You’re the type of boy the jocks call princess. If you are their princess then pretend the jocks are something like your knights and this pickup truck your royal carriage. No one wears seatbelts as Brice plows his dad’s F-150 through the lima bean field. You’re crumpled in the truck bed with Chasten fingering your duct taped lips. Your knights chug cans of Natural Light as your eyes widen at glimpses of armpit hair on white torsos in the dark. Miles knifes a hole in the tape and fills your mouth with light beer.
At the edge of the forest your knights haul your ass off the truck. You stare into the headlights as Chasten holds you gently. Brice nudges your stomach with his boot and says:
“Ain’t we so good to our princess boy.”
And when it’s over they take you through the night drunk driving down country roads.
When you fall into bed at home tell yourself this town is a sour armpit stuffed with chicken shit and nasty people. Tell yourself that 10 years from now you will be 27 and in love in a big city hundreds of miles from here and that when you think back on it this will seem like some scary movie about some other kid from some other place.
Or maybe when you’re 27 you’ll be alone on a city bus. You’ll be on your way to your shitty job still watching that scary movie over and over because you can’t help yourself. When the skyscrapers start to loom over you like big ideas think to yourself:
You deserve to exist dumbass.
And then go out to stand in dark rooms with blitzed strangers who act like they never tell themselves the same thing. A hot daddy at the bar will call you boy. Close your eyes and part your lips when he says:
“You could do pornos.”
And then fall in bed over and over with meaningless guys until you almost forget you ever wanted anything to mean anything at all. You will feel broke in more ways than one so quit your shitty job and get broker. Then find a new shitty job that pays less than your old shitty job but be thankful at least you have one.
Save up for a shitty tattoo on your inner forearm. Learn to appreciate the tattoo as a representation of your mindset at a specific point in time and then never get another tattoo.
Spend your late nights walking home alone through the cement blocks of your ruined neighborhood feeling young dumb and full of other people’s cum. And in the morning on your way to your shitty job don’t forget to smile when you look your neighbors in the eye to say:
Because you will learn that in a neighborhood like yours it’s important to know who’s got your back. Eventually you will learn that this city is only beautiful when framed around the little people living up against the weight of 100 layers of oppressive systems trying to keep them small.
One night you will make eye contact across the nightmarish dance floor with a magic stranger with an evil-cute smile. In the morning go with him to go to the diner to eat bacon, eggs, and toast. He will smoke 3 cigarettes before noon and use the word:
You won’t know what kismet means, so say:
And then feel his hand on your dick and taste the eggs and tobacco on his tongue as you make out against the side of the diner in front of several strangers at 11:45am.
When you get home look up the definition of the word kismet and think to yourself:
A wart on your middle finger will appear and occasionally disappear but always return.
You will spend more days with this magic stranger than without until he stops being magic and starts being Luke. Luke will be a bit of a fuck up but you won’t mind because aren’t we all. He will smoke too many cigarettes and drink too many beers and play music too loud and then louder when the neighbors complain.
You will sit around Luke’s 1 room apartment watching TV until you’re talking more than watching, so you’ll turn off the TV and keep talking until you’re fucking. When Luke says:
“Do you like it rough?”
And it’ll be the first time having sex will feel like having anything at all when you come up for air to say:
“You can thrust harder if you want.”
As Luke’s evil-cute smile hovers above you on a hot night with the windows open.
Luke will cum on your face and say:
“I like you. I really like you.”
And when you shut your eyes the humidity of the room will remind you of being on your back in the back of a bouncing pickup truck staring at the starry sky like a ceiling as the elastic of your underpants rips at your knees. You’ll dissociate and then rejoin your body while Luke is snoring into your shoulder blades.
Wake Luke up to explain why you’re uncomfortable and then say:
And pretend to go to sleep.
You will start talking in front of the TV until you’re watching more than talking. Luke’s favorite channel after midnight will be the one that plays nothing but old sitcom reruns and commercials targeted at obese shut-ins and people who are dying. There will be an episode of Roseanne in which Roseanne is standing over the coffin of her dead dad as she reads a note that says:
“So dad I’m forgiving you, just because I need to move on with my life.”
And then Luke will say:
“I’m in the mood to get violently mugged tonight.”
He’ll walk out the door into the night with no shoes on. He won’t come back until 2 reruns of Roseanne later.
In the morning you will wake up too early and then spend an hour or so staring at the uneven facial hair on his sleeping face. Think to yourself:
The body of this messed up man has travelled 30 years to get here in bed next to me.
And as you’re thinking about all the years your body has been travelling too you’ll start jerking off. Remember how Luke makes you feel like your fucked up parts are all right after all and then cum on his leg.
Take a too cold shower and notice that the wart on your middle finger has reappeared.
On your way to your shitty job you will find on the sidewalk a water-damaged book of photography called:
William Eggleston’s Guide
There will be a tricycle on the cover, and your 45-minute bus ride will feel like 5 as you get lost in the simple photos of simple objects and simple people.
Spend all day at work picking at the wart on your middle finger.
Buy nail clippers after work then go back to Luke’s place and snip off the wart. It won’t stop bleeding so lie down on the couch. Luke will hold the unclotting wart wound under his nose and say:
“Your nails are short.”
Look into his eyes past your dripping hand until he smiles. Then look down at your dirty white sneakers and say:
“I’ve been biting them.”
To stop the bleeding Luke will hold your hand above your head against the wall, but it will feel like he’s restraining you. A blood drop on his cheekbone will compliment a scary look that will make you laugh. He will say:
“Are you gonna tell me why you’re nervous.”
Try to lower your dripping hand. When he pins it back against the wall say:
“No I’m not telling.”
Luke will think he can read you just because you’re the type to live through life with one and only one tattoo on your body.
He will kick off his shoes and his feet will stink, but you will like the sour smell of his body because it is his body and the stink feels like a signature. When he moves his mouth to the zipper of your jeans roll away and say:
“I found this book.”
He will let go of your hand and it will smear blood down the wall as it falls. Reach into your backpack, hand him the book you found on the sidewalk. Luke will run his fingers over the gold engraved title and the Bible-pleather cover.
As he stares at the tricycle on the front say:
“There’s this perfect dog.”
Turn the page to a photo of two shirtless little white boys walking down a country road. At the center a dog will smile mid-stride into the camera. Gulfport, Mississippi.
Luke will turn the page to a photo of a neatly dressed woman sitting on a parking lot curb. Her hand will blur, half-way lifted over her lap. Memphis.
When Luke says:
And then focus on the metal pole next to the woman. A thick chain will be wound around it. Despite being 100% sober you will dissociate on this page until Luke shuts the book.
When light reflects off the gold letters that spell out:
think to yourself:
Pinch your finger until Luke says:
“I’m going to smoke.”
It will be late spring and bright at 8:30pm while you sit with him on the stoop of the abandoned row house across the street. Stare at faded sidewalk trash and say:
“I think I’m asexual.”
Try not to feel corny for the way that sounds out loud.
Luke will say:
And you will say:
And then he’ll smoke his cigarette to the filter.
Recognize that people learn best from the silent moments and the not knowing what to say. Have patience for his straggling response.
When he says:
“So you don’t wanna fuck anymore.”
“Not for now.”
A neighbor down the block will be watering plants in plastic containers. Say:
“You think I’m fucked up.”
Luke will punch your arm too hard and say:
“I might be.”
A kid on a dirt bike will blare past going 50 mph. Luke will say:
“I want to live the high life in 40 ounces.”
Lick your wart wound and say:
“Do you think they sell band aids?”
Grip his shoulder as you walk to the store.