ANIMIZE Magazine Volume 1 Issue 6 June 2016 - Page 14

Brady stood in the doorway looking at the men sitting around in folding chairs forming a circle in the basement of a church in Brooklyn. He knew this wasn’t for him the instant he walked in. For one, a lot of the men were older, older by far, wearing baseball hats, smiling at each other, and heeeying across the room. Don’t be judgmental. Okay. There was a cute one, Brady noticed, over there, a bit younger, mid-forties maybe, don’t look, thick eyebrows, beardy, black. Still going for the older guys, teddy bear daddy save me. Well, it was a Friday night after all and if nothing else maybe he could get a date out of this, this, meeting prayer drum circle thing, recommended to him by a student therapist at NYU. He was told to go into it with an “open mind” so Brady knew not to expect much. It’d been too long going anyway, this stuff. Nothing is anything really but another room to talk about what happens. The difference always in every room was Brady knew what had happened when he was twelve with his neighbor back in Tennessee, it wasn’t covered up or repressed or anything – in fact, Brady was into it, remembered that he wanted what had happened, it was fun, he was fine. Brady loved sex ever since he could remember, ever since, really early, since, don’t know, around that time he fell in love for the first time with that same neighbor named Luke.

LUKE.

Luke was older, nineteen and beautiful. His hair was dirty and dark and he always seemed to have a tan. Luke had a car too where the top could come down, convertible, yes. He had a girlfriend, lot of girls, and around his neck he always wore this hemp-chain with like a sandy shell in front and Brady would sometimes dream of putting it on for him up in Luke’s room after his shower or riding in Luke’s car and staring at Luke’s thumb gripping over the steering wheel and his tanned right big toe peaking out of his sandal going down on the gas pedal pushing and revving the engine in a parking lot just the two of them.

Then nothing. It was nothing or had been nothing or nothing was like that now for Brady. Seemed like a long hotel hallway of nothing, in fact, his life since then, year after year of night after night without another dream feeling real. Which is maybe why he was here on a Friday in a church basement being told to open his mind. Or maybe it was the doing escort stuff, which yes, occasionally he did. Craigslist. Always safe, but maybe not so safe soon, there was more work, more money the other way. Truvada. No, the reasons for wanting to do it was he was good at it, that was it, which, it was a job, and it paid well. Yes, the money, sure. No, he wasn't going to gag the fag forever and certainly it was a No if it was something Brady was doing to repeat what happened, or have Luke’s arms around him, but yes, sometimes yes, alone in his bed with just the sheet watching Family Guy maybe he didn't feel worthy of something else or better Thai food but he was tired of the psychology of it, fuck, the narrative written into everything we do. What if it was nothing, PEOPLE ON A FRIDAY, what if behind and beyond the fucking and the crying and the laughing and the lube was just plain vanilla in a cup no sprinkles nothing? Can't a person live without having to mean it? Couldn’t he just be Brady without another Brady in his mind that never shut up? Yes, there were things he knew, picked up, wrote down on post-its to carry with him through the shoots, the ladders, but why the need to talk about it? The other men, older, younger, fat, black, cute, latino, lonely, could sit around, act it out with socks on their hands if they wanted to but it wasn't for Brady. He was smart and alert and aware, it wasn't the same. He knew he could do it different, unknot his life on his own like he did the bed sheet Luke ripped and tied around his hands.

But Brady sat. He sat and sat and sat there stewing sitting listening to the men in the circle go round and round the impossibility of getting around it. They talked, oh they talked, about their Mondays and an older step-brother, talked about their Tuesdays after soccer practice, how it was Wednesday morning mass they’d be alone with Father Ralph, they talked about talking with their husband last Thursday about just how far they’d come. Brady turned over his turn coming up inside himself, what was it, this, don’t touch me, talking-fucking-thicket through which all shitheads of the human kind traverse and trip, whinny, wail, as they grope about in the dark getting from one door of the garden to the other. What could he do different than anyone else? His hands were tied.

Brady stood up out of his chair into a standstill – he thought about going to the bathroom but saw himself there, alone and familiar, the runnels of his mind like skid-marked slides at a children’s playground and at the bottom of each was the same dirty puddle from a rain that never stopped. He was a child once.