Charlie’s throat was parched. He thought that while the young black man who had just been hired to work on the farm downed a glass of lemonade his mother had brought out to him. Charlie licked a sandpaper tongue over strawberry peanut brittle lips wondering how it tasted.
The shape of a man’s pubic triangle is a forceful V, and the penis is such an anti-climax after that. Charlie knew this because, and his parents didn’t know this because, Charlie had stolen away to the barn where the field hands showered and watched the boy through a hole he’d whittled away using Ma’s ice pick. He’d watched many of the boys, by Ryan’s dark flesh was an enigma he’d been trying to understand and taste with his own mind for some time. It’s glistened when wet with a quality that the other white boys—really red boys—the sun licked their flesh so—didn’t possess. Ryan also smiled in a way that made Charlie curious for it was crooked in one corner of his lips. Charlie watched the boy, through the hole, and studied that V that ended in a bulbous goard and brown and purple meat that wiggled like fruit on the trees.
Charlie thought about the V and wrote one night in his purple diary decorated with a yellow rocket ship:
The male form perfected is an instrument of precision that culminates in this blob of foreskin, fat, and a mess of hair. Despite this rhetoric, and despite the guilt he felt after thinking about, and despite the fact that the man talking to him had done nothing but describe the wretched behavior of his village to him because he was gay, all Charlie could think about later, locked in the bathroom of his hotel room, was that V on Shudo’s body and how much he wanted to outline it with his tongue.
It was an odd sensation writing desire. It felt obvious, but the words were somehow more alive than the Faulkner his Grandmother made him read. These words seemed possessed by a tangible reality and the boy Ryan, who slept just seventy nine steps from his bedroom, could now be possessed and written into a reality where desire could be felt and touched even if it wasn’t actually felt or touched or smelled.
Charlie touched himself. Often. Thinking about the boy, but over time the boy, and that V that made his dilly hurt from stiffness and soreness of whacking it non-stop, became something abstract. Charlie began to realize it was the words that was making him spill his semen over the floorboards of his room in thick puddles. He would write the word “penis” and “hard” and “thrust” and grip the edges of his desk as semen spilled out and he felt the holy magic of the physical manifestation of emotion into language.
In this time he hadn’t realized that Ryan had been noticing him more and more, so much so that at night Ryan would sit alone in his bed, measuring the breathing patterns of the other field hands. Once Fat Pete settled into his cacophonous snore he would rub his left nipple until his fruit was ripe. Jerking without lubricant is a slow and careful process but Ryan would think of Charlie’s red hair, the freckles on his nose. Spit works wonders.
Night after Night Ryan pictured and constructed fantasies that would allow the two of them to find themselves alone and of course Ryan pictured himself ripping Charlie’s clothes off and burying his penis deep in the plump rump of the white boy and crowing as orgasms and semen would be the stuff of a grand love affair. Each night was a joy of crafting desire in images.
And there the two boys remained. Artists in their own right. Until one day the harvest was done and Ryan found himself boarded on a train set for Chicago.
The night before he’d fucked Charlie and it was good.
The hayloft was so obvious it boarded on pornographic but it was the only place where no one would find them and bother them. Charlie licked his lips. Ryan’s hand twitched.
–That’s sad, I really liked having you work for my Mom. Ever since dad left it’s hard for her, managing this farm.
–Uh-huh. I imagine so. Charlie licked his lips while Ryan edged closer to him. I’m hot.
–Yeah. You should take off your shirt.
–Okay. It was a quick gesture yielding no pleasure.
–And your pants too.
–Only if you’ll take off yours.
Charlie didn’t like this. The words weren’t there. Ryan wasn’t a wordsmith. He was just physical but Charlie took off his pants and underwear as Ryan did the same. His body was almost swallowed whole by the dark. Out of impulse Charlie reached forward and ran his hands over Ryan. Desperate. He needed to find the word. Ryan’s breath was quickening. He recognized how much his own breath sounded when he touched himself.
–I’m gonna be sad to leave here. I liked working for you mom. Ryan’s gargantuan hand touched his neck. The flesh was warm and rough and Charlie liked it but he wanted the words. He wanted the words badly. He reached down and found it. The V. He traced the letter with his fingers until he arrived at the hard fact and he gripped tight.
–Do you wanna play a word game?
–Okay. What word.
–It starts with “F.” Charlie said.
He bent down and opened his mouth taking all of Ryan in. Word and thought and desire was written as Charlie held the flesh with his mouth until it ruptured in his mouth and he felt his throat fill with a heavy load of Ryan’s seed.
Ryan felt the orgasm and held Charlie’s head in place until the last wave shook him and he fell back.
They didn’t do anything else and in the morning Ryan left for Chicago where he started work in a pencil factory. He met a girl, got married, sired a three boys, and thought only about Charlie at night when his wife had fallen asleep. Over the years the desire quieted into a comfortable dream until he eventually believed that that’s all it had ever been. Just another dream written for a good night’s wank.
Charlie had waited until Ryan fell asleep and played the game again. Holding the dilly in his mouth he traced the V with his fingertip wondering about the word game. Charlie played the game with the other field hands after Ryan left, and after he left the farm for school he played it with any man he could, writing his desire into novels that were read by his friends and largely forgotten. He sealed his desire in acts and words, tasting the fresh semen from rods and phalluses thinking often at night about Ryan.
Charlie was largely a fag of little consequence publishing one short story in a magazine that was republished once ten years after his death from AIDS.
None of Charlie’s lovers were there when he died. They didn’t see him waste away to a skeleton. They weren’t there to comfort him when his mother called him and told him that’s what happens to fags. None of the men who wrote their desire into his mouth and asshole were there as the last sensation he could recognize was his parched throat.
Charlie’s last word, was a word that began with “F.”