Bedlam: FAGGIT


He pulled his dick out, wrapped with a slick latex, and pressed it against Saint’s lower back. He stood up. Saint rolled over. Stared. Watching while he pressed his index finger and thumb firmly around the base of his member, still filled with the excitement spilling over from just moments ago. Sliding the transparent, forest colored condom off, a familiar drippy white pattern cascaded down its insides.

Feet heels riddled with powdery dead skin pushed off of the ground, balancing two hundred pounds of bodyweight on their calloused balls and toes, distal edges like claws. Stretching, what little body definition this stout man had accentuated beneath the wild brown hairs coating rosy flesh. A twist of the neck, a grunt, pelvis poking out, he sucked in what seemed to be, as far as Saint could tell; all of the air his lungs could accommodate before exhaling. Mr. Giblin morphed back into the portly, short man he was during the pre-calculus lessons he instructed, adjusting the wire frames of his corrective lenses and transporting the beads of sweat consuming his forehead onto the backs of veiny, wide hands.

“Now remember,” Giblin gripped an imaginary key in his condom-free hand and put it against the side of his mouth, giving it a gentle twist.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, left

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, left

With eyes slowly shifting to the side and lips twisting into an annoyed pout, Saint pretended the gesture was unseen. Each time they did this it was the same old cautionary motion, same doggy style position within the same old eight minutes of heavy breathing and erratic thrusting. Repetition in its finest form.

Saint’s clenched fist blossomed with expectation into an opened hand, palm exposed and dewey, slender fingers distancing from one another.

“Oh, right.”

Giblin became inanimate, another item amongst the moonlit background as Saint counted the crisp dollar bills. Twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, one hundred, twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, two hundred dollars. Two hundred dollars in less than ten minutes. Not bad as far as he was concerned.

The flick of a switch and light spread from the ceiling, consuming the room. Coiled ringlets of vibrant copper hair were prismatic beneath its intrusive gleam and as he approached the corner of the bed where Saint was standing, slipping into a mint colored t-shirt, Giblin succumbed to urges of curiosity. Sweat soaked digits glided through the untamed forest aflame growing atop a delicate face. Saint recoiled, etching a scowl over features that were usually gentle and demure.

“Don’t.”

“You’re just so exotic. Like an alien…and your hair.”

The reflection captured within the rectangular frame of a mirror hanging on one of the walls in that quaint, humid bedroom was still. Not even its chest moved as musk, sweat, and desperation tainted air slipped in and crept out. That boy trapped in the mirror followed Saint through lingering days and never ending nights. He was odd. Oddly wedged into the uncomfortable space between adolescence and adulthood.

His appearance was odd. Brownish red hair, thick eyebrows, burning ferociously against deep olive skin. Freckles dusted across a face that straddled the gender line. Eyes; bright amber circles seemed to burst out of their sockets with an eager naiveté, amidst all of this physical confusion.

Perhaps it wasn’t confusion. He certainly didn’t feel confused, giving his slim, toned physique a once over. Pronounced collar bones leading to sleek, strong shoulders. Trim waistline, hip bones just barely protruding. Flicking his flacid penis, he had seen enough dicks to know he was well above average. Twisting his torso he admired the definition in his supple thighs and round calves.

Sometimes he loved the young man in the mirror. Other times he hated that boy trapped inside.

“Alien,” was soft and low as it slid off of his tongue.

The car rolled slowly as it came to a halt and from where they were parked Saint could see diminutive squares glowing amidst an opal backdrop off in the distance. His mother was still awake and that realization sunk into his pores, like melted lead, and suddenly dread hung heavy from his heart. Ideas of disappearing into the surrounding black flitted across his stream of thought but they didn’t stick. They weren’t solid enough.

“I wish you’d at least let me drive you closer. I hate droppin’ you off so far away.”

“I’ll be fine. I’m a lion after all.”

“You know, you sound batshit crazy when you say stuff like that.”

There was a slight creak when the passenger door opened. Climbing into the night, Saint noticed that the moon was looming, hanging low and close to the treetops.

“I’ll see you in class tomorrow.. Don’t forget about your spherical coordinates assignment. Oh, and here, take this.”

He stuck his head back inside, Giblin’s stocky arm extended, a dangling denim jacket in hand.

“It’s chilly.”

Saint didn’t bother closing the door and the “Mhm,” he responded with was lost in a breeze, carried away from Giblin while he watched the silhouette walking away from his vehicle, slipping into the oversized  jacket he gave him moments ago.

Pinching his right pocket he felt the crumpled bills. He had checked to make sure they were still there several times already and that feeling of money beneath denim eased his worry. Looking over his shoulder, the space Giblin’s car had occupied seconds ago was now empty; a patch of dirt road with a new memory.

Within that small piece of time between getting out of Giblin’s car and walking towards his home, Saint felt something. It crawled into him slowly before growing into a notion that made his thoughts rattle with wonder. What if he wanted to make this arrangement with Giblin into something greater? Underneath it all, perhaps he wasn’t as terribly bland and unamusing as he seemed? Could there be, hidden beneath vapid speech and argyle vests, someone with the capacity to understand Saint? Keep his secrets and flaws a private matter and protect him from the arrows and daggers of the outside world? No, probably not, he thought. The man slept with a stuffed walrus and collected Magic: The Gathering cards. I wish I could gather everything wrong about Giblin and magically make it disappear. If not for purposes of morphing him, physically and mentally, into a man he could become enamored with, at least so the eight minutes of sex they engaged in twice a month could be enjoyable and maybe…last longer than eight minutes.

He couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge the barren space existing somewhere within him. He just patted his pocket, stargazing with hungry eyes and a starved spirit.

His left hand pressed flat on the doorframe while with the right, he gripped the knob and twisted as slowly as he could. Cautiously he slipped his head into the house and shifted his vision from left to right of the small living quarters. He eased in with stealth and and twisted the inside door handle so that the latch wouldn’t click when he closed it.

There wasn’t much space inside of the one floor home. Saint often found himself frustrated by the screaming plaid sofa, languid geraniums, and ancient coffee table crowding him. Busy patterns, oversized house plants, and out of place trinkets suffocated his thoughts, berated his concentration, so he never spent much time outside of his room.

From the kitchen came the sound of drawers slamming and monotoned ramblings. A high pitched giggle split the air and then the home returned to being quiet. Saint was reticent, easing towards the hallway leading to his bedroom.

“Penny!”

Still. He stopped breathing and listened for the sound of creaking floorboards.

“Penny, is that you?”

Creak. Silence. Creak.

 She’s coming.

“Pennyyyy.”

A slender, brown-skinned woman peaked from behind the dining room wall. With eyes more opened than any Saint had ever seen, he stared into those gaping black pits and felt himself slipping, helpless.

“Hey mama.”

“Did you see ’em?”

“See who mama?”

“You know who…you know who.”

“…Naw, mama, I didn’t see them.”

She glanced around, this woman, before cracking a wide smile. Her head disappeared back behind the wall and just as quickly, she reappeared in her entirety.

Her tiny torso was wrapped in layers of aluminum foil, her massive breasts being held up by her bra and spilling over the silver, self-made corset. Wild tufts of black hair looked as if they were pulling away from her skull as she stood there, tugging at the wrinkled ends of her lilac dress.

“Good, good, good, good..good,” She nodded quickly “I’m almost out of foil.”

 That’s because you wrapped yourself up in it all to look like a fucking Salvation Army tin man.

“I’ma need you to buy more tomorrow, I’ma need you to buy more.”

“Mama, did you take your medication?”

Fidgeting fingers froze along the hemline of her hiked up cotton dress. Her sharp chin sunk into her neck as she averted anxious eyes to different areas of the living room.

“…Yessss.”

“…You didn’t, did you?”

“I said yes, God damnit!” Lanky arms flailed, her right foot stomping the hardwood floor.

Taking a step back, Saint kept his vision focused on her. At sixteen he still wasn’t used to this colorful behavior but he had gotten much better at pretending to be and masking the fear it often evoked.

“Mama…you don’t have to yell,” He said softly “Remember? We talked about your yelling.”

“I..I know, Penny, sweetie,” A loud clapping noise could be heard as she clasped her hands together “I just…I get so riled up trying to keep them away all day long and I-I..I get so damn angry.”

He nodded.

“You know?”

“I know, mama…but that’s why,” there was a brief pause as Saint smiled, nodding in sync with her “That’s why you’ve gotta take your meds.”

“No,” was sharp as she spat it out of her mouth “No! I don’t like them meds, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t! They got to ’em!”

“Mama, no, they didn’t. I picked them up myself.”

“No!” She gripped handfuls of her hair “No, Penny! They’re trying to turn you against me too! They’re gonna hurt you!”

Legs beginning to tremble, his heart slammed around its prison of bone, begging to escape. The same way Saint begged God when he was alone at night.

“Mama…mama, please. Nobody’s turning me against you. Remember, it’s just you and me,” He crept towards her  in the way one might approach a rabid animal, hoping this would assure her of his sincerity “You and me against the world.”

“You and me, my sweet Penny,” Her hands dropped and she chuckled “That’s right.”

“Come on. We should…we should go to bed, huh?”

“Ohhh, no, no, no, baby, you go…you go to bed. I’ve got to cover the windows in the kitchen. They keep trying to get in through the kitchen.”

“Oh.”

“See! Shhhh…you hear that? God damnit! I gotta, I gotta,” Trailing off mid-sentence, his mother dashed back towards the kitchen “No!”

Pots rattled and a chaotic song consisting of cabinets opening and closing, foil tearing, and a one-sided conversation seeped through the house.

Retreating to his bedroom, the clamor slowly faded as he closed his door. The noises were still there, shaking up his thoughts and taunting his emotion, but they were dull, fading from piercing red to soft pink.

Saint’s room was small. No more than 10 x 10 feet, and there wasn’t much to it. He had no posters taped to the bone white walls, no television or decorative pieces. There was a neatly made full sized bed and next to that, a little cherry oak nightstand with a small framed picture and lamp. Despite the modest size, his closet was more than spacious. In it he stored his laundry hamper, clothing, and books upon books upon books.

Bending onto his knees he opened the singular drawer of his nightstand revealing it to be empty of anything but a pair of costume cat ears and a rosary neckless. He slipped the rosary around his neck, the golden ears on over his red mane and adjusted them before closing the drawer. Digging deep into his denim pockets he pulled out the money he had earned earlier that night and took his time straightening each bill before lifting his mattress. In the moonlight he could make out the outline of a neatly aligned rectangle spanning the length of his box spring; the money he had collected over the last year. He placed the new additions on top of what he had already acquired, gently placing the mattress back down.

 I’ve got to count that at some point.

Not completely sure of the total amount he had saved up, Saint had been procrastinating. He was guessing he had a decent stash of cash but he didn’t like to think about it. Mostly because he knew what he’d do once he had enough. He wasn’t even sure if enough would actually be enough. So he continued to push the festering idea beneath the excuses of homework and reading and guilt and everything else he could conjure. Just for now. Just for a little while longer.

As he stood up a glint of light ricocheted off the corner of the picture frame beneath him and before he realized, he was looking at it yet again. Holding it in his hands he glided a thumb down the pewter frame, going over the engraving spots made up of bunnies, kittens, and kites with whimsical tails. Inside of this frame was a park on, what Saint imagined to be, a spring afternoon. Perhaps during May or June. In this park was a four year old on the bench of a wooden picnic table. A mop top of curly, wild, fire red hair and a smile made of incomplete rows of tiny teeth. He clung to the woman  beside him, whose eyes were gentle while she gazed upward at the man sitting behind her on the table. She was wedged between his athletic, beige legs and his hands were placed on her shoulders. The man looked down at the woman, lovingly and seemed to be saying something.

The contrast of her cocoa skin against his was sharp, and the boy’s curls were reminiscent of the blond waves pouring from the mans tilted head. Saint used to look at that picture for hours, entranced by the different skin tones and hair textures, wrapping himself up in the variations of beauty he found.

 Alien.

That beauty that maybe wasn’t to some people. A sight that not everybody understood. He used to ask his mother about it. Why he didn’t look like anybody in his class. Why she was so dark and daddy, so light. Why nobody else had the same shade of hair as he did, and where did freckles come from.

“You black, Penny” She once told him, when he was nine “You black, just like me. Don’t you feel it?”

He looked at her long and hard. The chestnut complexion and thick, graphite colored hair. The fullness of her lips and the broad width along the bridge of her nose. Being completely honest within his thoughts, he acknowledged that no, he did not. He didn’t really feel anything. What was black supposed to feel like? If it had anything to do with how he appeared to his own eye, he certainly didn’t feel it. Looking at his mother he sometimes wondered how he came out of her as their resemblance was non-existent. He had seen pictures of his father when he was a boy and that was more or less what he saw when he passed by a mirror or caught his reflection in a pond. In fact, when his father got a bit of a suntan, they were the same color.

“No.”

“No?”

“…No.”

“You feel white?”

“No.”

“Well what do you feel like then, I’d like to know.”

He shrugged.

“You don’t know?”

“I just feel like a person.”

The sound of metal on ceramic tore Saint from his reverie he had succumbed to. He could hear the lid of a pot spinning on the floor, speeding, a metallic discord, increasing in harshness before calming and then coming to a complete stop. He placed the picture back down and backed away.

Opening his closet door he stepped inside. Curled fingers like claws swiped around in the darkness and he grazed the pull string. A tight grip and light tug. Easing some of his hanging clothes to the side, behind them there lay rows of books and pens and loose leaf paper pinned to clipboards. There was a small, worn out wooden matchbox on top of an off-white clipboard. Sliding it open, inside was a pair of ear plugs he slid into either ear.

Snatching up a book he had been reading he sat on the floor before tucking himself into a corner. Flipping to where the bookmark was wedged he picked up on the line where he had left off.

 “Den they’d tell me not to be takin’ on over mah looks ‘cause they mama told ‘em ‘bout de hound dawgs huntin’ mah papa all night long. ‘Bout Mr. Washburn and de sheriff puttin’ de bloodhounds on de trail tuh ketch mah papa for whut he done tuh mah mama. Dey didn’t tell about how he wuz seen tryin tuh git in touch wid mah mama later on so he could marry her. Naw, dey didn’t talk dat part of it atall. Dey made it sound real bad so as tuh crumple mah feathers.”  

They congregated in the hallways, selling stories of the night before, stringing together the real with the make-believe so that they might be deemed interesting. So someone would like them even if the person they liked didn’t exist. Leaning on lockers, hands cupped around mouths spreading rumors like a cancer. This is what Saint assumed anyhow as he made his way through his peers.

He always felt heavier when he was at school, well, with so many eyes on him, weighing him down, how could he not? Every now and then he’d overhear someone speaking of him, almost always in a negative light. But before school let out last year most of the name calling and harassment had dwindled to passive aggressive muttering and locker vandalization. Despite being painted over, when he looked hard enough, he could still see the word FAGGIT beneath the new burnt orange coating.

He arched his thumbs, hooking them behind the black straps of his backpack to relieve some of the weight from his slouched shoulders. A sound; one that was familiar and exciting. Saint stopped, mid-step and strained to listen. A song he had heard before and enjoyed. Turning to his right he spotted the source. A stranger to his recollection stood at her locker, a walkman attached to the waistline of black acid washed jeans and the sound of percussion and saxophone blaring from the massive headphones that devoured her ears. Soft brown tresses poured along her back like a chocolate fountain as she swayed her head back and fourth, hips popping from left to right.

“Don’t go for second best, baby, put your love to the test,” Saint could hear her singing under her breath before closing her locker and twirling around.

Their eyes met and the movement that trailed through her body ceased. Saint was right. This face was one he’d never come across in these hallways, in town, or anywhere for that matter.

With a heart shaped head, her slanted brown eyes sat atop angled cheekbones and were sparsely covered by the long, straight bangs sweeping across her forehead. The loose fitting t-shirt she wore was jet black and had: bauhuas in neat, white print placed beneath a picture of what looked to be a bat or something of the sort that he couldn’t quite tell. It looked as though the sleeves had been torn off along with the bottom of the shirt, as the slightest bit of her flat midriff was exposed.

Saint couldn’t decide what was most fascinating about this girl before him. Her milky skin was without a flaw. Not a blemish or a pore could be seen. Eyebrows, pronounced and arched to perfection, lips full and nude; it took him a moment before he realized just how long he had been staring and just how twisted with what looked to be disgust, her face had become.

“What the fuck?” She said loudly, rolling her eyes and walking in the direction Saint had come from.

A small group of onlookers were staring so he gave them his back. Rubbing his left cat ear, he continued down the hallway, hoping his embarrassment would settle before he got to class.

In the back of the class, the desk closest to the window, he sat. There was dialogue being spun between teacher and some nameless student in the front of the room about Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men. This was the current English assignment that Saint found no interest in. He had read the book twice; once at age twelve, again at thirteen. Listening to people his age, some even older after being held back, stumble across the synopsis didn’t interest him in the least.

Beyond the confines of a window decorated with oily fingerprints and crevices caked with dust, were stagnant clouds stretching across a slate sky. He hadn’t brought an umbrella with him and hoped that if it were to rain it would do so after he made it back home from the market.

“I think everyone was sort of, like…chasing the American dream.”

An uncertain statement or perhaps question drew him back indoors. He looked down at the blank paper beneath him, where notes should’ve been scribbled. He had enjoyed Of Mice and Men both times he had read it, but it reminded him of a space in time he tried not to think about.

Most of the colorful details had grown wan and Saint did nothing to try and breathe life back into them. They were living in a different town, Durham, and at the time he was happy, or as in reach of happiness as he had been for some time. It was around the time his mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but he didn’t fully comprehend what it meant. She started taking pills regularly and acted in a way Saint hadn’t seen before. Her movements were sluggish, and at times there was a listlessness to her.

It was May, no, it was June, because they were getting ready to take finals. Saint was told that he needed to go speak to the principal.

“…For what?”

“I wasn’t informed. I was just told that he needs to speak with you.”

“Oh…okay.”

Before he could gather his thoughts, his teacher tapped his shoulder.

“You should probably get your things from your desk.”

“I’m not coming back?”

She hesitated. Lips pursed together, she fiddled with the engagement ring on her finger before eagerly smiling.

“Well, we just don’t know how long it’s going to take, that’s all.”

The interior of the office was reminiscent of a museum. From the gold gilt picture frames hanging on the walls to the wooden floors creaking beneath his weight. The moment stalled for quite some time before the principal finally entered the office. He closed the door and turned to face the adolescent.

“Saint Goretti.”

He nodded.

“You…may be wondering why I called you down here.”

Saint’s eyes stalked the giant in a charcoal suit as he stepped behind his desk, towering over him like a tidal does, impending before the crash.

“A, uh, a very serious matter has been brought to my attention and I thought it’d be best if I asked you about it before it goes any further.”

“Okay.”

“Your mother is on her way to the school, she shouldn’t be long.”

“You called my mom?”

“Because of your age it’s most appropriate that she be here.”

“…Why?”

“Saint, you know Mr. Wall, yes?”

A lump in his throat.

“Yes?”

“Mhm.”

“How well do you know him?”

“He’s a teacher here.”

“He’s your teacher, correct? Sixth period, English?”

A hesitant nod. A knock at the door.

“Yes?” Called the principal.

The secretary opened the door.

“Mrs. Goretti is here to see you, Principal Sweeney.”

Before the woman could step aside, Saint saw his mother push by her, bounding into the office. Her body language was lacking in refinement and she did nothing to mask the contempt on her hardened face.

“Mrs. Goretti, thank you for–”

“I want him fired!”

The secretary quickly closed the door. Saint stared up at his mother, who threw her purse to the floor and stood across from Principal Sweeney.

“Do you hear me?”

“Mrs. Goretti, please, I understand your concern but there are channels we have to go through before any steps can be taken.”

“I send my son to school and this is what happens?”

He lowered his head and stared into his unzipped backpack, reading words from the covers and spines of different textbooks. Repeating the titles of them in hopes that he’d come across as too preoccupied with what was in his bag to be bothered with the world around him. Glencoe, McGraw-Hill, Algebra I. Of Mice and Men. Holt Science & Technology, Physical Science.

“Saint!”

“Huh?”

“Answer the man!” She gripped his shoulder and he felt the agitation pulsating through her.

“Have you ever spent time with Mr. Wall outside of school?”

“…Mr. Wall’s a good person.”

“But have you spent time with him outside of school?”

“…Yeah.”

“Do you know it’s not permitted for teachers to spend time with students off of school grounds?”

“No,” He was losing his composure to rattling nerves, this sinking feeling trying to birth itself through his chest for the world to see.

The air that seemed to be smothering him with an unbearable, thick heat “No, I didn’t know that.”

“You’re supposed to go straight home after school. Straight home! Why would you go with this man to his house?”

“Mrs. Goretti, I think it’d be best if we remain calm about–”

“Did he threaten you? Did he force you to go with him?”

The boy sitting in front of Saint passed him back a sheet of paper; homework questions for the chapters they were expected to read. He carelessly slipped it into his bag, looking around as everyone started getting up from their desks. He followed suit and made little eye contact as he exited the room, cat ears in hand.

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One Response to “Bedlam: FAGGIT”

  1. I couldn’t stop reading! Such power and passion.

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