Boys Of Life by Paul Russell
Date of Publication: March 8, 2016
Country boy Tony is seduced by a smooth talking pornographer, who brings the young man to New York to star in a violent sex film. An escape, a marriage and a murder follow the story’s cinematic arc of innocence, betrayal, redemption and revenge.
Carlos stopped chewing on his pizza. “Did you ever come when you were with them?” he asked me, looking at me with this look that made something turn over inside me.
I laughed—nobody had ever asked me anything like that before.
“Well, did you?” Carlos asked me again. I got the feeling he thought this was funny—which I guess it was, me and Wallace trying all the time and never getting to home base with those girls.
“Nah,” I told him. “They’d always cut out way before that.”
Hearing that must’ve relaxed him. He took another bite of pizza and chewed it up. “That must have been pretty rough,” he said.
“Well.” I didn’t know why I was telling him all this. Like I said, I never talked to anybody like this. “See,” I told him, “usually after we dropped them off, Wallace would ask me if I wanted a beer, which I usually did, and then he’d just go crazy about what cockteasing cunts those two girls were, and how if they didn’t watch out they were going to be in for a surprise one night. Stupid pig cunts, he’d call them.”
“That’s funny,” Carlos said. “Stupid pig cunts.” He said it like he was trying it on for size.
“So then what would happen?” he asked.
“We’d sit on the floor in his living room. We’d drink beer.”
“Yeah?” He daubed at the corner of his mouth where a string of cheese was.
“We’d watch each other jerk off,” I admitted.
It felt strange to say that to somebody I’d just met, especially somebody who was more than twice as old as I was. Especially somebody who was making me sweat under my armpits the way he did—nervousness, I guess. But it also felt, well—exciting, like here was this secret thing I was suddenly talking about.
“Sounds kind of depressing,” Carlos said. “Did you do anything else?”
I shook my head. “The yard closed and Wallace moved away. I didn’t see those girls again after that.”
“Did you want to?”
I shook my head. I’d never really thought about it. “I guess not really,” I said.
We’d finished the beers. I wished I hadn’t told Carlos that story— suddenly I felt more depressed than I’d been all day. But all at once he reached out and put his hands on my shoulders so that we were face to face looking right in each other’s eyes. I felt full inside, like something in my chest had expanded a couple of sizes and was pressing against my heart and lungs. I was a little drunk. I dared myself to keep looking into his eyes.
He held me there at arm’s length, not saying anything, the two of us studying each other. There was this fine stubble on his chin, and I noticed how his eyebrows met above his nose. I could smell my sweat there in the van, and maybe his too, this sweet-sour smell.
I was very aware the whole time of beer building up in my bladder, and how I really needed to piss something awful. But that didn’t stop me from returning Carlos’s stare right back into his eyes and locking him there, not moving, just letting it go on between us to see when it would have to break.
After what seemed like forever he said in this quiet voice, “I thinkyou’re very special. Do you know that?”
“What I know,” I told him, reaching up and putting my arms on his shoulders the way his were on mine, “is that I really, really have to piss.”
He laughed out loud, a really loud laugh, and leaned his head forward onto my shoulder. “You’re funny,” he said. “You’re crazy. Go piss. I have to piss too.” I relaxed a little and managed to haul myself over all those garbage bags and open the side doors of the van. Carlos followed me. It wasn’t raining so hard as before, but it was still raining. We stood in the rain next to each other and pissed these long streams of piss, mine clear and Carlos’s dark yellow. Carlos aimed his so that it intersected with mine, and they hit the ground together in one single stream.
I could tell Carlos was staring at my dick the whole time I was pissing. Well, I thought, it wasn’t like I hadn’t glanced over at his. When he finished he didn’t stuff himself back in his pants. He just stood there with it hanging out, waiting I guess for me to finish. Which I did, and zipped up.
He reached over and put his hand on my belt buckle. I didn’t move. I didn’t brush his hand away. I didn’t do anything.
He crouched down in front of me, looking up at me the whole time with our eyes locked. Then he undid my jeans and slipped them down. I kept saying to myself, Tony, do something, but I couldn’t do a thing. It was that animal thing in him, which I picked up on from the first. I felt his hands on me and I couldn’t move. My dick was starting to crank up under his touch, and I realized it’d been half-hard back there in the van when we were talking, only I hadn’t wanted to admit it.
Before I knew it he was touching my dick with the tip of his tongue. He ran his tongue up and down the sides of it, and then he slid it in his mouth.
I’d never felt anything like that—before I knew what’d hit me, whoosh! I gave out this huge groan, and there I was shooting off in his mouth. But he didn’t seem to mind, he just kept going at it harder than ever until finally he came up for air.
“Oh man,” I said to him. It was like somebody’d gone and knocked the breath out of me. I was sorry I’d come in his mouth without telling him I was going to—I thought he’d be upset. “I didn’t mean to do that, really I didn’t,” I said.
He wiped his mouth but kept on crouching in front of me. Then he started to laugh. He couldn’t stop laughing—and I had to laugh too, so hard it was almost like crying. Laughing at how crazy it was, what’d just happened with us.
“You know,” Carlos said when he finally stopped laughing enough to get his words out, “I’ve got you now. I’ve got you.”
“What do you mean?” I had to ask. Suddenly I thought—maybe he’s crazy. Maybe he’s some kind of lunatic.
“Here’s a scientific fact for you,” he said. “A person’s semen contains every piece of information about that person. It’s all coded in there, genetically. And you know what? I think that’s miraculous, Tony, I really do.” Then he started laughing all over again. All I could think of was to grab both his ears and ease that laughing mouth of his back down onto my dick, which hadn’t stopped being hard even after I came.
That shut him up, and it felt great to be inside there again. I started pumping into him, pushing my hips against his face till I came again.
This time he jumped up and sort of scooped me into his arms, and before I knew it he’d kissed me. It was pretty surprising—his tongue just pushed on in, and it was like he had a mouth all gooey with snot. Only it wasn’t snot, I figured out in a flash.
“Yecch!” I pulled away from him. I didn’t want a mouthful of come, even if it was my own. It tasted slimy and disgusting. And I didn’t exactly like a guy trying to kiss me, either. “Why’d you go and do that?” I said.
“Oh, I don’t know.” Carlos was still clinging onto my shoulders and talking right in my face. “Passion of the moment. That’s what I love about you crazy kids.” He let go of me and did this little dance. “All that energy,” he said. “I bet I could make you come three times in a row if I wanted.”
I was getting back into my pants and it was my turn to laugh.
“Any more and it’ll fall off,” I told him.
I wasn’t feeling bad or anything. In fact, I was feeling pretty great, even if he had tried to kiss me.
Back in the van, driving back to town, he didn’t have much to say— but every once in a while Carlos would start laughing to himself, like he was remembering something—or like some little kid who’s so pleased with himself he just doesn’t know what to do.
“Well,” he said. “All in a day’s work. Anything else I can do for you?” We were driving down Main Street, and I was looking at everything thinking, It all looks the same, it’s like nothing happened to change anything. And I guess I felt glad about that.
“You could buy me,” I said to Carlos, “a bottle of Canadian Club whisky.”
I knew it was straight out of the blue, but what the hell?
“A what?” he said.
“Yeah,” I told him. “A bottle of whisky.” I pointed out the Main Street liquor store, which was the only thing in downtown Owen that stayed open in the evenings.
“Never a dull moment with you kids,” Carlos said. He swung the van over to the curb and hopped out. The van was still running, the keys were in the ignition. “Now don’t try to drive off or anything,” he told me. I don’t know where he thought I was going to go.
When he came back out, he handed me the bottle in its paper bag. “Notice,” he said, “how I’m not asking any questions.”
I just smiled at him. I was feeling pretty content. “It’s time for me to go home,” I said.
My mom’s car was in the drive. We stopped by the steps that led up to the trailer, and I pulled the laundry bags from the back of the van and hefted them onto the steps so they wouldn’t get in the mud. “Thanks for the ride,” I told Carlos. It didn’t seem like the right thing to say, but I couldn’t think of anything else. I couldn’t believe everything that’d happened.
“So—see you around,” he said, like the whole thing had been kind of amusing to him.
I stood there watching the taillights of his van down the road. Then they were gone and it was just me. I felt incredible and scared at the same time, and completely empty too. I took a swig from the whisky bottle and then stashed it down under the trailer, behind one of the concrete block foundations. Then for about half an hour I just sat on the steps beside the black plastic garbage bags that were tied up to keep the laundry dry inside them. It was chilly out there, the clothes I was wearing got soaked though with the rain, my hair was all stringy and falling down in my face. But that was okay, that was what I wanted.
About Paul Russell
Paul Russell is the accomplished author of various works of both fiction and nonfiction, including several award-winning novels, anthologies, poems, short stories, essay, and book reviews. He is a Professor of English at Vassar College. He lives in upstate New York.