Michael Christopher (a.k.a Saint)’s testicles had swelled to half the size of his body. If theaverage man ejaculates approximately 40 million little swimmers every time he shoots his wad, I was guessing Saint had approximately 6 billion. If you showed a photo of his testicles to an elephant, it would have said “Holy shit, those things are fucking huge. He should really see a doctor.”
But Michael hadn’t gone to a doctor. He had come to me.
“I’ll let you do whatever you want to me if you give me a blow job.”
I did my impression of a velociraptor trying to distract a human while the other raptor sneaks up and eats him. Saint was what I called quasi-gay. He preferred pussy to cock and was absolutely petrified of the very existence of anal sex. He had no problem with two guys getting off together but the very idea of any part of a person’s body coming into any sort of contact with another person’s ass repelled him. It didn’t matter if the ass belonged to a male human, a female human, or a transgendered platypus, ass was not an appropriate place for any kind of penetration.
“Let me get this str...correct. If I give you a blow job, you’ll let me fuck you?”
He gagged. “Yes.”
“Ummmmm.” I really wanted to fuck him. Had, in fact, spent several hours of my life masturbating to the idea. Knowing his aversion to anything anal, I had long since given up the idea of it ever happening. We hadn’t even fooled around before. Much. He was mostly straight, and, as far as I had noticed, not the least bit interested in having me as anything more than a friend. Sure we’d made out a couple of times but he had been reeeeeeealy drunk. “Have you switched teams or are you testing your stamina for a Fear Factor audition?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” He moved next to me on my bed, rested his head on my shoulder and began rubbing my back. “I just -- I really need -- it wouldn’t change our friendship, would it?”
“Would giving my friend and occasional roommate a blowjob before I fucked him change our relationship? Hmmmm. I would imagine so, yes. I’ll be happy to do it but it will change things.”
“For better or for worse?”
“Are we getting married or are you talking about the comic strip?” No laugh. “I don’t know. Maybe if you explained why the sudden change of heart or change of preference or change of cock or whatever this is I could give a better assessment.”
He leaned toward my ear and whispered, “I really need to cum.”
I matched his phone sex operator tone “So jerk off.”
I gave him the raptor look again. “You can’t jerk off?”
“I haven’t jerked off in over two years.”
“If I tell you, do you promise to blow me?”
"It depends. Is an alien going to shoot out of your meatal and try and kill me? Is there some rash I can't see from this angle?" I lifted up his balls. This was the first time I'd ever touched him in his bikini zone. He shivered, not unpleasantly.
"If I tell you something, do you promise not to tell anyone?"
"A couple of years ago, I bought a porn DVD for the first time. One of those fancy deals with multiple angles, chapter selection, and no unnecessary plotline, just really classy, really beautiful women getting fucked."
"And this was detrimental because -- "
He pushed me away with his head, and then pulled me back with his arms. "I watched it for at least six hours, I must have come like twelve times."
"If this story involves chafing I'm not only not giving you head, I'm making you put your clothes back on."
He stuck his tongue out at me. I put it to good use.
"Chafing? Please. I used to be a professional wanker. I never start without lotion."
"Go on, then, what happened?" The kiss had already sealed the fact that he was going to get his blowjob, even if he was going to come an alien life form.
"I turned off the DVD player, and the news was on..." He stared at me.
"Oh God, nothing kills an erection like Ted Koppel. Well, maybe Dan Rather or" I shuddered. "Connie Chung."
"Actually it was Katie Couric."
"The first thing I saw when I turned off the TV was the plane flying into the tower."
"Oh. My. God." I was starting to grasp the issue, as well as his cock. "You poor thing."
"I just feel like -- ahhhhhhhh, yea -- I feel like if I hadn't been jerking off, maybe the towers wouldn't have fallen."
I gagged a bit. Pulled my head out of his lap. "What?" Raptor look #3, a personal record for most times used during single conversation.
"I just — I mean, what if next time I jerk off Mt. St. Helen erupts or a meteor strikes Washington D.C."
"A volcano eruption would be tragic, but I think the nation would owe you a huge debt if you single handedly..."
"I like to use both hands."
"Okay, if you double fistedly wiped out Washington D.C."
He laughed. I returned to the business at mouth.
"Do you think that makes -- ohhhh God -- does that make meeeeee -- I'm going to" He did. Everywhere. Mt. Saint Christopher erupted all over my face, chest, headboard, wall, window, blanket, pillow. It looked like an explosion at the Liquid Paper factory. He smiled at me, and wiped the come off my face. "Does that make me fucked."
"It does now. Bend over."
I buried my depression beneath a pile of CDs. Rock and roll, rap, folk; it didn't matter. Music. Pearl Jam. U2. The Fugees. REM. Radiohead. A Tribe Called Quest. Smashing Pumpkins. LL Cool J. Ani Difranco. Whosoever played a song that didn't mention Jennifer. All the money I didn't have to spend on books or school supplies went directly to my music addiction. Florida wasn't far enough away from Cranberry Lake to keep the sound of Jennifer's voice saying I'm sorry, I just never felt that way about you out of my head, so I had to keep newer, louder music pulsing in my ears. My studies weren't interesting enough to keep my eyes floating out of my books and catching a glimpse of the boy I'd helped Jennifer not have. It would have been a son.
The music wasn't loud enough. The sun wasn't bright enough to blind me. So I abandoned college and Sulfur City, and headed back home. I enrolled in UMass Cranberry Lake, and maxxed out three credit cards buying music from local record stores. My mother, whose condo I was living in, politely suggested that I might want to take a job. Maybe one in a music store with an employee discount. That, or find a new place to live. For once, I took her advice, and set up an interview at Raspberry Records. One of those corporate music stores that adopted a hip, alternative image in the early nineties. Their logo was a face not unlike the old poison sticker faces, with a rolling tongue sticking out of its mouth. Their way of saying Stick it to The Man by buying music from an alternative music store owned and operated by The Man. My interview went okay, but not having any previous retail experience, I was doomed not to get the job, despite the fact that the manager was Fitz, a former coworker of mine from Camp Davis. Still, I filled out the application, and at eight-thirty that night, I drove to the store to turn it in. The store was scheduled to close at nine, so imagine my surprise when I pulled on the door and found it locked. All the lights were on inside, and two women were walking around tossing CDs into shopping bags. I walked over to a payphone and called Fitz's cell. "Did you guys close early tonight to do inventory?"
"No. We do inventory on the last night of the month. Why?"
I explained why. Ten minutes later he pulled up, and walked into the store. It turned out, his assistant manager and some rogue employees had been stealing a few thousand dollars worth of CDs every couple of weeks, and selling them to one of the used music stores in Boston. Every employee involved was fired the next morning, leaving Fitz, and one employee. The employee was Kevin Harris, who'd been working there since he dropped out of Cranberry Lake High. Since the store was now completely devoid of staff, Fitz was authorized to do some emergency hiring, and, despite being only eighteen and having no experience, I was brought on as an assistant manager.
"What the fuck." Kevin said, rather than asked. "I mean, I'm glad it's you and not some asshole stranger, but...I've been here a year, why didn't I get the cushy fucken assistant manager job."
The cushy job which required me to work no more and no less than sixty hours a week. The cushy job where I was not allowed to leave the store for my required, punched out, thirty minute break every six hours. The cushy job where I usually found myself alone, my coworkers routinely coming down with the killer-concert-in-town-flu, or the 24 hour Hangover Virus. The cushy job where the asshole drop out closet case who I'd been buddy buddy with when I was a kid, routinely showed up one or two hours late, and clocked out precisely when his shift was scheduled to end, no matter how much work needed to be done. Kevin fucken Harris.
I was hired in February. By November, we'd gone through four other assistant managers, and roughly three dozen retail associates, most of them named Sarah. The various Sarahs (which included both of the Queen Popular Sarahs from my elementary school days), rarely lasted more than two weeks. Queen Sarah Popular The Second being the shortest term employee in the history of Raspberry Records, when she aced the interview, then showed up positively wrecked on muscle relaxants the next morning, and screaming "This fucken job is corporate fucken bullshit" at the top of her lungs, when I asked her to check and see if we had a copy of the Pocahontas soundtrack in stock. My patience was quickly fagged, and she was quickly fired.
Unfortunately, having gone through three Sarahs in two weeks, the staff currently consisted of one manager, Fitz; two assistant managers, myself and a thirtiesh veterinary student named Madison; and one non-manager, Kevin. We had three days before Black Friday. Fitz was taking a two week vacation in Fuji, and Madison had to take a week of sick time because she'd nearly had her arm ripped off by some sort of rabid beagle. A couple of local managers had sent us some of their precious employees for a shift or two, but I was scheduled to work double shifts on Black Friday, No Relief Saturday, and Dear Fucken Jesus What Am I Doing Working In Retail Sunday. One of the more saintly managers had volunteered to help me close the store on Black Friday, but the morning shift was just me and Kevin. Kevin who had never been less than two hours late when he wasn't working with Fitz.
"You know we're opening an hour early on Friday, right?" I asked him on the Wednesday before The Apocalypse.
"Yea." He said, as though I had asked him if he knew how to spell his name. "You want me here at seven, right?"
"Yea, we open at seven-thirty. And it's going to be sick with shoplifters and people who absolutely must have that album by that singer who sings the song with love in the title. So, early. Please."
At eight-fifteen on Black Friday, I had a line thirty-seven people long. The credit card machine was on the fritz. I was out of ones, fives, and quarters. The phone was ringing. "Thank you for calling Raspberry Records, this is Adam, how may I help you?"
"Adam, it's Kevin."
"Thank fuc...calling. Are you on your way?"
"No. My grandmother had a heart attack, yesterday. My mom wants me to stay at the hospital with her, so I'm not going to make it in."
The line was now forty-one people long. The fax was beeping. "That sucks. Hope she recovers. I can't stay on the phone, though. Bye." And I hung up.
At three-thirty, I couldn't speak, smile, or leave the space behind the register. The line wound around the entire store, out the doors, and on to the sidewalk. "Criminy jickets!" Madison shouted, as she walked into the store. "Are you by yourself?"
Once she made eye contact, she had my answer.
"For how long? All day? Oh my goodness." She ran into the back, and came out with the cashbox for the other register. "Go. Take a minute in the back."
I expected several of the customers to jump me as I made my way to the back, but they all made space between me and the back door when I stumbled from behind the register. I peed for seven weeks, then refilled my water bottle, and made my way back behind the register. "I thought you were out on sick leave." I said, as I scanned through a pile of Whitney Houston and Jackson Five CDs.
"I was. I just came in to pick up my check, but this store is just sick busy, I can't leave you alone like this. You should have called."
I explained that I had called every store in the region, pleading for someone to send any associate they could spare. But no associate can be spared on the busiest shopping day of the year.
At five o'clock, the saintly manager from one of the Boston stores, showed up, and instead of relieving Madison, ordered me to take an hour long break. "And don't even think about clocking out. You deserve at least triple overtime for working by yourself."
I drove five minutes home, opened the refrigerator, and began devouring one of the tupperware containers filled with Thanksgiving's turkey and cranberry sauce that my mother had left. I drank an entire two liter bottle of Cherry Coke in ten minutes, belched loud enough to rattle the kitchen window, and went upstairs to take a quick shower. Full, clean, and wearing an identical (but different) raspberry red turtleneck, I had twenty minutes to make my five minute drive back to work. I decided to stop at the video store to pick up a movie to put me to sleep after work. I grabbed The Basketball Diaries and Until the End of the World, and made my way to the checkout. And there...there....there, behind the counter, wearing the blue and gold uniform of every Blockbuster video in the known world, was Kevin Harris.
"How's your grandma, motherfucker?" I asked. My smile was so wide, it knocked over a box of Twizzlers on my left, and the hat of the gentleman standing on my right.
"Hey, Adam. Look, I'm sorry I―"
"Does your boss know that you called in sick to your other job, claiming that your grandmother was dying of a heart attack?"
The other blue and gold golems lurched to the scene of the impending homocide. "Is there some sort of prob― Adam?"
The leader of the blue and golders was familiar. "Saint?"
Michael Christopher shook his head and laughed. "Why are you causing a scene in my store?"
"Well, I'm the assistant manager over at Raspberry Records, and I had to work by myself for eight hours this morning because Kevin's very ill grandmother had a heart attack, and he had to stay at the hospital with her."
"Really?" Michael asked. "The same grandmother whose funeral he had to go to last Tuesday?"
"Couldn't be." I said, pleased that Michael and I fell so easily in stride with each other. "Kevin was working with me last Tuesday. His car ran out of gas on the way over, and he was about two hours late, but he wasn't wearing funeral clothes."
Kevin was the color of my turtleneck. "Guys."
"You are so fired." I said.
"From your place, too?" Michael asked. "Damn. Fired from two jobs in two seconds. That's rough."
The person in line behind me cleared her throat. "Well, I've got to go back to my sixteen hour shift. It was fun talking with you, Michael. I'll stop in the next time I have a day off, which I think is March, and we can catch up."
"Have a good one."
And I drove back to Raspberry Records, so happy, my smile could barely fit through the door.
Michael Christopher had a mouth like a sewage volcano. He knew how to swear in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Turkish, and Japanese. And thanks to the two weeks I'd spent hanging out with Deaf kids in summer camp, he know knew how to make ten dirty hand movements in American Sign Language. "You're a lot cooler than you were in elementary school." He said.
I was grateful for his approval. Mostly because in sixth grade, he'd made it a semi-weekly habit to beat the everliving shit out of me, for no other reason than beating the shit out of me was much more entertaining than not beating the shit out of me.
Somehow, in middle school, he'd transitioned from unpopular bully, to extremely popular bully. He'd earned the nickname The Saint, because he only beat up people who deserved it. It was kind of an honor to have him smack you upside your head. But, despite the fact that I was smaller, weaker, and had the social skills of a shaved rabbit in a beehive, he went out of his way to be nice to me.
A few weeks into the school year, his mom asked him to move a couch from the basement to the living room on the second floor. I had no concept of why he called me to help him out. I suspected subterfuge. When I got there Michael and Bird Dick were giggling up a storm. I suppressed my fight or flight instinct, and asked what they wanted me to do.
"I am so fucken high right now." Michael said. "We just" giggling "we just" giggling "oh, man, so fucken high."
I grabbed one end of the couch while Michael and Bird Dick grabbed the other. When the job was finished, Michael hugged me. "Thanks, deeeeeeeeeeewd, we totally fucken owe you one. We're gonna go out on the powerline paths and smoke some more sticky stuff. Wanna join us?"
I remembered that commercial where little Gary Coleman says "Say no. Then go. And tell." But I couldn't remember whether that was about drugs, sex, or getting into cars with strangers.
"Yea, but I've got a doctor's appointment tonight, and I can't go stinking of pot, you know?"
"That's cool." Michael said.
I waited for Bird Dick to make a comment, but he was too out of it to speak.
Michael giggled out a "Later deeeeeeeeeeewd."
Later that week, we had gym together. It was still warm enough that the teachers were making us go outside and play soccer or run track. We were supposed to come to class wearing our school clothes, change into shorts or sweatpants for class, then shower, and change back into our normal clothes when class ended. Only losers wore sweatpants in ninth grade, so we were expected to show up in shorts. Usually, I packed a clean pair in my backpack, but on this day, I'd forgotten. But, I remembered, Saint Michael 'owed me one'. "Hey, Saint, I forgot my shorts at home. Do you have a pair I could borrow?"
"Sure," Michael said, pulling his off, "take these." I turned away as quickly as possible. His ass was exquisite.
"Stop looking at his ass, you fucken cocksucker." Said one of Saint's sidekicks. "I'm going to pound the fuck out of you."
I balled up my fists. I knew I couldn't take them, but I was determined to fight as long as it took to save heterosexual face.
"Yea, Bruno." Michael said. "My ass is no entrada, viado."
Oh, they weren't talking to me. Bruno was a kid named Liam Brunelli who'd moved to Cranberry Lake from Chicago at the beginning of the school year. He was chubby and red faced. His head was too large for his body. And, at the moment, his too large head was being slammed into a locker by a member of Michael's meatheaded fan club. I decided to risk detention by wearing my jeans, and ran out of the locker room before anyone remembered me.
That weekend, my father decided to play a round of golf at the local country club, and I screwed around at the putting green and the driving range while he played. I was on the green when I saw Michael drive by on a cart. "Hey, Saint!" I shouted.
He drove the cart toward me. "What's up?"
"Not much. I didn't know you worked here."
"Yea," he said, looking in the direction of the clubhouse, "my dad owns it."
"Cool." I said. "Listen, they closed the boathouse at Davis Pond for the winter, and Kevin Harris and I were thinking of breaking in next weekend and having a party. I was thinking, if you wanted to come and bring some beer or whatever..."
Michael looked at the ground. "Look." And then he paused doom. "You're a lot cooler than you were before you went away to military school or wherever, but. Look. You've got to stop hanging out with that Harris kid. Jeremy says he's a total fucken froot loop who used to, like, grab Jeremy's junk when he was just a kid. I mean, you do plays and shit so, you know, I get that you're probably a fag, too, but you're at least cool about it. But if you spend any time hanging out with Kevin Harris where people can see you... I don't know how much longer people will talk to you."
I froze. Bird Dick. That stupid, crying, faggy...Bird Dick. I started to say "I'm not gay, you know." when I realized that Michael was already halfway to the clubhouse, and he didn't look too pleased with himself. A look I wore later that day, when I told Kevin Harris I wasn't going to break into the boathouse with him.