not if I go slow and you relax.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. This won’t be the first time I’ve done it, you know.”

“It will for me. You won’t tell anyone, will you?”

“If I turn you gay, you’ll tell them. Otherwise only the horseshoe crabs will know.”


Three Parables

by Anel Viz

(c) 2006 Anel Viz

El Hijo Pródigo

Manuel Cortéz, a sturdy peasant and devout Catholic, worked a farm in the Extremadura that had belonged to his family for generations. When the younger of his two sons came out as a homosexual, the news shattered him. Angry, confused, disgusted and deeply ashamed, he tried everything he could think of to cure the boy. Scoldings, deprivations, beatings, prayer – nothing worked.

Corporal punishment was no novelty to Manuelito, for his father had never spared the rod while his children were growing up, but the constant browbeating became too much for him, and he ran away to the big city, where he disappeared.

“He’ll come back,” Manuel told his wife. “He’ll soon tire of the lifestyle he’s chosen and its endless orgies. He’ll squander all his money, he’ll look around him and despair of the filth in which his soul has sunk. Where else will he have to go?”

But Manuelito didn’t return. The following spring his wife asked, “Why haven’t you castrated the new bull calf? It will turn vicious and be useless for work if you don’t get around to it soon.”

“This calf will not live long enough to work,” he answered. “I mean to slaughter him for the feast we’ll hold when our prodigal son comes home, chastened and repentant.”

This made Lucas, his older son, angry, and he spoke bitterly to his father. “Papá, not once have I disobeyed you, yet you’ve never given me so much as a kid so I could make merry with my friends, while for my brother, a maricón who has turned his back on you and who revels in the foul practices of Sodom and Gomorrah, you have put aside this fatted calf in expectation of the day you will welcome him back.”

“It will be fitting to rejoice,” his father said, “when the child who now is dead to me returns to life.”

But months passed with no word of Manuelito, until the fatted calf had grown into a feisty young bull, unfit for the yoke. They sold the animal to the Plaza de Toros in Seville, where, now more muscled than fatted, he died at the hands of El Pródigo, a young upstart matador who’d captured the attention of the public by wearing the tightest tights and a vest adorned with the gaudiest beads in all of Spain.

The crowd was shocked when, in front of everyone, he presented both ears and the tail to a beautiful young man he’d been pursuing unsuccessfully for nearly five months. The grateful señorito came to the victory celebration at his apartment that evening, got rip-roaring drunk, and stayed on after the others had left to fuck the bullfighter’s brains out.

Good Sam Harrington

A man set out to hike from Jerusalem to Jericho, a little under thirty kilometers, but downhill all the way – not all that much of a challenge, really, for a fellow with his shapely, muscular legs, except in scorching weather. He carried a two-liter canteen and, though deeply tanned, he wore a wide-brimmed straw hat and light long-sleeved shirt to protect him from the sun, sturdy shoes, and a very short pair of snug fitting, multi-pocketed hiking shorts that outlined the tight roundness of his butt.

He’d gone about one-third the distance when a group of gay bashers set upon him, beat him unconscious, and left him for dead by the side of the road.

A woman on her way to the Dead Sea, whose muddy waters supposedly tone the skin and get rid of wrinkles, saw the body as she drove past, and stopped to help. (Tradition doesn’t give us her name. I’ll call her Farrah C.)

She got out of her car and saw he was still breathing. When she ran her hands over him to check for broken bones, his eyes fluttered open.

“Were you robbed?” she asked.

“No – gay bashers.”

She drew back like a shot. His blood was on her hands. What if he had AIDS? She hurried to her car and took off. She wanted to reach the Dead Sea as quickly as possible, trusting in its high salt content to kill the virus before it infected her.

Many other cars came speeding by, but the drivers were all looking straight ahead, their eye fixed on the road, and nobody noticed him lying there.

At length a tourist, an amateur archeologist, stopped to help. He picked the man up and carried him to the car. “Robbers?” he asked.

Remembering Farrah C’s reaction, the man hesitated a second before answering. “No – gay bashers.”

“Are you gay?”

“Does it matter?”

“No. I wasn’t thinking. I just asked automatically.”

“Well, I am.”

“I already told you it doesn’t matter.”

“Are you?”

“No.”

He stopped at the Inn of the Good Samaritan to wash the man off and get some bandages and iodine. It’s not a real inn; more of a Christian Fundamentalist souvenir shop. The owner turned his back on them when he heard he was the victim of a gay bashing.

“No room at the inn, I see, ” the man’s rescuer muttered. “Will you at least let me call an ambulance?”

The ambulance arrived shortly. The paramedics placed the man on a stretcher, and while they were loading him up to take him to hospital he asked, “May I know who I have to thank for saving my life?”

The tourist slipped his card into the man’s hand.

“Thanks, Sam Harrington,” the man said. “I’m Gideon. Will I be seeing you again?”

“I’m afraid not. I fly back to the UK tomorrow.”

* * * * *

Gideon wrote Sam a long thank you letter. “What’s that all about?” Sam’s wife wanted to know.

He told her, and she immediately asked if he’d been tested for HIV.

“Whatever for? I didn’t have sex with the bloke.”

“You got his blood all over you, didn’t you? Lucky for me that I was in the middle of my period when you got back!”

“If he did infect me, I wouldn’t test positive for another three to six months.”

Mrs. Harrington refused to have relations with her husband, not even with protection, until she was absolutely certain he hadn’t picked up the virus. For Sam that meant going without sex for half a year, not counting his two weeks of fidelity on that archeological jaunt. He almost wished he had had sex with the fellow.

Sam wrote to Gideon to explain the situation and asked, if he was negative, to fax him the lab report as proof, but when he showed the proof to his wife, she said, “What of it? You know you can’t trust those people.”

Finding Gideon’s phone number on the Internet was easy.

“Gideon, this is Sam Harrington. I don’t know quite how to say this, so I’ll come right out and ask. Would you like to have sex with me?”

“Are you kidding? Having sex with a straight guy is every gay man’s dream. Maybe I can even convert you!”

Sam packed his bags and flew to Israel the next morning.

The Wise Virgins

There were ten virgins, five of them foolish and five wise.

The wise virgins may not have really been virgins, but they were wise enough to say they were. The foolish virgins probably were virgins since they were foolish enough not to bring condoms, and their wiser brothers wouldn’t share theirs with them.

The foolish virgins do not interest us. When the bridegroom [sic] came they had gone out to buy protection, so he closed his door to them, and they remained virgins. The wise virgins were prepared, and at the marriage feast [sic] they lost their virginity. Or maybe they faked it, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the bridegroom came.

The wise virgins were ready for him in other ways as well. The bridegroom was delayed and arrived late, so they took naps so they could greet him refreshed as a daisy chain, absorb greedily what he had to teach them, and respond with enthusiasm to his ministry.

They may have faked losing their virginity, but the rest of it they didn’t have to fake, because he was the bridegroom, and he showed them the Kingdom of Heaven.


The Call

by Anel Viz

(c) Anel Viz

Ring…

The phone. What kind of inconsiderate bastard calls at dinner time?

Ring… ring…

Must be some obscure charity asking for a donation or someone trying to sell something or scam someone into giving out his credit card number. Ah, well, better to get rid of whoever it is and go back to my cooking.

Ring…

“Hello?”

“Benjamin…”

“Ben, please. Nobody calls me Benjamin.”

“Benjamin…”

Okay, let whoever it is call me Benjamin. “Yeah, what is it?”

“Benjamin!” Then silence. Just the sound of heavy breathing at the other end of the line. Phone sex. Well, why not? It was a deep male voice. The voice of authority. Very sexy. Now I open my pants and…

“Benjamin!”

“Okay, okay already. Out with it. I don’t have all day, you know.”

“Benjamin! The end of the world is nigh!”

Nigh? Where did this guy learn English? “Yeah, it’s nigh – very nigh. So, what else is new? Who the hell are you, anyway?”

“Benjamin! Take your boyfriend…”

“My boyfriend? Who are you? How do you know I have a boyfriend? Are you trying to spook me?”

“Take your boyfriend and leave the city…”

“Just my boyfriend? What about my puppy?”

“Your puppy too. Only leave the city today, for I am going to destroy it.”

“Is this some sort of joke? Hey, just a minute… Are you a terrorist? Because if you are, you got the wrong number. This is area code…”

“Benjamin!”

“Cut it out! Do you realize the danger you’re putting me in? What if my phone is tapped? The whole fucking FBI and CIA will be breaking down my door and hauling me off God knows where to be interrogated before I know what’s happening. They’ll probably ship me off to some other country where they’ll torture me. What’s it called? Some kind of rendition, isn’t it? Lord Almighty!”

“So you’ve finally figured out who I am.”

“I… HAVE… NOT!”

“Benjamin!”

“God!”

“Yes?”

“God?”

“Yes. Benjamin, you are in grave danger. Tonight I shall destroy the whole city with fire and brimstone. Tomorrow nothing will be left but a heap of dust and smoking ashes.”

“The whole goddamn city… What the fuck for?”

“Why the fuck not? People need to be reminded who I am, and that I exist and can do whatever I want to them. It’s called omnipotence.”

“And for that you’re – excuse me: You’re – going to destroy an entire city. Wouldn’t a few phone calls like this one be just as effective? Not that I don’t appreciate Your allowing me to save my boyfriend and my puppy, mind You. What about my belongings, and my ass…”

“I am saving your ass.”

“It was a joke. Haven’t You read the Bible? I thought You wrote it. ‘Thy wife, and thy manservant and thy maidservant, thine ox and thy ass…’”

“That isn’t in the Bible. Besides, don’t you have a car? Put as much as you can fit into the trunk and flee the city. Flee, and don’t look back.”

“Will You turn me into a pillar of salt if I do?”

“Whatever gave you that idea? Just keep your eye on the road. And above all, no texting.”

“Will the roads be crowded?”

“Aren’t they always?”

“So you haven’t warned anyone else.”

“Not yet. I’m thinking about it.”

“It’s very affirming, You know, that out of all the people in the city You should choose a gay couple.”

“Do you think you’re the first person I called? The others hung up on me. Their loss.”

“But why me, God? How did You get my number?”

“It came up at random. The same program they use for all phone solicitations.”

“The whole city… It’s hard to imagine. You realize nobody will believe You did it. They’ll blame Al Qaeda.”

“So?”

“So what’s the point?”

“No point. I’m just getting sick and tired of watching man destroy the planet. That’s my prerogative.”

“And You really mean to go through with it.”

“Absolutely.”

“Oh boy. Look, I feel really, really bad about this. Not that it’s my place to argue with You or anything, but… Well, let’s say You could find one righteous man in the city. Would You still destroy it?”

“Are you kidding?”

“Really? You’re telling me that for the sake of one righteous man You wouldn’t even consider…”

“One righteous man? Here?”

“Oh. Then I suppose I had better get moving.”

“Yes, you do that.”

“Which way should I head, Lord?”

“For the hills, boy, for the hills.”

“Okay, then, for the hills. Well, goodbye for now. I hope to speak to You again sometime. And thanks for the tip.”

I hung up. “Another crank call,” I thought.


Tone

by Anel Viz

(c) Anel Viz

He went by several names.

Anthony was on his birth certificate, his medical records, his driver’s license, his passport, and other official documents. He signed his checks “Anthony”.

He’d been Tony to his family and childhood friends, it remained his name when he went home to visit. His current friends knew him as Anth, which was also the name he used at work. In college he’d been called by his last name, Nurchi, because on the first day of class a professor had pronounced it “Nerchy”. He’d corrected him – “That’s Noorky, sir” – and the name stuck. He’d only kept in touch with one or two friends from those years, and they too called him Anth now. But Jimmy, his Jimmy, called him Tone.

Tony was straight, Anth and Tone were gay, and nobody gave a damn what Anthony was. His relatives in Baltimore couldn’t understand why Tony was still unmarried at 35. They knew about his many girlfriends. He’d made a point of giving them all names that didn’t sound even vaguely Italian – Courtney, Becky, Amber – and had always assured them that no, they weren’t Catholic and, no, they wouldn’t convert.

“But she’ll let you bring the children up Catholic?” his Aunt Leona had asked once.

“Amber? Never in a million years.”

She shook her head sadly. “She would if she really loved you.”

“Then maybe she doesn’t.”

His cousins hadn’t thought it was a big deal, but the older generation had. Most of them had come round now. A man needed a wife, they said. Only Aunt Leona still held out.

“Aren’t there any Catholics in Wisconsin?” she asked.

“Of course there are.”

“Then there must be churches too. Don’t you go to church?”

“Not very often,” he lied.

“You should. How else do expect to meet a nice Catholic girl?”

Sometimes he thought it would be easier just to come out to them. If Jimmy was Catholic and wasn’t Black, he might have. A gay African-American atheist was more than they could cope with. Why, they’d even made a fuss when he’d told them he was called Anth in Wisconsin. “Well, just don’t go using that name here.”

Jimmy understood perfectly. His family had set the preacher on him when he told them he was gay, and had thrown him out when he wouldn’t listen. The Nurchis wouldn’t have disowned Tony, they might even have called him Tone, but never have accepted Jimmy, and he himself would have made the break. How could he say to them, “Look, I’m gay, and I don’t want to have anything to do with you.”?

“Are they all prejudiced against Blacks?” Jimmy asked.

“Only as sexual partners. Otherwise they’re tolerant enough.”

“What about if I were a woman?”

“They’d still raise a stink. Aunt Leona would take to her bed with palpitations.”

“I don’t think I’d want to meet them.”

“I wouldn’t want you to.”

He went back to see the family less and less often. That way, he thought, they’d slowly drift apart and everything would work out for the best.

Then his cousin Johnnie called. He had business in Milwaukee and wanted to stay with him.

“Gee, I don’t know. It’s a small apartment, and I only have one bedroom.”

“I don’t mind sleeping on the couch.”

“Well, you see, I’m not the only one who lives here. Won’t your company pay for a hotel?”

“I’d rather spend the time with you. Look, I promise I won’t get in the way. Or does she make you sleep on the couch?”

“Very funny.”

“C’mon, Tony. Do you really think she’ll mind?”

“I’ll ask.”

He asked. Jimmy thought they might as well let him stay with them, get their cards out on the table, and have it over and done with. His lover was more apprehensive.

“I really don’t know…”

“I’d love to see his face when he figures it out. Go for it, Tone.”

To their surprise, Johnnie went for it, too. After he’d been introduced to Jimmy and they’d shaken hands, he asked where “she” was.

“There is no she,” Tone told him. “Only Jimmy.”

“You mean he lives here? But there’s only one…”

Tone nodded.

“You’re shitting me, aren’t you?”

Tone smiled and shook his head.

“So what you’re saying is that you two are…”

“Tone and I are a couple,” Jimmy confirmed.

“He calls you Tone, then? I like that. Do you mind if I call you that too?”

“Tone is Jimmy’s special name for me, but I suppose it’s okay. Surprised?”

“No… Well, yes. But that’s okay. I’m cool with it. Christ Almighty! Who’d’ve thought?”

He wasn’t so cool with it as to let the matter drop, however. Over dinner he kept coming back to their “relationship”, and when Jimmy went into the kitchen to fix dessert he admitted to Tone in a whisper that he was somewhat curious – always had been – and went so far as to suggest the three of them sleep together that night.

Tone was shocked. “But Johnnie… We’re family.”

“Just one big happy.”

“And we don’t do three-ways,” Jimmy said from the doorway, desserts in hand.

Johnnie clammed up over dessert, but his proposal hung like a cloud over the three of them.

“Look, if you really mean it, we could take you to our favorite bar tonight,” Jimmy said. “You can pick someone up there.”

Tone said, “I can introduce you around. A number of my friends would jump at the chance to have a go at it with my straight cousin.”

“And report back to you afterward. No thanks. You gays are always trying to convert us.”

“It was your idea,” Tone snapped. “Maybe you should stay in a motel after all.”

But they went to the bar, and Johnnie went home with Greg.

After he’d gone, Tone told Jimmy, “You know what he said? That none of the guys here are half as hot as you are.” Then he added, “He’s right, too,” and he kissed him.


Sucking off Tommy

by Anel Viz

(c) Anel Viz

How many years had gone by since they moved away? Thirty, at least. He couldn’t be sure which house was his. The Dutch elm on the front lawn, over three stories high, had disappeared, no doubt killed by the blight, and the empty lot at the end of the block had been built over with houses, also in red brick and now old enough to blend in with those that had been there longer, so he couldn’t tell by counting up from the corner either.

The alley behind the row of houses was still there, and the low retaining wall on the other side of it as well, but the plots beyond which had belonged to the houses, where people grew vegetables, put up playground equipment for their kids, or kenneled their dogs, were not, bought up by developers to put up homes on the street in back and on the field across from it. He would not have known which street was his if he hadn’t remembered the name.

Somewhere along that alley, which used to end at Frankie’s garage but now ran through to the end of the block, was the place where the little path had run up the rise into the empty lot overgrown with tall weeds where the kids used to play. On that path, hidden by open garage door, Tommy had crouched down, taken out his wiener, and asked if he wanted to suck it.

Tommy lived with his divorced mother in the basement studio apartment they rented out and was in eighth grade then. He was four or five years younger, which would put him in third or fourth. He knew now that Tommy wouldn’t have had a man-sized penis yet, but to him it looked it, ramrod straight and pointing right at him.

He backed away, frightened. He’d never heard of people doing things like that. Those things were dirty. Tommy got to his feet and closed his pants, warning him not to tell anyone. His voice sounded at once threatening and scared.

About fifteen years would go by before he sucked his first cock, the first of many. He wondered what it would have been like, a little kid sucking Tommy’s cock. He wondered if some part of him, latent and untapped, had wanted to. He didn’t think so. He wondered why Tommy had picked him. Had something about him marked him as gay, years before he was even aware of sex, and if so, what was it?

For that matter, what had brought him back to the old neighborhood, and what was it about the old alley, changed beyond recognition, that had sparked a memory so long forgotten?


Far from the Madding Crowd

by Anel Viz

(c) Anel Viz

The men-only weekend at the adult campground lasted from Thursday evening until Sunday afternoon. We go every year to wander about in the buff and enjoy the warm summer sun with a couple of hundred other men of our persuasion. We enjoy the chance to let it all hang out for a couple of days, to be ourselves. We enjoy the outdoors, the company, the scenery. We enjoy it all.

All, that is, except the disco-style dance with an all-naked, all-male band they held every night from nine to one in the morning in the huge Quonset hut next to the office. The display of sweaty male bodies grinding together side by side would have made for a pleasant evening’s entertainment if we had earplugs. My lover and I stood watching by the bar for as long as we could stand the noise; then we refilled our plastic cups with beer and headed back to our tent, which this year we had pitched at the far end of the campground, where you could hear the music without going deaf. In fact, the crickets sounded louder.

We passed groups of men chatting around their campfires along the trail on our way back. Not all the campers had gone to the dance. There are plenty of gay men who, like us, do not share a passion for disco dancing. We have another passion in common which makes us gay, and which every gay man prefers to disco. A few hundred yards from our campsite, we passed a couple on a blanket near the fire. One stood facing the path, the other kneeling in front of him, two gorgeous male bodies gleaming white in a circle of light surrounded by a sea of blackness.

We stopped to watch, recognizing the two tall, lean men whose handsome good looks and immodestly sized hanging endowments had attracted everyone’s attention – endowments that we (lucky us!) had every chance of seeing fully erect and in action as they celebrated their gayness.

That they had chosen to do it in the open meant they wouldn’t mind. They probably wanted people to watch them, maybe even join in. We only watched, keeping to the shadows to avoid having to turn down an invitation. The man with his face to us must have seen our silhouettes, because he said something to his partner, and they shifted position to give us a better view, and turned up the heat for our benefit.

“How big do you think he is?” my lover asked.

“Impossible to say at this distance. Very big. Want to move in closer?”

He shook his head. Then the men traded places, and we got to see the other. The two were evenly matched.

The man on his knees moved his head slowly forward until his lips touched the other’s pubic mound. (I couldn’t begin to guess what the other man’s head was touching.) He pulled back just as slowly, smiled up at his partner, and turned to us. “Don’t be shy,” he called. “Come and take ringside seats before they’re gobbled up.” Then he went back to gobbling up something else.

We moved to the edge of the circle of light. “Eleven inches,” I whispered.

“Don’t we wish!” said the man with the free mouth. “Ten and a half. Ever get your hand around something that big?”

I gave an honest answer. “Something, yes; a dick, no.”

“Then give me a squeeze and yourself a treat.”

I stepped forward; my lover hung back. “You too,” the man said. “Give us both a feel and a taste.”

“We’d choke.”

“Not even a little lick?”

“We’ll just watch, thanks.”

The guy on his knees returned to his sucking. “You guys bottom?” the other asked.

“For each other.”

“Scared? It’s doable. Want to see how doable?”

I nodded. He got on all fours. For them it was very doable. My lover’s eyes bulged, and so, I suspect, did mine.

“Give you any ideas?” the man bottoming gasped out between moans.

“It does,” I said. “Let’s go to the tent, sweetheart. Our tent.”

“In our tent,” my lover said.


The Cabin Boy

by Anel Viz

© Anel Viz

At two in the afternoon under a flawless azure sky, the Pride pulled away from the pier in Miami on her week-long maiden voyage. Having recognized the gay community as a limitless source of income, the owners of Princess Lines had designed the vessel exclusively for gay cruises and outfitted her with dark rooms, dungeons, glory holes, slings and other paraphernalia many gay men enjoy, though they would see little use, as the passengers were free to do almost anything they wanted when and where they felt like doing it. There were, in fact, very few rules, and most of them had to do with proper attire: no one naked on deck once they entered a harbor; Speedos (not G-strings), tank tops and flip-flops the minimal dress for sit-down meals (clothing optional at buffets); no sailor caps or navy hats in order to distinguish passengers from the crew; a zero tolerance policy on illegal drugs and rowdy drunken behavior; and a code of respect and consideration to be observed at all times, which meant a polite refusal if someone hit on you and you weren’t interested and not to persist when told your attentions were unwelcome.

Out of port almost everyone went about naked, including most of the crew, recognizable by their sailor caps and tennis shoes, although they donned tight-fitting, skimpy white shorts for their heavier duties, and every one of them a hunk. The ship’s officers only wore navy hats and open vests with the insignia of their rank sewn on, but the first, second and third mates and the entertainment director also wore sarongs, and the captain was always in full dress uniform.

On the first evening everyone showed up for dinner, served in two seatings, when the full program of the voyage would be announced and the ship’s chief officers introduced. Captain Haukasson, a tall, thin, blond man in his mid-thirties who spoke excellent English with a faint accent, seemed somewhat ill at ease at being the only person clothed from head to toe in a room full of nearly naked men. After welcoming everybody on board, he concluded, “As you know, a ship’s captain has the authority to marry people on the high seas. If any of you come from places that don’t allow same-sex marriage or if you meet the man of your dreams on board, I would be more than happy to join you in ‘holy matrimony’, if you don’t mind getting married during your honeymoon instead of right before it. I’ve put a sign-up sheet for weddings in the Bursar’s office.”

All the passengers erupted in applause and cheers. The captain raised his hand for silence and continued, “Since this has never been tried before and we don’t know if the United States will recognize a marriage performed by an American captain, the Princess Lines decided to hire a non-American captain. I’m from Norway; you probably noticed my accent.”

Seated at his table not far from the dais, twenty-three-year-old Anthony Cioffano knew that there was only one man on board he wanted to marry – Captain Lars Haukasson. He smiled shyly at the captain, who noticed and nodded to him, a promising beginning to what Anthony knew was a long shot.

The captain saw him sunning himself on deck the next day and went up to him. Anthony introduced himself. “I hope you’re enjoying the cruise,” Captain Haukasson said.

“I’m enjoying the scenery.”

“I assume you don’t mean the endless expanse of blue sea.”

Anthony blushed crimson. “Don’t be embarrassed. I enjoy it too,” the captain continued in tone of voice meant to include Anthony in that scenery. “Is that all you’re enjoying?”

“So far. I’m not a promiscuous guy, but if I meet the right man…”

“I understand. That’s how I look at things.” He stood chatting a while longer, and then moved on to talk with other passengers.

Captain Haukasson stood in the entrance to the dining hall that evening and shook hands with the men as they filed out. He said to Anthony, “Would you like to come to my cabin for an after dinner drink at about ten? Come in shorts and a tee-shirt. A matter of protocol.”

They did not have sex, but they got to know each other better and found they shared many interests. “Come again tomorrow,” Haukasson said as he was leaving. “And don’t feel bad if I only pay you passing attention on deck. A captain mustn’t play favorites.”

The next night they did have sex, and every night after that. Lars was every bit as beautiful under his uniform as Anthony expected, and an exquisite lover. He slid carefully into his partner and built slowly to a mutual climax, and took as much pleasure receiving as giving.

Their last night together Lars said, “I don’t suppose you’re free to go on another cruise this year.”

“I have one week’s more vacation time coming, but I have to request it a month in advance.”

“I have another cruise in a week, then five week’s holiday before the next. That’s a little over six weeks. Would you consider signing on as cabin boy for that cruise?”

“Need you ask?”

“Good, then I’ll make the arrangements. Where do you live, by the way?”

“Seattle.”

“A beautiful city. Dare I invite myself to stay with you while I’m on holiday?”

“I’d have invited you myself if I dared.”

They lived together all five weeks, and then flew to Miami for Anthony’s first stint as cabin boy. Lars proposed two days into the cruise.

“Marry you here? On shipboard?”

“Does that mean yes? Unfortunately, I don’t see how a man can marry himself. Join me in Bergen two weekends from now. We’ll get married there. Can you afford to live on a cabin boy’s salary?”

“I’d live on less if I could live with you, but I imagine a captain earns more.”

“Oh, this captain is rich – the richest in the world,” Lars said, kissing him.


Eremites

by Anel Viz

© Anel Viz

They put him to the question, but he’d withstood it. In vain. Kip, beautiful, gentle Kip, had immediately succumbed to the pain and confessed. It was in Kip’s nature to yield.

Now Tol lay, broken, bleeding, half delirious, on the straw of their cell, crawling with vermin, his head on Kip’s lap, waiting for morning. Kip was weeping quietly. Every now and then a hot tear would land on his friend’s cheek as he stroked his hair.

“Forgive me, Tol. I couldn’t stand it. Now we’ll burn at the stake.”

“We’re goners anyway. You see what they did to me. Will it hurt that much more to burn than festering in agony for weeks before I die? I’m glad you spared yourself the torment. I’m glad you’re here, still whole and beautiful, to comfort me.”

Tol’s hands were crushed, his palms livid and blistered from the boiling water. The splintered ends of his shin bones poked through the shredded skin. He hadn’t been able to move his legs since his spine snapped on the rack, but he could feel the pain.

The guard outside their cell kept close watch, as if they might yet turn themselves into birds and fly through the tiny window ten feet above them. Soon a monk would come to hear their confession. What was left to confess? Kip had told all.

Confessed, but not repented. The Inquisition required that they acknowledge their sin and the rightness of its terrible justice. It would not save them. Heretics could recant, even some witches were spared. Not him and Kip, not the sin against nature.

Lip service – in their heart of hearts they could not deny their love. What did he regret? Only that he had given in to his desire for this angelic man, weaker than he, who trusted and adored him. Kip did not regret even that; he only blamed himself that the torturers had wrung their secret from him. God would not be fooled if their offense was indeed unpardonable.

He remembered their kisses, the wonderment of touching and being touched, the desperate embraces, the fear of discovery. He remembered Kip’s sighs and trembling frame when he abandoned himself to the ineffable pleasure of possession, how he entered him slowly, carefully, lest the scepter of his passion cause this frail man the slightest discomfort. He remembered the terror in Kip’s eyes when they’d dragged him out of the interrogation chamber and dumped him on the floor, his pleading when they led him in in turn, and the single shriek that pierced his heart five minutes later.

The priests had stood by, grim and smug, and watched the lay authorities slowly break his body before they handed him over to them for execution. Neither the scourging they had undergone nor their death must pollute those hands that blessed, absolved, and turned the wine and bread into Our Lord’s blood and flesh. Hands like Pilate’s.


Lothario’s Leftovers

by Anel Viz

© Anel Viz 2009

He was beautiful and also charming, a suave seducer, a Lothario, insatiable for sex and for conquest. We were the men he’d enjoyed and cast aside, his leftovers, hastily scribbled names among many others that filled up his address book, the notches on his bedpost.
There were half a dozen of us – Jason, Alec, Hank, Emilio, Derek, and myself. There were countless others, surely, men we didn’t know or had only heard of, but we six were friends, and that he had bedded us just gave us one more thing in common.

Jason had him first. Or that’s how we saw it then. The fact was that he had had Jason. I remember how we envied our friend, how we pumped him for information on what they’d done, on what he looked like with his clothes off, and I remember how Jason beamed, avoiding our questions, saying only that it had been “terrific” and we “couldn’t begin to imagine.” Four months later we didn’t have to; we’d learned first hand.

Jason got to sleep with him a few more times before he found out that Derek had too. They argued, Jason asserting that friends didn’t do that to friends and Derek countering that Jason had no claim on the guy, that there was no relationship there to break up. They stopped talking to each other, which made it hard on the rest of us. They expected us to take sides. Before lover boy dropped Derek, he’d had his fun with Hank, and then Emilio. I succumbed later, after he’d finished with all four, not to mention a handful of other fly-by-night partners, and Jason and Derek were friends again. We’d figured out that it made no sense to fight over him. And finally he had Alec.

From time to time he’d beckon, and one of us would crawl, but he beckoned less and less often, and more than a year had gone by since his hands and mouth had reduced any of us to a quivering pulp. We longed for him to beckon again and we wished he had never beckoned to begin with. And we talked about him. Often.

“What would you do if he were here right now?” Hank asked.

“Just him and me, or all of us together?” I said.

“The question,” said Alec, “is what would he do?”

So I called him. He didn’t remember me. Well, how about Jason?

“Jason who?”

“Emilio?”

He remembered Emilio. You don’t meet many Emilios.

“What’s this all about?”

“A batch of us, your old lovers, are having a little get-together. Sort of a reunion. We’d be honored if you’d come too.”

“Any women?”

He slept with women too!

I asked if he was into women now.

“Same as always. I’m into whatever I can get.”

Whatever he could get! What couldn’t he get?

“So, will you come?”

“I’ll see. It’ll depend on if I have anything going that night.”

“It should be fun.”

“It could be. Just let me know when and where it is, and I’ll see.”

I couldn’t get anything more definite out of him.

So there we were, the six of us, not knowing if he’d show up or what we’d do if he did. Or if he didn’t, for that matter. We’d decided to hold it at Derek’s house, the most comfortable and the one with the most space. Three bedrooms, and he lived alone.

“Do you think he’ll come?” Emilio asked.

I shook my head.

“Does that mean no?”

“Who knows?”

“And if he doesn’t?”

A short silence.

“Have any of us had sex together?” Hank asked.

We looked around. I knew I hadn’t. I hadn’t even seen any of them with their clothes off.

“Well, Emilio and I…” Alec began. “Not sex, but a make-out session. Once. So, almost.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I can’t remember. Do you, Emilio?”

Emilio shook his head. “I’ve thought about it, though.”

“So have I,” Alec said. “It’s something I’d like to do.”

“So, if he doesn’t come, should we?” Emilio didn’t say that. That was Hank again.

“Paired up or all together?” Derek asked. “I have three bedrooms.”

Alec and Emilio answered simultaneously, “All together.” They spoke for all of us.

“We may as well get naked while we wait for him,” Jason said. “Make it clear what kind of party this is. If he comes.”

We undressed matter-of-factly and sat back down in our seats. I looked over the scenery. Lover boy was a stunning man, no doubt about it, but he also had good taste. Choosy.

We waited another hour.

“Forget about him,” I said.


Flashing Lights

by Anel Viz

© Anel Viz

When we came out of the cinema the sun had set and they’d turned on the flashing lights on the marquee. One hardly noticed them, for the sky was still light and would remain so for about an hour. “So, what should we do next?” I asked Manny. It was Thursday of the last week of our Canadian vacation, and we’d have to allow a day and a half to drive back to St. Louis, a straight shot but 900 miles away.

Manny glanced up at the marquee and said, “We haven’t seen the northern lights.”

We had, but only faintly. To get a good look at them we’d have to drive quite a way out of the city, but it was a cloudless night. We might see the Pleiades meteor shower as well. “Let’s check the map,” I said.

Driving in any direction would take us through one little town after the other, a lot darker than Winnipeg, for sure, but there’d still be street lights. To make it worth the long drive we ought to have pitch blackness. We could stop and get out of the car somewhere between towns, of course, but standing alongside an empty highway in the middle of nowhere wouldn’t be much fun. We decided to drive due north up the west side of the lake. A hundred miles would bring us into the Moose Creek Provincial Forest, and about another thirty to the tip of the peninsula that separated the southern end of the lake from the huge and wide open northern part. It would take a good two hours, probably more, but looking out over the lake we’d have an unobstructed view.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and see a manitou on the way,” I said.

We didn’t regret going. Driving up, we could see the lights clearly through the windshield, but we kept on until we reached our destination.

The air was chilly; we had to put on our sweaters. The silver reflection of the half moon shimmered on the surface of the water, and like a bridal veil flapping in the wind, the northern lights, tinted pink, yellow and pale blue, writhed and danced across a jet black sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. We were the only human beings for miles around. Except for the quiet lapping of waves on the shore, a deathlike hush seemed to cover the entire earth.

We sat on the hood of the car for an hour watching the display, shoulders and upper arms touching to keep warm, a hand on each other’s thigh. It was very romantic and must have given Manny ideas. He put his lips to my ear and whispered, “I’ve never been fucked in a car.”

“You’re kidding!”

“No, I really haven’t.”

“That part I believe. I mean you’re kidding about us getting into the car me and fucking you there. It’s what you meant, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. It doesn’t seem fair that all those college girls get to experience that, and I don’t. I want to find out what it’s like.”

“Why not right here on the hood?”

“Mosquitoes.” A pause. “Ryan…”

“Yes?”

“Did you ever fuck somebody in a car?”

“Once. A college girl. It wasn’t what you’d call comfortable.”

“But it was fun.”

“Exciting. Someone could have caught us at it.”

“Nobody will here.”

“It’ll be cold.”

“It’ll be hot.”

We put the front passenger seat as far back as it would go and undressed from the waist down, leaving our sweaters on. We’d left a tube of K-Y in the glove box. Don’t ask me why.

We spent a long time making out and sucking each other, which meant one of us squeezing into that little space in front of the dash. Then Manny spread his legs and rested his feet on the dashboard and I climbed on top of him, my bare feet pressed against the cold windshield and my hand clutching the back of the seat behind him.

“Take it slow,” Manny said.

“And steady.” Pounding away at breakneck speed would have been impossible anyway in that position. We kept our eyes shut and breathed heavily in rhythm with every thrust.

Then came a tap on the glass. I opened my eyes and saw someone had aimed a flashlight through the windshield directly onto my bare ass. “Oh, shit!” I muttered.

“What is it?” Manny asked, as the beam of light moved to the passenger side of the car, then slowly up to shine in our faces. Another tap on the window. I thought of the movie Dead Man Walking, where the rapist-murderer forces the couple out of their car.

The flashlight turned away from us to illuminate a policeman’s badge. He tapped on the window again. I pushed open the car door.

“You boys having fun?” he asked. What could we say? “I saw the American license plate and came over in case you needed help.”

“We don’t.”

“And I’m not going to offer anything. Sorry I interrupted you. You realize I could charge you with indecent exposure and having sex in public – my partner back in the car there would’ve – but I’m going to let you off. This place isn’t exactly public at two-thirty in the morning.”

We apologized, and couldn’t thank him enough.

“Now you boys finish up and get out of here. We’ll be back in about an hour, and I’d better find you gone.”

Manny and I breathed a sigh of relief as we followed the beam of his flashlight moving along the path. It switched off some fifty yards away, the light came on in the police car when he opened the door, and we saw a burly hulk of a policeman sitting behind the wheel. Our officer said something to him, and they drove off.

“Is what we’ve done so far good enough,” I asked, “or do I have to come, too? I’ve gone soft.”

“So have I,” he said. “Let’s go back to Winnipeg.”


Toppings on the Floor

By Anel Viz

© Anel Viz 2009

It was clumsiness, pure and simple; the same stupid carelessness that had plagued him all his life. And his first night on the job, too!

They had stopped taking orders and started to clean up before heading home – sweeping the floor, scraping the counters, stacking the unused boxes. The boss had begun tallying the day’s receipts and checking them against what had been entered in the spread sheet. Trevor removed the four last pizzas from the oven, then with a triumphant cry of “Perfecto!” he made a sweeping gesture with the wooden paddle as he went to put it back in place. The long handle knocked into two open cans, sliced mushrooms and pepperoni, and sent them crashing to the floor along with a half-gallon glass jar of tomato sauce.

“Jesus Christ! Can’t you watch what you’re doing?”

“Sorry.”

“Just get those pizzas in their boxes and clean up the mess you made.” He turned to the delivery driver. “Guy, when you get back, will you check that klutzo here has done a proper job on the floor? Then put what you’ve collected for the pizzas in the gray change bag in the till and move it all to the safe and lock up for me. I’m going home.”

“Sure, boss. And you,” he added, turning to Trevor with an annoyed expression, “you had just better have this place spic ’n’ span when I get here. Don’t make me have to hang around longer than necessary. We’re paid by the hour, but after closing don’t count.”

So that was another thing he’d screwed up. Up till then Guy had seemed to take an interest in him, shown him the ropes and treated him more friendly than the other workers, who’d largely ignored him except to bark orders and tell him to hurry up. He’d been between deliveries when Trevor had his half-hour supper break, and had shared a small pizza with him, pepperoni and mushroom, of all things! And Guy had been working there longer than the others and you could tell the boss liked him – a useful ally for a newbie. Trevor wanted more than anything to get on his good side, have him for a friend, someone he could hang with, and not just in the workplace.

He spent half an hour picking up the pepperoni, mushrooms and larger pieces of glass, sweeping what he could into the dustpan, then giving the floor a thorough mopping. He worked quickly, and had to wait another ten minutes for Guy to return.

The delivery driver didn’t look angry anymore when he got back. He smiled at Trevor and gave one of those “It happens” shrugs, then glanced at the floor and moved the day’s earnings to the safe before he did a more careful inspection.

“Not bad, kid,” he said. “I thought I’d still find a couple of toppings on the floor when I got back. Spills won’t hurt it. This floor has seen plenty of toppings in its day.”

Guy placed his hand on the seat of Trevor’s jeans and gave a friendly squeeze, working his middle finger between Trevor’s buttocks. Trevor was surprised, but not put off by it – quite the opposite. Taking a chance, he squirmed back into the hand and hummed suggestively.

“Whattaya say to another kind of topping of the floor of the shop before we call it night?” Guy murmured, his lips close to Trevor’s ear. “I’ll go lock the door and pull the shades.”


Last Run

By Anel Viz

© Anel Viz 2009

“You can go straight home from this delivery,” the manager told him. “No need to come back to help us clean up. We’d be done by the time you got here.”

“That big a load?”

“Nah, only three stops, but one of ’em’s pretty far away. Seven, eight miles. Maybe ten.”

“Why didn’t they order from somewhere closer?”

“Dunno. Maybe everything there is closed already. Didn’t want to take their order, but it was a big one – three large, breadsticks, fried mozzarella. Better make it your last stop or the locals’ll get mad. And like I said, go straight home when you’re done.”

“And the van? And my car?”

“You can hang on to the van. Just remember to turn off the oven. And get it back before one o’clock tomorrow. You can do that, can’t you? Your car will be safe in the lot.”

The address on the box said 124 Washington. Cal looked for it on the GPS. What the fuck? Barry was sending him to the inner city after midnight! And how the hell was he supposed to know what apartment bell to ring when the only name the guy gave was Jake? Well, maybe it was a storefront and some people were having a party. That would be safer, anyway.

The apartment buildings stopped and the streets emptied after the 600 block; after that there was nothing but warehouses with only one streetlamp at each intersection. Well, at least he’d find a place to park and wouldn’t have to go walking through those dark streets. But when he reached the 100’s he saw cars lined up on both sides of the street in both directions and around the corner too. He’d have to double park.

124 was a single shiny black door windowless building, the three large numbers painted on in white. He rang the bell and was buzzed in immediately. Before him was a poorly lit staircase, steep and narrow, with a reddish glow. He went up two flights and came to what looked like a ticket booth at the cinema, chest-high and glassed in except for a slot at the bottom to slip in your money, and a door on the wall to the left with a potted tree and a plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David on either side. Disco music was playing in the background.

The thin, middle-aged guy working reception wore a white tee-shirt with the logo 124 a couple of inches below the right shoulder and black Spandex shorts that outlined everything they were meant to cover. Without raising his head, he crooned, “Good evening,” and slapped a towel and a key on an elastic ring down on the counter. “Nothing but lockers left,” he said. “I can put you on the waiting list for a room. Twenty bucks if you can prove you’re under twenty-five.” Then he looked up and saw the pizza boxes.

“For Jake,” Cal explained.

The man switched on the intercom. “Jake to the front desk. Jake to the front desk.” Then he said, “You’d better come inside and wait in the lounge. It may take him a while to get here if he’s otherwise occupied. Those boxes won’t fit through the slot anyway.”

Cal stepped through the door and laid the pizzas on the counter to the right. An open door behind the bar led into the office cubicle. On the wall to his left, a bulletin board with business cards from masseurs, tattoo parlors, lawyers, restaurants, etc. A few men with towels around their waists sat on low sofas watching a young blond guy sucking off another blond guy on a TV set on a shelf near the low ceiling. They may as well not have worn the towels, since they sat with their legs spread to display their equipment. One of them was actually stroking himself. He seemed more listless that excited. Cal did his best not to stare. It wasn’t easy. The guy winked at him and patted the empty spot next to him. Cal shook his head.

Jake showed up about five minutes later. The towel around his waist came only a quarter of the way down his thighs and stood out in front of him as if supported by a tent pole.

“Oh, the pizzas are here. Wait a sec, I’ll get your money. Three large sausages, right?”

The guy playing with himself snickered.

Jake returned with a bunch of his buddies. “He’s cute!” one of them said. “A real babe!”

Cal pretended he didn’t know the guy meant him. Unsuccessfully, because then the guy looked straight at him and asked, “Stay for a slice?”

“Can’t. I’m doubled parked.”

“So pull around the block and come back.”

“Hafta get back to work.”

Jake gave him four twenties and told him to keep the change. “And here’s an extra tip for you.” He moved close to him and slipped a bill in his shirt pocket, groping him as he did. “Hey, I like what a feel.” He gave his cock a friendly squeeze, and Cal realized he was hard.

The receptionist was watching from the bar. “Watch it!” he called out. The last thing we need is complaints.”

“Would it be OK to take him to my room and gave him the tip he deserves? Five minutes?”

“If you pay his way in.”

Cal pulled back, stammered “No thanks,” and hot-tailed it to the door.

He was still shaking when he reached the van. He drove a couple of blocks, turned into an alley, and unzipped his fly. He came in less than a minute. and shot all over his shirt and jeans.

Cal leaned back in the seat, panting heavily. Then he remembered the money Jake had stuffed into his shirt. He took out the neatly folded bill. Fifty bucks! Shit, if he’d known it was that much he’d have let him stick his hand down his pants!


Il Figlioccio

By Anel Viz

© Anel Viz 2009

After she had thrown two logs on the fire of her open-hearth brick oven and stoked the glowing embers beneath them, Mama Corleone stood up, pressed her hands to either side of her spine and stretched backwards. “Gesumaria, che vecchia!” she sighed. Then she turned to face the table, wiped her brow with the sleeve of her black dress, and sprinkled flour on the dough she had cut in four and would now pat into balls and roll out.

“It’s your lumbago bothering you again, isn’t it, Mama?” Tonio said.

“That and my swollen ankles, carino.”

“Sit down, Mama. The dough can wait a few minutes.”

“The dough can wait, but our customers won’t. Four orders, and how I’ll fit them all in the oven I don’t know.”

“Two will stay warm on the stones in front while the others are baking.”

“And when you deliver them all four will be ice cold. How do people eat cold pizza? It’s an unnatural act.”

“They heat them up in their own ovens, Mama. You know that.”

“Reheated pizza is never as good. I don’t understand why they buy from me.”

“Your pizzas reheated are better than what they could make themselves.” That was true enough. He did not add that if it weren’t for their padrino they would have fewer customers.

“They don’t make pizza the same here as we do in the south. They don’t know how.”

“You see?”

She had taken her rolling pin and was flattening the balls of dough. “It embarrasses me that they only get to taste my pizzas reheated. They don’t know how a good a cook I am.”

“Believe me, Mama. They know. What toppings have they asked for tonight? I’ll get them from the pantry. The boxes, too. All large?”

When the pizzas were done and still piping hot, Tonio slid them into their boxes, wrapped them together in a thick blanket, and tied them to the back of his bicycle.

“Be very careful of the cars on the road,” Mama Corleone told him.

“I’ll be careful.”

“And come straight home. You’re always back long after I expect you, and I worry.”

“Not always, Mama.” He kissed her goodbye and set out, not on the road, but by the footpaths that crisscrossed the fields. The land was flat. He always took this shortcut except when the narrow, straight road between the villages was the shortest route. If he didn’t, he’d have got home much later.

It was a clear night except for the thick line of late autumn mist over the faraway canal. He rode to Signore Cozzone’s first, although it meant zigzagging and added some fifteen minutes to his route. Alfredo Cozzone was a strikingly handsome young man in his twenties who lived alone. He inevitably asked Tonio into his house – “It’s a cold night. Let me give you something hot to drink.” – and having more pizzas to deliver was an excuse not to come in. He knew what Cozzone had in mind. However much a quickie with the man tempted him, Tonio knew he would regret it afterward. Besides, he couldn’t spare the time. Business before pleasure, as they say.

This evening Cozzone said, “Come inside where it’s warm while I get your money, Tonio.”

“Grazie, signore. I’ll wait here.”

“Please, why won’t you call me Alfredo?”

“It wouldn’t be right, signore. It’s impolite.”

Tonio pocketed the money and set off on the dirt path that would bring him to the Strazios’ farm. Their daughter, the devout, big-breasted Prudenza, would answer the door. She also had designs on him, but with her parents in the house even a hasty kiss was impossible, so he’d have no trouble getting away.

Luckily, Signora Pettegolo had not recovered from her laryngitis and did not keep him nodding amicably on her doorstep while she inquired about his mother’s health and how his married sister liked living in Naples and rattled off everything she had heard about everyone who lived within a twenty-kilometer radius.

Only one pizza more to deliver; he’d have unloaded all four in less than an hour and a half. Then, before he headed home, he’d circle round to the canal, bike along the levee, then cut across the pasture to see if the lantern was lit in the abandoned grange, which meant that his friend Gianni was waiting there for him with a blanket and frantic, clinging kisses.

Necessity, Mother of Invention

By Anel Viz

© Anel Viz 2009

Like so many other things he had patented, it was useless. Totally useless; more useless than Kafka’s odradek. He couldn’t help himself; he had to invent things. He had closets overflowing with his useless inventions. Invention was itself his Necessity.

Almost every invention of his was actually two inventions. When he invented something that apparently served no purpose whatsoever, in order to patent it he had to invent a name for it. More often than not inventing a name was the hardest part.

Rarely – very rarely – his lover would dream up a use for some useless piece of junk he’d dreamed up. When that happened, what they used it for bore no relation to the name he had given it.

Who, for instance, would ever imagine that an object called “Rotating Sailfish 6” could provide such exquisite sexual stimulation? When he looked at it now its potential as a sex toy seemed obvious, but in no way did it resemble a sailfish, rotating, bouncing or stationary, and he could not remember what had prompted him to give it that name. “Swinging Sailfish” would have been better for marketing purposes, though it no more swung than it looked like a sailfish. In any case, while “no batteries required” on the package might have assured him hefty sales, no owner of an adult novelty store could risk displaying a box with a photograph of people using it, and the instructions that would have to accompany it would be far too complicated for the average pervert to follow.

While Rotating Sailfish One through Five lay forgotten at the back of a closet, Number Six, which they fondly referred to as RS, had a place of honor in their nightstand drawer. It was one invention he was proud of, and for many reasons. After nearly two years of constant use it showed no sign of ever wearing out. On the other hand, after just one night of constant use he and his lover showed every sign of wearing out, which was not to say he had no reason to be proud of his lover and himself. On the contrary!

He had patented hundreds of new inventions, but in their bedroom his lover was the inventor, though he neither had nor could patent any of the hundreds of things he had invented for them to do together – for their amusement, not out of necessity. They had, however, given them all names, and very fitting names too, though to mention them here would be as inappropriate as it would for an adult novelty store owner to put out a box showing people using RS6.


The Fly on the Wall

By Anel Viz

© Anel Viz 2009

Because of his extensive knowledge of languages, the corporation hired Robert Paxton fresh out of business school with the idea of someday putting him in charge of one of their numerous overseas affiliates. He was a linguist in the old sense of the word, truly a rare phenomenon nowadays in the United States. He claimed to speak and read French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Swedish and Russian, to have a passing fluency but no reading knowledge of Japanese, some Arabic and some Urdu, and that he’d begun studying Mandarin Chinese. They made him responsible for reviewing proposals and supporting documentation in other languages, checking translations of their contracts for accuracy, and handling foreign correspondence.

He soon moved into the highest ranks of middle management. He’d been working for them less than a year when a Chilean firm sent a delegation to discuss a possible joint project. The night they arrived, one of the senior executives invited him to the welcome dinner, in part to have somebody there to socialize with their guests, in part to assess his speaking abilities. Bobby impressed them all. He chatted fluently, perfectly at home in the language and clearly attuned to all the cultural subtleties that so often result in misunderstandings. One of the Chileans remarked that he must have lived many years in a Spanish-speaking country. He hadn’t. He’d visited all the countries whose languages he spoke and had spent a few weeks in each, but he hadn’t lived in any of them.

From then on Bobby was present in the conference room as the company’s spokesperson whenever a foreign contract was being negotiated. His European languages seemed perfectly under control, but when a Japanese firm sent three representatives to negotiate an important contract, he demurred.

“My Japanese isn’t nearly good enough to handle something like this,” he said.

“I thought your wife was from Japan and you spoke Japanese together.”

“Yes, about half the time, but we don’t talk business. I don’t know that vocabulary. And the language has all kinds of formalities built into it. You don’t speak to corporate executives the same way you talk to your wife. The grammar and way you say things aren’t remotely alike.”

“You’ll understand what they say, though, won’t you?”

“Most of it, probably. I could sit back and listen, take notes, and debrief you on their conversations later, even jump in and smooth things over – in English – if anyone makes an unintentional gaffe, but negotiate directly in Japanese, I’m afraid not.”

“It would be better if they didn’t suspect you understood them, like a fly on the wall. You could pretend to be a secretary. Sit in the corner, run out to get whatever papers we need, serve coffee, that sort of thing.”

“If I dressed up as a woman to do it, it would throw them off entirely.”

“They’d hear your man’s voice.”

“Oh, it’s easy enough to speak at a higher pitch,” he said at a higher pitch. “If the company invests in a professional makeover for me, I bet they’ll never know the difference.”

“You really think you can pass for female?”

“I’m sure of it. I was in the drama club all four years in college, and just for fun took all my electives in the theatre department. I played Jerry in our production of Some Like It Hot. It was harder playing up the out-of-place masculine gestures than just going for a one-hundred percent feminine look.”

“What name would you go by?”

“Bobby. Why complicate matters?”

“I’ll discuss it with the CEO. It’ll be worth it just for the show even if the whole thing turns out to be a bust.”

“If they catch on it’ll be because one of you guys can’t keep a straight face.”

Even Bobby’s colleagues scarcely recognized him. He showed up at work in heels and a gray woman’s suit, conservative except for the skirt, which came to three inches above his knees, exposing two very shapely legs, painfully waxed the night before. He had on a wig cut like Uma Thurmon’s hair in Pulp Fiction and a minimal amount of make-up.

He ushered their guests into the conference room and told them the chief executives would be there shortly. To their delight he put several in plates of o-sembe on the table, as his wife had suggested. Would they like him to serve coffee? Or perhaps they’d prefer green tea?

“Ah, green tea, yes. Thank you very much.”

When he went for the tea, one of his co-workers pinched his butt in the outer office. “Keep your hands off the merchandise!” he barked in his normal voice and resuming as much of his natural body language as he could in high heels. Then he added, back in his feminine persona: “Or I’ll deck you.”

What no one had anticipated was that the Japanese might not be able to keep their hands to themselves. The elderly Mr. Misoshiru in particular was totally enchanted with the good-looking secretary, and dropped numerous hints that he’d like just such a woman for an escort during his stay in their city. To Bobby’s dismay, his CEO assigned him the job.

“You didn’t have to give in that easily!” Bobby complained during their first fifteen-minute break. “You didn’t have to give in at all! He wasn’t expecting it. I heard what they were saying to each other in Japanese.”

The CEO winked. “Well, it’s done now, so make the best of it.”


Flash

by Anel Viz

On warm, sunny days I like to spend my lunch hour reading the newspaper in the park. When school is out and mobs of noisy children are running about everywhere, I head for a favorite solitary bench, far from the playing fields, wading pool and other areas where they hang out. There I can read in peace. It faces a grassy slope that separates it from the more frequented areas, and behind it are thick bushes and a few large shade trees.

Hardly anyone goes there but myself. The other day, however, I saw that an elderly woman and her bag of peanuts had taken spot. Some half-dozen squirrels clustered around her. “Well, better squirrels than kids,” I thought, and sat down at the far end of the bend, moving carefully so as not frighten the little rodents. I needn’t have worried. The creatures are bold and experienced beggars.

“Good afternoon,” she said. “I’ve come to feed the squirrels.”

“Yes, I see that.”

“I love squirrels. I know them all by name.”

I assumed it was she who had named them, and said so.

“I did,” she said proudly. “The reddish one with the fat tummy and scraggly tail is Paunch, and the brown one there with the very big ears, I call him Flash. Would you like to know why?”

“Hmmm,” I replied, as non-committally as possible.

She tossed a peanut off onto the path to the left. Almost before his companions had seen it land, Flash was there, pouncing on the morsel.

“See? Quick as a flash!”

“Interesting,” I said, and opened my newspaper to signal the end of our conversation.

I have found that chance remarks have a tendency to be prophetic. A couple of minutes later a good-looking young man sauntered by wearing, of all things in such fine weather, a long beige raincoat. He stopped in front of us, turned, and opened his coat, exposing a three-quarters erect penis. His pubic fur matched the coat of Flash the squirrel almost exactly, and you can guess for yourselves what parts of him reminded me of Paunch’s little tummy and scraggly tail.

He stood there a moment to make sure we had seen what would have been my pride and joy if I had something half as large to display. Even the squirrels gasped. No further description is needed. You know what they look like.

Then he took off, running up the slope, his open raincoat billowing behind him like a cape. The frightened squirrels scrambled up into the trees.

Next to me the woman was shaking so, I wondered if she were about to have a heart attack. I asked if she was all right.

“I’m fine,” she said, catching her breath, “but are you going to let him get way with it? Why didn’t you pursue him, catch him, and report him to the police?”

“I was afraid of leaving you alone. You seemed to be in distress.”

“Rubbish! If you ask me, you were afraid he’d give you an encore.”

In a flash, it dawned on me that I would have very much enjoyed an encore, and I regretted not having run after him. I wouldn’t have minded a glimpse at his buns, too. I’m rather partial to a nice male rump, and the man was a fine runner.

But – alas! – he hadn’t put on the show for my benefit. What ever I would have said to him? “Excuse me, sir. Might I have another peek at that superlative dick of yours?”

No, it wouldn’t do at all.

I snorted, and went back to reading my newspaper.

© 2008 Anel Viz

Growing Up in Silence

by Anel Viz

This is how my lover, John, describes his childhood. He uses it as an excuse for his constant chatter, when I complain he won’t let me get a word in edgewise. He claims to suffer from siopeilophobia. (Don’t look up the word. I tried, and couldn’t find it.)

You must take what John says with a grain of salt, since he is prone to exaggerate, but I suppose it must have some basis in truth.

It’s something of a miracle that I ever learned to talk. I grew up in a silent household. My parents, locked in a loathing relationship, never addressed a word to each other. Instead they posted notes, which could show up anywhere around the house.

They kept these notes as short and cryptic as possible, so that by the time the message contained in the original had been conveyed an entire mini-conversation in writing had often taken place:

Fix it! (taped by my mother to a vase in the living room)

Fix what?

The leak.

What leak?

Bathroom sink.

Downstairs?

And so on.

Not until I went to school did it dawn on me that speech was an art widely practiced within the family. I also learned to read, and discovered that the notes they’d been leaving for each other were seldom pleasant and never polite. I drew my own conclusions.

I remember Mrs. Meany, our sadistic third grade teacher who made fun of us kids as an antidote to a boring classroom, jeering at me for writing “groan-up” on a spelling test. An honest mistake. If I understood the origin of the word differently, it was not without cause. I was a bright pupil.

Once I’d started school, my parents began communicating through me, and I became the message-bearer of surly gods. My new role did not send me scurrying back and forth between them, for they would voice their messages in the other’s presence and they expected on the spot delivery. (They did not avoid one another’s company; they simply ignored it.) So ingrained was the practice, that if my father said, “Tell your mother I have to work late today,” I’d turn to her and say, “Dad’s working late today,” not “Dad says that he…” It never occurred to me to say, “You heard him.” I’d become a master of diplomacy long before I reached puberty.

They did their best to keep up appearances. For example, my father might hand me an attractively wrapped box, my mother sitting not six feet away from him on the sofa, and say, “Give your mother her anniversary present.”

I never learned what lay behind their animosity. There may not have been an initial disagreement or fight or infidelity. Perhaps they disliked each other from the start.

Just as they did not avoid each other’s company, they did not cease to cohabit. That I was the only proof that their marriage had been consummated was pure coincidence, unless they also practiced family planning through pithy correspondence. One weekend morning over a late brunch my mother said, “Tell your father it was a false alarm.”

“Dad, it was a false alarm.”

“Is your mother trying to tell me she isn’t pregnant?”

“So you’re not pregnant, Mom?”

“You can let your father know he’s right for once.”

“Mom isn’t pregnant.”

So I was not to have a little brother or sister after all, born, like me, out of deadlock.

I must have been about ten years old at the time. Clearly, they assumed that I knew where babies came from, though neither of them had ever spoken to me about sex, which was probably a good thing. Come to think of it, neither of them ever spoke to me about anything.

I didn’t dare bring friends home. It spooked them. Rather, I spooked them. I didn’t mean to; it was automatic. I lost the first friend I ever introduced to my mother.

Dad was at work. “So you’re John’s friend Robbie I’ve heard so much about,” she said to him. (To him!) “How about some milk and cookies?”

“Mom wants to know if you’d like milk and cookies. She’s heard a lot about you.”

Robbie looked at me as if I was out of my mind, but I couldn’t stop myself. He stayed less than an hour and by the time he left he was a good candidate for ten or more one-hour sessions with a pediatric psychotherapist. I heard he started having nightmares and wet the bed. I’m afraid my goodbye to him clinched it: “Mom says come again often.” He didn’t.

That’s how I earned my reputation as a geek. Funny that we should associate the word with computers now. If my parents had had the option of email or text messaging, it might never have happened and I would have been spared that label. But I suppose I could have been called worse. And I was, after my hormones kicked in and I began to look longingly at some of the more well-developed boys at school. Fortunately, I’d become used to them treating me like a freak.

“You’re not a freak,” I tell him, “but I do wish you’d shut up when we make love.”

© 2008 Anel Viz


Ten Gay Drabbles
(a drabble is exactly 100 words long)

by Anel Viz

Adam

He stood motionless on the platform in front of the class, naked as Adam and as beautiful, a bitten apple in his right hand that hung limply by his side and, dangling in front of his equally limp member, a fig leaf attached to a thread tied round his waist.

“Look ashamed,” the instructor ordered him. “You’ve just eaten of the Tree of Knowledge and know you’re naked.”

Ashamed of what? He’d posed naked thousands of times. If anything he felt silly, and that ridiculous fig leaf tickled the head of his cock. Couldn’t they just imagine it was there?

Laughter

They laughed often. Not the bitter laughter of mockery or remorse, but impish, gleeful laughter – giggles, chuckles, guffaws, enormous belly laughs. They laughed at jokes, at the absurdity of situations, at their own and each other’s silliness, or laughter welled up in them simply out of happiness, the bright ring of splintering glass.

Sometimes in the middle of lovemaking a random thought would strike one of them as funny, and like a contagion would have them both laughing, though his partner didn’t know at what, laughing uncontrollably till tears ran down their cheeks as cleansing as the tears of grief.

Cut

His customers never suspected the intense sexual pleasure he got cutting men’s hair. All styles, all types of hair – curly, straight, thick, fine – aroused him. On the job he wore a loose-fitting smock that concealed his erection, and he stood back from the man he was working on and took care not to brush against his upper arm.

When he finished, after they’d paid him and he’d handed them a receipt, he swept the clippings into a neat pile and emptied them into the trash. Lifeless and inert, they held no erotic power over him, not even as a memory.

Wergild

How could Thrain contest the compensation awarded him for the killing of his hired man? Nobody knew the bond between them, the caresses, the kisses, the delirium of penetration, alone together in the sheepfold far from the homestead.

“Such a paltry sum! Lambi was a good worker.”

And then his enemy’s insult, the aspersion cast on his manhood.

That was worth more, the price of the secret murder of a brother or a grown son.

He named witnesses, and reaped honor when he refused the settlement. Let Kotkel look to his neck! It would feel the bite of his axe.

The Rainbow Gang

Once upon a time three very distinguished and respectable gentlemen lived together in a ménage-à-trois. Mr. Brown blue Mr. Green, who blue Mr. White, who in turn blue Mr. Brown. In summer they spent their weekends at their friend Mr. Black’s farm, where they’d ride his favorite horse, Mr. Ed (of course, of course.) Mr. Black was no less distinguished than they, but his guests felt uncomfortable with his flamboyant drag queen lover, who went by the name of Violet, so when they came to visit she made herself discreetly invisible, becoming Ultra Violet, somewhere over (or under) the rainbow.

Sleeping Naked

Why do mothers insist on their sons wearing pajamas? Why do so many men keep their boxers on when they go to bed? One’s cock and balls need to air out. What are the chances that fire or an earthquake will send you scurrying naked into the street? And what if it does? Will you care who’s seen your arse when your home and all your possessions have been destroyed? Would anyone dare make fun of you under the circumstances? More likely a sympathetic neighbor will hand you a blanket and say, “Here, big guy, throw this over your shoulders.”

Wanking

Masturbation does not cause insanity. Allow me to cite myself in evidence. Have I shocked you? What shame is there in admitting what every rational being takes for granted? People, most of them men, have seen me spill my seed, a white pool dribbling down my belly. I beat off before I lost my virginity, and kept up the practice afterwards. I still do – regularly enough, if a bit less often – and I shall go on doing so for as long as I can get it up and as long as I have a right hand. It gives me pleasure.

A Blasphemy

The taste of semen, the hot, salty spurt, creamy, viscous, that coats the back of your tongue and is greedily swallowed while his hard cock still pulsates at the edge of your throat. His groan seems to say that his last drop of energy drained out of him in that savory liquid, but it was the throes of orgasm that exhausted him. Wringing it from him was an act of worship, lowering your face over the slick, sensitive shaft an adoration.

It is what comes out of a man’s mouth that makes him unclean, not what he takes into it.

Explication de Tex

32 yr old white Christian male,

– maybe I ought to stop here –

professional, financially secure,

– translation: 6-figure income –

5’11”, 185 lbs, 45″ chest, 33″ waist, 16½” biceps, 24″ thighs, 7½” uncut cock,

– Woof! –

former college athlete, straight acting & appearing, out, comfortable with his sexuality,

– and mine? –

not into the bar scene, likes sports, the outdoors, adventure, travel, quiet evenings at home, dogs,

– as I said: “Woof!” –

white wine, pasta, sushi, musicals,

– oh yes, very straight acting –

seeks same

– or reasonable facsimile thereof –

for friendship, mutual exploration, wild sex, LTR & more

– there’s more? –

reply to Tex @ box 5637

Herakles

Hero and demigod, a figure of irrepressible power, his fearless brow is set on glorious deeds; his closed lips show neither anger nor joy. The Nemean lion-skin, draped capelike on his back, its crossed paws knotted below his neck, claws hard against his breastbone, leaves his mighty arms free to toil and conquer. Our gaze wanders down, past his flat, tawny nipples, over the firm, rippled abdomen and tangle of golden pubic curls, and lingers a moment on the soft, barely swelling manhood reposing in front of his thighs, massive as oaks. His calves seem about to explode in motion.


Free at Last

by Anel Viz

Rollo, the black overseer, called them all to a meeting on the trampled earth outside the cabins. Talked too much, that man did.

“Miz Lizbet’, she gone. New Massa say ever’body gotta come up to de big house an’ walk de body to de cemetery fer de fun’ral. In yo’ bes’ close, he say, an’ yo’ make sho’ dey clean. Y’all git off work early tomorra an’ go down to de ribbah fer a bath, lak’ Sunday. Women an’ chilluns at fo’ o’clock, men at six.”

Few of the field hands had ever laid eyes on Miss Elizabeth, but it was no secret the whole plantation bent to her will. Her son would be master now. Him they knew, but they couldn’t guess what kind of master he would be.

* * * * *

Philip came into the parlor. His wife had thrown a black shawl over her pink gown and tied black ribbons in her honey-colored hair. She sat listlessly in the rocker with tear-stained cheeks, dabbing her hankie at eyes as pink as her dress. What did she have to snivel about? The old woman had tyrannized her.

“Honestly, Louella, where are your weeds? Mamma’s been dead nearly two hours, and here you sit, dressed as for a lawn party. You might at least close the curtains. Haven’t you anything more somber, like purple or dark brown?”

She shook her curls at him. “Sally’s altering my mourning clothes. They’ll be ready by suppertime.”

“Let cook know that Cousin Julian will be joining us. I’ve sent for him; there’s so much needs to be done. He can stay in the room adjoining mine.”

She looked up at him with wide, anxious eyes. Did she suspect what her life would be like now that he was out from under his mother’s thumb?

“I’m riding down to the road to wait for him,” he said. “He won’t be long. Montgomery isn’t that far away, and I’m sure he’ll set out as soon as he gets my note.”

He’d written: “The dragon has breathed her last. You’re free to come home.”

* * * * *

That night, luxuriating in the afterglow of their lovemaking, Philip and Julian lay in each other’s arms, running their hands up and down the sleek nudity they had missed so long.

“I needed that,” Philip whispered.

“Shall we go to the fields tomorrow for old times’ sake and watch the slaves at work as we did when we were boys? Remember how we used to stare at their sweaty bodies, admire their muscles and talk about what they’d look like with their clothes off?”

“I’ve thought of something better. I gave orders for all the men to bathe in the river at six to get clean for the funeral the next morning. We can ride by and see them all naked.”

Julian smiled. “Is Zeke still here? Is he still as gorgeous as he was?”

Philip nodded. “Still here.”

“Now we can do what we dreamed of doing,” Julian went on. “We can bring him up to our room and play whenever we feel like it. I bet his cock is enormous.”

“We can’t, not with Zeke; it’d get back to the field hands. The whole plantation would find out. We have to be discreet.”

“But we promised ourselves a three-way with a darkie, as often as we wanted, just as soon as we could get away with it.”

“I thought of that too. After Mamma’s buried we’ll go to auction and choose a man just for that purpose. We’ll make him your personal slave.”

Julian nuzzled into his cousin’s neck and nipped at his ear. “We’ll have such fun choosing him,” he cooed.

“Don’t get too carried away. We’ll have to examine his teeth too – especially his teeth. The traders always try to make them look younger and sturdier than they really are.”

* * * * *

Zeke stood among the gathered slaves, singing his heart out. “Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home…”

Julian had trouble recognizing him from his place by the open grave. Years of laboring in the fields had aged him terribly. He remembered how he’d looked twelve years ago, a strong, tall, handsome man with skin like mahogany. He smiled at his cousin. They’d buy a man like that at next week’s auction, and keep him in the house so he’d stay beautiful.

Philip’s hand gripped Louella’s elbow. He looked disconsolate, as a grieving son should, but the twinkle in his eye said he knew what Julian was thinking.

* * * * *

Naked on the auction block, newly washed and oiled, Opie’s young body gleamed in the noonday sun. This was the first time he’d been sold. He’d never imagined how ashamed he would feel. Who would buy him? How far from home would they take him? What would his work be?

The two men examined him closely, like the piece of merchandise he was. They reached under his lips and looked at his teeth. They felt him all over, testing the firmness of his muscles. He had expected that. Their attention to his genitals surprised him. One pulled back his foreskin and squeezed his penis till he began to harden in the man’s hand. He even probed his anus with a finger.

Opie didn’t move, taking his cue from the other slaves, who stood by stone-faced and inert, as if their minds had gone blank. But they saw.

“Want him for stud” the seller asked.

“Could be. How old is the nigger?”

“Fifteen, sixteen years.”

Opie hadn’t known that. He shut his ears so as not to hear them haggling over his price. “Please, God,” he thought, “not these men.”

“You belong to Master Julian now,” the taller one said, nodding at his friend. “You’ll be working for him in the big house. You’re one lucky nigger.”


The Year of the Rat
by Anel Viz

Nearly half a century ago, when all Chinatown poured into the streets to celebrate the Year of the Rat, I first had sex with a man.

Conventional wisdom would have it you never forget your first time, but that is often not the case, at least for gay men. For one, if our first partner was an acquaintance, who can tell where to draw the line between fooling around as children and our first real sex? If with a stranger, we have had so many anonymous encounters, often more memorable than the first, that they blur together.

They will swear up and down that they remember every detail, but question them, and they do not. How old were you? “Fourteen or fifteen,” they’ll say, or “my last year in high school.” Where were you? They cannot say which public toilet or against which tree in the park. What did he look like? They’ll remember his red hair or his long coat, but they wouldn’t recognize him if they saw him. Ask what they did, and they’ll name the various acts, but you can see it’s a list, not a visualization. They’ll remember whether or not they enjoyed it, but they lacked the experience to say if he was a good, clumsy or indifferent lover.

So it is with me. I could give you exact date, but I’d have to google “lunar new year1960”, if I remember correctly and it was, in fact, the Year of the Rat. I can picture the street where we ran into each other, but when I go back to Chinatown I can’t find it, and if I did I couldn’t say which way we went to get to his apartment, just a few blocks away.

I remember thinking my parents would probably lecture me about coming home late, but they wouldn’t worry, not on the New Year, not about a boy. They’d imagine me setting off firecrackers, joining the parade, stuffing my face with dumplings. No wonder I lost track of time!

The waves of immigrants from Southeast Asia would not begin for another decade, so I assume he was Chinese, though we spoke in English. “You’re over eighteen?” he asked.

I lied.

He didn’t turn on the lamp in his bedroom; the partying in the street outside his window provided enough light to see by. I remember my excitement, and also that I was totally passive. I couldn’t say for sure how much time elapsed before I first took a penis in my mouth or, after that, when I first tasted another man’s semen.

He undressed me, I remember, and I closed my eyes when he began exploring my body with his hands and mouth. He took me twice, and in between he went into the kitchen and whipped up a plate of fried rice for us to share, blander than my mother’s cooking.

I remember that I lay on my stomach beneath him. I cannot say what went through my mind when he entered me, beyond that was happening to me was something I’d always known would happen eventually. He must have been gentle. Surely I would not have forgotten if he hurt me.

Was it good, though, really, really good? That it left me wanting more doesn’t signify. As a gay teenager, I would have sought it out anyway.

People will speak of their first time as an earth-shattering experience, a revelation that set off fireworks in their body. I remember fireworks, but did the sex set off any more than were already part of the New Year’s festivities?

I have no recollection of when I left, nor of the walk home. I have the impression I stayed with him a long time, and, if so, he was an accomplished lover, but it couldn’t have been that long, for the street celebrations must have been going on still, or my parents would have fussed when I got back. They only asked if I’d had a good time.

My only clear memory of that night is feeling relief on thinking that they had no way of knowing where I’d been or what I’d done when I answered, “Just great.”


The Narrow Bed

By Anel Viz

I cannot remember having ever slept in a bed as narrow, narrower than a twin,
like the metal shelf attached to the wall of a cell, a hospital gurney, a
slab in the morgue. I have been given massages on tables wider than this.
I have sometimes slept on the sofa, but sofas have backs for support, and
seats that slant toward them. This bed stands away from the wall; I could
roll off on either side.

It has been my bed for over a week now, and will be for almost three more.
I saw pictures of the timeshare, honest, accurate photos, but did not
think to ask how wide the bed was. It has a firm mattress, and is not
uncomfortable except for its width. Lying on my back, if I place a heel
in each corner, my legs open in so slight an angle that my genitals lie on
my thighs – and I am not a corpulent man. If I open them wider and bend
my knees over the edge with my feet touching the floor – I can do this
easily, though my joints are not as flexible as they used to be – then my
penis and scrotum come to rest on the mattress.

I do this to stretch my muscles. The cramps in my legs wake me in the
middle of the night. Rubbing them doesn’t help, only stretching. I
thought at first they were sore from long walks on the beach, but I do not
feel them in the evening, no matter how much exercise I got that day; I
only feel them at night. I conclude it is the narrowness of the bed that
causes them. I have ample space surrounding me, but my naked body feels
confined.

It is too narrow to realign my spine by placing one foot alongside the
other knee and twisting my torso in the other direction, my arm clutching
the side of the bed. The crossed foot would slip off. Instead, I lie on
my stomach, hook both feet over the foot of the bed, and pull. Or I open
my legs wide and hug the side of the bed with my knees. This is harder to
do on my stomach, my pelvic girdle flattened below me, than on my back.
It stretches the tendons in my groin.

Lying thus, in this most vulnerable of positions, I think of how it would
feel with a pillow under my hips and someone’s weight pressing down on
me. Not someone’s – his. My sex hardens, and just behind
it a familiar warmth stirs inside. Or I imagine coming into the room and
seeing him here in my place, waiting for me. We have yet to take a long
vacation together.

Could we both fit in this bed and sleep together as a couple? We have
comfortably shared a twin many times. Perhaps lying pressed against each
other would provide support, like the back of a sofa.


The Disoriented by Anel Viz

None of them, except Claudia and Nico, had any idea how to label themselves, but after over a quarter of a century of certainty about their sexual identity, the others were not ready to do away with labels.

Claudia knew beyond a doubt that women did not interest her sexually. She didn’t think it wrong or perverse; it just wasn’t for her. On the other hand, when pressed she now admitted that there was more to her relationship with Nico than what she’d been saying about him for years, that he was “a topnotch fuck”. That he had sex with men played a large part in what attracted her to him; she’d come to realize that thinking about or watching two or more men getting it on together excited her enormously. She was, as Nico liked to say, “a heterosexual with a twist”.

The irrepressible Nico had always eschewed labels and called himself a “humanosexual” because his partner of choice would have to be, in his words, “a consenting mammalian biped”. The others protested that no one could be that indiscriminately bisexual, and tried the old desert island question on him: if he were stranded on a desert island with another person, would he prefer a man or a woman?

“Oh, definitely men. Lots and lots of men.”

“No, there can only be one other person.”

“OK then, a woman.”

They pointed out that his answers contradicted themselves, made no sense. He explained, “One woman is enough for me – provided she puts out, of course – but I need more than just one man. I’d be frustrated all the time just having one, so I think I’d be better off with a woman.”

“Then you prefer men.”

“…to women. But I prefer a woman to a man.”

Aaron, who considered himself 100% gay, had found the idea of having sex with a woman unthinkable until he did Claudia while Nico did him from behind. He refused to perform cunnilingus on her, but he did bury his face between her breasts and sucked on them, and had not felt the need to run to the bathroom to wash her secretions off his cock the moment he withdrew. Her female smell wasn’t nearly so disagreeable as he’d imagined. The day might yet come when he’d go down on a woman.

Frank still found the idea of having sex with another man as unthinkable as Aaron had once thought it would be with a woman, but now that the others knew that his wife had divorced him because she was fed up with his fixation on cross-dressing when he made love with her, they no longer looked at him as simply heterosexual. The word was not specific enough to do justice to his tastes.

“At the very least you have to own up to being a heterosexual with another twist,” Claudia told him.

“No,” Nico quipped, “he’s a closet lesbian.”

As for the other three, their friends’ revelations were no less unsettling than what they’d learned about themselves, or thought they had. When Tony, more naive than the rest, had told his wife he’d heard she’d had sex with her best friend, the hostility in his voice – “Don’t I satisfy you?” – kept her from saying, “Yes, once, when we were fourteen-year-old girls. That’s nothing to get bent out of shape about.” Instead she challenged him to find out for himself what he was missing with one of their bisexual friends.

“We have bisexual friends?”

“Nico. Didn’t you know?”

He didn’t; he’d imagined Nico and Claudia were a monogamous couple. He stormed out and went to spend the evening with him to piss her off, not planning to have sex with the guy. It didn’t work out that way. He tried it all, and couldn’t deny that, physically, he loved every minute of it – not that he’d do again. Now he wasn’t so sure. The incident had left his wife wondering if her feelings for her friend contained some sexual component after all. She decided to find out, and her fling left all three more confused than ever. The couple promised each other heterosexual fidelity and adopted a “wait and see” policy on future homosexual relationships so long as they kept nothing secret. They’d waited, but hadn’t seen.

Nico was positively gleeful. He mustered his best poker face and remarked that the quickest and surest way to sort it out was to get together and stage an orgy. It didn’t surprise him that his friends balked at the suggestion; that they took him seriously did. Did he really come off as that promiscuous? He’d done group scenes, but so had Claudia and Aaron often enough, though always with him. The others’ experience was limited to private couplings, and though the seven of them had known each other for years, two of them had slept with no more than two of the others, three had only slept with one, and Frank with none, unless you count happening to walk in on Tony and Nico as a sexual connection. It didn’t faze Nico, but it embarrassed the hell out of other two.

Too proud of his reputation as a sex addict not to push, Nico said solemnly, “Whatever, but with me or without me, that’s the path you’re headed down. You’ll get there sooner or later.”

“Over my dead body,” Frank exclaimed.

“That would only add another wrinkle,” said Claudia wryly.

Aaron dissolved in giggles. She waited for him to calm down, then went on: “I’m sure we’ll get everything sorted out sooner or later, but I’m not sure the quickest way is the best way.”

By way of answer, Nico grinned at her from ear to ear.

After a long silence, Aaron said, “Let’s do it.”

“Let’s not,” said Frank. “Some other time maybe.”

And that seemed to satisfy everyone.


A Suitable Boy by Anel Viz

I should have liked to see him in a Speedo, its bright, stretchy material outlining the roundness of each buttock and tightly molded to his package in front, anything besides those baggy gray cargo shorts hanging from his hips. True, as far as I could tell he might have had nothing to show off beneath them – their shapelessness hid the contours of his body from waist to knee. But surely his muscular calves had thighs to match, nor did that curve of his back taper off into flatness. He was wearing just the shorts. He would have looked perfect in a Speedo.

Until he appeared I was certain I had the beach to myself. I’d left the car in a scenic turnout at the crest of the hill and walked down to see the promontory from another angle. About a quarter-mile on I saw a narrow, overgrown path leading off into the bushes and followed it. It was rough going, rocky and steep, but on the spur of the moment I decided to take my chances that it did lead all the way to the beach and there’d be space to set up camp, so I went back for my gear, although it wasn’t yet noon and I’d planned on driving another couple of hundred miles that day.

I pitched my tent at the foot of the cliff, on a flat shelf barely large enough to hold it some six feet above the tiny stretch of beach. I judged I’d be safe from the incoming tide since the sand below slanted steeply to the ocean. I took what stones I could that had tumbled down the cliff side to build a fire ring and went looking for more on a low rocky rise that jutted out into the water on my right.

We found ourselves face to face when he came climbing over the rise. He looked more surprised to find someone there than I. He glanced toward a spot behind me as if something worried him. I followed his eye and noticed the shirt, shoes and towel he’d left behind when he went to explore. Reassured, he nodded to me and, mindful of his bare feet, climbed slowly down the rock pile and walked on, wading ankle-deep along the shore.

He was sixteen at most, I judged, and boyishly handsome. Tow-headed, misty gray eyes, chest hairless, and the down on his forearms so fine it would have been invisible had it not caught the sun, his waist almost girlish, his flat adolescent belly contrasting with a broadness of shoulder that must have come more from exercise than from maturity – a perfect model for Speedos. I’d have loved to see him in one.

He ignored me utterly. I finished the fire ring and busied myself collecting driftwood to make coffee. The unexpected crash of a large wave, a startled “Oh shit!”, and I looked up to see him waddling up the beach not twenty yards from me, his shorts soaked almost to the waistband. He walked as if he had a load in his pants.

“You’ll rub yourself raw with those clinging to your thighs,” I called out.

He came closer. “What choice do I have?”

“Take ’em off and spread ’em on the rocks to dry.”

He blushed. “It’s that I’m not wearing anything underneath.”

“So? If you were you’d have to take that off too.”

“I feel funny with you completely dressed and all.”

“For the time being.” He looked as though I’d just propositioned him, so I added, “When I finish with this I’m going for a swim.”

“No suit?”

“What for?”

“And if someone shows up?”

“I can’t imagine that happening, and if it does they’ll just have to put up with me. I got here first, so it’s my beach.”

“I was here before you.”

“OK, we’ll call it your beach. Do I have your permission to skinny dip on your beach?”

He smiled, but kept his shorts on. The weight of the water pulled them almost off his hips, exposing the line between abdomen and the top of his legs. The hair on his head must have been sun bleached, because the topmost pubic hairs peeping over his shorts were dark, as was the line of fuzz running down from his navel. The wet garment clung to the privates that had swung so freely inside moments before. I should have liked to see him without a Speedo.

“I can’t hang around here much longer. The next hostel is over forty miles away.”

“You’re on a bike?”

“Hid it in the bushes.”

“You can’t pedal in wet shorts. It’ll chafe worse than walking in ’em. You’ve nothing else?”

He shook his head. “I ripped my riding shorts on the rocks the other day.” He’d cycled down the coast alone, all the way from northern Oregon.

“I don’t advise biking down the highway wrapped in a towel. You’ll be less conspicuous running around bare assed here. Take my word for it.”

“They’ll take forever to dry. I don’t like biking after dark.”

“I’m making coffee. Want some? You can lug over that piece of driftwood and hang ’em by the fire.” He looked uncertain. “They’re not going to dry on you.”

He hesitated, then self-consciously peeled off his wet shorts. Eye candy – a child’s slender torso perched on a biker’s legs, the fully developed genitals of a grown man crowned with a teenager’s silken hairs. Had he suited up to go wading, I wouldn’t have got to see him naked.

“You’re looking at me.”

“What else is there to look at?”

He cast his eye over the empty beach as though he might find something more worthy of my interest, then turned away and went for the driftwood.

If they didn’t dry in time – they might not, after all – should I offer to share my tent? I could get him to trust me. Could I trust myself?


Totalitarianism by Anel Viz

“Like, Dad, I… er, I like totally totaled the car.”

Something told him that Patrick was not using the word “like” in the sense of “not quite almost”. That was not, however, his first reaction.

“My God! Are you all right?”

“Yeah. Like totally. Don’t I look OK?”

He was not sure his insurance would cover the accident. Patrick was just visiting, his first, and was not on the policy. Nor did he have much parental authority over the eighteen-year-old, and the fact that Patrick had sought him out and made the initial contact limited what little leverage he had even further. He silently cursed his ex-wife for not bringing the boy up totally tee-totaled.

“I really am sorry about the car.”

“All that matters is that you’re not hurt. How did it happen?”

Patrick launched into a (totally) long, self-excusing story that made it perfectly clear if you listened between the lines that he was entirely to blame. The insurance company would not be happy.

“… and the cop is like “Let’s see your proof of insurance” and I’m like “My Dad said it was like in the glove box…” (Had he heard him properly? Did the kid really say “said”?) “… and it was like we totally couldn’t open the glove box…”

Again he had the impression that his son didn’t mean that they had been partially successful in opening the glove box, if there was, in fact, anything left of the glove box in which he had kept the totality of his proof of insurance. But he’d heard enough of the story.

“And he gave you a ticket.”

“Yeah. Like totally.”

That, his father thought, is how most tickets are given. “Do you have insurance?” he asked.

“Totally. I’m on Mom’s”

In other words, partially. “Are you covered for other vehicles than hers?”

“Like I hope so.”

“Well, you’d better call her right now and ask, before I call my insurance.”

“Do I have to? I mean, like Mom is pretty pissed at me for being here.”

“Then call her and tell her you just totaled my car. It’ll make her day.”

Patrick had got in touch with him out of the blue. He’d almost broken down and wept when he told him who he was and that he wanted to meet. That he lived over a thousand miles away meant that he’d come for a week or so when school was out. He hadn’t seen the boy since he was four and a half, and no idea what his ex had told their only son about him. Did he know his father was gay? He decided against telling him anything until they met. The phone seemed too anonymous, too unreal a point of contact. But he asked Patrick to send him a photo, and he did. It rankled him to see that the kid looked just like his mother, except that now that she was in her forties her hair was probably a lot shorter.

Patrick thought it was “like totally cool” that his father was gay. “Totally” was more than he’d dared hope for; “cool” was comfort enough.

“I’ve done it with dudes too, but I think I like girls better. I mean like for sex. Otherwise they’re like… you know.”

He knew.

“And it’s like totally awesome your living in Chicago. Our dinky little town is like totally…”

His voice trailed off, his limited vocabulary exhausted. But he knew what the boy meant; he had lived there himself once, after all, and he agreed with him. It was. Totally.

His partner said Patrick was “a sweet kid”, but took him to task for not providing more discipline. But his parenting skills had stopped and atrophied at the age of four, and he had no clue on the right way of handling a teenager, least of all one who was now legally an adult with all the rights and privileges any citizen has (except drinking alcohol, for some unfathomable reason). Five hundred dollars a month in child support hardly gave him the right to tell him what to do and not to do, except as a guest in his home, and he wanted the boy to love him.

“You don’t have to buy the boy’s love with license,” his partner told him. “He’ll love you for yourself. You’re a lovable man.”

That was true enough. Even his wife had loved him once. His partner had urged him to talk to her about rules of behavior and setting limits for Patrick, but he doubted she’d want to admit he had any part in bringing their kid up or even hear his voice again. And putting his foot down was so unlike him. It seemed so totalitarian.

“It’s Mom,” Patrick said, handing him the phone. “She wants to say something to you.”

He could only imagine what.

It was weird hearing Mindy’s voice again after so many years. “You actually let him use your car? Well, it serves you right. I hope you kicked his ass.” At least her insurance would be picking it up, and she was hopping mad her rates would be going up again, but not at him. Not for that, at least.

“I guess Mom told you to kick my ass, huh?” Patrick said when he’d hung up. (Yes, she was like that… totally.) “Well go ahead and kick hard. I deserve it.”

A sweet kid, really.


Renaissance Man by Anel Viz

The iconography of our male nudes comes from the Greeks – gods, warriors and athletes in identifying poses. Even in defeat they struggle, nor does death diminish their power. When realism returned, the themes and subjects inherited from the Middle Ages were made to conform to the tradition rediscovered. Our saints still carry the spiritual symbols of the age that invented them, but we give them the courage of the Ancients, and we paint their sinews on our victorious Saviors hanging from their crosses.

The Greeks sculpted their naked women, however, in submission or calm repose. They have assumed those positions once again, but breathe the air of a later age. We see them as virgins or seductresses.

I have taken countless photos of my naked lover. He has the penis and muscles of a Greek god, but lying or standing he looks at me like his Renaissance sisters.


Musette by Anel Viz

Oh God.

So hard.

So thick.

So tight.

So right.

So slick.

So warm.

A storm.

Delight –

A yard

Of brick

Tonight,

Your rod,

Your prick.


Reunion by Anel Viz

The day of his return no longer seems so far away. It skips across the boxes on the calendar, pulling me breathlessly behind. It stands beside him on my doorstep waiting to ring the bell. At any moment I will hear it. My lips part for the welcoming kiss when I throw myself around him in the doorway. Let the world see!

I dream of him more often now and wake up hard and eager, my hand running gently down my chest and over my belly. Surely I, too, fill his nights like this and every new dawn brings a similar awakening.

I force my hands to the mattress beside me, not as a discipline, but to see what I saw in my sleep and to feel what I felt. Not my hands, but his touching me everywhere, and then his mouth – more kisses – and soon the glow of imagined pleasure stirs at the base of my being. I hold my legs open for the happy song of celebration that trills between them. That, too, is his as well as mine, and my fingers clutch the sheets of their own accord.

Just so I imagine him reliving his nighttime visions in the growing light as slumber slowly recedes, and see his lips part for another kiss, the kiss that heralds the act. My lips also part, and my longing reaches out between them.

I feel him lift my legs. Surely he does too.


A Moment Eternalised by Anel Viz

He lies on gray sheets, a black pillow under his chest, his hair tousled. His eyes, staring at vacant space, are filled with the marvel of intense pleasure recently experienced and now slowly fading. His right leg lies extended to one side, knee bent. The crescent line between his buttocks curves down to his scrotum that, flattened on the mattress beneath him, outlines each tender oval encased within. His belly, tight and flat when he stands, protrudes as a gentle roundness, for his whole being is relaxed. Imagination supplies the rise and fall of his breath.

After making love in the morning light, I stayed inside him, tapering my kisses and caresses till the hardness filling him had withered to a flopping dangle. Then I withdrew, and he gasped when my now pliant knob passed through the ring that gripped it.

I went to rinse the slime from my genitals and empty a bursting bladder. When I returned, he lay in the same position as when I left him. He hadn’t moved, not so much as a toe. That’s when I snapped the picture.

If I had lain any longer on top of him, the sweat that welded our bodies together would have made us both uncomfortable, and surely he would have shifted position to free himself. But leaving when I did, I made it possible to see him as I see him now. So shall he stay forever, a captive, suspended in this photo.


Variations on a Prompt

by Anel Viz

(c) 2007 Anel Viz

Thema

Throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where it is unthinkable for a man and a woman to hold hands in public, one often sees a male or female couple walking hand in hand. One thinks nothing of it. They are relatives or close friends; their gesture implies no deeper intimacy. In Western culture, women may innocently hold hands, but when men do so the sexual connotations are apparent. As same-sex love slowly becomes more open and accepted, we see these couples more often, but they will always raise a few eyebrows.

1. If I like to walk with an arm around his waist, it’s not because holding hands isn’t conspicuous enough. It’s because his palms sweat.

2. Two men of approximately equal height, standing side by side, seen from behind. The man on the left wears faded jeans and a red tee-shirt. The soft, bright green fabric of his companion’s shirt hangs loosely over army camouflage fatigues, caught on the button of his right back pocket. They’re holding hands, arms down, so relaxed as to swing with the rhythm of their walk. Masculine arms, lightly haired. The man in jeans has his tucked behind his friend’s, a prominent knob above the wrist, bulging veins lining the back of his hand. Masculine hands, fingers intertwined, bent up to grasp tightly, their clean nails cut straight across. A heavy bracelet circles the wrist of the man in fatigues like a wedding ring: three hoops of hammered metal welded together, a copper band sandwiched two others, silver above and gold below. Cropped to show little else but their clasped hands, the photo reveals the intimacy in their personal lives and their timid audacity.

3. When I walk next to him, I want to take his hand.
When I hold his hand, I want to feel the pressure of his shoulder.
When I want to feel his shoulder pressing mine, I put my arm around him.
When my arm encircles his waist, I want to hug him tight against me.
When I hold him in my arms, I want to kiss him.
When our mouths meld, I want to feel every part of him.
When I run my hands over his body, I want to snatch him up and carry him off to my bedroom.

When we’re alone in my room, I want to tear off his clothes. Yes, and mine too.
When we lie naked in bed together, I want to touch him everywhere, to kiss him, devour him, enter him, possess him.
And I do. And it is glorious.
I want, I want, I want, I want …
(I think you’ll understand.)

4. When we rolled apart, sweaty, panting, sated, exhausted, lying side by side, he put his hand on mine and squeezed it. I looked at him. We smiled, and let Sleep take us as we had possessed each other.

5. He and I walk down the street
Openly. The stares we meet,
Lovers, both of the same sex,
Defying – they think – Nature’s laws.
Insidious, perverse. It gnaws,
Nauseates them, and it wrecks…
Goodness knows what. That our act shows
Happiness in being close
And loving one another so?
Neither your sneers nor mutterings
Disturb the peace this closeness brings…
Strength, too – a strength you’ll never know.

6. Just as all behavior is culture-bound and situation-specific, and many behaviors we deem inappropriate quite acceptable in other lands or under other circumstances, so the reasons for behaving inappropriately too may vary. Most common are selfishness and ignorance. The inappropriate behavior of children, for example, falls into both categories, as does that of their parents, whose disregard of those around them passes on the message to their children that selfishness is their right, and perpetuates their antisocial behavior to no one’s benefit. Most often they are mortified by the spectacle their children are making of themselves, but are rendered helpless by timidity or ignorance of proper parenting. The opposite of timidity is defiance, another reason for inappropriate behavior. It runs the gamut from the self-destructive rage of the oppressed to acts as understated as a gay couple holding hands in public. By holding hands they fling this question in the face of an intolerant society: “What is inappropriate about this? I dare you to explain it!” Indeed, there are many behaviors which ought not to be considered inappropriate, but are. Our Anglo-Saxon societies feel uncomfortable with public displays of affection. For one, we are not used to it. It is a taboo that taps into our deep-seated fears – of sex, of showing our emotions. We countenance them only in narrowly defined circumstances – homecomings and farewells, the chaste kiss exchanged at the altar. In our society public displays of affection are usually more displays than they are affection, in some cases mini-dramas of self-indulgence, in others the politicization of love. There, too, we should place the often obscene gropings and flaunting of the sexual body we often see at Pride, where shock-seeking, inappropriate behavior claims its own space and the have-nots assert their birthright, honoring their closeted brothers and sisters in an atmosphere of Bakhtin’s carnival. So we have carved out a new arena where inappropriate behavior is, to the outspoken horror of the religious right, tolerated, if but for a short time and not really accepted. We also come out for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but they banned the gay Irish from marching in New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Was it because on a day reserved for closing our eyes to public drunkenness it will not do to open them to homoerotic love?

7. A ring of naked men holding hands circles four naked musicians – fiddle, tambouritza, drum and clarinet. A medley of colors, ages, shapes and sizes celebrates freedom and communion. Their breath heavy with exercise, their eyes gleam and smile. Their genitals, at ease, sway or jiggle with the rhythmic movements of their bodies. Faster and faster, their feet tread the green grass studded with flowers as various and radiant as the dancers.


After a Snowfall

by Anel Viz

(c) Anel Viz

I had to lean on the door to open it against the drift. Oh, the waking whiteness of a delayed snowfall when early morning whitens the sky above it!

Already last night I heard the scrape of shovels. Silence now; a silence the snow blowers will later deafen. Yes, silence and sounds both, though not the screams of the children at play, and least of all the unearthly shrieks of the neighbors’ youngest son. His voice carries like a Valkyrie’s and sets the dogs barking. I suppose to his indulgent parents he sounds gleeful.

Am I then to be summoned to Valhalla this afternoon, shoveling snow? Dangerous exercise for a flabby gentleman my age. And will the battle-fallen heroes invite me to their revels, or will they snicker like the pretty boys they are?

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