SHOWTIME

Nathan had one last visual sweep over the back seat of his ute before earthing the suitcase and shutting the door. The odd contrast between the objects in the ute and those in the suitcase rarely escaped him. Empty Powerade bottle, tub of pre workout, work shirt carelessly discarded on the back seat the day before. A welcome banner for the weekend.

Then in the suitcase, a secret treasure trove of clothes that came apart with Velcro, fluffy handcuffs, baby oil. Just what you’d expect a tall, broad, late 20-something guy to be carting around on a sat night. Or not.

He always had this feeling just before he started walking up to the house. It was no longer real anxiety after all this time; he was skilled in charm and even the rougher crowds generally treated him like the pinnacle of their evening. No, not anxiety. A subtle building of pressure through his solar plexus. The unknown vs the adrenalin of the performer. As much as he thought he’d become complacent over time, it was this sensation that stayed constant. Showtime.

It was 8pm. Show two: a 21st. Another low-set brick home in a suburb he’d never seen in daylight. Another prematurely tipsy group of skinny, painted young sluts smoking and giggling draped over the front fence. He had moments before they spotted him.

Here it comes. Nathan braced for the onslaught.

“OH my GOD”

“He’s so hooooot”

“Oh my GOD”

Then up an octave, the universal alert:

“Stripper’s HERE!!”

The door flew open as Nathan and his suitcase rolled up the path toward it.

Two more painted girls, one obviously more coherent than the other. He directed his greeting to the soberish one.

“Hi, I’m Nathan from Deluxe Entertainment.”

“Heeeey, I’m Casey and this is the birthday girl Nadine.”

Nadine was frail and hunched with unnaturally blackened hair. She was chewing her pretty face off and struggled to focus her eyes on Nathan.

He turned it up, leaning in to cup her face in one hand and kiss her cheek.

“Happy bday Nadine, I’ll be seeing YOU shortly!”

Then he turned to Casey, who was wearing what looked like a silky camisole, ample breasts spilling in all directions.

“Could you set me up in a room to get ready in? Then we just need everyone ready in an area with some floor space, my payment and we’re good to go!”

Casey missed the subtle tone of urgency.

“So, like, you’re gonna put her in the chair right?? We want you to fark her up!”

The birthday girl clenched her jaw involuntarily and interjected.

“Noooo bitch! I don’t want a fucking dick in my faaace!”

Nathan arranged his facial features to ‘reassuring’

“Nadine, honey, we won’t do anything you don’t like.” Standard wink.

Nadine emitted a sort of guffaw and wobbled off, Smirnoff in hand.

Camisoled Casey lead Cam into a child’s bedroom which smelled of stale food. The bunk bed had an exposed mattress with a pattern of dinosaurs on it. He unzipped the suitcase & threw it open. An officer and a gentleman.

He put on the first couple of layers.

The g-string and the hotpants (two things he’d never have pictured himself wearing a decade ago) Then he slid into the fresh pressed white trousers, smoothed the Velcro seams down each side.

He stood shirtless briefly, aware that he’d just broken a sweat in this airless room. Casey had explained that Nadine’s brother would be in within five minutes to sort out the cash. One of those unspoken industry rules. Always Money First.

Cam spied a double door behind him leading to a small tiled courtyard. Gratefully he swung it open and turned his back outside into the cooler air.

Next he reached for the singlet. Pulling it over his head, he felt suddenly aware of another body entering through the double doors. As he turned slowly a large hand laid for just a moment too long on his shoulder.

“Hey.”

He spun around. The perpetrator had quickly taken a large step back, now partially hidden in shadow.

Taller than Nathan, in an open vintage shirt. Worn, white cotton tee underneath. A cigarette at the end of his left fingertips.

Nate squinted at him, feeling suddenly strange.

The stranger stepped forward again. His face caught the light. Slippery smooth dark hair, tucked behind one ear and hanging loose over the other brow.

“Karl. Nadine’s bro.”

Nate recognised the sharp jaw of the sibling, took in the strong line of Karl’s dark brow. Luxuriant eyelashes his sister must have been envious of. He looked like a muso.

Karl’s eyes didn’t move from his face. He’d been staring. Hadn’t he?

“Got the money for you….mate.”

The word sounded wrong from Karl’s lips.

Karl seemed to register it too. He looked down briefly for the first time, his eyes on his hand as it pressed the notes into Nathan’s hand. The cove of his long fingers sat briefly over Cam’s own for an instant and he was acutely aware.

“Hope those girls behave themselves.”

Nate felt raw, stripped of his charm.

“They’re my target market.”

He scored a gracious snigger in return.

Then Karl flicked the ciggie into the courtyard, turned on his heel and disappeared into the dark. He looked back, once.

Nathan turned back to the bed, picked up his crisp white shirt. Smoothing it ritualistically without noticing. Each button under his fingers.

He hadn’t felt this for a while. It wasn’t that he wasn’t attracted to women. He was – constantly. The thing was, as he’d acknowledged a couple of times, he felt the same way about some guys too. Not that he’d ever acted on it, never had the chance as such, never hunted it down either.

He had taken a break with his girlfriend recently. She was missed and not missed at the same time. Both of them in the last year or so had started to drift toward the age where decisions had to start to form, or at least that’s how they felt. It hadn’t been coming as easy as it should have, that depth and understanding. He’d found himself thinking that there should be more, that she didn’t really know him, all of him. That she might have less dimensions than he had thought, or kept part of herself secret too. Or just wired differently to himself.

They were currently on a sort of hiatus. Nathan leaving her flat to stay with a mate although much of his stuff was still there. No finality.

His shoes were on, props lined up ready for action. The door swung open as he straightened the white jacket, plastic medals at the breast pocket.

Camisole Casey. Showtime.

He did autopilot well. The girls in stitches and screaming over his antics with a cheerier Nadine, who seemed to have done quite a 180 on her ‘no dick in face’ policy.

Something about that top gun remix on entry did it every time. He even won the relatively young grandmother over by carrying her the length of the room in his arms as she pretended to swoon. Through the entire 20 min show Nate’s facial expressions changed with the rest of his body. A practiced showman.

But behind his eyelids his brain was in overdrive. Karl was not in the room. All he could think of was those long, muso fingers in a cove over his.

He was sweating again slightly as he headed back to the change-room. Two shows down, two to go.

He towelled down and pulled his jeans on. Body spray was in order. He left his t-shirt off while packing the bag in order of item convenience for the next show. The air around him felt like the humidity was closing in on him. Suddenly, he felt the urge to stop packing, to stand perfectly still. Nate closed his eyes, knowing. He began to turn around, so slowly. Knowing someone was there. Wanting to see him, but not wanting. He hadn’t done up his jeans, found his right hand hovering over the fly. Did he want to hide or release?

Karl took a single step forward, then another. The static heat hung in the air. Their chests were centimetres apart. Immobilised, he told himself to look up. His gaze had become lost in the space between Karl’s modest but dense pectorals. The skin on his chest was the colour of milky coffee. Something was going to happen.

Nate reached. His palm spread over Karl’s side. A soft, quivering start. Split between his want and his bewilderment.

Karl was not. He stepped forward again, his crotch pressed into Nate’s. His eyes downcast, leaving Nate to look him over, to find his feet.

Karl’s hair: it was thick and soft. When he lowered his face into it, it smelled like the hair of a beautiful woman.

The kiss that followed was different from any other he’d had. Hard, coarser lips sought to touch over and over again. Stubble scratched at his face. Karl was holding him; slim, wiry arms around his torso, now one palm rubbing him slowly through his jeans.

Nathan tilted his head back for a moment. So many times he’d wondered how this would feel. The reel in his mind always played hard, almost aggressive fantasies when he’d beaten off to the idea.

Yet now it felt completely different. Karl could have been either sex and Nate would have wanted this. He just wanted Karl.

The muso had unzipped his own jeans, his cock hanging out from the opening. It had the same character as the rest of him as it hardened lazily before his eyes.  

Nathan felt the blood in his face.

“You’re not usually into this?” Karl sounded either smug or just curious, he couldn’t tell which.

He couldn’t speak for a moment. When he did, the words stumbled leaving his mouth.

“I’minto……….you.

“Right.”

Karl was smirking, his eyes had flecks of copper in them. Nate couldn’t remember a time when he’d noticed so much about a person. He was feasting on the sight of him.

“Well I want to blow you. That ok?”

Nathan breathed consent.

Karl slid one long palm into Nate’s jeans, all the way under to cup his balls. On the way back out he took the base of the shaft and held it firm. His cock was so hard now it hurt.

He pulled Karl’s over shirt off, wanted to see those small, dense delts and arms as he worked his dick.

Nate watched his cock vibrating in anticipation again the air. That hard hand gripped him again. Then the mouth began. His breath became audible. God, that mouth was hot. Karl was being firm with him. Should it feel different, wrong?

The answer came from what he felt deep within his body.

No, he could be a man or a woman and he’d still want him.

He looked down again at Karl, suddenly empowered to grasp the back of his neck and hold it firm.

Karl made an approving vibration from deep within his throat, looked up from beneath those luxuriant brows.

It was too much – the pleasure, the odd taboo of it all and Karl himself, his alluring intensity. Nate could barely remember being so aroused. He knew he wouldn’t last long. Then what would be expected in return? Could he reciprocate?

Karl was stroking his own cock as he worked on Nate. The visual made both men crazy.

Karl looked up again.

“You’re gonna get me there just sucking you off, Blondie.

Nate couldn’t take his eyes off Karl’s rhythmic jerking. He was pulling his cock to one side as he went – beautiful hand on beautiful cock.

“Let me watch. Please.

Karl said nothing, knelt back on his haunches with an unbroken gaze. He was like a beautiful animal, no trace of self-consciousness – just pure sex in those fiery eyes. His jaw hung open in desire. He was close, Nate could hear his breath changing – catching in his throat. His own erection remained untouched but pulsing in the hot air for the moment.

As Karl began to tense, to hunch forward, to groan, Nate stepped forward and pulled his jaw upward again. Ready to see his face in oblivion as he came on the carpet. He slid his thumb into the corner younger man’s mouth to stretch it open again. He was taken into the hot mouth again, urged by that tongue. He pushed in further, fucked his face. Oh god. Was he going to swallow?

Karl showed no sign of pulling away, grasped Nate’s buttocks hard to urge him even further inward. Two more thrusts, he was over the edge. It had been years since a woman had let him come in her mouth, the pleasure seemed endless. He felt as though he was watching himself from across the room. Watching his big body explode then weaken and wilt.

He sat down on the bed, had to rest his head in his hands for a moment.

When he looked up, Karl was standing, zipping up. He looked amused.

“What about you?” Nathan eventually managed.

Karl laughed, looked at him.

“I got what I wanted.”

Nate wished Karl would touch him, but he was rolling a ciggie. Many questions swirled in his brain.

Karl offered an answer of the vaguest sort.

“Karl Danilo. You can find me.”

He smirked, looked Nate over for the shortest time and was gone.

Nate sat for a while on the edge of the bed. He could hear the party raging on the other side of the house.

He was going to be late.

First drafted 2015.

— Photography by Leslie Liu–