from the novel, THE
ten," said the two-earringed guy when I stood on the sidewalk
in front of the door. "Unless you're on a list."
looked me up and down. "Just gimme five."
took this as an exceedingly good sign. I gave him the money, and
medium-loud rock-slash-punk band was singing something about "come
on baby gimme fi-er" on stage. The lead singer bent over
a kneeling guitar player, who suddenly bolted up, and emitted
a stream of flames from his mouth. I stared mesmerized at the
crowd in front of the stage, a mix of boys sporting girlish fashions,
eyeliner, pigtails or halter tops; girls with glittered faces;
androgynous types in tee-shirts and jeans, and a few younger-looking
sorts sporting Mohawks.
didn't spot Corey so I headed to the bar to wait.
can I get you sweetheart?"
ordered a Rolling Rock, and pivoted on my bar stool, to watch
the stage. Apparently the band had crescendoed with their last
song. Therefore, the crowd clapped, and, as the cheers subsided,
an exceedingly tall drag queen -- or a normal height drag queen
in exceedingly high heels -- clicked onto the stage. "Ladies
and gentlemen, fags and whores," she bellowed, “Welcome
to Unbox!” and on about thanking the band. "Now, let's
hear it for our d.j., Miss Man! Hit it, Miss Man!"
came a voice from my left.
boomed the speakers.
Standing before me, giggly, skinny, and with deliberately mused
hair, preserved in its musedness with an excessive amount of gel-product,
was, in fact, the first man I'd slept with before Corey, just
after Marla dumped me.
and I had shared a table at the impossible-to-find-a-table-at
greasy diner around my corner. At the start of the meal, five
p.m. dinner-slash-breakfast, we were strangers. Then we began
to talk. JoJo went on about some guy dissing him. Overjoyed for
the audience, since my friends were exceedingly tired of this
story, I went on about Marla dumping me when I was in the hospital
with meningitis-slash-hepatitis. "No!" JoJo exclaimed,
to my delight. "That evil bitch!" After our respective
stories, on a whim we decided to rent a movie at my apartment,
plus drink wine for our respective sorrows. At a scary part of
the movie, John Waters' "Desperate Living," I leaned
back on this JoJo on my sofa, and then I stayed there, and then
his hands cupped over my breasts, and et cetera.
was surprisingly proficient.
did it one other time, too, a few days later. That time felt more
like a test and I knew the chemistry was off. I was secretly overwhelmed
by his scent of excessive deodorant and hair gel, and his limbs
felt boney under me, just on the "too" side of too skinny.
It must have felt off to him, too, and we immediately never called
each other again. I'd thought it was a fluke, the one time I'd
sleep with a gay guy, until I met Corey.
JoJo said now, still giggling. "This is my boyfriend, Reuben."
Connected to JoJo's right hand was an even skinnier, slightly
taller, person with mused-slash-gelled hair.
Laugh laugh laugh. "Nice to meet you. Um, so. You still live
in the neighborhood, JoJo?"
Laugh laugh. "Still on Twelfth. Reuben lives there too, now."
are you two laughing about?" asked Reuben.
nothing. I'll explain later. Give us a call for lunch sometime,
Penny. C'mon, honey, let's dance."
sure," I called out, as they scooted out to the dance floor.
song switched to "I love! rock and roll!" I squinted
into the crowd for Corey, who was now fifteen minutes late, unless
I just didn’t see him. The crowd had thickened and a somewhat
chunky bald man with a nose ring elbowed his way to my left, so
that I had to lean uncomfortably the other way.
you want a drink?” said the person to my right. “I'm
going to try my luck down there." The bartender was at the
far end of the bar, and appeared to be stopping at every person
along the line. The guy who spoke wore a plain blue tee-shirt,
highly flattering to his blue eyes. His hair was, as far as I
could see, ungelled, and one strand fell disobediently across
his forehead. His chest was solid, thick but not bulky. I knew
this because it was only inches from my face, due to the crowd
pressing around us. Perfect, I caught myself thinking.
thanks!” I said. “Rolling Rock."
Wish me luck. I'm friends with Tommy, so hopefully he'll spot
song switched again to "Lust! for life!" and just before
it finished my new friend elbowed his way back toward me, carrying
I cooed. "Thank you so much."
problem. I've known the bartender, Tommy, since high school. You
from New York?"
Bank Street. You?"
just in from Providence for the weekend. That's how I know Tommy."
felt a dip of disappointment, followed by an upsurge of relief.
Obviously this person was not a viable prospect for a long-term-slash-legitimate
relationship. Therefore, I did not have to worry that he’d
discover I was inept at working up to, let alone engaging in,
that sort of arrangement. Corey didn’t count, since we both
agreed we didn’t meet each other’s ideal type and/or
numerous other stringent requirements. "Wanna dance?"
I now bravely asked this new, not available since he lived out
of town, person.
I'd love to!" He presented me with a full smile. "I'm
Penny," I said, just at a particularly loud part of the song,
so that he cupped his hand around his ear, and I had to say it
"You can't always get! what you wa-ant!" isn't, in general,
an easy song to dance to, Mick turned it into a fun activity.
He gripped me tightly at the mournful parts, then threw me back
dramatically at the faster sections, causing me to erupt into
periodically shouted background information, "What do you
do?" et cetera, into each other's ears while we danced. Mick
was studying to be an architect, which I found acceptable, but
not particularly exciting. Again I felt the strange disappointment-slash-relief,
since he wasn't the sort of artist-slash-intellectual whom I felt
I required for a serious, legitimate relationship.
it's getting late," Mick said, about twenty minutes and three
songs after we met. "Wanna go someplace else?"
the dimly lit smokey air I saw the entrance door swing open. Two
guys came in, neither of whom were Corey.
leaned somewhat unsteadily on Mick's chest. "Like where?"
you say you live close? Maybe we can have some tea?"
Laugh laugh. I looked at my watch. I was disappointed to note
that Corey was only thirty minutes late. I was not, however, disappointed
enough to leave without him. "I'm waiting for someone."
of." I looked at Mick, his solid yet decidedly slender-slash-graceful
frame. Then I looked at the notably androgynous crowd dancing
around us. I admit it, I found Mick's proposition to be highly
flattering, and I didn't want to even try to resist. Therefore,
I hit upon this: "Corey's really cute, and nice. Are you
one hundred percent straight?"
question." He tweaked my nose. "That was a big issue
with my girlfriend I just broke up with. I like boys sometimes,
too, but she would never let me..."
does Corey. Maybe you can, well, come home with both of us. Would
you do something like that?"
grinned at me, then resumed a semi-serious expression. "I
guess I would, as long as you knew it was to be with you."
He squeezed my bicep.
did not seem a particularly difficult concession on my part. "Okay.
We have to ask Corey, of course."
course." His forehead wrinkled. “And anyway, I can’t
really know until I meet him.”
we started dancing again.
was shaking his finger at me, to the beat of "Rebel, re-bel.
...Not sure if you're a! boy or a gi-irl" when someone tapped
my shoulder from behind.
said Corey in his shy voice. I stood on my toes to hear him. "Sorry
I'm late. I'll be sitting over there." He pointed to the
bar, then shot me a worried look I'd never seen on him before.
I grabbed his arm before he could move. "This is Mick. Please
dance with us."
doesn't he have stylish hair?" said Mick in a flirtatious,
gayishly intonated voice.
tilted his head, looked up and down Mick, and smiled. "Sure.
get us drinks," I offered when the song ended.
let me," said Mick. "What do you like?"
Adams," said Corey. "Thanks. So, what's going on, Penny?"
he asked when Mick had disappeared to the bar. "Are you going
home with that guy? He likes you. He's cute, too. I mean, you
know, that's fine." His voice grew so low by the end of this
that I found myself standing on his shoes with my ear pressed
to his mouth.
I turned my mouth toward his ear. "I was wondering what you'd
think about the three of us going home together?"
Laugh laugh. "Well... Um... He’s cute, so... Sure!"
Now I could hear him just fine. Even over the bouncy Ramones song
that was starting up.
I instructed Mick as I unlocked my door. "My brother's asleep."
The three of us --Corey, myself, then Mick-- tiptoed past the
living room, where Jason continued snoring, to my room. I closed
the door, and began to angle the fan on my dresser in a way I
thought would block noise to the next room.
you like some water?" Corey asked Mick. I was surprised to
note that his chest was puffed out in an I-know-where-the-water-is-you-don't
sort of posture.
Thanks so much, Corey," Mick answered, reassuringly.
took off his shoes. I sat on my sofa to do the same and just as
I began to worry about getting us past the ice-breaking part of
this endeavor, Mick sat down right next to me, and put his hand
on my neck in a way that was quite pleasing. I caught my breath
and started to open my mouth to espouse a theory about this moment.
Mick clamped his mouth over mine before I could talk. His other
hand trailed up my thigh.
Corey clumped softly back into the room, my back stiffened, but
Mick just kissed me more voraciously in answer. I couldn't stop
little hum sounds escaping through my nose. And the fan didn't
seem to be drowning them out.
set the water glasses on the table, and sat in the chair by the
sofa. Mick lifted my calves until I laid flat. He leaned over
me, and unbuttoned the top button of my shorts, and then the rest.
I admit it, the sight of Corey, watching me from his chair on
the side, got me exceedingly aroused. I lifted my pelvis, and
Mick slid down my cut-offs, and pulled them over my feet. He laid
his hand, over my panties, between my legs.
loves that," said Corey, in the best dead-pan I'd heard from
him ever. "She'll love it more if you put your finger inside."
Why don't you show me that?" requested Mick. His hand stayed
where it was.
think I'll just watch."
squirmed up to sitting, then stepped over to Corey and stood between
his knees. He continued staring straight ahead. I thought I caught
a wince when my thigh touched his. "My furniture here isn't
the right size," I said. "Why don't we all get on the
somewhat awkward silence ensued while the three of us each took
off our respective clothes. I had a head start, so I finished
first, and laid down. Corey clicked off all but my dim bed-side
light. The two of them stood awkwardly by my bed. Finally, Corey
climbed over me, and laid down. "Penny needs to be in the
middle," he said. "She needs constant attention."
was probably the nastiest thing he'd ever said to me, or rather,
about me, --the use of third person rendering it even colder.
Of course, compared to, say, Marla, it was not particularly nasty
at all. Just tension, I thought. I had a theory that Corey was
a very nice guy. Ironically, it was his little jab that made me
conscious of that theory, just for a moment.
turned onto my stomach and laid my hand across Corey's chest.
The mattress dipped as Mick scampered up on my other side. He
laid his hand on my upper back and stroked it, in long comforting
swoops. "Why don't you show me what else she needs?"
hand was on my butt then, and he squeezed it, softly at first,
then harder, and I squirmed. Mick was still stroking my back.
When I squirmed he gripped the back of my neck, as if to still
over," Corey said into my ear. I did, and he squeezed my
nipple, and then Mick played with my other one. I admit it, the
idea of all this, Penny the Sex Object, got me even more aroused
than the sensations themselves. Mick, in fact, stroked my breast
too softly at first, then suddenly pinched my nipple too hard,
so that I had to stifle an "ouch." Corey squeezed his
side with pressure increasing at just the right rate, so that,
finally, my knees lifted and I turned toward him for a kiss.
reached behind us after the, deeper than usual, kiss, and fumbled
on my dresser. I heard a ripping sound and then he seemed to be
rolling on a condom. "Get on top of me." This was not,
in general, Corey's favorite position, since it tended to make
me come rather fast. It occurred to me, as I positioned myself
and Corey worked into me, that Corey wanted to impress this Mick.
I admit it, I was happy to comply.
cupped my breast as I lifted up and down on Corey. At first I
found Mick's touch distracting, annoying even, and then, the idea
of it, all these hands on my body, the degrading hint of domination,
my implicitly obeying Corey to perform for a near stranger, when
I didn't even necessarily like the stranger's touch, aroused me.
Rather, first it embarrassed me. And then, the embarrassment,
my very predicament, aroused me. The embarrassment itself, the
transparent feeling from so much attention on me, in such a usually-intimate
act, seemed, in fact, to be exciting me. And then, once again,
I shivered with shame. Corey was right. Penny the Shallow Attention
Monger. But then that thought too, the not-niceness of what we
were doing, aroused me even further. Penny the Nasty Girl.
such a dirty girl," said Corey, as if reading my mind. Or
maybe he said it before my thought; everything was happening faster
and faster and I was losing track. Corey slapped my ass, loudly,
to punctuate what he'd said. Mick moaned in response. "Very
nice," he said, which seemed exceedingly polite, in light
of the circumstances, and I almost laughed. Corey slapped my butt
again, and I moaned out loud. Then I remembered that I wasn’t
only with Corey. Mick, a near stranger, was seeing how much I
liked this, and I tried to resist, to stop the moaning, but that,
trying to resist, led right into one of my favorite fantasies,
Corey lifting up my skirt, in public, sexing me up, spanking me,
in public, making me admit out loud that I liked it, I needed
it. I flashed on the Unbox dance floor then, and the fantasy went
there, all the androgynous boys and rock chicks watching, shaking
their heads while Corey fingered me, slapped my ass, fingered
me again, shaking their heads and thinking look at what a
nasty girl she is, how much she needs that, until Corey bent
me over a bar stool and fucked me, made me admit out loud in front
of everyone that I needed it, and then turned me around and had
me stand up and made me come, right there in front of the staring
now, in real life, Corey who was really here but who was not my
real boyfriend, as we’d both agreed, slapped my ass again,
and it stung, and I heard myself cry out, and again I remembered
that this Mick was watching all this, and I thought resist,
pretend you don’t like it, but this other voice in
my head, a louder voice, said, you’d better not resist
or it will only be worse, and then in real life Corey was
saying, “you’d better come soon or I’ll do it
again,” and I went limp like putty over him and my moans
filled the room.
kept his deadpan look while I came, and then I caught the corners
of his mouth lifting slightly, with pride.
Mick was saying as I caught my breath and started to climb off
Corey. "I mean wow. Amazing!" Then I felt vulnerable,
exposed, and as if reading my mind now too, Corey grabbed me before
I was all the way off of him, and hugged me tight and kissed my
hair. I hoped I could still sleep on his chest, as usual, even
though this Mick was in the room.
let go and there was some shuffling while he took off the condom,
and I moved to his side. Then Corey's hand was on Mick's, rather
thick, cock, and he bent down and put his mouth on Mick and I
was fascinated to see his extreme dexterity. His head bobbed with
a confident rhythm, and his hand followed smoothly behind. He
didn't stop to swallow, or to wet his palm. "Oh, God,"
Mick said. Corey scooted around some and Mick took the cue and
grabbed Corey too, and rubbed him, eagerly, but with a choppy
sporadic rhythm since he kept losing his hold. He laid on his
back and rolled his head and moaned and then he pulled on Corey's
hair and Corey came up, and, after some jerks with his own hand,
through the dim light I saw little spots of white sparkle on Mick's
belly, like new dimes on a street, dimes so shiny they were just
crying out to be gathered up and claimed.
Moulding has an M.F.A. in Fiction from Columbia.
She also has a J.D. from Columbia, but she is much less proud
of that than of her work as a go-go dancer in New York. Her fiction
and poetry have been published by Nerve.com, the Piedmont Literary
Review, Spectrum and STARbooks Press. She has just completed a
new novel called, THE UNTRAINABLE HEART.
from the novel, THE
© 2007 by Karen Moulding