The Softer Side
The Best of 2012
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By William Dean
Note to Self
by Geneva King
Girls' Night Out
by Giulia Cosentino
by J.T. Benjamin
by J.Z. Sharpe
by Nicholas M.
by Remittance Girl
The Problem of Leather
by Roxy Katt
Taste of Jessica
by TD Fallon
My Dark and Empty Sky
by Teresa Wymore
by Tulsa Brown
by Kathleen Bradean
by C.C. Williams © 2011
Dicky Norvaks still goes to the city park at least twice a day, but now he takes Rex for his walk around the big preserve on the edge of town. Years ago Dicky was the animal that prowled through the tall grass, sniffing around the wild brush, skulking among the moonlit shadows. He went there only at night—daylight would have ruined him as quickly as it would have destroyed a vampire. But it wasn't blood he sought. Dicky loved cock: big or small, chubby or slim, cut or not. He loved the way they felt, smelled and tasted. That's why he called himself 'Dicky;' his mother called him 'Albert.'
Albert wasn't able to admit how much he wanted men, so Dicky was forced to take them in only the most basic way—on his knees, their cocks in his mouth. He never knew their names. If they ever tried to tell him, he would leave them and move to another cluster of trees, to a place where the connections he made could be as anonymous as Albert wanted his desires to be.
Albert didn't go to bars. Dicky waited in the shadows for the men who danced under the strobe lights. When the dancers discovered that it was closing time, they went to find Dicky and the others who waited, receptive, between trees in the park. They weren't the ones who attended social events or marched in parades. They were the ones who remained nameless, faceless sexual beings who weren't willing to provide anything more than a willing ass, an open mouth.
It had taken Dicky years to crawl his way out of that morass of anonymous sex. He still dreamt about the headlights of cars that would drive through the park and occasionally shine their high beams in his eyes, momentarily blinding him to his own invisibility. He remembered countless dicks that were pulled out of pants and offered while he knelt in damp leaves on the ground.
That was all Albert had thought he was worth, being used by someone else. He hadn't necessarily felt that the other men were better than he was—in fact, he'd thought they were just as wretched. At least he hadn't pretended that it was a "life-style option" or just a mistake of nature. He'd known he was shit, and anyone who wanted him was just as bad.
Therapy rescued Albert. So did a few encounters with men who wouldn't accept that their only fate was to be used in the park, men who insisted that there was something better in store for them. He eventually got to the place where he would even undress in front of another man in his bedroom. The hardest thing was letting one of them kiss him. When he came out into the light, when he grasped hold of his humanity, he experienced something that could only be called liberation. Albert recognized Dicky and accepted him for who he was.
Albert volunteered at the Gay and Lesbian Center in town now. He read gay books. He wasn't rich, but he donated to help underwrite the cost of the lesbian and gay film festival. He even had adult relationships with other men. He'd come all the way from slithering through the weeds in the park to learning how to date other self-affirming men. He felt good about himself.
He even got the dog. It was a kick to return to the scenes of his old haunting with the cocker spaniel on his leash. A whole social life existed in the park during the day that had nothing to do with sex. There he had met a lovely older woman who would walk with him through the paths with her ancient poodle. They would talk about the restorations of some of the old houses that lined the street by the entrance.
"No one really wants to invest in the area so long as . . . this is going on." Her elegant pump pointed to a discarded condom that lay on the grass. Albert was surprised that the park rats used protection at all with barebacking being the new fetish. It didn't surprise him that nice, "respectable" people wouldn't want to live near such a hunting ground.
There were younger people who were regulars in the park during the day as well. They didn't really know one another, though they always conversed pleasantly. It amused Albert that they all called each other only by their dogs' names. He was "Rex's man." The young woman who worked at the nearby hospital was "Lady's lady." It was an enjoyable kind of socializing. Everyone had their love of dogs in common. There was no pressure to it.
Of course, some attractive men frequented the dog park, and Albert knew some of them were gay. He recognized them from meetings or parties. They would nod to each other with a sly smile, and sometimes they would walk together, if their pets got along, and talk about things. It didn't make any difference what they talked about. Albert liked the idea that he could just have a conversation with another gay man about something besides sex.
They would often talk about the straight men in the park—there were only a few who interested them, the gay men most often wondering if they were really straight—hope springing eternal. There was one guy who had a Doberman and who often arrived in his security-guard uniform. A few of them fell into mock despair when he showed up with a woman one day and pleasantly introduced her as his wife.
There was only one man who actually made Albert uncomfortable. He had begun coming to the park a few months earlier with his girlfriend's dog. Albert had seen him getting out of his red pickup truck in the lot. Most of the time, the guy wore athletic clothes—sweats and a hoodie if the weather was cold; gym shorts and tee shirt if the sun was out. He always wore sunglasses, no matter what the weather. The dark frames and lenses gave him an ominous air. Albert told himself the man was full of attitude and that the glasses proved it, but he did have to admit that they added something to his allure. He was just friendly, nothing more; he did nothing overtly to bother Albert. There was just something about the cocky way he stood, the self-assuredness that he had about him. He was that kind of man who thought he owned the world. Albert was sure the guy felt that he owned "his woman."
* * *
On the first day of the film festival, the local newspaper ran a photograph of the sponsors accompanying an article about the new lesbian and gay cultural center that was opening in town. While it was a jolt to see his picture in the paper, Albert was also proud that he had had something to do with changing the way things were going in the city.
"Saw you," said Sunglass Man that afternoon at the park. Albert's defenses went up—this was the kind of guy who would hassle someone; he was the type of man you couldn't trust.
"Oh, yeah." Albert led Rex up one of the paths. The man's dog—a Dalmatian named Sparky—followed them, giving the guy an excuse to fall into step.
"I didn't figure you would be into all that." His voice was friendly.
Albert feared it was deceptive and simply shrugged in response. He didn't want to pursue that line, not with this guy.
"I think it's cool, you know, that you guys are getting your rights and everything."
"Thanks." Albert couldn't see his eyes because of the glasses and wasn't sure if the guy was baiting him or if he was sincere.
"Yeah, sex shouldn't be such an uptight thing. That's what I'm always telling my girl. She shouldn't be so tense about it all."
Sparky ran off to play with a golden retriever. The man followed him, waving back at Albert, who stood while Rex investigated a tree.
Perhaps that was all there was to it. Times were changing. He was being too defensive. Albert waited for Rex to finish and thought about those possibilities. It disconcerted him to realize that he was also thinking about the heavy, firm globes of Sunglass Man's ass, which were visible under his sweats. He wasn't a beefy guy, but he obviously had a decent body. Albert was embarrassed when Rex jumped up, anxious for his walk to continue. If the dog hadn't done that, someone might have noticed the way he was cruising the man's butt.
* * *
Albert saw Sparky's man again a few days later. The sun was out and warm; he had on his shorts and an athletic shirt. His arms were sleekly muscled, not bulky but sharply defined. His thighs were thicker than Albert had imagined. He must be a runner, Albert thought, and knew that, if he was, his ass was firm from all the exertion. Albert tried to put those thoughts out of his mind.
"Hi'ya," the man said casually, unselfconsciously stretching. "Nice day out, huh?"
Sparky was a rambunctious dog; he ran right up to Rex and began to wrestle playfully with him. It was obvious the two pets were enjoying one another. It would have been rude and conspicuous to try to get away from the man.
"You been gay long?" Sunglass Man asked out of the blue.
Not wanting to have an intimate conversation with him, Albert also didn't want to admit his discomfort. "All of my adult life. At least, I've been sexually active all my adult life." He couldn't say that having been a cocksucker in the park was being gay. It had been something else.
"You know, you gays are so fuckin' lucky. You get all the sex and none of the responsibility. I mean, yeah there's AIDS; but still, there are all kinds of ways you guys can get it on and not have to worry. So I hear."
Albert's skin crawled, but he launched into his lecture about how despite advances in viral therapy, continuing safe-sex education and condoms remained important and his involvement with the programs that were promoting them.
"Yeah, but you all must still want the real thing, don't you? I mean, once you've had the real thing, wearing a rubber isn't going to cut it, is it?"
"Barebacking is dangerous. Sex with a condom is still good sex," Albert insisted.
"See, at least you still have good sex. My girl, dude, she's turning into an iceberg. She's worried that I'm fooling around, so I have to do the rubber too. It pisses me off. Just 'cause I have a reputation in the bars around town doesn't mean I still throw it out there. I take care of her. Woman should trust me more."
Albert couldn't answer him. A drop of sweat had gathered on Sunglass Man's left shoulder; it rolled down the triangle of his biceps. Albert could not take his eyes off the progress of the drop of liquid as it moved down over his smooth, tanned skin.
Sunglass Man called to Sparky. "Well, see you later," he said and began to jog out of the park.
Albert stood there and watched him, even more aware of his ass now that he was actually running. The mounds of flesh were tantalizing. A hard-on rose in Albert's chinos from just watching him.
It was more than a week before Albert saw him in the park again; even further into summer, the sun was even warmer. This time he wore no shirt. Hard and flat, the lines of his abs etched his flesh. Albert was surprised but not disappointed that his chest wasn't nearly so well-developed. The whole front of his body was a flat plane of hard muscle. His nipples were remarkably small and flat against his skin. He had no chest hair. His flesh gleamed in the sun, satiny smooth; Albert craved to touch it.
"I thought about you the other night." That was the guy's greeting. Shocked, Albert felt an intrusive intimacy—he didn't want to be thought about. The two dogs went at their play and left them standing alone. Sunglass Man began to walk toward a grove of trees.
Albert recalled that particular thicket—Dicky had been there many times—he didn't want to go back there, but he seemed drawn along by a magnetic force.
* * *
The guy leaned up against a tree, just the way the hunters used to do when they came to the park in the old days. His shoulders pressed against the trunk, his feet planted firmly on the ground inches away from the base. The posture thrust his pelvis out. The bulge in his pants sloped down from his waistband.
"You know, the real bad thing about my girl is she hates oral sex. Did l tell you that?"
"No." Albert had difficulty swallowing; sweat crawled through his hair and down his back. His shirt stuck to the skin under his arms. Anxiety roiled his gut. He hadn't felt anxious in years!
"Yeah, that's the real shame. There's nothing like good head to make a man feel just right. That's another thing you gay guys have—you can get head all the time, can't you?"
Albert remained silent.
Sunglass Man ran a hand over his crotch. "I can't ever get enough, it seems. My girl, now she's a great lay, but she's not very imaginative. You know what I mean?"
His cock was hard now. Albert could even see the outline of the head through the thin shorts. It was thick, bigger than he had expected. Saliva filled his mouth as more sweat soaked into his clothes.
Just as if he hadn't learned better, just as if it was midnight and the guy had been some stud who'd come into the park looking for one of the cocksuckers, Albert moved toward him. All the years of celebration were wiped away by the masculine presence. Dicky put a hand out, exactly as he used to do, lightly grabbing his balls. It was an automatic gesture, asking him for permission. The man didn't hesitate. He put his hands on Dicky's shoulders and pushed him down.
Shock waves of excitement tore through Dicky as he felt the familiar sensation of sinking to his knees in front of a male god. He reached up and quickly tore at the waistband, pulling down the shorts. Underneath, a jockstrap glowed white against the tan skin. Dicky leaned forward, burying his face in the elastic cloth; he smelled the musky odor of sex as he rubbed his nose against the hard cock. There was something else in the mesh sack.
"Thought about you," Sparky's man sneered, a curling lip distorting his face. He reached into the pouch of his jock and brought out a condom. Dicky pulled down the jock and ran a hungry tongue along the sweaty surface of his balls. They hung low, the kind he had always liked the most. The two orbs were suspended in loose, stretchy skin. Dicky lifted them with his lips while Sunglass Man opened the condom and unrolled it over the hard, erect shaft of his cock.
"Do me, cocksucker," he rasped, his voice rough with arousal.
Dicky couldn't hold back. He sucked in the whole length, taking him to the base. At first the latex tasted foul, but soon the scent and flavor of balls and pubic hair took over and Dicky could relish the experience, just as he had so many times before.
"You're good," he groaned while Dicky moved back and forth on his long, thick cock.
I should be, Dicky thought. I've had lots of practice.
He was ready. He shot in no time. Dicky whimpered while the waves of come splashed out of the slit and hit the plastic barrier, depriving him of the rich, salty taste.
As soon as he was finished, he pulled back. Dicky had to release his still-hard cock. He ripped off the condom and tossed it aside, pulling up his jock and shorts.
"Like I said, dude, you're good." He patted Dicky on the head and walked away, calling to Sparky. With the dog on leash he started his afternoon run.
* * *
Albert was shaken by the encounter. The worst part was the ease with which he had fallen back into his old patterns. His new life was wonderful, but he had found the one area where it wasn't happy. He had thought that area was only sleaze. Now he realized it included passion. All of the friendships and even the sexual relationships he'd had were devoid of that one element. He'd enjoyed evenings with other men. They'd massaged one another. They'd stared deeply into each other's eyes, but none of them had ever made him as automatically hard as the man who took Sparky for walks in the park. The thought of that guy in his loose gym shorts, the ones that clearly revealed his cock and balls jiggling when he ran, was enough to wring the pre-come from Albert's cock.
Sparky's guy met Albert every time they were in the park together. He had only to leer at Albert in a certain way and Dicky was back, following him into the bushes, ready to suck him off at the first invitation. He wasn't satisfied with just that. He wanted more.
"Why don't you spend some time looking at it?" he would say when Albert pulled down his jock. His half-hard cock would spring out, arching away from his hard, flat belly. "That's one of the good things about you gay guys, right? You can admit you like dick, can't you? Or is it that you don't like my dick?"
That was a challenge. He knew it wasn't true. Albert would lift up his cock and study it. He'd tell him just how much he loved his dick. "The head's so big, so much wider than the shaft," he would tell him, his breath coming in short excited spurts. "I like seeing it stick out like that, like a big purple mushroom, just waiting for me to lick it. And I like that shaft. I like the way the veins weave their way around it."
He wouldn't pull out the condom until Albert had told him enough about his dick to persuade him that he was serious. Albert was. He was seriously in love with it and was seriously aggrieved every time Sunglass Man came and his come was trapped behind that latex barrier.
Albert lost all that he had gained. After a while the man began coming by Albert's apartment whenever he felt the need. "The girl's not putting out tonight," he would explain as he shouldered past Albert at the door. "I need it bad. Let's hurry up. I just told her I was going to the corner store to pick something up. Don't want her to get suspicious."
He'd be naked before Albert could even think of a response. As soon as Albert saw the thick knob of his dick, he was gone. He was lost. He would service him and let him leave, Albert nothing but a used vessel.
Depression consumed Albert. Everything he had accomplished seemed pale. Dicky was back in the shadows of the park—if not literally, then figuratively. He withdrew from friends, dropped out of activities. He just waited for the guy in the glasses.
Albert realized that he had to turn this situation around. He had to do something to take back his control. But what could he do? He didn't want to give up Sunglass Man. The guy from the park had become the font of sex for Albert, the source of all the sex he got and all the sex he wanted. After weeks of desperate longing, sexual debasement and self-hatred, Albert came up with the solution.
The guy could tell there was a change. Now when he met Albert in the park, Albert leered at him. Albert was the one who gestured toward the bushes and suggested a detour through them, so he could get a hold of his meat.
"I was right. You gays are the ones with the right attitude toward sex," he said.
Albert didn't wait to talk about his dick now. He wasn't waiting until he was on his knees in front of him and being prompted. He started right out, while they walked on the path, telling him how much he liked to lick his balls, how good the elastic flesh that held them tasted. Albert could tell Sparky's guy was getting uncomfortable. That was the whole point, though; Albert wanted him to become self-conscious.
Albert ratcheted the action up a notch. He began going to sex stores and finding things that they could use when the guy came to his apartment. He let him fuck him with dildos. Once he had done that, it was only a matter of time before he wanted to fuck Albert. Albert threw his legs open for him. When the guy entered him the first time, Albert used every trick he knew, clenching his sphincter down on his dick, moving his ass from side to side. He threw him the fuck of a lifetime, and he appreciated it.
"You're so tight, dude! After pussy, that's so tight!"
Yeah! Albert smiled to himself when he heard that.
His visits became less proprietary. In the past he had arrived and just assumed Albert would be ready no matter what was going on. Now he had to worry about what mood Albert was in. "I was hoping you'd let me fuck you again," he would plead.
Albert might, he might not. If he didn't, Sunglass Man would start to get moody. "Oh, come on, dude; let me do it."
"Nah, I'm not up to it. I'll give you head, though."
Albert's candid reactions reversed the dynamic. He found himself back in control.
The guy began to beg. "You love my dick; you know you do. You told me how much you loved the head."
Albert had to admit that he did. "I'm really tired this afternoon; how about some other time?"
"Some other time? Hell, you sound just like my girl, sending me off to find it somewhere else."
Albert didn't respond. He didn't say anything. He would fluctuate between putting out for him like crazy and not giving him a thing. Sunglass Man actually started to beg for it.
"Tell me how much you like my butt," Albert would demand when he wanted to fuck. "You've never told me how much you really love it."
"Your ass is the tightest pussy I've ever had," he'd say nervously, embarrassed at first. "It's the best fuck I ever found."
"Do you really like it when I go down on you?" Albert would demand. "Is it really different than when your woman gives you head?"
"You're better, dude; you're much better. Girls, they're squeamish about dick, you know that. They don't like to admit they really dig cock. But you gay guys—"
"Yeah? What about us?"
"You gay guys really know how to give head, dude. You know what it's about." He'd be jerking off by then. Sometimes the whole conversation would be so exciting that he didn't even wait for Albert to suck him off. That was when Albert knew he had him.
Albert started to go back to the park at nights. He wasn't interested in cruising the men. He just wanted to see what was in the parking lot. He didn't even get out of his car until the night he saw the red pickup truck. It brought a smile to his face.
Getting out, Albert wandered the well-trod paths, looking at the faces of the men as they stood their vigils. Some of them were the same men he'd stood beside years ago. They'd never left; the park had captured them, holding them captive with their desire. Others seemed awkward when he looked at them. A desire to reassure them rose within him. He knew they would become accustomed to the life in a short while. Almost everyone didit became an addiction. One didn't necessarily like it when one craved it, but there was nothing more immediate than when one's need was fulfilled.
Albert saw him in a clump of bushes, one which they had used themselves. He had taken off his sunglasses. He'd had to—it was pitch black. Albert could barely see him as it was. He stood against a tree, kneading his groin. He was hungry, and everything about the way he stood showed how ravenous he was.
Another man came up the path. Albert stepped back deeper into the shadows so neither of them could see him, but he could overhear their mumbled conversation.
"I got a big dick," Albert's tormentor said with a husky whisper. "You want to suck it? It's juicy, dude."
Leaves rustled as a body moved across them on the ground, and Albert knew the cocksucker had fallen for his invitation. A zipper rasped as it was pulled down, followed by the familiar sound of satisfaction when the man's cock entered the willing mouth.
* * *
Albert led him on for a while longer. He kept giving him the best head he knew how. He spread his legs. He threw fucks that he had only dreamed about. Albert continued to visit the park at night and discovered the red pickup in the lot more often. Finally, Sunglass Man was there every night for a week.
Albert wondered how long the guy could keep on making excuses to his girlfriend—or himself. That wasn't Albert's problem. His trouble had been solved; he got his proof a short while later.
Sunglass Man hadn't come over and Albert hadn't seen him in the park during the day. His pickup was there at night, however. Albert walked into the park and followed the too familiar paths. He found him in the same clump of trees. A man stood in front of him. Good-looking, bigger and bulkier than he was, they were fondling each other's crotch. The men stood there for what seemed like half an hour. Albert couldn't make out their muttered conversation. He got the drift when his tormentor started to slip down onto his knees. He'd lost the showdown with the stranger.
Albert's work was done: He had driven him to hunting in the park. The guy had become a cocksucker.
Albert never let him touch him again. He pushed him away when he approached and never let the door off the chain when he came by. Albert was better than that. He didn't hunt at the park anymore, and he didn't have to put out for someone who did, Albert told him.
Albert returned to his organizations and his friends. There was a new film festival to plan; he threw himself into the work. On opening night, Albert actually looked for the guy at the kick-off party. He didn't show up. Of course, he'd still be at the park. If any of the other guests left without a date, they might find him there after midnight. He'd be in the bushes, waiting for them or anyone else who'd come along and offer cock. It would be a long time before he'd find his way to something like the film festival. If he got there, Albert could take some of the credit—he'd started him on his way.
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