from: Mugtoe

In the short time they’d been gone the bar had started to really fill up with the usual afternoon crowd, and the familiar faces were crowing at each other over the jukebox. Booger and Charlie found an open spot at the bar and ordered beer and shots of tequila. Charlie ordered one as well for Howard, next to him, from his old neighborhood across the river. They’d known each other peripherally throughout their childhood without ever developing any close association. They hadn’t shown much interest in developing one as adults either, but they maintained a sort of nodding acquaintance and affable nature towards one another all their lives. Howard was obviously waiting on someone in particular this afternoon. His attention to the periodic opening of the door was more acute than most of the people in the room. Other people always watched the doors in places like the Kozy Korner, but they were governed by fear – fear of the police or any number of lesser urban predators. There is another awareness that is driven from a place further south that also heightens the senses to an intuitive level equal to that propelled there by the fight or flight response in a man. But that awareness is perhaps more powerful since it drives a man towards its object rather than to a moment of decision on whether to engage or no. There is no confusion in the stirrings of the appetites such as there is with our security. There is a marvelous cooperation of the will with the instinct that is effortless and seamless. We are truly at our best when we submit our will to its natural masters and joyfully participate in the chase. Howard, coarse, graying early from too much dope, forever ashamed of himself, was quietly energized by the tequila Charles passed his way, the dope he had stashed in his car, and the burning in his gut, the hunger to be used roughly that night. Howard owned a transmission shop he’d inherited from his late boss. Twice-divorced, he lived alone and spent most evenings laid out on the sofa in darkness save for the flickering glow of the television. His three children were disbursed with their mothers and his brother out of spite and concern respectively. His entertainments were confined to hustlers and speed binges in cheap motels every few weeks. He would pack a small duffel bag with all of his paraphernalia and get a room. Then he would get the hookup and pick up a boy or not before returning and putting on the panty hose and high heels and mini-skirt and riding a dildo for hours on end in accompaniment to the continuous porno of all kinds piped in on eight separate channels. He was Charlie’s age, and Charlie winced inwardly as he imagined those callused and oil-stained hands pushing a grimy dildo into that pale dimpled ass under a pair of Daisy Dukes with the crotch ripped out and stained with sweat and Vaseline. Likely as not, Howard would have some funk-riddled street urchin with him sharing his dope and his needles and doing damn near anything Howard wanted just to keep the misery going for as long as possible. Endless hours or grunting to the glow of the muted television – hoarse whispers of profane encouragement the mantra of that mindless continuum of dope, sweat and empty ejaculate. Howard wasn’t attracted to the boys, or at least he didn’t think he’d ever been that way. He came here because he was ashamed and looking for an accessory. He could just as easily pick up a hooker, but the women seemed to regard him with a shade more contempt than the boys from the bars. The boys with the dirty fingernails and holes in their socks – they smelled of sweat and urine and smoke, the bars and blowjobs they gave in the bathroom stalls. Howard felt the presence to his right and turned. “Wanna beer?” “Cool.” Howard held two fingers up to Sam and turned back to the kid. He was thin and oily with straight hair to his collar. One of his eyes looked a little off and seemed to be weeping a bit in the corner. He looked to be in his early twenties, but it was hard to tell – he could be eighteen or thirty-five. There were a couple of jailhouse tattoos on his forearm that were indistinguishable in the dim light. He gave a slight grin and tilted back his bottle.



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