Showing posts with label queer imaginings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label queer imaginings. Show all posts

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Karla Tangh's Fun Review Of Dirty Words!

(from M.Christian's Queer Imaginings)

This is very, very, very fun: Jarla Tangh just posted this wonderfully whimsical review of my queer collection, Dirty Words

Here's a tease.  For the rest just clock over to Jarla's site.

'Lo People,

Time to give M. Christian some more Hairy Eyeball for his Dirty Words.

Does the idea that there is a hardened penis available to be inserted into a variety of holes give you a reason to pay attention? Her Tangh-i-ness sure likes it when males aren't afraid to kneel, bend over, or stand so that this reader can get primo viewing of the "act." I read Skin Effect and The Bachelor Machine first, but I think that those books were all literary hors d'ouevres before Dirty Words spread its pages and showed off its tight sentences, wet imaginary plunges, and provoked climaxes. And if you like your stories veering towards the dark and twisted, there's more than one nugget of guilty pleasure here. This is an unashamedly M/M Action collection with twinges of loving feelings here and there but Dirty Wordsain't real Romantic. Nope. These stories are mostly about scoring.

To make it easy for potential readers of this collection, Her Tangh-i-ness will return to the following rating system.

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* This means the sexiness might have to grow on you.

WT *Wet* Self-explanatory. No?

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Requires immediate action after the story climax.

FAPP *Find a Partner Pronto* Try this one at home, Folks.

*Spoiler Alert*

Her Tangh-i-ness greatly appreciates pithy plot summaries. However, for those who must have a virgin reading experience, read no further, and eyeball elsewhere.

*Spoiler Alert End*

If you like LGBTQI Erotica, you've read Mister Califa's work. So when he has something to say about what M. Christian does on a page, there are those Readers who will listen a little harder.

Mind you, this is now Her Tangh-i-ness's third romp with a M. Christian book. I don't know about you but I am in awe of someone who can say the following about the act of writing: Hell, it even kinda follows the Sexual Response Cycle: Excitement (an idea comes to mind), Plateau (putting it together), Orgasm (riding the high), and Resolution (typing "The End"). Excuse me, I have to go and type something to get my own jollies.

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Fiction. Two, identical twin, blond brothers cum to decide one must follow and the other must lead. But not before some mutual oral service and a fistfight. Her Tangh-i-ness keeps one of those studded belts featured in the story so she can vouch for its effectiveness.

WT *Wet* Fiction. A man called Dog meets with a man called Roc. Two naked kids playing outside tell Dog, this habitual thief, of a man with "Stuff" who lives in the areas. Dog decides this "Stuff" is worth the challenge. There follows a titanic suck, a colossal f*ck, succeeded by a theft. Dog learns that all his efforts have been for naught. The two naked kids end up with a new toy.

WT *Wet* Fiction. Mammoth and Monster, two bikers, settle on a contest to win the wheels of a deceased rival. The true joy in this story can be found in the precision of the descriptions. He was Pup, and the one thing that was an absolute proven fact about the kid was that he could pull gas out of a bike without a hose. Mammoth makes off with the bike while Monster opts for Mammoth's former bedwarmer.

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. Care to examine intimacy issues? A murderer cycles through other men hoping to escape the corpse of his lover. He even has sex with a Black guy and freaks out halfway through. For Chev, sex transforms into dread. Guilt seems to drive his need for punishment. Like an addict, Chev keeps seeking intimacy and the horror of it all lies in Chev's being his very own monster.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Very Cool: The Cover Of The New Edition Of Finger's Breadth!

(from M.Christian's Queer Imaginings)

How very, very, very cool is this?  Check out the cover for the new edition of my queer erotic/SF/thriller/horror novel Finger's Breadth - coming in a brand new edition very soon from the always-fantastic Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Me2: Chapter 11

(from M.Christian's Queer Imaginings)

As part of a huge - and much needed - marketing push, I'm going to be serializing a few of my all-time favorite books ... starting with the (ahem) rather infamous novel that I may or may not have actually written: Me2

"Absolutely brilliant!" says Lisabet Sarai, author of Incognito and Fire, about Lambda finalist M.Christian's controversial manlove horror/thriller. 

He looks just like you. He acts exactly like you. He takes away your job. He steals your friends. He seduces your male lover. None of them can tell the difference. Every day he becomes more and more like you, pushing you out of your own life, taking away what was yours … until there’s nothing left. Where did he come from? Robot? Alien? Clone? Doppelganger? Evil twin? Long lost brother? Then you discover there are still more "yous." Can you be sure you are the real you? And how do you fight to take your own life back? 

An absorbing new approach to the question of identity, Me2 is a groundbreaking gay chiller you’ll remember for a long time – no matter who you are, or who you think you may be. 

(Despite rumors that this book was written by an impostor - but, rest assured, this is the real 'M.Christian.' Accept no substitutes!)

Chapter XI

"You've heard it a lot.  Hell, I know you've heard it a lot.  But I mean it, you to me – honestly, truthfully – I know what you're feeling, the shit you've been going through.

"There's a lot of things going on.  Real things.  It's not just in your mind, not just in the space between your ears.  It's not just you.

"That's the problem, too.  But at least you aren't alone.  So you can relax, if you can.
"I'm so glad you came in.  I've tried to track down a few others like us, but when I got close, they got pretty freaked out.  A few even got punchy.  Can't really blame them, I guess.  Some of them are pretty ... busted up.  So that's why I stopped looking, let them come to me.  Like you have.  So glad you're handling it ... as well as you are.  You seem to be one of the better ones.

"Have you figured it out yet?  No?  I'm not surprised.  A few of us have had bits of it – a part here and there – but none of us have had all of it.  Don't know why I did.  Luck, maybe.  Could be I've had more time to think.  I don't know.

"We're all the same.  That's what it's all about.  That's what's going on: none of us are unique.  No one is.  We've all become types, we wear nothing but costumes, we act only like we're supposed to act –and we like it that way.  We've made ourselves into what we want to be, how we want to be seen.  It doesn't matter what that is: rich, poor, stupid, smart, beautiful.  It doesn't even matter how we start either – no parents, one parent, both parents, whatever – because no matter how we grow up, we all want to be the same as everyone else when we do.

"It's always been kind of like this, but it's different now.  Worse, I think.  Things used to travel slowly.  But now it just rushes at you, doesn't it?  TV, the Internet, magazines, books.  Life – all of it.  Sometimes you feels like it's too much, right?  It's too loud, too crazy, too angry.  So you try to find ways not to feel tense, outside, alone: you listen to the top ten, watch the top ten, think the top ten are sexy, want to look like the top ten, want to become the top ten, because everyone else does.  It's safe.  It feels good to know what you're doing is what everyone else is doing.

"There's something else, too: the TV, the Internet, the magazines, the books are all made to get to the most people, right?  That's the way it works, isn't it?  They're successful when they get the most number of people to read the same thing, watch the same thing, think the same thing, become the same thing – and they keep getting better and better at it.  Something's a hit because it was made to be a hit – and we make it a hit because if we don't watch it, listen to it, be like it then we won't be like everyone else.

"Think about it.  We want to be wanted, so we buy what they're selling, so we become what everyone wants: a predictable model, a type, a unit.  Everyone's the same – and that way we not only know what we are, but everyone else knows what we are, too.  Then to stay that way, we buy what we're supposed to buy and live the way our types are supposed to live.  It goes round and around and around and around!

"Have you listened to your thoughts?  Really listened?  Close your eyes and pay attention: they aren't yours, are they?  They're stuff from movies, from TV, from all over the place.  They aren't yours because you're just what you've read or watched or seen.  You're just bits and pieces of stuff.  Stuff that other people are thinking about too, people who want to be the same kind of person you are.
"Even people who don't think they're not the same are the same, I mean.  They think they're special but they're not.  They're types too – just different types.  They think they're beyond all this shit but they're not – they've all read the same books, seen the same flicks, listened to the same music.  They all want to be accepted, but accepted by people like them, so they wear their costumes and put on their act.  Just like us.  Just like all of us.

"Maybe we're ... better at all this, being 'types' I mean.  Maybe we're so outside of it, being queer and all, that we just want it more.  You know: to be part of something we get and that gets us.  So we make ourselves into special shapes and shit and lives to do that.  Some of us talk a certain way, walk a certain way, create lives that are just like our type so we don't have to be different.  More different, I mean.

"No shit that some of us – some of 'me' you could say – 'broke'.  You could see why it happened, when you figure it all out.  Others, like you, have handled it okay.  That we have become a standard model of a person, I mean.  I'm just glad you saw me and came in, so we could talk.

"Others ... like me, too, I guess.  How many like me are there?  Sitting down and talking to others like you.  Explaining about it all?  Telling the story?  I don't know how many others – but there's more than one.  That's the point, I guess: that there's always more than one."

Sitting in Starbucks, listening to him.  Listening to me.  The other me.  A path in his talking, a winding road through my head, going from refusal to belief, from belief to fury, fury to wanting to work things out, wanting to work things out to deep darkness, and then finally from deep darkness to understanding.

We sipped our caramel macchiatos together, one side of the mirror facing the other.  Maybe one set of eyes a bit more frantic, the other set of eyes more exhausted.  Otherwise the same man here, the same man there: Tommy Hilfiger facing Tommy Hilfiger in a Starbucks that could be any Starbucks.  The hair was the same, styled and modeled and clipped in imitation of the same look seen in the same magazine, on the same model who was chosen to appeal to the greatest number of men.

What was he thinking?  I could almost hear the words in my head – but only almost.  The tone of voice was there, but the details were slippery, sliding from getting caught and nailed down.  He'd figured it out, after all.  I hadn't.  He was me, but a me that was farther along the road, waving back to my slower pace.  I might be able to think like he did, given enough time.

I thought about him.  I thought about me.  I thought about other ... hims and mes and Is and theys and uses.  One end of the road marked by a sideways, out-of-the-other-corner-of-the-eye, "Weren't you just here?" the first sign that something-may-not-be-right, that there might be someone out there who looks like me, acts like me, and who wants to steal what's mine.

The other end was this me, who had seen it all, pondered and thought, deduced, and then tried to tell others what he'd pondered, what he'd thought, what he'd deduced.

My coffee was warm in my hand, so I sipped at it.  Across the table, my coffee was warm in my hand, so I sipped it.  A delay, perhaps, of a moment, a pause, a consideration between the two of us.  One at this side of the road, the other at that side of the road.

But what was right?  No, not a road.  That was only one direction: this way or that way.  There were others, maybe many others.  Only some of them were just beginning, only some of them were finally ending.  He said that a few of us hadn't ... taken it well.  How not well?

Not well of tears?  Not well of sleepless nights?  Not well of sadness?  Not well of fear?  Not well of fright?

I could imagine that too well, and then did, as the coffee filled my mouth with warm excitement: a mirror-image walking through my life, stepping on my toes, taking my place in line, getting everywhere before me, moving in, taking everything.  I could see where that would push and push and push until I fell over into tears, from sleepless nights of paranoia, sadness of loss, fear of vanishing, and fright from being replaced.

But there were other kinds of not well.  Different direction I could have gone.

Not well of tears?  Not well of seduction?  Not well of temptation?  Not well of escape?  Not well of capture?

I could imagine that too well, and then did as the coffee filled my mouth with cooling excitement: a mirror-image fantasy lurking around every nasty corner of my life, crooking a finger at my conscienceless dick, licking duplicate lips, offering a perfect self-dream of narcissism, an enrapturing embrace of the one person I knew would be there and love me no matter what – but then there was the bad stuff of it, the swirling-down-the-drain shivers at the thought of gazing from now until whenever at my own navel.  I could see where that would shove me into tears from the allure of seduction, the tug of temptation, the fever to escape, and then the dark wish for capture.
But there were other kinds of not well.  Different direction I could have gone.

Not well of tears?  Not well of stalking?  Not well of pursuit?  Not well of corners?  Not well of desperation?  Not well of blood?  Not well of red and blue lights?  Not well of prison?  Not well of hail of gunfire?

I could imagine that too well, and then did as the coffee filled my mouth with cold dread: around every corner, behind every closed door, a leering face from a warped mirror; every step from behind belonging to him, every sound coming from him, every face at first his – until proven otherwise, every threat his, everything everywhere a scheme belonging to him.  I could see where that would shove me into frightened tears, drive me quivering insane from his real or imagined stalking, his real or imagined pursuit, his real or imagined face around every corner, then a moment when it didn't matter if he was real or imagined – it had to stop, then a moment of blood, then an afterworld of alleys and darkness escaping from the police, then an afterworld of bars and rape – or an afterworld of bullets burning hot holes through his body.

So many other kinds of not well.  So many different directions I could have gone.  Not a road.  No, that wasn't right.  So many stories with so many different versions of me.  I could see them as separate, unconnected, single stories – or even like a novel, with each chapter only looking like the same me on a trip from suspicion to seduction to smashing a supposed copy's brain to gray pudding – but in reality each me is a different one, lots of little stories instead of a big one in little pieces.
And I, sitting in front of another me sipping coffee, is just one more.  One more false chapter.  One more me.  In some books I'd be the end, in others only the beginning.

We got up to refresh our caramel macchiatos, he and I, perfectly together – as were the grins we shared at getting up together to refresh our caramel macchiatos.  Then we were broken, he doing something I wasn't doing – but only for a moment as I followed the turn of his head to look out the window, and saw what he turned his head to see.  Outside, looking in, worn and tired, scared and sleepless, Tommy Hilfiger over an older look as disguise, eyes too wide from too many shocks, was another me.

With what I hoped was a friendly beckoning, I crooked my finger at him; welcoming him into the company of himself.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Me2: Chapter 7

(from M.Christian's Queer Imaginings)

As part of a huge - and much needed - marketing push, I'm going to be serializing a few of my all-time favorite books ... starting with the (ahem) rather infamous novel that I may or may not have actually written: Me2

"Absolutely brilliant!" says Lisabet Sarai, author of Incognito and Fire, about Lambda finalist M.Christian's controversial manlove horror/thriller. 

He looks just like you. He acts exactly like you. He takes away your job. He steals your friends. He seduces your male lover. None of them can tell the difference. Every day he becomes more and more like you, pushing you out of your own life, taking away what was yours … until there’s nothing left. Where did he come from? Robot? Alien? Clone? Doppelganger? Evil twin? Long lost brother? Then you discover there are still more "yous." Can you be sure you are the real you? And how do you fight to take your own life back? 

An absorbing new approach to the question of identity, Me2 is a groundbreaking gay chiller you’ll remember for a long time – no matter who you are, or who you think you may be. 

(Despite rumors that this book was written by an impostor - but, rest assured, this is the real 'M.Christian.' Accept no substitutes!)

Chapter VII

"They used to think it was a big circle, a loop, you know?  Around and around, all the way to the end, then back again – like that.  But that's until they got to know more about the way it all works.  Last I heard it was actually like a piece of paper that's rolled out then put back together but with different sides at the end.  Mobius strip, it's called.  So even though it's a real thing, in three dimensions, it's also only two, because if you follow it all the way around you come right back to where you started from, but not the way you'd normally think about it.

"Funny how they use paper to talk about it.  People in a thousand years won't probably understand what the hell we were talking about.  I can see them now, scratching their heads – if they even have heads anymore – and wondering what we meant by paper, and creasing and folding ... stuff like that.

"But that's the way they explain it now.  I also heard how they think it ends, how everything ends, really.  One is that it all just stops.  It all runs out of power ... the suns, black holes, all of it.  It just keeps going out and out, expanding but there's not enough out there for it to collect back together, right?  Out and out until everything's broken up into grayness.  Everything.  Just gray.

"I think that's fucking depressing, actually.  But there's others who think that there is enough matter and stuff that it won't just keep going and going, that sometime way off in the future it's going to stop and then get sucked back together.  They thought this wasn't going to be the way, but then they found this new kind of matter.  It's really weird.  You can't see it, but it has to be there, right?  But they found it – don't know how – and now a lot of professors and doctors think that because of it the world, universe and all, won't just keep going.  So it stops, right?  It stops and then because of this dark matter it'll start to pull back, shrink until everything's this big, then this big and then so damned small you can't see it – just like it was at the beginning again.

"Then something happens.  Maybe it gets so damned small and tight it can't get any smaller, so it has to explode again.  Another big bang right?  So it begins all over again.

"I like that, you know?  That it just keeps going, over and over again.  Out then in, bang to bang.  But time's like that strip, right?  So even so it goes around and around it also passes itself by, so things kind of repeat.  That's also kind of cool, you know?  That what was around before is still here, just passing us by – or layered on top of us.  Screw your eyes up and you could maybe see what happened before, just before our bang, the time before.  Maybe that's why we feel that deja vu thing – that it's just us passing the universe that was the last time, just bleeding through.

"I have this friend, a real stoner, you know?  But he's also kind of deep in his own way.  I told him about all this and he goes off and starts talking about how it also could explain a lot of other things.  Like history repeating itself, because it really does.  There's an echo, see, that plays in the background and sometimes it just gets so loud we can't help but follow right along.  Like a groove on a record that gets worn deeper and deeper each time it goes around.

"Shit.  There's something else people might not understand in a few years.  Records ... miss 'em sometimes, you know?

"But this friend of mine also says that's also what ghosts are.  That the world gets thin sometimes so what was before then comes through.  Or maybe it's the future that's coming through.  Or both.  He also said something else ... and this really freaked me out.  I mean really freaked.  Like I couldn't sleep that night.  You know?  Really disturbing.

"He said ... well, he said that it might be that we just think we can't remember each cycle.  He said that it might be that the people we think we are, are made up of each of these 'run-throughs,' that we didn't really have minds, that we were just robots going through the motions, because that's just the way the world works.  But, because we've gone through it so many times, we think we're getting close to being really conscious.  It's the repetition, the echoes, that causes it.

"But what got me is that he also said we might not really be there yet, that we have a few more cycles to go through.  We might just still be machines going through the motions but we wouldn't know it.  We'd never know it.  Creepy, huh?

"I thought about it a bit more.  I also thought that sometimes there might be a problem, like things might repeat too many times and so there's a ... I don't know, a tear, a rip, shit like that.  Paper again, right?  But it might happen, and when it does, something really weird might happen, like something from a long time back might get here, or we might fall back to a few bangs ago.  I don't know what it'd look like, but it could be really freaky – so freaky we might not know what it is.  We might never know what it is.

"In the future they might know all about this.  Big foreheads or no foreheads, something like that.  But then possibly the future is the past, so maybe we did know, but for some reason we aren't sharing it.

"Gives you a headache, doesn't it?"

* * * *

"Maybe you'll have a good time."

One, two, three, four – it didn't look like a Lexus neighborhood, but there they were, one after another, on the right as well as the left side of the street: points of smooth luxury in an area that seemed more comfortable with affordability – either that or lots of people were getting a giggly thrill out of crossing the line and parking in an area more suited to Toyotas or Hondas.

My Volkswagen was neither a completely left or a totally right machine, not a Lexus or even a Honda, and so was suitable for the area.  That didn't put me at ease, but at least it didn't ramp up my already jittery nerves.  The bees in my knees, the wasps in my ears, the spiders tap-dancing up and then down my back didn't need any more nervous encouragement.

"Maybe you'll have a good time."

I didn't want to be there.  A possible parking place – between the expensive fire-hydrant red and the faded status of a filthy Civic – but I passed it by, not wanting to risk a tow or a ticket and feeling down enough without a WASH ME contact humiliation.  Another was close by – sandwiched between the driveway of a heavily shaded ranch-type monstrosity and a pristine SUV – but I kept on driving, not wishing an angry homeowner's raving insanity at blocking his drive or the infection of being too close to a politically incorrect vehicle.

Face it: I didn't want to stop.

Ah, there it was: I didn't want to stop – catch the lean on the "I"?  The 'me' that was still rolling around in my head, the old 'me,' the failed 'me,' the crappy 'me,' the disappointing 'me,' the abandoned 'me,' was the 'me' that just wanted to keep circling the block until my tires went bald, then flat, and the engine went completely dry.  That 'me' loved parties, itched to throw myself into the chattering, laughing, glowing pool of a good get-together: "Did you hear?" "How didn't you know?" "Ohmigod!" "I can't believe that!" "Never in a million years!" "That's something else" "Who'd have thought it!" "So like him" "Saw that coming" "Can't believe he did that" "Like we couldn't tell" "That's fine – for him" "Talk about dating down" "Someone's still reading from last month's issue" "I know!" "Mee-ow!" "You'd think he'd take the hint" "I tried to be nice" "Did you see what he was wearing?" "Did you see what he was driving?" "Did you see who he was with?" "That’s not what I heard" "Girlfriend, you’ve got to pay attention to those kinds of things" "What a bitch!"

But that was before my neck got a stabbing lightning-bolt of pain from looking over my shoulder: was that him?  Was that him?  Was that him?  But that was before my back got a crushing cramp from duckng down: what does he want?  What does he want?  What does he want?  But that was before my eyes roasted in their bitter juices from not sleeping: why’s he better?  Why’s he better?  Why’s he better?

Twisted, bent, sore, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a party.  I was scared of what I’d become: "Will you look at him?" "Someone needs to crawl under a rock" "Can’t believe he came out here looking like that" "Choo!  Choo!  Here comes a train wreck!" "Girlfriend needs to go home" "Shoot me if I ever look that bad" "Troll seeks bridge, money no object" "God, I hope he’s hung – 'cause he ain't getting it any other way, and then with the lights off"

Calm down.  Take five.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Get a grip.  Relax.  Let go.  Loosen up.  Lighten up.  Unwind.  Settle down: that was the old me.  The new one was freshly shaved, showered, powdered, manicured, preened, producted, clipped, styled, shopped, and carefully assembled by Tommy Hilfiger.

The new me loved parties more than ever.  The new me was full of green-springy life, brilliant hope, frisky play, pearly wit, satin-smooth flirts, tough-ass slaps, and razor-sharp darts.  The new me was bright and beautiful, starchy and fresh-from-the-box, a me ready to knock packing peanuts off his shoes and strongly stride out into the spotlight of "how have you been?" "You look fabulous darling!" "Long time no see!" "Fabulous!" "You're giving me the vapors" "You look good enough to eat" "Bravo!" "Fathers lock up your sons" "Way to go, girlfriend" "Fabulous!"

Goodbye me.  Hello me.  Time to live again: Time to try again.

Still that voice in my ear, the one at the end of the invitation: "Maybe you'll have a good time."

It was the only party I'd heard about – even though I doubted anyone there knew me.  Open call and all that.  But I was still going.  If anything just because the old me wouldn't have.

Besides, I might have just that: "a good time."

* * * *

Digest people, at least.  Architectural (thank god), not Reader's: the door swung open on the first ring (no knock) and there was a tight hall expanded with silver-framed mirrors, burgundy walls adding to their Latin dimension.  The opener was swarthy, a charcoal-brazier tan, mesquite-dark hair, eyes like dots of mole sauce on fine white linen.  Once I heard a feline acquaintance – a hissing and spitting little twink with a fondness for drawing blood and wrapping himself in old boyfriends' cashmere – call people who liked Latins "bean queens" and even though I was known to smile while cutting my own share of vicious wounds, I did not grin at that.  A better term was added to my dictionary by a ripped, flexed, buff, oiled, and toned friend who told it while eating far too many corn chips with far too much salsa as he eyed – and was eyed back by – our South American waiter: "A Latin Lover."

That the man who opened the door fit this description was evident, that he was already claimed was the same.  A minute later a this-side-of-young and that-side-of-old intellectual appeared from a connecting room and put his arm around him.  "So glad you could make it," the leather-patched tweed coat said with a grin.  The light from carefully recessed lamps dazzled me with the reflections from his tortoise-shell glasses.

"Wouldn't have missed it," the new me said, full of life and flirt.

Did I know him?  Was he the one who called?

Leading, they brought me from the hall into the living room.  Mexico continued, filling the corners with lumpy, heavily glazed terra cotta pots, hanging heavy iron chandeliers from the ceiling, radiating everything from bulbs copying candles in black metal sconces.  On the tables – of which there were quite a few – were tablecloths that looked like shawls stolen from prostrating Catholic mothers, their knees sangria-red with the stigmata of crawling to see the Virgin of Guadalupe.

It was a good room, clipped out of a quality publication and made real.  It made me feel comfortable to be in it, style by association, and crave to hold my own corn chip and look at ease.

The place was busy, full, almost packed: my appreciation of the place was intermittent, glances between turning torsos, ambulating arms, nodding noggins.

"Hey, there." Urban look, black pants, black shirt, heavy steel in the ears, goatee below pale lips.  Hair a color not found in nature, or in anyone bottle of dye (try three, maybe four, mixed up).  Belt something Rambo would hang himself from.  On his feet, combat boats, like thick-shelled venomous beetles.

"Hey!  Good to see you," the new me said, all cool and collected.

Did I know him?  Was he the one that called?

A toast was raised to me, the drink Kool-Aid bright and full of as much fruit as ice, in a glass that looked cut from the bottom of a cheap wine bottle.  The toaster was a Hawaiian eye: shirt that needed to be adjusted for vertical hold as well as Red/Green tint, shorts that were way too short, sandals that showed off tanned-to-begin-with feet, but then recently burned.  His face, too, had gone from golden-brown to crispy, and his hair was toasted to the point of being broken enough to cut your hand.

The new me nodded back to him, all warm and cheery.  Did I know him?  Was he the one that called?

Next to him, tracking from the drink to what it was doing and then to whom it was doing to, was a queen.  Eyelashes, lipstick, rouge, hair, dress, shoes, nails – all applied with a skill and diligence that made real women hiss "bitch." He was a thin one, fine about being between the two, as opposed to some who might have giggled into their perfumed hankies at tricking the unwary.  A caterpillar as well as the butterfly, he could fly as well as inch along the nearest branch.  After the track, he smiled and blew me a pink bubblegum kiss.

Two fingers to my own lips I passed the same back, the new me all relaxed and comfy.

Did I know him?  Was he the one that called?

A drink was passed over, the same brightly colored and cold combo the Man from Maui was still sipping.  Sangria, that was it: the decor immediately traveling a few thousand miles to the right, landing in Madrid rather than in Acapulco.  Did that mean the professor's partner was a Spanish Fly, to be catty, or a Spanish Dancer, to be less so?  A sip made the fluttering in my mind still, quieting the stupid question.  I was there.  I was at a party: a chance to begin again, to grow into a brand new person.  Another sip, and with it a thought about it, the drink, and myself, the drinker: it was good, and this new me liked drinking it.

"Maybe you'll have a good time."

So far so good.  Yes, so far – only a few minutes, so good – nothing to complain about.  A third sip and I felt a few previously unknown knots of muscle begin to loosen.  They all seemed to be nice people: grins wherever I looked, the bodies of the same all casual, contented, at ease.

Contented, casual, at ease, and so far (oh, yes) I was as well.  There was absolutely nothing to complain about.  If anything, it was worth celebrating.  I'd almost forgotten what it felt like, being contented, casual, at ease.  I might not have known everything about this new self, but I did know that this new me liked it.

Sipping and mixing, I found myself accidentally rubbing elbows (literally) with an outdoorsman.  Tanned and rough, frizzled and calloused, denim and well-worn boots, he looked like Half a Dome, a class-six climb, an up-at-dawn, six-mile hike, a fifty-pound backpack, a kayak, or a scuba tank.  Out of our bump, he flashed me a strong, toothy grin, eager, it seemed, to tell of his latest perilous adventure hundreds of miles from the nearest Internet connection.

From this I drifted away, further into the party, but not before returning my own version of his smile; the new me assured and confident.

Did I know him?  Was he the one that called?

"Maybe you'll have a good time."

A rocker ("Righteous, dude!  "), next season's model ("Well, that's what they're saying this year"), a sneering sexfiend ("...  just before I fucked him in the ass"), a sticky meth freak ("If you got the bucks I know where we can score"), a jolly Santa ("Hohohohoho"), wit ("the only thing worse than not being talked about..."), and my mind swam, my thoughts did the crawl, my brain frantically performed the butterfly – and I needed to piss.

Retreating, one half of the hosts, the Intellectual, touched me arm, asking if I was okay, if there was anything he could help me with.  I must have mumbled something ... something about what had been happening because he told me about theories, science, loops, and time.

Not understanding a word he said, I finally managed to escape and stumble off to relieve the one pressure I could.

* * * *

The bathroom was a little boy's version of the main room: burgundy walls, ferns, decorative baskets, and mirrors framed with hammered silver.

After washing my hands in a mosaic sink, I glanced up from the bits of tile and glass to see my eyes (no bags), hair (needed a trim, but okay), teeth (needed a bit of cleaning but okay), and skin (pretty damned good) in reflex and even though the eyes, hair, teeth, and skin were familiar, the person they were part of was someone I didn't immediately recognize.

Bit of brains in the eyes, a tad of stylish in the hair, a touch of good humor in the smile, health and stamina in the glow of his skin.  He seemed like a nice enough guy.  Cute but not precious.  Sexy without being sleazy.  Clever without being trite.

The new me.  I liked him.  More important, I could see where other people might like him.

The mirror, though, also brought up a ghost: the spirit of the last few days.  Somewhere he was out there, walking around in my old shoes, doing my old job, living in my old space, making my old friends laugh, making my old lovers come.  What was he?  Who was he?  What did he want?

Reflections: maybe he was me, but a me that'd gotten bounced here, a self that was somehow tweaked or twonked, or shifted, or twisted, or warped from his native world to a place that already had me in it.  Maybe he was a slightly different me, one that was me but with a little something extra, a tiny 'whatever' that'd made him better suited for the slot I thought I'd, been ideally filling.

Whatever.  Let him have it.  The old me had been good, or so I'd thought.  Now, though, looking at my new and improved character in the mirror I didn't miss myself at all.  This was a good thing, a chance to become a new person, with new hopes and new potentials.  He was the past, he was a bad memory, decisions I shouldn't have made, regrets better left unsaid.  Now I was fresh and clean, spotless and full of potential.  Lots of good things could be in my future.

And so, after drying my hands and winking at the sexy devil in the bathroom mirror, I stepped out into the chattering party to see what kind of good things my new life had to offer.

* * * *

"Did you hear?" said the Latin Lover when we found ourselves away from the main gaggle.  When I said that I hadn't, all the time trying to catch his deep mahogany eyes, he replied: "How didn't you know?" When I said I had no idea how I couldn't have known, moving closer all the time, working my way to an accidental touch, he answered: "Ohmigod!" When I laughed at his indignation I thought seriously about simply putting my hand on his shoulder – but then didn't.  There was warmth, certainly, but he wasn't what I wanted.

"I can't believe that!" said the intellectual as he refilled my glass.  When I said that it was the god's honest truth, all the time trying to look deep into his bright blue eyes, he replied: "Never in a million years!" When I said I had no idea how I couldn't have known, inching nearer all the while, making my way to an inadvertent contact, he shot back: "That's something else." When I chuckled at his disbelief I honestly played with the idea of just putting my hand on his hip – but didn't.  There was a heat there, obviously, but he wasn't what I wanted.

"Who'd have thought it!" Urban said when we found ourselves on the couch together.  When I said that it was all totally true, as I made a move to lock my eyes with his deep brown ones, he replied: "So like him." When I said I had no clue who he was talking about, sliding down the fabric toward him, he zapped back: "Saw that coming." When I giggled a bit at his dismissal, I truthfully entertained the fantasy of simply placing my hand on his thigh – but didn't.  There was clearly interest from him, but he wasn't what I wanted.

"Can't believe he did that," said the Hawaiian eye as we both stepped out of the living room.  When I answered that I'd been completely truthful, as I edged nearer to him, he replied: "Like we couldn't tell." When I said I had no answer as to why he couldn't tell, stepping so our bodies were just about touching, he countered with: "That's fine – for him." When I chuckled at his catty comment, I pondered just kissing him – but didn't.  There was a very positive vibe coming off him, but he wasn't what I wanted.

"Talk about dating down" said the Queen as we stood by a picture window looking out onto a tropical back garden.  When I answered that I knew what he was talking about, as I eased up next to him, he replied: "Someone's still reading from last month's issue." When I agreed that I might be a little out of touch, moving ever-so-nearer, he affirmed with "I know!" When I laughed a bit at his playfulness, I thought seriously about just grabbing his ass – but didn't.  There was a hunger between us, but he wasn't what I wanted.

A rocker ("You're righteous, dude!"), next season's model ("You've really got potential"), a sneering sex-fiend ("I could fuck you in the ass"), a sticky meth freak ("If you can score, I'll suck you"), a jolly Santa ("Hehehehehe"), wit ("...  you know what they say about a big dick."), and my mind swam again, my thoughts did the crawl again, my brain frantically performed the butterfly again – and once again I needed to piss.

Having a choice was wonderful.  No, it wasn't wonderful, it was fantastic, glorious, spectacular, incredible and ... well, it made me something I thought I'd never feel again: happy.  Yep, having a choice was wonderful, but trying to decide ... it wasn't unpleasant, but it was confusing.  I barely knew who I was, what I was all about, let alone what I liked – and the kind of man I liked to do it with.

Puzzled, confused, distracted, I wandered deeper in the house, hoping my body's memory (because it certainly wasn't in my bubbling brain) would remember which door was the one to the bathroom, I pushed the door I thought was the right one.

Partial darkness, just enough for me to see more Spanish colors, shapes, textures, and elements – but not the ones I'd seen in the bathroom.  As the door closed behind me and it became pitch as in 'pitch black,' I fumbled for where I thought the switch was.  Instead, I hand grazed smooth fabric and then the whisper of bare skin.

No, not the bathroom.

"Sorry," I stumbled around, the words squeaky and childish in shock and embarrassment, trying to turn, to find the way out.

"Wait," came a voice, one husky and heavy, and with it a quick touch to my shoulder, my hip, my thigh, and even my ass.

I did – I waited.  I hesitated, slowing down from my exit, and he said: "Good." Then he said something else, something that made me stop completely: "Maybe you'll have a good time."

* * * *

His hands went back to my shoulders, this time with a firmer rubbing of my unconsciously tensed muscles, massaging to where my shoulders lead to my back and then down ... down to where my pulse was already making my pants far too tight.

His hands went to my chest, caresses to my pecs, down along the miniscule swell of my stomach, a mischievous tickle to my belly button.

His hands went back to my hips, this time with strong grips to my corded physique, a tug forward that brought me up onto the balls of my feet and then stepping forward – so off balance I had to put out a hand to stop myself.  A hand that made contact with the flat, ripped plane of his own trunk.

His hands went to my arms, contacts delicate as well as determined down from upper to lower, and then from lower down to my wrists.  Each movement of his own fingers, each sensual gesture of his own hand, sending tingles mixed with goose bumps with a touch of shiver up and down my body – and not just where he was touching.

His hands went back to my thighs, this time with much more determination.  Confident and eager, he kneaded rather than just touched, rubbed rather than tickled, squeezed rather than just poked, and with each knead, rub, and squeeze I got hotter and hotter and hotter still.

His hands went to my ass, both hands reaching around to grip, then clasp, then clench them both firmly.  In answer, I gripped, clasped, and then clenched: a dialog developed between what he was saying with his fingers and how I was responding with my cheeks.  The translation was simple.  He: I like this.  Me: So do I.

Then we were kissing, hot breaths becoming hotter breaths when shared – and we shared (oh lordy, we shared) for what seemed like ... well, a really long time.  Metaphors, similes, and awkward and forced observations are for when you're cold, thoughtful, and contemplative, and I was not.  No, I was – we were – hot, primitive, and urgent.  And it was good.

Then we were hugging, arms and legs wrapped around arms and legs in a knot of please don't let this stop.

Kissing and hugging, me very aware of his hard cock, he no doubt aware of mine, I couldn't help but think two things: who was he and please don't let this stop.

Then it was time, a kind of mutual turn-on schedule: breaking the kiss with a soft, wet pop of moist suction, he carefully, precisely, tortuously, began to slide down my body.

I was still standing, but now he was kneeling.

Yes, you know what happened next. 

No, you don't know what happened next.

In the darkness, the bell chime of my brass Tommy Hilfiger buckle being undone.  In the soft, warm, darkness, the raspberry of my steel zipper fly being undone.  In the black, the rustle of my pants being loosened.

In the gloom – no sound.  But a sensation, a feeling: his mouth swallowing my very hard cock.  Sounds simple, direct, doesn't it?  But it was anything but.  The Latin Lover, the Intellectual, The Urban, the Hawaiian Eye, the Queen, the Rocker, The Model, the Sex Fiend, the Meth Freak, the Santa, or the Wit knew what he was doing – knew exactly what he was doing: the right amount of tongue, the correct application of lips, the perfect usage of throat, the ideal performance of teeth – each and every one a seductive coaxing of sweat from my skin, moans from my throat, tremors from my muscles, and come from my cock.

No, not yet – I thought, trying to think of anything but baseball.  I mean, trying to think of baseball instead of the superb job the Latin Lover, the Intellectual, The Urban, the Hawaiian Eye, the Queen, the Rocker, The Model, the Sex Fiend, the Meth Freak, the Santa, or the Wit was doing with my dick.  The problem was I didn't know anything about baseball – or at least I hadn't found out yet if this new me even liked baseball – and the only thing I did know, with absolute certainty, was that the Latin Lover, the Intellectual, The Urban, the Hawaiian Eye, the Queen, the Rocker, The Model, the Sex Fiend, the Meth Freak, the Santa, or the Wit was a master of the blowjob.

So what to think about?  How to distract myself from the excellent performance the Latin Lover, the Intellectual, The Urban, the Hawaiian Eye, the Queen, the Rocker, The Model, the Sex Fiend, the Meth Freak, the Santa, or the Wit was giving my cock?  I had to think of something ... anything, or it would be over too soon, the play concluded too fast, the fun finished too early.

There was a problem.  I was fresh, unblemished, clean, and spotless: I was new, too new to have anything that wasn't still tainted by my old self, the one that had been stolen from me.

My cock began to sag.  I'd thought of something better – no, worse – than baseball: that being new could be good, but it also meant that I was empty, shallow, and hollow.  The Latin Lover, the Intellectual, The Urban, the Hawaiian Eye, the Queen, the Rocker, The Model, the Sex Fiend, the Meth Freak, the Santa, or the Wit was sucking a cock – but whose cock was he sucking?

No.  In the dark room I shook my head, cleaning away the storm thoughts.  No.  This was a good time, a great time.  I might not have a past but I had a huge future.  Tommy Hilfiger shirt, Tommy Hilfiger pants, Tommy Hilfiger socks, and Tommy Hilfiger underwear, and the rest for me to pick and choose.

And a great guy was giving me the best blowjob of my new – or even my old – life.  It was good.  It was damned good.

Fuck baseball.  I decided right then that whoever I was – I sure as hell didn't like, or care, about baseball.  Blowjobs, though ... that was another matter.

A great matter.  A fantastic matter.  A glorious matter.  A matter that in a matter of minutes pushed out every doubt, every hesitation, every falter out of my mind – and then in a shake from my feet to the top of my head, a quake from one hand to the other, a rattle all up my throat and out my mouth, a roll all along my spine, what I'd kept bottled up came squirting out and into his mouth.

My strings were cut, my bones jellied, my heart fluttered, my knees failed, my eyes rolled, my jaw twitched, and I fell backwards.  Luckily, the door was behind me, so when I did, something stopped me going from standing to sitting in a painful, and worst of all, embarrassing collapse.

After a time – how long I had no idea – my senses switched back on.  First was taste, and with the taste a smile that what I was tasting was my own come, a sweet gift of his kiss after sucking me off.  The next was sound, known because I could hear our ragged breathing.  After sound was touch, announcing itself in the weight and texture of him curled up in my arms.  After that was smell, the room redolent with salt from sweat, and best of all salt from come.

The last was sight.  As the room had been lightless, it was the longest to come back – it took as long as our time together for my eyes to adjust to the black.  Adjust they did, enough for me to look down and see what my other senses had told me: that in the gloom I was sitting down with my back against the door, a very dim glow leaking down where its paneling met the floor, my lover curled up in my still-shivering arms.

He wasn't the Latin Lover, the Intellectual, The Urban, the Hawaiian Eye, the Queen, the Rocker, The Model, the Sex Fiend, the Meth Freak, the Santa, or the Wit.  Nope, he was better than any of them.

He was exactly what I'd wanted: what I'd always wanted in a lover.

One last logical thought: funny, isn't it, how you never recognize your own voice.  Recorded, or on the phone.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Me2: Chapter 4

(from M.Christian's Queer Imaginings)

As part of a huge - and much needed - marketing push, I'm going to be serializing a few of my all-time favorite books ... starting with the (ahem) rather infamous novel that I may or may not have actually written: Me2

"Absolutely brilliant!" says Lisabet Sarai, author of Incognito and Fire, about Lambda finalist M. Christian's controversial manlove horror/thriller. 

He looks just like you. He acts exactly like you. He takes away your job. He steals your friends. He seduces your male lover. None of them can tell the difference. Every day he becomes more and more like you, pushing you out of your own life, taking away what was yours … until there’s nothing left. Where did he come from? Robot? Alien? Clone? Doppelganger? Evil twin? Long lost brother? Then you discover there are still more "yous." Can you be sure you are the real you? And how do you fight to take your own life back? 

An absorbing new approach to the question of identity, Me2 is a groundbreaking gay chiller you’ll remember for a long time – no matter who you are, or who you think you may be. 

(Despite rumors that this book was written by an impostor - but, rest assured, this is the real 'M.Christian.' Accept no substitutes!)

Chapter IV


"The phenomenon has been observed, albeit rarely, for a long time.  Quite a number of Saints, including St. Anthony, St. Ambrose of Milan, and St. Severus of Ravenna, were reported to have manifested it, the act – of course – lending additional evidence toward their canonization.
"Various contemporary mystics, including the celebrated Emanuel Swedenborg, have also been said to have had the ability.  Skeptics, however, have pointed out that these manifestations have lacked any confirmation.
"This, naturally, doesn't deter believers.  Claiming that this outré practice may very well require outré evidence, they continue their researches, hoping that something outrageous yet undeniably concrete may someday surface, proving their faith was justified.
"While bilocation – the conscious, willing projection of the self – has been reported, albeit scantily, a similar yet distinct phenomenon has been much more widely observed.
"The most celebrated, or at least fairly authenticated, occurrence of a doppelganger was the Emilie Sagée incident, as told by Robert Dale Owen, who was in turn quoting from Julie von Guldenstubbe.  Owen reported that Guldenstubbe, a Latvian aristocrat, was with many others, present from 1845 to 1855 when her teacher, Emilie Sagée, was somehow spectrally duplicated.  She performed many of the French teacher's similar behaviors – including writing and teaching – yet obviously intangibly.  What was even more telling, Owen noticed, was that the doppelganger was visibly in good health, a clear difference between the real and the ghostly, as Sagée was extremely ill at the time.
"Other doppelganger incidents include descriptions of the phenomenon by the famed French author, Guy de Maupassant, the English poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Donne, and even President Lincoln.  While Sagée's duplicate was apparently benign, these other incidents carried with them a clear foreboding.  Donne and Lincoln, especially, felt that the presence of their ghostly copycats was a sign of looming disaster, Lincoln's suspicion being most dramatically true.
"Those who have studied bilocation as well as the doppelganger effect have theorized that they are more similar that disparate, both being mental or spiritual projections.  In bilocation it is conscious, the act of an extraordinarily advanced psyche.  In the case of the doppelganger, they hypothesize that, although it's a projection, it is generated by the lower mind: an independent being created from the depths of the id, from frustrated unconscious drives or repressed desires.  The negative presence being that the subject is somehow wishing himself out of existence because of profound dissatisfaction with his original, physical life.
"But, like all speculations regarding bilocation and doppelgangers, it is a theory lacking still more outrageous evidence of unqualified reality."
* * * *
Away, in the general direction of I-don't-care-where.  The details of how are kind of fuzzy, shot with a Vaseline haze of this-can't-be-happening head shaking.
Hard night, not the soft stuff that came with the sun having set only a few hours before.  Instead it was long gone, having vanished into deep darkness.  Out of the elevator, heading to my space (225) to get in my car (a Volkswagon GTI), I hoped to follow it, and do my own, very personal disappearing act.
Then I stopped, caged bare bulb hanging from gray insulation-flocked cement beams glaring mercilessly into my eyes.  Dad, when he was still alive, would have said that I was watching a ghost taking a slow meander, meaning in his cryptic, down-home, hayseed, plowed-earth kind of way – even though he was really an examiner for the Federal Reserve and couldn't shuck corn with a gun to his head – that I was caught between thoughts, paralyzed with indecision.
Dad would have been wrong.  Yes, I didn't move.  Certainly I didn't want to go forward and sure as hell didn't want to go back, but it wasn't because I was between anything.
I was right in front of something: my car, my German engineered blobject that dad would very much have approved of.  Curved ivory fenders, dull ruby taillights, rear window tossing back a bit of the garage's dazzling bulb.  It was my car ... right?  The license number was the same.  The kitschy pinecone air fresher was there.  The rainbow stripe above the bumper was there.
I could walk up to it, put my key in the lock, climb in.  I could, but that's why I didn't.  Because what if I did walk up to it, did put my key in the lock, did climb in – and found that the stain where that Venti mocha latte splashed a sticky map of Peru next to the parking break was gone?  Or that the crumbs of too many lifted-from-work snickerdoodles had been vacuumed up from the carpeting?  Or that the white crumbles of unwanted receipts had been picked up from the backseat?
What if he'd been there?
Standing there in the garage, trapped by what was in front of me – or what might be in front of me, I finally did move, but not externally.  In the chalky cage of my skull, I felt the jelly-stuff of my brain burn with a hot summer bolt of fury.  Screw it.  Screw him.
Up to it, key in the lock, and then in.  Pause.  Wait.  Then eyes down, then eyes back: the stain was still there, the crumbs were still there, the wads of paper were still there.  The car was still mine.  My sigh of slow-hissing relief was loud in the tight insides of the car.  Needlessly adjusting the rearview mirror for a few minutes, relishing in the control – if I could only move it an inch up, down, and then left and then right – I eventually started the engine, pulled P to R, and twisted around to make sure no one was behind me.
And paused.  The garage was dark, quiet, and empty.  I was alone.  No other cars.  But that wasn't why I was relieved.  Even though the car was mine, I'd halfway expected to see someone behind me, standing in that circle of caged light.  Even though he hadn't touched my car, I'd halfway expected to see him.
Another sigh, even more relief.  Pulling out, twisting the car in a two-point turn ending with it facing up the exit ramp, I paused one more time.  Still alone.  Still just me.
Who had no idea where to go.
* * * *
So I just drove.  Pedal down, I navigated from light to light, losing myself the act of controlling the car.  I turned the wheel, it went to the right; I turned the wheel, it went to the left; I stepped on the gas and it went fast; I stepped on the brake and it slowed or stopped.
Who was he?
The lights might be an interruption but it was my choice to ignore or obey them.  Red could mean stop, green could mean go.  Sure, disregarding them might mean a smash, crash, bang, boom of twisted metal and long-term medical care, but it was still up to me.
What did he want?
Approaching an intersection, a traffic and road decision was up to me.  I could turn right onto Fourth going east, I could turn left onto Fourth going west, I could go forward and stay on Main going north, I could even turn around and go back on Main going south.  Actually, it was only three choices: I still didn't feel like going back.
Why me?
With a deep breath I let my subconscious make the call, a spontaneous choice of right onto Fourth going east.  I knew what was out that way – which was not a lot – but tried not to worry, to trust my deep and mysterious mind.
What was he?
It was happening.  A fact as undeniable as the nighttime traffic coming at me with dazzling headlights, passing with crimson taillights, or pulsing red turning indicators.  As clear as the glowing fast-food signs that rushed by.  As apparent as the black night sky.  As plain as the black road.
What was less evident was everything else.  The sane and cold part of my mind – as opposed to the fright navigating that night – said that I should go to the police.  But even as it was said, that sane and cold part of me realized it might not be a good idea after all: you are a cop, bored and underpaid, long past caring, long past trusting, and into your station comes a blond-haired, blue-eyed, handsome (hey, I have to be honest) young fag, who opens his mouth and says: "He looks like me, he sounds like me, he acts like me, but I don't know why he does it, or even what he is."
What to do?
I needed help.  The section of my brain that wasn't driving suggested pulling my cell phone out of my pocket and dialing one of the dozen or so friends and acquaintances.  But even as it made that proposition that section of my brain realized that it might not be a good idea after all: you are a queer young man, jaded and catty, not yet understanding intimacy, not yet understanding trust, and over your cell comes not quite a friend, not quite a lover, not quite an acquaintance who says: "He looks like me, he sounds like me, he acts like me, but I don't know why he does it, or even what he is."
Who was he?
Was he a person I knew?  A jilted lover, fawning friend, envious stranger, who had so little he saw me as having too much?  It was an idea, but try as I might, I couldn't remember anyone like that.  In fact, I could think of a lot more people I wish I could become.
What did he want?
Did I have something he craved, so much so he'd put on my life and wear it out and about, fooling friends and strangers?  I couldn't think of a damned thing: no mysterious artifacts, no relatives with links to Area 51, no drug connections (aside from some pot now and again), no family fortune (hardly), no one to even pay my ransom.
Why me?
Was I someone he wanted to be, so much so he'd copy me down to the very last detail?  I couldn't think of a damned reason he'd want to: I was young, but there were better preserved guys out there; I wasn't dating anyone remotely fascinating (except for a YMCA fling with a middle-aged porn star); I didn't have any prospects worth hijacking; I didn't even have anything to look forward to.
What was he?
I'd had some crazy ideas over the past few days, but none of them really described what was going on.
What to do?
The light changed, so I pushed down on the gas, feeding the engine, turning the tires, propelling me forward through the intersection.  The well-tuned, German-engineered motor purred when it was stopped, nicely throbbed when it was in motion.  On either side were rows of condominiums very much like mine.  At the far end of the block where another light was waiting, one side changed into a mini-mall, the opposite a glass-walled suburban office block.
As I approached, permission to cross changed to prepare to slow.  Once again, my foot began to push down to bring me to a stop.  I didn't know who he was, what he wanted, why he'd chosen me, what he was, or even what to do about it, but one thing was furiously certain – and feeling it I jammed down hard on the other pedal, pushing the car's calming throb up into a throaty roar of bad gas mileage and very high RPMs.
Horns from the few cars that had jumped off the green, seeing me blast past them on my way – somewhere – in a goddamned hurry.
I had no idea exactly where I was going, but I had that new certainty: I was going to do something – anything – about this.
About him.
* * * *
A few blocks later – another mini-mall, another small office building – a splinter of boulevard signage made me glance, look, then turn the wheel into the nearest parking lot.
For the middle of the week, the place was busy: cars coming, cars going, people doing both.  It took me longer than it should have to find a parking place.
The hustle and bustle of early evening people made everything jarring and noisy, but it was also wonderfully normal.  Looking at the asshole kids in their Japanese toy cars, all desperately wanting to be Japanese drifters despite their gaijin genes; watching the baby gang bangers, all ferociously hungering to be the next TuPac despite their Caucasian lineage; the girls, hoping to be a picture-perfect copy of Christina Aguilera even though they had no looks and even less talent; the old farts, frightened of it all, hiding behind their Bush/Cheney bumper stickers even though they got in worse trouble when they were kids.
I could almost guess where they were going or where they'd been, the normalcy of them all a cool bath on a hot day, a bit of everyday living when mine had taken such a hard and twisting turn: the kids and their cars would find a quiet street somewhere and rev, burn rubber, slide, their way up their totem pole; the gang bangers would crank their bass up to window-rattling obnoxiousness hoping to convince themselves they were bad-asses; the girls would pose and prance, paying more attention to the nearest reflective surface rather than any circling boys; the old farts would escape in their Lexuses to the nearest Denny's for hash browns and ham steak, glaring out the greasy windows at everyone else.
My own mission was out of character.  I should have been on the phone making a date, having a drink in a stylish spot, bumping hips in a place too loud to think, instead of slipping past all these flavors of nighttime city life toward a little coffee shop.  I always felt sorry for Tully's, seeing them get slowly pushed off the map by stronger brews.  Especially sorry seeing as I was serving the competition in grande, venti, and tall cups during my own daily grind.  This one had something that'd caught my eye: the logo of an Internet cafe service.
At the register, I bought a medium – ha!  What a weird size – coffee and sat down at the machine.  With a swipe of plastic – with a hope that I hadn't maxed the damned thing out again – I was greeted by Google.
I didn't know who he was, what he wanted, why he'd chosen me, what he was, or even what to do about it, but the least I could do was pick the brain of the Internet about who he could be, what he might want, why he chose me, and even what I might be able to do about it.
Naturally the first word I typed in was clone.
The same, molecularly similar, genetically identical.  A stolen cell, a laboratory full of men in lab coats, many Petri dishes, a few centrifuges, hypodermics, microscopes, computers, chemicals, drugs – and lots and lots of science.
The idea was easy, the practice – according to the sites I flipped through – was hard.  One cat, one sheep, maybe a dog, lots of small wriggly things, and that's about it after years of lab coats, Petri dishes, centrifuges, hypodermics, microscopes, computers, chemicals, drugs – and lots and lots of money.
Not that it couldn't be done.  That wasn't the issue.  The theory was sound, even put into practice with that cat, that sheep, perhaps even that dog.  But with a few exceptions, cats, sheep, and clearly dogs are less complex than you or I.
You, definitely.  Me?  I wasn't so sure.
It all made a kind of weird, sideways, twisted sense.  My mouse hand stopped, the black arrow cursor hovering above a blue-shaded link.  A copy of a person is a clone, everyone knows that.  A biological reproduction exactly like the original.  Indistinguishable.  Perfect.
Grown in a vat, released into the world: a second me.  That was the nuts and bolts of it.  Answers tickled the back of my neck, a goose-pimple thrill as the puzzle pieces began to snap together.
He was me.  A gene and protein knock-off.  A flesh and blood facsimile.  He had my organs, my bones, my hair, my skin, my eyes, maybe even my fingerprints.  Strip us naked, make us stand next to one another, and you couldn't pick out the original.
He wanted to be me.  That was clear.  Here and there, subtle and less-than-subtle, he'd been stealing my life, bit by bit.  Oh, Christ.  Heels of hands into my eyes, a hard rub and fireworks of compressed eyeballs, with the sudden thought: how long had this been going on?  Was this not the beginning, but instead a rushed ending; he knowing to his sly comfort that there's nothing I can do about it?
Or maybe not, maybe I had plenty of time to figure this out, keep him from taking any more of me?  That's what I decided to think, chose to believe.  Better that than have a breakdown in a Tully's.
Okay ... keep going.  Work it out.  There has to be an answer.  Let's see, you can clone a person.  That's a definite.  They say no one's done it because of missing bits of science and lots of cash.  But someone has done it.
Who did it?  As I'd clicked though site after site of info, I'd picked up a thread, a pattern, a road map that too often led me from the slick and professional pages of info to badly spelled, ALL CAPS, no punctuation, corners where black helicopters mutilated cattle while freemasons poured fluorine into the water supply to make all us hard-working, god-fearing, gun-owning, AMERICANS into porn-addicted, lazy, peacenik COMMIES.
Right.  Sure.  I grinned as I sipped my coffee, then frowned at the taste.  But my frown stayed after the bad taste was gone: rightwing nightmares, libertarian horrors, fundamentalist apocalypses, all making no sense.  Hell, they made negative sense, a total absence of sense, a sense black hole.
Who else could do it?  Who else would want to do it?
Old straight men, rich but always wanting to be richer, in control but wanting to have even more.  If they found a way – more science found, much money added to perfect it – it'd be something they'd do: definitely, absolutely, positively, without a doubt.
All of that answered "what was he?" But a question stayed behind, refusing – as yet – to click into a perfect picture.
This was happening.  No doubt about that.  The evidence was clear.  I thought I was a simple, run-of-the-mill, average, typical kind of guy.  But this was happening to me: there had to be something in my life, in the curls and whorls of my brain that made me worth being replaced by another me, a biological copy.
I thought, then thought some more.  When that didn't work I rubbed my temples.  When that didn't work I sipped my coffee again, and again winced at the taste.  When that didn't work I drummed the desktop.  When that didn't work I began to hum.
I thought again about asking my gay friends for help.  Then I thought about ringing up some old boyfriends for help.  Then I thought about posting something to or asking for help.  Then I thought about going into a gay bookstore for help.  Then I thought about cruising a few dozen gay bars for help.  Then I thought about going to a gay disco for help.  Then I thought about dropping by the gay community outreach office for help.  One of them – I thought – might have some clue, offer some suggestion about why the government would want to replace me with a clone.
I felt cold.  The coffee shop was humid from perking coffee, but I shivered and shook.  No.  No way.  That couldn't be it.  They wouldn't – would they?
It made sense.  Lots of sense.  Too much sense.  But even though it made it, lots of it, too much of it, I just couldn't accept it.  At least not yet.  It was just too frightening.
So I did some more typing, and up came the word doppelganger, but I barely even noticed it.  My head was too full of swirling plots and roaring conspiracies – the loudest one being the very obvious reason why they'd want to make a copy of a gay man.
* * * *
An hour later, the competition's awful coffee dead cold, my time ran out.  I could have stayed, but didn't.  I didn't need to.
I think the chubby black girl behind the counter said something when I left, but I can't be certain.
Outside, the crowd had thinned: the rice burners off to burn rubber, the gang bangers home to their gated hoods, the girls to chirp into their cell phones, the oldsters to somewhere safe and traditional.  The few remaining looked a bit lost, like they desperately wanted to join the party but didn't know where it was.
My cell came out of my pocket again.  Name after name scrolled by: sort-of-friend, kind-of-fuckbuddy, acquaintance, sort-of-friend-of-a-friend, casual companion, almost stranger, hanger-on – I could call any of them, but there'd be flirting, laughter, gossip, shopping tips, bitching, activism, and nothing else.
Even though there was another me out there, a circling copy no doubt matching my footsteps, I was very, very alone.
Then I realized who I'd forgotten: the one person who might actually listen to me.
* * * *
Back out into the nighttime traffic, easing my car into the middle-evening stream.  Out of early movies, heading toward late ones.  Dinner done and so to a nightcap.  Cocktails done and so out to dinner.  Amateurs off to clubs, pros out to score drugs before clubs.  Rice burners, the gang bangers, the girls, the oldsters off to all their worlds between dusk and midnight.
He'd been working some kind of temp job with weird hours, but he should have finished that tonight.  His place was on the West side, a good hour – or maybe two hours depending on traffic – away.
I should call.  I really should.  Not that he had a life to interrupt – hardly – but it would be the polite thing to do.  At the next red light I pulled my phone out again, scrolled down to his number.
But that's all I did.
Red went to green.  I was a pro, so I could have dialed as I drove and more than likely got him, but instead I closed the phone and tossed it onto the passenger seat.
Every fag has one, or if not then they should: a fuckbuddy you didn't fuck, a trick you'd never think of tricking, friends with jack shit in common, bar buddies who didn't drink together, a one-step-in-the-closet who hangs out with a proud-and-out-loud.  That's what he was to me: my buddy.  To him, I was a big brother who knew the ropes: how to tie them, what to wear with them, what not to wear with them, how to get knots undone when needed, and how not to get too hung up with them.
My buddy was nice, my buddy was smart, my buddy didn't flirt (at least not well), didn't laugh (at least not at Margaret Cho), didn't gossip (at least not about anyone I cared about), didn't shop (at least not where you were supposed to), didn't bitch (at least not about anything I cared about), and didn't do activism (at least not in public).
But I couldn't call him.
I couldn't phone anyone else because they'd do everything but listen to me, would offer nothing smart or useful.  My buddy, though, I knew would at least hear me, would possibly even be able to say something smart and maybe even useful.
It's just that ... well, I was worried.  Thinking of him – of how level-headed he was, how educated he was, how observant he was – I wavered, hesitated, paused.  What if it wasn't happening?  What if a government-created clone wasn't trying to take over my life?  What if a government-created clone was trying to be everything I was – except for one very important difference?  What if I was wrong?
Another light stopped me, and for once I was grateful for the pause in forward motion.
It sounded so damned stupid.  But that wasn't really it.
Time to be honest.
Okay.  Truth-or-dare.  A queer tradition if ever there was one.  Truth: it was happening.  There really was another me out there, taking my life away moment by moment.  I felt it.  I knew it.  I had evidence.  It was fucking happening!
Dare: admit it.  It wasn't doubt, it was desperation: I needed him, needed him more than anyone else, that was the root of my twitch.  My sweet little Buddy was nice, smart, didn't flirt without meaning it, laughed at the right things, didn't gossip because it wasn't important, didn't shop just for the sake of shopping, didn't bitch because he tried to understand everyone, and didn't do activism just because it was what we're supposed to do.  If he couldn't help me, no one could.
A good hour – or maybe two hours depending on traffic – and I'd be at his place.  I'd park my car on the street, get out, walk to his apartment, push No.4 on the call box, and he'd answer.  Maybe he'd be a little surprised that I was there but he'd buzz me in anyway.  Tea?  Yes, please.  How are you doing?  Could be better.  What do you mean?
Then I'd say "He looks like me, he sounds like me, he acts like me, but I don't know why he does it, or even what he is." Then I'd add "but I think he's a government clone created to replace me with a more acceptable substitute."
It had to be in person so I could be there with him, to know I wasn't alone.  It had to be in person so he could see I was serious.
It had to be in person: that was the only way I could beg, plead, and cry for my buddy's help.
* * * *
Not one hour, not two, more closer to three: By the time the landmarks of my immediate neighborhood began to become the landmarks of his immediate neighborhood middle-evening had become early-late night: late movies going home, late dinners going to nightcaps, nightcaps going home, amateurs in bed, pros going home with tricks, rice burners, gangbangers, girls, and oldsters either long home or almost there.
His immediate neighborhood was very different than mine.  For me, home was block after block, mile after mile of concrete and glass apartment/condo, thoroughly tamed palm trees, precisely maintained miniature rectangles of domestically whipped grass, glimpses of azure pools flashing in the narrow gaps between buildings, and the dark mouths of underground parking garages lurking below them.
The street was always busy with rushing traffic, the sidewalks always behind the flashy chrome, fleshy plastic, and black rubber, of not-living-there, only-visiting cars.
For him, home was street after street of dark red brick buildings born in the middle 1900s, rather than my late ones.  Glass was there, but not the made-by-the-thousand glistening squares.  Instead each apartment had the fingerprints of workmen, craftsmen, and a different architect – though of the same school.  No steel; instead the uniquely twisting balconies and railings of wrought iron.  Clipped carefully, but not with the cold precision of mine, the lawns were huge rugs of green.
Rather than palms, here were trees from someone's childhood: thickly branched, tough-barked.  They'd been there for a long time, and would stay there for even longer.  A grandfather's tire swing became a son's tire swing became a grandson's tire swing.
Even though the street was quiet, near his house and then not quite near his house and even pretty damned far from his house didn't have a spare space to park, so a very late evening edged toward seriously deep, awfully dark night as I hunted for a place to pull in.
Cranking my wheel right at every stop sign, I looked with more and more impatience for a clear spot.  Frustration tempted me to become an outlaw: risk that driveway?  Gamble on that red zone?  Commit the ultimate urban outrage of the double-park?
I don't have time for this.
Hope was a bright red pair of taillights far down one murky lane.  I accelerated toward them, but then 45 went down to 15 as ordered by the sign that flashed by my right side window.  Disappointment was that the taillights belonged to a car breaking the rules of a civilized society by parking in front of a fire hydrant.
I thought about crossing that line myself, but knowing my recent luck – or lack of – I decided it wasn't worth the risk.  At least not yet.  Besides, my chest was tight, my hands cranked, my shoulders ached, my stomach acid was anxiety.  Things were odd, different, and frightening.  Driving, even if it was in more and more frustrating circles, was common, ordinary, and routine.
But I didn't have time for this.
I circled one more time.  At a stop sign, I turned right, at another I did the same, eyes tracking back and forth for a break, a slot, an opportunity.
Headlights in my eyes, a sign of life in the blackness of the city street.  Brighter and brighter, until my eyes watered and I had to blink.  Then the car was just in front of me, right by me, and with a rush of air, past me.
A Volkswagon, white and smooth and new.  Just like mine.
Just like mine.
My foot slipped and the engine growled, as angry as I was frightened.  The next corner came at me fast, faster than it should have.  Panicked, face flushed and hot, my foot went from one pedal to the other and the car and I screamed to a rubbery stop.
Black and silent, quiet and dark.  I was alone on the road.  Nothing behind, night in front.  Peering into the rearview I saw nothing but streetlights flickering between trees and leaves, the soft gold of lit windows and even, high up in the mirror, the pinpoints of stars.
And – was it?  It was – a space, a void in the regular line of parked cars.  Carefully, coolly, calmly I pulled forward into the intersection and backed into it.
And then I was there, a few doors down from my Buddy's place, arrived and parked.  Ready to go in.
* * * *
"He looks like me, he sounds like me, he acts like me, but I don't know why he does it, or even what he is." Then I'd add "but I think he's a government clone created to replace me with a more acceptable substitute." I rehearsed it in my mind, trying out different flavors of phrasing, new approaches of posture, fresh ballets with my hands in persuasive gestures.
Tea?  Yes, please.  How are you doing?  Could be better.  What to you mean?  Then I'd say it, yes I would, I'd say it and then I wouldn't be alone.
Ready?  Ready.  All set?  All set – or as much as I'd ever be.  Funny how something private, strange, and terrifying could be embarrassing, foolish, and ridiculous when you decided not to keep it to yourself.
Was it time?  It was time – or as much as it ever could be.  Hand on the door handle, I was ready to pull it, ready to open the door, step out, take the few dozen steps from my car to the sidewalk, from the sidewalk to the door, door to the intercom, intercom to his apartment number.
But then the street was still dark – but not as quiet.  The steps of someone walking was loud, even through the carefully machined insulation of my car.
I stayed in, didn't get out.  Hearing him before I saw him, I didn't move out of simple shyness.  Embarrassed, feeling foolish, and more than a bit ridiculous, I was ready to expose myself to Buddy, but no one else.
Then the figure was by my window.  He was going from the sidewalk to the door, and from the door he turned to the intercom, pressing one of the apartment numbers.
I couldn't see which one, but I didn't need to.  He was dressed in green and black, obviously something for work.  A job that came in three sizes: tall, grande, and venti.  It was a look I recognized.
He was young, handsome enough, with blond hair and a nice face.  The body under the black was no stranger to the gym – tight, but not buff.
Under the porch light, his hair glowed, haloed from an energy-saving bulb.  Even from where I sat I could see his eyes were blue.  He was a guy I might have smiled at, winked at, maybe even flirted with, given the opportunity.
But I didn't smile, didn't wink, didn't flirt.  Instead I sat and stared as he said something into the speaker grill of the call box, his voice carrying across even to me sitting in my car, grinning all the time as he spoke, and when the door buzzed he pushed quickly against it, vanishing into the apartment building.
He looked like me, he sounded like me, he acted like me.  I don't know why he does it, or even what he is, but I thought he might be a government clone created to replace me.
It didn't make me feel better – not at all – but after I finished begging for it to stop, pleading for it to stop, crying for it to stop, I realized that I'd been wrong.
He couldn't be a straight copy of me, a copy bent to be straight.  Not if he'd rung my Buddy's apartment number, and then smiled widely as he'd been buzzed in, and then walked up the stairs to see him.