And then, just like that, he ceased slathering my bare, turgid mid-section, and pointed. Yes, the fucker pointed.

“What’s that?”

“Don’t be a jerk. That’s my dick.”

“Not that, that?”

“Just because mine isn’t as big as yours—”

“Stop it. Below that.”

“My asshole, asshole.”

“You have a mouth, you know that?”

“Speaking of mouth, why don’t you get back to—”

“Is it…is it a joke?”

I knew what he was talking about. I’d been in this position before. Here, butt naked on the floor, in the den, much too horny to make it to the bedroom, much too late (or too early, depending on your definition of time) to bother with foreplay, but I’d slipped up this time. This time I’d left the lights on. Shit, they were blazing. But unlike other guys I’d brought home, I was starting to feel something for this one, and if I was careful, he might last longer than the night.

“Is it a tattoo?” he continued. “Because if it’s a tattoo you’re a sick fuck.”

“Let’s go to the bedroom, where it’s dark.”

“I don’t think you get it, man. I’m not going to fuck the son of Satan.”

Wow. He went there. Honesty’s a bitch. But it was absolutely clear, based upon his quickly deflating interest, that if the night was going to progress I had to face facts. And quickly. I had prepared myself for such an occasion.

“It’s not a tattoo.”

“Good, because if it was a tattoo I was not going to—”

“It’s a birthmark.”

“Oh. God. Jesus. Sorry. That sucks.”

“I was born with it. I’ll die with it.”

“That’s what that little boy had in The Omen.”

“Ah. You’ve seen the movie. Appropriate reference.”

“You can’t deny—”

“Yes. Except mine is…there.”

“T’ain’t kidding.”


“You have to admit, it’s hilarious.”

“I’m howling.”

“C’mon, whaddya expect? I’ve never been with a guy with six six six carved down there.”

“What part of birthmark do you not understand?”

“I once fucked a priest, but this is way different.”

“Look. I get it. It’s a novelty for you. Fine. But can we please move on?”

“It’s rather shocking.”

“Let’s role-play. You be the priest, I’ll be the possessed sinner, and I’m like, ‘Stab me with your crucifix, Father. Spill your heavenly host.’”

“What is this now, the X-rated Exorcist?”

“‘Father Karras, fuck me!’”

“I’m not fucking Linda Blair.”

“Pretend I’m her horny brother home from college and I’ve been bad. Really, really bad.”

“That’s worse than fucking Satan.”

“At least I’m trying!”

“Yes. You’re right. You’re trying very hard. I apologize. Let me clear my head. Give me a moment.”

You never know what you’re going to get when you bring a guy home from the bathhouse. Who knew he’d turn into such a douche? I mean, sure, you won’t find a Rhodes Scholars in a glory hole, but this guy and I’d been hooking up for a while. Whenever we saw each other, we got it on. A couple of bathhouse regulars we were. Still, how much do you really know a person? We never talked during our encounters, only smirked, sweated, grunted, yet through his evasiveness I gathered he was there on the DL. (That’s ‘down low’, for those who don’t know.) I assume he frequented the bathhouse out of necessity, like an escape from whatever demons he was wrestling with at home. He was like me, except that I never hid the fact that I was gay, and I certainly never slunk through the oozing labyrinth embarrassed of where I was. It had gotten to the point I’d look for him when I walked in the door. Having sex with random strangers wasn’t the first thing I thought of when I went to the back room. I wanted something more. I desired him. So I lured him out of the dark and into the light, so to speak.

By the way, I can hear you judging. Bathhouses. You, reading this, all holier-than-thou. Acting like you don’t know. But if you seriously don’t know, I have it on good authority that some of this country’s most popular heterosexual-acting movie stars and right-wing politicians have been known to step through the bathhouse door on occasion. On the DL, of course. But still.

“Okay,” he blurted. “My mind is clear. I’m thinking of nothing but sex.”

“You said butt sex.”

“Yes I did, funny guy. But as you can see, I need some encouragement.”

“Mmmmmmm. Like this?”

“Atta boy.”

“Mmm hmmmm.”

“Nice. That’s it. Work it. Now…move this way. Over here. Uh huh. So hot. Yes…yes…yes…no…no…NO! Not on your hands and knees. Stop. Away from the light. AWAY FROM THE LIGHT!”

“Jesus Christ!”

“Not in that position.

“No doggie style?”

“It was in my face. Blinding me. Like the Devil’s neon sign hanging outside the brothel from hell!”

“Instead of triple sixes think of it as triple Xs.”

“It was hypnotizing me. All I could think of was murdering puppies, or babies, or worse—my mother.”

“Maybe I should tattoo warning signs up my thigh?”

“I’m afraid you’re going to burn off my dick. From the inside.”

“Good lord.”

“Turn it into a…a singed stump.”

“Bravo. You figured out my plan. My whole diabolical scheme.” I stood up, dusted off my knees (I don’t know why, I was pantless), and walked to the door. “It’s probably best you leave.”

“Shit. Sorry. I went overboard.”

“Ya think?”

“I upset you.”

“You’re friggin’ Einstein, you know that. Of course I’m pissed! We stalk each other for weeks, molest each other in the dark, in a fucking semen-soaked bathhouse, and now, tonight, when I invite you back to my place, to civilization, you get all Christian. And you’re going to sit on my floor, hot as shit naked, and let a little birthmark get in the way of a hot piece of ass?”

I slapped my cheeks for emphasis.

“I don’t know what I was thinking. You’re right. You are one hot piece of ass.”

“Maybe you like the anonymity? Maybe random sex with random strangers in the dark makes you feel better about yourself? I guess I thought you wanted more.”

And suddenly he was off the floor, grabbing my hand, yanking me down, pressing his hard flesh against mine, two swords crossed, on top of me, smothering me, taking control. He pinned my hands, pulled my hair, our lips locked into place, like a moist yin and yang. I sucked on his tongue, which seemed to trigger a swelling thrust. This was happening. How long had it been since I’d been with a man this intimately—at my house? I had allowed myself to be discovered. I had allowed the furies to subside. I had—

“Wait. What’re you doing?” I asked.

“Turning you on, man.”

“You’re touching it.”

“Like a chakra, man.”

“No, like braille.”

“Rubbing the taint. It’s an erogenous zone.”

“That’s not rubbing. That’s Morse Code.”

I pulled out from under him and went to the kitchen for a beer. All at once, I was inflamed. I wanted this night to end. How could something I wanted so badly, right there in my arms, end so horribly wrong? It’s what I deserve, this humiliation. I know my limits. I should not have asked him back. He should not have said ‘yes’—this down low lothario. What was tonight, after all, but an invitation to a dashed dream?

“Curiosity got the best of me.” He interrupted my thoughts. He stood in the doorway, gorgeously naked, offering what I suppose was his best goofy, hangdog expression.

“One minute you’re repelled by my birthmark, the next minute you’re tracing it?”

“It’s raised.”

“I’m aware of its typographical features!”

“Surely I’m not the only one. Other guys must’ve said something?”

I set the beer on the counter and was about to throw him out when the more innate part of my judgment got a hold of me. This night was not going to end the way I had hoped. Instead, it would end like the others. We would not see each other after this. He would stop coming to the bathhouse. This was the end.

Tomorrow…what of tomorrow? Tomorrow, I’d pick up where I’d left things, trod the same paths, carry on the same routines. I might even hit the bathhouse, if I’m feeling it. Nothing would change.

I pulled two beers from the fridge. “Here,” I said, offering with a smile.

“Thanks.” He accepted it as if it was a truce, just the way I’d intended.

I led him to the kitchen table. I flicked off the light switch, but the raging amber that drifted in from the den still allowed me to see his face, just enough to look into his eyes. I sat down. He nodded slowly, took a swig, and acquiesced to his knees. It was not lost on me that he was in the prayer position. He took my beer and set both bottles on the table, paired. I leaned back, closed my eyes, reveled in bliss.

And as I feel the surge, I experience an intense warmth in the seat of my origin. Like my shame has been burnished. Branded even. You can almost smell burnt flesh.

My head is spinning.

I clamp both hands to his ears. Smile. Squeeze. And then, like lightning: a snap to the left, a snap to the right. In an instant, he slumps to the floor, forever spent.

“In the dark, all is well.”