Nonconsensual Love - Chapter 1
I couldn't believe my sister said that! My sister! My little thirteen-year-old sister! She was really willing to let this asshole rape her just to pay our way out of this god-forsaken hell-hole of an country? 'Just leave Ellen alone..." she'd said. Like she was afraid he'd go after our baby sister instead, if she didn't volunteer. Ellen's seven. Was this old fart sick enough to want to fuck a seven-year-old? Lisa seemed to think so.
And me... I wanted to tell her not to do it, that we could just stay here instead, that she didn't need to sell herself to this dirty old bastard – but I just couldn't. None of us had eaten in two days, and we'd been drinking from a rusty old spigot there in the boatyard. We were lucky we weren't sick yet. We were lucky to be alive at all, for that matter. Ivory Coast is not the kind of place you would bring your family.
But for that matter, neither was Morocco, where we'd been kidnapped. That was three and a half weeks before now. Five days ago we finally got away (I think our captors were losing interest), so now here we were, alone and friendless in an African nation where no one spoke English and sticking out like a flock of white sheep amongst the blacks.
And this guy was just another black, as far as I was concerned. With an important difference – he had a boat. A good-sized one too. I would've preferred something with engines, but sometimes you have to take whatever's available, and this man's boat was a sailing yacht. We had hoped to sneak aboard and steal it – me and Lisa knew enough about sailing to do it, we hoped – but little did we know that the owner was aboard.
And now Lisa was bargaining for our passage with her body. Well, whatever else I might think about that, it was damn brave of her, anyway.
Ironically, I was just thinking that I'd have done the same for her, if the shoe were on the other foot.
"Would you now, little miss? My my. You do make a tempting offer..." the man said, smiling faintly.
"Lisa – don't. We'll find some other way..." I had to say something! But I knew that we didn't have time to find some "other way", and I knew that Lisa knew it, too. We needed to get out of there, and fast. I suppose I was just trying to make myself feel less guilty.
"Lisa, is it?" he said to her, and then turned his attention to me, "And what would be your name, young man?"
"Ryan," I said, trying to make it sound challenging, "And I'm fifteen. Not so young."
"Fifteen... yes, quite the grown-up. Well, Ryan – I'll tell you what: I do like young girls... but I like young boys more. If you'd be willing to make me the same offer, I'll take you and your sisters wherever you want to go. How's that sound?"
It sounded both too good – and too horrible – to be true. And of course, I was too shocked to even speak. This old man wanted me? He'd rather fuck me than my sister? I felt a little sick as I imagined what he meant. I'm sure my mouth was hanging open. Other than that, I can't imagine how I must have looked.
I turned to Lisa... I don't know what I was hoping... Maybe that she'd come to my rescue now or something. He did say that he liked young girls, after all...
When I caught myself thinking that, I realized that I was going to have to agree to it. What the fuck kind of brother was I, anyway? Would I really let some old black man fuck my younger sister, rather than fuck me, to get us all out of Ivory Coast? And wasn't I just thinking that I'd take her place if I could? Well, lucky me, eh? Be careful what you ask for. I knew I was going to have to do it, but oh my god it made me feel sick to my stomach. This filthy old black. Fucking me. Probably making me suck... oh my god...
"F-fine," I stuttered. Lisa didn't say anything, but I could by her face – it was only because she was starving and scared to death, just like I was. "Fine," I said again, "It's a deal. And you leave my sisters out of it, right?"
"Absolutely. Our deal is settled, then. You kids look hungry – go help yourselves to the galley – but stay away from the chocolate donuts. Those are mine, understand? Oh - and clean up after yourselves. I'm obviously not your mother. Ryan – you come back up topside once you've eaten – I don't see any reason you can't help me get the rigging set out, deal or no deal."
We silently filed down the hatch to the galley. At least we were going to get a meal out of this.
Food was upper-most on our minds at first, but as we ate and drank, I started catching Lisa looking at me out of the corner of her eyes. I know what she was thinking, but I didn't say anything. She started to, but I cut her off. I was going to do what I had to do... hoping maybe the situation would change before the man actually got around to... it. Maybe I'd find a gun or something. Didn't seem likely, though, the more I thought about it. He'd let us come down here unsupervised, after all. The man owned a pretty good-sized yacht – he probably wasn't stupid.
If, that is, he was in fact the owner. Because where we were from (The Hague, Netherlands), you don't see many yacht-owning blacks. For that matter, you don't see anyone wearing clothes as filthy as his were – black or not. He looked like a bum. An old black bum, with hair just starting to turn gray. And I mean BLACK bum, too – blacker than most blacks you see. Black as ink – no "brown" to him. I wondered if he might be stealing this boat exactly how we'd been planning to.
Not that it made much difference now. He was only of average build, but his arms and neck had a wiry look about them. My gym teacher at school was the same way – and much stronger than he looked. I knew a little judo, but there was no way I was going to win against this guy. As I wolfed down another slice of canned Spam, it occurred to me – you don't usually see healthy-looking bums. Nor are they usually so well-versed in English... and certainly not around here, they weren't.
Well, whatever, it still made me feel nauseous thinking about what I was going to have to do. So I tried not to think about it. Besides, it wouldn't kill me. Men have screwed boys before. I'd probably live.
And at least we weren't starving anymore. I sighed and got up from the table to go back up top, but Lisa grabbed my arm and gave me a look.
"I'll be okay..." I said, trying to sound like I believed it. Was he going to rape me right away? Or wait until later? How long was I going to have to live with this sickening dread? I almost – almost, mind you – wanted to get it over with right away, so at least I wouldn't have to deal with not knowing when it was coming.
The man looked at me once I was topside. Looked at me a little strangely, I thought, but not for long enough that I could really tell anything about it. Still made me feel like a whore, though. He was tightening down brackets, winding up ropes, putting away the shroud. He set me to work on the winch to hoist the sail up.
I'd have thought we'd at least motor out of the harbor, but apparently not. I didn't ask about it. I wasn't there to strike up a conversation. I wanted as little as possible to do with this freak. Like that was really going to do me any good.
I noticed the locker next to the helm – usually there's a flare-gun in there - but it was pad-locked. Fuck. Well, maybe something would happen. I actually prayed it would. This is Africa, you know – AIDS runs rampart and I doubted he intended to use a condom. Just fucking great. Well, die later or die now, some choice. And besides, my sisters might at least be okay, whatever happened to me. It's a lot easier to seem brave when you're goddamn desperate. Seriously – Ivory Coast is not a nice place. Especially for a bunch of blonde kids like us.
To my surprise, he tries to make small-talk. What brought us here, where were we from, where do we want to go, stuff like that. Did he think I wanted to get to know him, for god's sake? I mumbled as much as i could – I damn sure didn't want to tell him we'd been kidnapped. Might give him ideas. As for where we wanted to go, I just said the first place I could think of that wasn't Africa - "Gibraltar," I said. At least they have telephones in Gibraltar. It's English. It's civilized.
"Gibraltar?" he repeats, "That's a long ways from here. I'd have thought you'd want to get off this boat – and away from me – before that..."
"Will you take us there?" Sure, it was supposedly part of the "deal", but I wanted to make sure.
"Oh yeah, sure, we can go to Gibraltar, if you want. Might take a month or two. Against the wind, you know – have to tack. You sure you want to-"
"I can put up with it for that long," I said, trying to sound tough. Stupid, I know. He must have thought so too, because I hear him chuckling, low and deep in his throat. Well, at least he wasn't taking his clothes off or anything. I guessed that I was to start paying my bill later, then. I wondered – it's funny the things that go through your mind – if I could at least get him to take a shower first.
My sisters never came up on deck. I began to hope that maybe they'd been able to find a gun after all. Maybe I would come out of this with a shred of dignity.
The man told me his name: but I'd never be able to pronounce it anyway. It was something like S'naobrett Khazalahan... or along those lines, anyway. He said to call him 'Snow'. Or maybe it was just 'Sno'. Whatever. The way he was rigging the boat, it sure seemed like it had to be his; he knew where everything was, and how to use it. If he didn't own it, then he'd obviously sailed before. A lot.
I spoke as little as possible, telling him nothing.
By evening, we were in open ocean. It was fairly calm, so he set the auto-pilot on a westerly tack and told me to get below and get some dinner. When I did, I found Lisa and Ellen already asleep in the bunks that made a 'V' in the bow. I looked in the fridge and cabinets, but eating was really the furthest thing from my mind. I probably wouldn't have been able to keep anything down anyway.
In a little while, he came down too. "You'll be sleeping with me. This way," he motioned for me to follow him aft. His cabin had the only door below-decks, and it led to a room not much bigger than my parent's bathroom at home. There was a dresser, a desk with charts on it, and a standard-sized bed. That's not very big, for two people. Again, I tried not to think about it.
I wished again he'd taken Lisa instead. At least she's a girl, even if she is only thirteen. That's old enough, isn't it? My courage was draining fast. He closed the door behind me.
"You're really going to go through with this arrangement, Ryan?" he asked me.
"We have a deal. You take us to Gibraltar, and I'll do... w-whatever I have to."
He seemed to pause for a moment, then said, "All right – let's lay down the rules: first off, our 'deal' doesn't let you off the hook helping me around the boat. You're my crew. I don't suppose your sisters will be good for much, but you will. As for me – I don't intend to hurt you, Ryan. I promise. That's not what this is about. It's just that you're a gorgeous young boy, and I'm a dirty old man. You have something I want, and I have something you want. I'm taking advantage of your situation, and I know it. Honestly, if you weren't so... painfully pretty, I wouldn't have done it; but you are, and I can't help myself." He paused for a minute again, staring at me, and sighed. "I suppose I'm your enemy regardless. So be it. Are these rules suitable to you?"
What – like I could change my mind now? I could tell by how he looked at me that he was determined to... do whatever it was he wanted to do with me. So I just said, "Fine."
"How long have you been living in those clothes?"
"A long time."
"Go shower. I'll see if I can find you something to wear – we'll wash what you have on now tomorrow." He looked down at himself, "Mine too, I guess. What I get for helping a fellow sailor prep his boat for painting. I look a sight."
The bathroom was back out in the hall, and I didn't know if I was allowed to open the door to his cabin or not, so I just stood there. He was looking at the charts on his desk. Eventually he glances up at me and says, "Go on now. And Ryan? Nothing will happen tonight. And you can sleep either on the bed, or - and I imagine you'd prefer it - the floor. Go easy on the hot water, too – I'll be showering after you. Go on."
I turned the shower on as hot as I could stand it. Fuck the bastard. Afterward, I have to admit, I was starting to feel almost human again. My sisters and I hadn't bathed in weeks.
I stayed in the bathroom a long time trying to decide what to do – I certainly didn't want to put my filthy clothes back on. Neither did I want to go back into Sno's cabin naked. Eventually, I wrapped a towel around myself. I wiped the steam off the mirror on the back of the bathroom door and checked myself out. My ribs were sticking out more than usual and I really, really needed a hair-cut. But I looked like me, anyway. The cute young boy-whore. I didn't look for long.
When I went back into the cabin, Sno looked up at me as I stood there embarrassed with a towel around my waist. He said quietly to himself, "Jesus, Joseph, and Mary..."
My face was burning with humiliation. Literally burning, it was so hot. But all I could do was stand there and let him gawk at me.
"Uh... oh. Here, you can wear this to sleep in." He threw me a plain white t-shirt. I caught it, but had to let go of my towel to do so, and I guess reaching up to catch the shirt... well, of course the towel had to fall off. I wondered if he'd planned it that way. I put on the shirt a fast as I could – I didn't dare check to see if he was still staring. It came halfway down to my knees, so that was relief anyway.
His voice sounds funny as he says, "There's... there's some extra blankets in the... in the dresser. Bottom drawer. And take one of the pillows off the bed. And... " I hear him whisper to himself, God Almighty... and then he continues, "Um... okay. My turn to shower then." He got up and walked past me to get out of the cabin. I was figured he'd touch me, but he didn't, thank god. I don't know what I would have done. Jumped out of my skin, probably.
After he left, and I'd recovered a little, I made my bed on the floor, on the side of the bed away from his desk. It wasn't very comfortable – due to the curvature of the hull, I couldn't lie straight. But it was damn sure better than sharing a bed with him.
While I waited for him to come back, I thought about my situation. Really thought about it. I thought about the things he was probably going to do to me. He said – he promised – that he wouldn't hurt me. I wondered about what that meant. I didn't see any way it wouldn't hurt...
At least he seemed educated. Smart, even. It would've been worse if he'd been some idiot asshole black man. And he was taking a shower, too. Maybe it wouldn't be quite as bad as I'd feared. Still bad, but not quite as bad.
When he came back in, I pretended to be asleep. I heard him get into the bed, but he didn't say or do anything.
So I'd gotten through my first day without getting fucked up the ass. I prayed there'd be more.
When I awoke the next morning – or whatever time it was – I quietly peeked over the edge of the bed, but he as already up and out. I saw that he'd laid out a pair of pants for me, so at least I didn't have to go prancing around in a t-shirt and nothing else, which was good. The pants were way too big, of course, and I had no underwear, but they'd do.
Lisa and Ellen were sitting at the galley table, and Lisa was looking at me all concerned. Or maybe that was pity, I don't know.
"He didn't do anything yet," I said simply. I couldn't be sure she believed me, but I said nothing else about it, anyway. "Where is he?" I asked.
"Up top. Ryan... it's okay if... I mean..."
"Nothing happened Lisa. You guys need to get cleaned up. Uhm... I'll see if I can find you something to wear while we wash our clothes, so-"
"He already gave us some things, said we should wash our clothes and yours. Showed us where the machine is and everything. Ryan... I... I promise I won't tell anyone, okay? Ever. Neither will Ellen, right little sis?"
Ellen nodded her head at me. "Yeah, well... so far there's nothing to tell, anyway. But thanks."
"Want some breakfast?"
Before I was finished, Sno yells down the hatch, "Ryan up yet?"
I yell back that I am, and he tells me to come up top when I'm done eating – apparently we have work to do.
I really didn't want to spend time with the man, but what the fuck could I do? We had a deal. Now that I'd eaten, and bathed, and slept, and was at least out of immediate danger, I wished I'd been a little less cavalier about offering my ass as payment. It was only a momentary thought. To get out of Ivory Coast I probably would have done a lot worse than just sold my body, if I'd had to. I went up on deck.
Yesterday had been cloudy, but now the skies were clear, and I was blinded as soon as I stuck my head out. The boat was white, of course. The sail was white, too. I tried to look down, but my shirt and pants were white as well, so that didn't help. The deck under my feet was white... Everything was white and bright and it actually hurt my eyes.
"We'll have to find you a hat. And probably some shades too," he says, "I'm afraid I don't have any sunblock, so you'd better not stay up here too long on days like this until you tan up a bit."
I mumbled a response and tried to see where he was through my squinted eyes. He was standing up at the bow, facing me. Wearing, of course, all white. Even his deck-shoes were white. I couldn't make out his features at all – his face and hands and legs were just solid black shapes in all the whiteness.
"How do you feel? Getting sea-sick yet?"
"No," I lied. I was feeling it a little – and all the white and sun was starting to give me a headache.
"No shame in it, Ryan. The secret is to sit down whenever possible – don't stand unless you have to. If you start to get too sick, go down and eat some soda-crackers and drink 7-Up. You get used to it eventually."
I almost said 'thanks' until I remembered that I didn't need to thank this man for anything at all.
My eyes were adjusting better by now, and I was kind of shocked when I looked over at Sno again. He sure didn't look like a bum now. His shirt and shorts – linen I guessed – were immaculate. He looked sharp and commanding. I guess first impressions can be deceiving, because it was obvious now that Sno wasn't just some dumb black. I didn't know what he was, but I was betting he was important, somehow. Important and rich, and probably used to getting whatever he wanted. I guess I was just too good a deal to pass up. Why is it rich people are always the most perverted? Is it just because they can afford it?
"Here," he said, handing me a screwdriver, "We need to tighten up turnbuckles on the mainstays. Should have done it yesterday, but... well, there was a lot going on. You take that one over there. We tighten them together – it's important to keep the tension even on all four of them."
I went grimly to work. It only took a couple of hours, though.
By the time were done, I needed to pee. I guess I'd drunk too much at breakfast, or something. I didn't know how he'd take it if I just went down below on my own, but I was embarrassed to ask. Eventually, of course, I had to. He was at the bow again, tying down the anchor with rope.
"Can I go to the bathroom?" I asked.
"Ryan... you don't have to ask. You're not my slave."
I made my way towards the hatch, holding on to something all the while so I wouldn't fall as the boat rolled and pitched on the waves. "No, just your whore," I said quietly.
As I went down the steps into what now looked like total darkness to my sun-adjusted eyes, I heard him say, "Yes. But not my slave."
He found a straw hat for me and sunglasses for all of us – he had a whole drawer full of them - and invited my sisters and me up on deck after lunch. Like we were guests on a Sunday outing or something. It was starting to feel weird – he seemed like an okay guy, a gentleman, even, but I kept thinking the whole time how he'd said 'I like boys better', and how he'd made me... prostitute myself.
But really, I was kind of getting used to the idea of being a whore. I actually felt like I could probably deal with it, by then. I kept thinking of the boy-prostitutes I'd seen in Bangkok and even the shadier parts of Rome. I wasn't going to be the first, anyway. As long as it got us home. I was still afraid of my first time though, and wished he'd just get it the hell over with so I could stop worrying and just BE a whore, y'know? I'd never had sex with anyone yet. A lot of my friends had, but not me. And now my first time was going to be with this old black man. Well, not all that old, I guess... upper-middle-aged, then, salt-and-pepper in his hair. God. I'd sure have the best first-time story to tell later, wouldn't I... I'm sure it'd be a hit with my friends back home. My only hope was hat no one would ever find out. As for my sisters... well, I could trust Lisa, but I just had to hope that Ellen was too young to know what was going on.
After dinner, he says he's going to go change the tack again, and tells my sisters to go on to bed. He doesn't tell me anything. I couldn't stand how Lisa kept looking at me, so I went back to his cabin just to get out of her sight.
I knew what was coming. There was no way I was going to get out of it tonight. I sat on the bed – his bed – and tried not to be scared. It didn't work. I tried to find reasons why it wouldn't be so bad. At least he wasn't ugly, even if he was black. And at least he wasn't stupid. Or mean. And he'd said he wouldn't hurt me – although I preferred not to think about that one. I couldn't get over how he seemed like... well, a nice guy. For someone who was forcing me to have sex with him. Well, maybe not 'forcing', so much, but...
He'd called me 'pretty'. Like that was going to make me feel better or something. Boys aren't supposed to be 'pretty'! We're supposed to be 'handsome'. He probably had no idea how much that pissed me off.
Because I knew I was 'pretty'. Didn't he think I knew that? Did he think I don't notice people checking me out, sometimes outright staring? Women, girls, boys, and men, too. I'd learned to ignore it, but it still made me feel... I don't know... creepy or something, being stared at like that. I'd also learned not to look for it – because if I did, I'd always find someone doing it, and it was rarely anyone I'd want. Usually, in fact, it was men. Men seem to like pretty boys, for some reason. Maybe it's because there aren't really many of us. As soon as I could, I was going to grow a beard, or moustache, or something to make myself look more... manly. But if my dad was any indication, that wasn't going to happen for a long, long time. He could barely get a moustache to come in, even now.
When Sno came into the cabin, I was still sitting there. "Take off your clothes," he said emotionlessly.
I sighed and did as I was told, trying to look tough at the same time.
"Stand over there – I want to look at you."
"God-dammit..." I said under my breath. I went over and stood in front of the door. I reminded myself not to look down – that would look submissive. I looked out the windows (there were two of them in the stern of the boat), at the dresser, at the electronic equipment next to his desk, radios and stuff. Anywhere but at him. He sat on the end of the bed and stared at me.
"Lord, Ryan, do you have any idea-"
"Yes I do!" I snapped, "And I don't need to keep hearing about it! Are you going to fuck me now or what?" All things considered, that sounded pretty tough, I thought.
"No, Ryan, I'm not. Not yet." He exhaled through his teeth and paused for awhile. "I don't expect you to understand this at your age, but this isn't something to... rush into. It's something to be savored. Well, for me it is, anyway. I'll never get a chance like this again, with someone like you. It just doesn't happen."
I'd been in enough third-world countries with my family to know better than that. "There's lots of male prostitutes around..." I said.
"Yes... Yes there are. But you're not one of them. It's... different. I can imagine what you must think of me, but I don't actually partake of prostitutes – male or otherwise."
"So you're making me into one."
"Ryan... Oh, never mind. Turn around."
Great. Give him a chance to stare at my ass. There was a mirror on the back of the cabin door in front of me, so I could see where he was looking. And yeah, he looked me up and down, and he did stare at my butt for awhile, but he spent a lot more time looking – as far as I could tell – at my back and head. Not really what I was expecting him to do. He hadn't noticed me watching him in the mirror.
"Are you gay, Ryan?" he asks me out of the blue, "Or bisexual maybe?"
"No!" I said, trying to make it seem like ridiculous question.
He chuckled a little, "Yeah, that's what I would have said at your age, too. Isn't that amazing? I was thirty-five before I realized that I liked boys more than girls. Oh, and I do still like girls, I might add, although I'll admit that I've always found the vagina a little weird to look at. Anyway – by that time, I'd lost the chance to ever... sleep... with a cute guy. By that age, even the most effeminate of men still look like men. I could kick myself for that. For not taking a chance with another boy back when I was a boy, too. But back then, it just hadn't occurred to me. You might want to think about that."
I didn't feel like replying. He kept staring at the back of my head for a long time, then said, "Okay, you can turn back around now. And come here."
I was only six feet away, but I almost stumbled on my own feet as I went up to him. My mind was kind of frozen, or something. I wasn't thinking anything at all, although I had this feeling of Here it comes... He puts both hands on my shoulders to pull me in between his knees as he's sitting there. He's still fully dressed, but I can see his hard-on under his pants. Apparently it's true what they say about black people... which was more than a little frightening, since I knew what he wanted to do with it.
He seems fascinated by my stomach and chest for awhile, then he slides one hand down my arm and into my hand, while his other hand goes across my shoulder and up my neck to my ear. He starts fondling my hair, which is hanging below my ears now. This isn't what I was expecting. It all felt strange enough that I dared to glance at his face, just to see if I could get a clue what was going on.
His eyes are closed. Closed! I thought he was wanting to look at me, why the hell are his eyes closed? And his lips are parted, too, and he's breathing all heavy. He's seriously into me... I was surprised. I mean, I knew he liked... But... Well, I was surprised, anyway. I thought he just wanted a piece of boy-ass, but now...
I just stared at him like that while he kept touching and feeling my hair, and holding my hand. I guess I kind of forgot what was going on for awhile, and I think he did too, because when his hand slid out of mine and dropped to his leg, it seemed to almost startle him. Like he'd just woken up from a dream or something.
He stops touching my hair and says, "That's... that's enough for now, Ryan. You'd better get some sleep – the WeFax says it's going to be a little rougher tomorrow. You'll need your rest."
That was it? That was all that was going to happen? I didn't know what to think...
"Look – I know you're worried about the sex, all right?" he says. He sounds... apologetic... "It's not going to happen for a few days yet. Maybe more... I don't know. And I swear to God Ryan, it won't be as bad as you're imagining it, okay? Try to stop worrying. I'm... I'm going topside one last time, make sure everything's set for the night."
He got up and left the cabin without another word. I was still standing there, trying to figure things out.
This wasn't going how I'd thought it would at all...
The next day was pretty miserable. It was a lot rougher than 'a little', and I was sick the whole time, but never quite enough to throw up. Lisa actually did spend the whole day in her bunk, but Ellen was weirdly unaffected – which annoyed the hell out of both me and Lisa. To make matters worse, she was getting all friendly with Sno, who was also friendly to her. He even gave her one of his precious chocolate donuts. They were some fancy brand from Italy; usually he'd have two with coffee for breakfast and that would be it for the day. I guess they must be really good chocolate donuts.
All I wanted to do was just lay down, but Sno called me up top to help him again, and I damn near got my eye put out.
I was untying a 'rigging line' – whatever that is – and as I'm doing it I hear him say, from the other side of the mast, "Ryan! Don't untie the-"
That's all I heard, because suddenly the line I was working on flew out of my hands. It had a quick-connect thing on the end, and I remember seeing it in slow-motion heading straight at my face. It missed me – by less than an inch – and flipped off my hat instead. I was so shocked that I just froze there for awhile, kneeling on the rocking deck. That thing would've done real damage, I swear it was moving as fast as a bullet.
When I look over at Sno, sort of feeling like "what the hell?", I see that he's grinning at me, damn near laughing. Probably already had laughed, in fact.
"It's not funny!" I shouted over the wind. He just went on doing whatever he was doing.
When I looked for the line, I saw it flailing in the wind on the leeward side of the boat. My hat still hooked into the quick-connect.
It was kind of funny – but I tried not to smile. Didn't want to give Sno the satisfaction. I retrieved the line, and my hat, and fixed it up like he'd shown me earlier.
"You need me for anything else?" I asked. Being topside on the rocking boat made my sea-sickness even worse, for some reason. I think it has to do with seeing the horizon swinging up and down all the time; it's disorienting.
"Nah. You go on inside, you're looking pretty green. Maybe you should lay down awhile."
That was exactly what I was thinking, so that's what I did. On his bed. It was either that or the uncomfortable floor, and I was so sick I didn't even care if it was 'his' bed. So I laid there, in the middle of it, sweating like a pig. Thinking how many steps it was to the bathroom in case I had to throw up. It seemed to me like I was laying there forever, but I guess I fell asleep at some point, because next thing I know, it's night.
And then I notice – the boat's not rocking anymore. I feel okay. Next, I remember where I am, and look around wondering where Sno is. He's not here. He wasn't in the galley, either. Well, good. I ate some corn-flakes and took a shower. Sno could only be topside, so I made up my mind to stay below.
Trouble is: I was wide awake, there was nothing to do, and I was frankly just bored to death. Besides, it was calm and smooth, and night-time... I really wanted to go up and just hang out on deck. Well... Sno had said he wouldn't be having sex with me for a few days, and 'maybe more', so I guess it seemed safe enough. I kind of wondered what the hell was going on with Sno. It seemed like he'd been all gung-ho to screw me at first, but now he was saying he wanted to 'savor' it, supposedly because he'd never get another chance.
I could understand that. I damn sure wouldn't be letting him do it if I had the choice. Just that... the way he'd touched and fondled my hair... my hair, for god's sake! I thought he'd be interested in... other things, not my damn hair.
The clock in the galley said it was three a.m. I gathered up my courage and went up on deck.
Sno was sitting on a bench next to the helm. "Slept out?" he asked.
I walked up to the bow, just to look around. The sky was incredible, and it was so quiet... there really is nothing like being on a boat out in the middle of the ocean at night. If it's calm, anyway. I glanced back at Sno, figuring he'd be staring at me again, but he wasn't. He was looking off to the side at the moon just coming up above the horizon. That kind of surprised me – I'd just assumed he'd be staring at me, like he usually did. Didn't he? Actually, like I said, I'd learned not to look for it, so I really didn't know.
The only places to sit topside – comfortably – are the benches on either side of the helm. He had one, so I went aft and took the other.
"Ever sailed before, Ryan?" he asked.
"Not really," I said. I'd been on day-trips before, and deep-sea fishing, but nothing like this.
"I think night-time is the best. Especially with the moon just coming up like that. It's sublime."
"Yeah... I guess." I damn sure wasn't going to get all romantic with him, but there were some things I wanted to know. My rapist wasn't turning out to be what I'd thought he was at all. "Where'd you learn such good English?" I asked.
"Why thank you – don't get the chance to use it much, anymore. Oxford. Graduate school in Political Science. Class of '85."
Five years before I was born. Lord I felt young. I mean, I'd been around – Dad was a salesman for military hardware – so I sort of considered myself a 'man of the world', but this guy had been getting his degree, advanced degree mind you, before I was even born. Five years before!
"So you're a politician?"
"Minister of Medicine, currently. I used to have higher aspirations... and still do, I suppose, but the way things are in Ivory Coast right now, it's best not to get too high up the ladder, lest someone knock you off. You saw how it is, I'm sure. We have a lot of problems."
"Aren't people going to... miss you? You said this trip would take a couple of months..."
"Miss me? Ha. Why do you think I was leaving? There's too much instability. Things are happening, and it's best – even at my position – to be away for awhile. If I'm still Minister of Medicine when I return, then all fine and well. Maybe I can put up my hospital after all. If not, well, I'll start again. Done it before."
The moon was all the way above the horizon now, throwing a silver trail over the ocean right at us. He was staring at it, and I was staring past him at it, too.
So Sno was a Minister, an Oxford-educated man, and one who knew 'how things were' in his country. Things were dangerous. But still he intended to return. It sounded like he had his heart set on making things better. Yet he also had his heart set on having sex with a fifteen-year-old boy. Me. It was hard to match these two things up in my mind.
"So, what happened when you were thirty-five?" I asked.
"You said you were thirty-five before you realized you liked boys more than girls. How come?"
He thought for a moment before answering. "Oh, I don't know. Nothing spectacular. It just hadn't... occurred to me before. I mean, I knew long before then that there were men I found attractive. I didn't have a problem with that. I mean, boys like you, for instance – who the hell wouldn't be attracted? I never really gave much thought to actually doing anything about it, before then. And really, it wasn't a flash of realization or anything, it happened gradually, over the course of, oh, that year and the next, I guess. The more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder why I'd never thought about it before. It's hard to explain."
"You've done it before? With men, I mean?"
"Not much, Ryan. It's illegal in my country, you know. They kill you if they find out. Most African nations are like that. But when I go to Europe or the United States, I go to the clubs. I can usually find someone, keep it going for the time I'm there, and then leave it all behind when I come back home."
"So why do you go back home at all?"
"Because it's my home, Ryan. If I don't try to change things, who will? And besides – we have bigger problems than homosexual discrimination. Clean water and sewage disposal are a bit more important."
I sat quiet for awhile, thinking about things. I wanted to ask him how he could even do what he was doing to me... but I couldn't think of a way to ask.
Eventually, he said, "I'm going to bed, Ryan. See you tomorrow. Or later on today, as the case may be. WeFax says it's smooth sailing for the foreseeable future."
That reminded me, "What's 'wefax'? "
"Weather fax. Good night, Ryan."
"G'nite, uh... Sno." That was the first time I'd called him by name. It felt funny.
To be continnued.