“Dean,” Pal said. “You there?”
“Yeah. What’s up, Pal?”
“I know it’s getting late and all, but…” Pal looked up at the clock over the door.
“Yeah, it’s eight. When’s Angel bringing you back?”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, actually. Cuh-Could I stay here, at Angel’s, tonight?”
The following silence spun knots in his chest.
“If you two do anything,” Dean said, “be sure to use condoms.”
“I still have the stitches in. I’m not going to do anything.”
“All right.” The man paused. “Wait, Pal?”
“Did you tell him?”
“Yeah,” Pal smiled, “I did.”1
Pal knocked on Angel’s bedroom door before opening it. Pictures of half-naked men in varying poses and scenery adorned the room. One in particular that caught his eye rested over the double bed, which featured two naked lovers holding each other amidst a fiery, destructive scene.
“I haven’t seen your room before.”
“It’s not much, but I think it’s nice,” Angel said, setting his magazine down. “Come here, babe.”
He crossed the room and slid onto the bed, resting his head against his boyfriend’s shoulder. It’d been the first time Angel had called him baby.
“I’m making it clear right now,” the older man said. “I’m not gonna force you into anything, ok?”
“I know. I trust you.”
Without another word, Angel set his hand at the tail of Pal’s shirt and gently pulled it up.
“You’ve got a nice six-pack,” he said, setting his hands on Pal’s stomach.
“You do too,” he replied, sliding a finger down the trench that separated his boyfriend’s stomach. Hair tickled the tip of his finger.
Angel laughed. Pal adjusted his position, but stayed facing his boyfriend
“I’m not gonna hurt you,” Angel said.
“I know. I just don’t want to hurt you.”
Angel began to question, but stopped when he remembered the stitches.
“It’s ok, Pal. I’m not worried about you hurting me.”
“I’m worried about hurting you though.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Angel set a hand on Pal’s face and brought their lips together for a short kiss. “Let’s go to bed.”2
Pal’s eyes shot open. Rolling over, he drew his knees up to his chest, watching his soundly-sleeping boyfriend. The voice he had heard had not woke Angel.
Oh God, he thought, he’s back.
That’s right, sonny; I’m back!
Unable to just lay there with the presence lingering in the room, he sat up, eyes tracing the small area.
“At least I have you,” he whispered, stroking Angel’s naked back.
Look at the little f-a-g. You know what that spells, sonny-boy?
Yeah, that’s right. It spells fag. You want to tell me what TIUTA means?
TUITA? he frowned. What does that…
Can’t think about it? Well, let me tell you what it means, sonny boy. It’s how you, your fag boyfriend, your ass wipe of a cousin and his prissy little boyfriend have sex. TIUTA stands for Take It Up The Ass.
While able to keep himself from sobbing—which, in reality, came from practice, because his father had called him a sissy if he ever sobbed—he couldn’t prevent the tears.
Did Daddy make sonny here cry?
Choosing to ignore the spirit, he crawled out of bed and made his way out of the room. At the fridge, he popped open a soda and downed half of it, reveling in the sugar rush that exploded inside his head.
He jumped, then turned to see Angel’s older brother.
“Tuh-Tom,” he stammered. “I-I duh-didn’t know you wuh-were here.”
“I didn’t know you were here either,” Tom said, leaning against the opposite counter. He took a drag from his cigarette. “I hope you boys used protection.”
“W-We didn’t have sex. My stitches…” Pal shook his head. “I should’ve asked before staying over. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have anything to be sorry about. Angel lives here just as much as I do, and he can sleep with you if he wants.”
“We really didn’t have sex, sir.”
Tom took a second drag off his smoke.
“I believe you,” he said. “Besides, I think Angel would be too paranoid to screw you with your stitches. He’d be afraid of hurting you.”
“I guess,” he muttered.
Finishing the rest of his soda in a mighty gulp, he tossed the can in its separate bin and told Tom goodnight.
He returned to the room and crawled into bed with his boyfriend, only hoping that his father wouldn’t return
I looked up. Brad held a cigarette out for me, which I took and set to my lips.
“Yeah?” I asked, thinking he might have something else on his mind.
“I’m fine. Just worried about Pal, that’s all.”
“He’s fine, Dean; Angel’s a good guy.”
“I know, but it’s the first time he’s been away from here overnight.”
Brad pushed himself up with his right arm and stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray that sat by the bed.
“Go to sleep, Dean,” he said, settling back down. “Besides, I’m thinking about letting Angel take Pal to have his stitches taken out.”
“All right,” I said, setting a hand on his stomach, massaging it in slow circles.
“Mmm,” he said. “Thanks, babe.”
As I continued to rub his abs, I closed my eyes and thought about Pal and everything he had gone through.