By Chaos McKenzie
You’re on all fours, knees chaffing against the edge of the cot-bed, pressed against a corrugated wall, wet with condensation. Your back’s arched, ass bouncing, trying to remember whose room you’re in as he adjusts your hole to the proper height for inserting his cock, which would be impressive if not so flaccid from overuse, or drugs, or exhaustion.
Face pressed into a thin cotton pillow at the sticky angle where wall meets flat, vinyl, pad of the cot. This tissue-thin pillow means to protect your skull as unknown fuck manages to raise his cock just enough to force entry. Starting to ram, vigorously, he tries to pound in the remaining flaccid inches. You squeeze your sphincter to force the cock into a tool not wasted. You are too far-gone to remember such efforts are largely squandered.
Your body spasms against slaps of flesh. Arch of your back making it easier to bounce staccato-skull-beats over corrugated tin, rusting from a build-up of perspiration. You welcome the pillow, saving you the effort of faking a face. All that’s required is occasional moan, groan, and a handful of porn clichés. The fuck grunts in whispers throughout.
You’re taking it bare of course, no point caring – going theory is “everyone at the bathhouse has HIV” – you have no interest in debating. You’re taking it bare, just because, associated fetishes long forgotten. He’s not managing enough of an erection to be a threat, and then boredom sets, showing it all as some horrible lapse in judgment.
You usually avoid rooms with subdued lighting. Potential fucks in strategic poses, feeding off the rush in forcing everyone to present for appraisal. Often tricks are just trying to get a better look at the goods. Slightest gazes speak volumes with all good intentions lost in translation.
Room squatters have the drugs, lube, and poppers. They have a place to smoke, watch porn, to fuck. The fun is in the rooms, so you take the occasional risk when you see the glimmer of something. Letting out a high-pitched moan, your head’s bumped the wall with force. He moves on you faster, mistaking heightened enjoyment; harder, as your face wrinkles with the onslaught of a coming headache. You can see Taper in your mental projection, laughing at you for leaving him. Taper treats you like a low-class, high-price gigolo, but your mental hypothesis on him is complicated and you like to get your money’s worth. You paid for your twenty-dollar locker with deposit, expecting to get fucked by every cock possible or your money wasted.
Regulars have cute names for the bathhouse to lessen the shame inherent with association. Taper refers to the bathhouse as the Archives; as in stale halls with rows of rooms like filing cabinets, dimly lit, containing every possible surprise and variation under the basic heading “man sex” set to circuit-techno. All types of men in all of their contradictory glories can be found in the Archives, one need to only root about. Taper is clever and funny about all of this. It’s why you love him, at least in part. Your headspace about Taper is complicated. Regular scholars of the Archives maintain an aura of social clubs, polite society tweaked out in cheap cotton towels.
Clenching up your sphincter, you roll away from the fuck. He doesn’t seem to notice for a beat. He’s startled when you speak, needing to pee, promising to come back. You take another hoot of meth, called Tina, melted and vaporised in his pipe. You switch your almost-empty bottle of poppers for his fresh one, because they’re vaguely the same shape and you doubt he’ll realize.
Stale scent of anal nitrate, sex farts, and strawberry-tinted aerosol air- freshener lingers all around you. In the shadowed twilight of the halls you become indistinguishable from the offerings. It will take the fuck you’ve left less than a minute to forget you, his manhood hunting for another attempt as more sanctified holes slip by. Most holes in the Archives are well lubricated by Tina’s special attentions, toxic highs choking the last drips of sanity from every moistened corner. Mid-shift hours, early morning, when drunken clubbers struggle to go home and the professional addicts are just stirring.
You and your peers call yourselves fags with laughs, more butch than causal flamer thanks to a hardened exterior. As fags, you have the distinction of taking an industrial strength chemical energizer and a notoriously unpredictable liquid submissive as casual fuck aids. Straights used their association with GHB or Gina to subdue paramours into non-consensual sex. Gina was quick to change this public image by promoting among partiers who accepted consent as the action of ingesting. In clubs, Gina’s presence is common. Anything can happen and be forgiven under Gina, kinder than Tina, who demands a steady payment for every crystal pleasure taken.
Taper likes that you’re bad. You’re a fun toy fulfilling fantasies. He’d find the idea of you loving him hilarious, if he knew. You discovered his name isn’t Taper when you began emailing and his address was, refreshingly, not hotkok4u@, but JohnMTaper@. He calls you sweets and mister, even when ignoring you. You once heard him refer to you by full name to others who knew you only by appearance. He seemed confused they didn’t know you. Taper thinks you’re a great lay. Everyone should know your name. Everyone thinks they’re a great lay and no one knows each other’s name.
Out in the halls, you raise your arms to steady. Your toes stretch out, feeling the way before bumping into someone undefined. You quickly ignore them and look away. They stalk your shadow as you try to balance. Time spent in the arms of Tina and Gina, bending over for various men, makes shifts to your physical axis dizzying, making you laugh.
They hate that.
Dour, solemn faces on men who act like they’ve been forced here when you try to be upfront. You came to fuck, not discuss it, not pass judgment. You came to revel among whores of equal standing. At the Archives they like you to keep that sort of behaviour on the down low. No one should suspect fun is being had; that drugs are more than complimentary; that everyone’s being satisfied; searching for something made-up that will never come. In the hallways everyone stands with defensive scowls. No one wants to seem too friendly. Being friendly invites the attention of trolls.
Trolls are regulars too, regulars who pursue men who’ve expressed no interest with increasing aggression. What makes their need any less? In the end, trolls often have vast skills winning them strung-out and frustrated marathon partiers who eventually succumb for one patient enough to secure them.
Prolonged exposure to the recycled air of the archives gives everyone airs. You came to fuck, to forget a life increasingly out of control. Smiling and strutting with your towel hung low enough to show off the bounce and curve of your goods. This excitement in your demeanour rubs others abrasively, responding as either wilting flowers or with superior downward nose gazing. In the halls, that is, in the shadows, they will grab you, hold you, and thrust up in you.
Taper finds this behaviour hilarious. His spontaneous bursts of hysterical insanity are what attracted you to him in the first place. Taper’s a room person, but he said something with enough verve, making the plunge into his dark cove completely acceptable without overthinking.
Everybody in the bathhouse is a gamble: position, intoxication, cock-size, cock-stability, elasticity of holes, cleanliness of sphincters, and aggression levels. You see it as a buffet, sampling everything with a developed preference after years of experience, trial and error.
In theory, the Archives can be endless enjoyment, a fresh coat of happiness. In truth things differ with the teller. No one at the Archives is really happy – satisfied, gratified, released, and relieved – but not truly happy. Happy, content people do not end up at the Archives, checking files, while Tina and Gina paw at them. Happy, content people have partners they met at wine and cheese parties with civilized conversation and wild sexual abandon because it’s avant-garde, not extremes found in boredom.
You say you’re not addicted to drugs. You just do drugs occasionally to numb your paranoia about life, how no one really likes you, how no one really cares; it’s not sad, it’s just honest. You’ve been around the bush once or twice.
You’re not addicted to drugs, you believe. You’re addicted to trouble, to risk. There’s no twelve-step program for this, which is probably for the best. You’re addicted to rebellion. Drugs here assist with easing lingering doubts to your intentions.
You like to get fucked because it feels real. You equate it with the only genuine sensation in your life, which to you is in ruins but in truth is at par with most. You like to get fucked because it’s intense, makes you dizzy, overwhelms, so everything else just slips away. You like to think a proper significant other who liked to fuck would be enough to satiate. Currently you go from fuck to fuck like a stale porn plot, forgetting to factor the peaks and valleys of hanging with the girls into your equations.
You feel a swell of excitement deep inside, your body dripping from a growing, internal heat. You blame it on the thing you’re calling love. You love him because of the drugs. Taper, that is. You love him because of how the meth melts your perceptions. You love him because of the way he sweats in fragrant downpours as he humps. You love him because of the snide smile with wicked twist, telling stories from the Archive in-between slams. Cock slams not needle, that isn’t Taper’s deal. You love him because of the way he locks eyes as he slides deeper, pressing the full weight of himself over you. He sweats so much because of the drugs, his age, his vigour, because of the poor air circulation in the Archive circulars.
He does not sweat because of you.
You know this, all of this, but love him anyway. You want to believe that you deserve to be happy. You still hope for a relationship, though you’ve given up on soul mate or life-partner. Someone who finds your purple-hazed backstory endearing, not threatening; someone who wants to be with you, not just save you.
They say you end up with what you surround yourself with. To find someone stable, you need to attend stable places. Your opinion on this is tainted. You have tried going to stable places and discovered the same dysfunctions, or found yourself isolated, token fag to inner-city cliché quotas. Even in stable places, you attract people like Taper.
Taper loves hearing about your adventures. Your body refuses to listen to a drowning voice at the back of your drug-fogged brain telling you to run. The voice keeps warning you. It’s only the drugs – that pang of love? – It’s only the drugs. Taper likes to mock all the fucks you collect in-between spurts in his room, his private file in the Archive. It’s true, you like being there best, his charm, his grin… You like being treated like his low-class, high-cost whore.
Taper talks dirty and witty, and you’d both laugh, boisterously, shaking the walls. All around other scholars, jolted from their purpose, roll eyes to the sky, hearing your duet of laughter with annoyed envy. It’s only the drugs.
You like to think you deserve someone nice. Someone who has friends, fully clothed, without any sense of what they look like naked. Someone who thinks you’re worth the effort, not frightened by the label notifying ‘damaged goods.’ You like to think you deserve something like that, though you’d never consider yourself someone nice.
You dated someone nice, once. No spark between you, but you held on. You wanted to believe you deserved hand holding and warm smiles without leather sling straps and twisting at an angle so boys in the hall can get a proper view. You stayed with it because he was charming and you didn’t want to accept the revelation that you were only hot for those who’d tie you up; toss you down; throw you around; bite and spit; showing love through base defilement. It wasn’t that you didn’t like them, you did, the way you felt safe in their arms. You discovered you could still blush.
Taper saw you once, sharing hugs outside of the Archives with someone nice. You were dancing in that manner, letting everyone know you’re a little bit dirty. Taper had that wicked grin, twisted, brushing up too close to say hello, knowing it’ll stir things. Taper likes to think of himself as a good guy – a good, bad boy – like he has feelings for you that equal cuddling and whispered emotions and not just the urge to spread you open while high-fiving spectators.
Taper pointed, back then, watching you with your someone nice, thinking you and he could have that, a nice relationship, a normal relationship cut with occasional binges of sex and drugs in such proportions to make anyone unfamiliar with Fukhäus culture stare in terrified lust. Don’t sluts, deviants, and addicts deserve happiness too? At the end, Taper pressed himself to you, licking your lobe, whispering – nice try, but you ain’t hot for ‘em. Later, Someone Nice wondered if things would work if they roughed you up a little, spit on your cheek while shoving your face in the pillow, as you tried to verbalize why it’s over.
You don’t want to consider yourself a sex addict. Addicts never do.
Taper makes you count up fucks from the previous session. Eight-hours, basic rental + twelve hours overtime, and you know it. First step to beating addiction is admitting it. You don’t think you should be chastised for liking sex. You believe a lover who fucks a lot would be divine, but when you try to meet men no one seems to like you, and you just give in and go get laid. Now, no one will date you because you’re a whore, known and labeled, passed around with footnotes. You know other whores in happy relationships; they share rooms with their loving mates while they fuck every other man in sight for they only play together.
Taper’s archive file is locked, but you can hear him within, his laboured breathing. You feel tweaked and want your weed, your bag, and he’s got your stuff. You pound for entrance. Door cracks open and your slipped it, Taper’s on you with force. You smile and laugh with a strobe to your sequence of events. Taper’s smiling with pride, talking vulgarity. It takes you a beat to understand he’s not talking to you, or on the phone, no faces in the shadows checking in. Takes you a second to realize you’re a prop. There’s a voyeur watching from the corner. You just smile.
Taper won’t look at you. He’s fixated on this voyeur he’s found. The voyeur says he’s a top, as Taper fondles his asshole and exhales a gasp of Tina into his mouth. The voyeur’s fresh meat, frozen under search lights as Taper guides you to suck him, lick him, assume the position so Taper can fuck you while they watch intently.
All your knowledge of Taper is hollow, falsified, and unwarranted. It doesn’t matter if what you think is right, its all delusion based on loneliness, that common thread tying together every artefact in the Archives. The facts of him are skewed. He’s charming, witty, married, with a home, but friends say they don’t love each other anymore. They want you to think if you exerted a little effort, you could win Taper away from the elusive husband. Win the glorious prize of a drug-addled sex-maniac suffering an extensive mid-life crisis. They want to see what you’ll do. They want you to think Taper could love you too.
They lie. You know this. They want to see you make a fool of yourself, percolating new and unexpected dramas at risk to everyone for fun, because they’re bored, and there’s been less meat to exploit of late. They want to see you make a fool of yourself so they can laugh at Taper vigorously while trying to score another hit from his pipe.
Taper won’t lock eyes with you. He kisses you only with an afterthought. You know then, this is the end. You can say you loved him now, without consequence, because you know after this your category in his archive file will have changed. Now you’ll be a stand-by, a default, or a throwback. Taper will say you provoked this by going out and skimming the files. You did so because you thought you loved him, and here one knows better.
There’s a golden rule to playtime, in the end, the enjoyment is all about them – their pleasure, not yours. Your goals are no different. In the Archives, sex is available with simple, easy access, nothing to stop, pacify, or control it. In the Archives, you can sample the files. Tonight you might like rugged, tomorrow maybe femmes. Long as it’s in basic working order.
Nowadays, thanks to the girls, almost no one can get it up. Sucking a struggling, flaccid beast to life can erode jaw muscles. Forward thinking bottoms bring Viagra in bulk to help their tops along, bypassing discussion of long term drug effects. If one can’t fuck, one must get out of the Fukhäus.
Taper slides over you, onto the voyeur. Fresh meat pulls passively at his cock, prepping to climb onto you, but locks lips with Taper. You slip away from them as Taper mounts the newcomer, finding little resistance.
You think about leaving with Taper’s bag. You think about collecting your things and making a clean escape. Instead you slide out into the hall again, looking for the next.