Watch This Name
"Sorry?" I shout, voice tinny against the deafening throb of bass. I'm speaking into his neck, absorbing the cordial-sweet smell of his hair gel and then pulling back to watch his lips for an answer.
My companion fixes me with an unimpressed look. He's gorgeous so I guess he can do that -red hair in a punky sweep, delicate features, cute semi in his skintight leathers… He's probably come here looking for modelling work.
"You heard me. Fuck. Off," he enunciates clearly, plush lips shaping each syllable around his whiter-than-white teeth, like I'm slow; or worse, old. He puts one dainty hand between my pecs and pushes to emphasise his point.
I'm genuinely stunned. Not hurt though. This is the Manhattan scene, not sad, desperate mid-town Vermont, and rejection is part of my big, scary, adult world. But yeah, this stings a bit in a whathefuckingfuck way.
I'm interrupted by some Jersey Shore shirtless asshole crashing into me and I grab onto Red to steady myself. He looks vaguely disgusted now. By my apparent ungainliness or by the streak of sweat and glitter now decorating one arm I don't know.
Back to my pressing engagement with rejection.
He huffs, making a show of scanning the crowd -for his friends or for a better hook up. Finally when no one comes to his rescue he turns to look up at me with a long-suffering expression like I'm the kid here when I have at least five years on him. The sweep of club light washes him violet, chartreuse-green, pink. "Seriously?"
"Yes, seriously!" I hiss, trying to make it sound pissed-off but it comes out a bit butthurt.
I look around for Jake and Ziggy so they can witness this but they've fucked off, probably somewhere getting luckier than me.
Man I fished a fucking doozie this time.
Said doozie runs a hand through his adorably indie hairstyle before seeming to remember it's set hard. Expressive little mouth pulling down in a pensive moue. Damn it he's so cute! Why why why! The child in me is stomping his horny little foot.
Finally he sighs angrily with a shake of his head, like I'm supposed to have got it, then goes to turn around and disappear into the mess of arms and legs that is the scene at Magenta on a Sunday night. I grab his wrist.
"Nope. C'mon princess, give me something here. You checked me out first, remember?"
He shakes me off with a cool look. "So what?"
My brain breaks. "'So what?'! What world are you living in where that doesn't equal 'come over here, grind on me for a bit, then take me home'?"
He scoffs. The track changes: something even dirtier. Someone's rubbing up along my spine…but I'm not interested, not yet, not until Red gives me my answers.
"Ok, Carson, try this. How would you take a boy like me home?"
"Uhh, in a cab? What, you twinks only travel by private jet these days?"
"Ha! Close. Try Bentley. And boys like me only go Upper East Side, not some shitty Meatpackers flat. 'These days'? Listen to yourself" –curl of the lip- "You're past it."
"I'm 26 you little asshole!" I gasp, "and my apartment's in SoHo!"
"How original. A gay waiter who lives in SoHo." He rolls his eyes, "You're yesterday's queer from that lip piercing to your Oxfords, sweetheart"
I let go of his wrist, mildly disgusted.
"So who are you hoping to pick up?"
He cocks an eyebrow. "Bigger fish than you."
He turns to go once more, then pauses, flicks a glance over his shoulder. "Free tip? Buy a new jacket, Carson. Thanks for the daiquiri."
Ok I deserved that. The daiquiri wasn't exactly my sexiest come-on, but he'd struck me as such a sweet kid at first glance. Preconceptions officially shattered.
I pull the finger at his retreating back to make myself feel better.
"Wow, knock 'em dead, Carter," Jake drawls in my ear, arm winding itself around my neck in a way I used to find annoying but now is just Jake. He's got a puppy in tow already, some hulking Neanderthal with a dentist-perfect smile and the sexiest fucking shoulders. Fuck my life.
"Where'd you find that?"
He gives me a wink. "Oh this little thing? Hiding out all alone on the edge of the dance floor. Want a test drive?"
Neanderthal shoots me a look that says if I crash this party for him he'll find a way to kill me between here and his loft.
"Uh no. Thanks. I think I'm done for the night."
"Aw sourpuss. You know I hate to see your pretty face go to waste."
I bat his cloying hands away from me. "Oh it's a fucking waste alright. What's your secret?"
"Moi?" I hate it when he does that. The closest to France Jake's ever been is the French knot complimenting his YSL suit.
My friend leans in close to leer, breath smelling suspiciously musky which makes me half-revolted and half-turned on.
"I'd tell you…but I'd have to kill you," he says playfully, then shakes off the camp when he realises I'm not having fun. "Oh alright, Dusty and me are gonna split, you want to share a cab?"
Like fuck I do. "I think I'll walk." I shared a cab with Jake and one of his hook ups once before. There are some mistakes you don't make twice.
He breezes away with 'Dusty', leaving our mutual friend and co-worker Jess in his wake. We both watch him saunter away, exuding the sort of confidence that only materially rich, inherently slutty queens in their prime can.
"This sucks, why do gays like trip-hop so much?" Jess moans, plastering herself along my side. Jess is 5'4 so she's learned to shelter against me when we go clubbing, elsewise she's prone to copping elbows to the head. Unfortunately it translates to invasions of personal space just about everywhere, including at our workplace.
I tug one of the enormous earrings that's got caught up in her blond hair, clucky and affectionate now that I'm out of the zone. When I'm in prowl mood I'm ashamed to say Jess usually gets crushed beneath the tires, abandoned on the sidelines with the other fag-hags.
She looks up at me muzzily. "We could make out?"
I shake my head. "Feeling kind of gay tonight, Jess."
"You feel gay every night," she pouts, play punching me in the shoulder.
"Jess, you don't think I'm a cliché do you? I'm fresh and hot and player?"
"Baby you're crazy-fine like strawberry wine," she sing songs, already swaying drunkenly as an invitation to dance with her. I'm struck with a vision -another night curling up next to Jess in her loft and watching movies together until we fall asleep -and feel a hole open up in the pit of my stomach.
"No. I'm bailing."
Her eyebrows pinch together in confusion. "But Carter, Frankie…"
I crane my neck over the crowd -not so hard when you're 6'3". Frankie is leaning against the bar with the rest of the crew from Beau, long legs crossed under a shimmery skirt. She's preoccupied with showing off the ring to anyone who'll listen. I can make out Ziggy's tell-tale fro bent in close with some lucky stranger; Jenna's petite frame further down the bar.
"Guess things will change now that Frankie's leaving, huh."
Jess strokes my cheek knowingly, or possibly she's just drunk and handsy. "This won't change baby. We'll always have…Magenta."
"Casablanca. Rick to Ilsa."
She giggles. "Ok Mr. Movie Buff, you can take me home."
I sigh. "Sorry Jess, I think I'm going to walk. I spent the last of my change on that little…penis."
"Yeah, we saw the daiquiri. Smooth."
"You don't think I wanted to get him Chivas?" I whine, "I'd love to be the guy who buys Chivas, Jess. My life is pain. Poor, bohemian pain."
"Poor fag, pain. Agony…'fagony'," Jess slurs.
"Points for trying, Your Drunkness." Ok, I'm blowing this twinkie-pit. Go froth over Frankie, it might be the last chance you get."
We stand for a moment. Neither of us say what we're thinking. Because Frankie, Frankie's getting out. Me and Jess, we'll still be here, at Magenta, going through the circus same time next week, and the week after, and the week after…
Ziggy is busy viciously steaming milk for lattes and I can barely hear him over the low grinding noise of the coffee machine. "We're going to Magenta tonight, you in?"
I consider it with a tilt of my head. "Maybe. Milo is getting pretty pushy with the rent so…"
Ziggy nods, fluffing around with his decorations -teaspoon, marshmallow, shortbread, chocolate powder. The milk starts to squeal. I don't honestly know how he holds the steel jug -that milk gets so scalding hot. Well actually, I do. I've seen the callus on that hand, and its twin where Ziggy clutches the metal tamp.
"I know that game," he says distractedly, "Weren't you going to get a job at Sarenson's?"
I feel a sigh coming on. Tony Sarenson's is a boutique I pass on my route from work to the subway. I drafted up a resume and never got the guts to hand it in once I realised I had nothing of quality to wear to an interview. You can't wear Target to a father-son shop that imports its textiles from Milan.
"Bounced," I lie to Ziggy, rather than admit I have a life-impeding fear of being shabbily dressed.
"Too bad bro. Maybe next time."
He shoots me a killer grin. "One latte, one long black, and fresh-pressed orange juice with raw egg."
I stick my tongue out. "Rank. Who drinks that?"
"Yoga freaks," he says, jerking his head in the direction of table fourteen where a typical yuppy couple are enjoying their power breakfast -him engaged in the morning paper and her in a gold compact. I noticed his suit the second he walked in -Tom Ford, I'm betting. I'd know those sharp lapels anywhere…
"Don't burn yourself," Ziggy says with a sly grin.
"Fuck you," I say, loading up my tray with an equally obnoxious smile.
Working at Beau has its perks. For one, the staff aren't hard to look at. Beau's kind of an unofficial eye-candy restaurant-café. Frankie always says it's where the rejects of the Union Square Starbucks end up. We're all from out of state, small-town hicks who came here thinking we were going to get scouted. Frankie's pretty but too short to be a model; Ziggy did a Target ad and nothing since; Jake's claim to fame is that his hand was once used in a Cartier billboard; and well, I just wanted a job in retail but I'm just as much of a failure as them.
Still, we're a pretty tight crew and we have the run of the floor, whatever shifts we want, which, for a pay-to-pay guy like me means breakfast and lunch and dinner when I can. Plus, the tips are awesome. Rather than hitting Beau to be seen, foodies and suits alike hit Beau to do some seeing. And some squeezing. And maybe get a little squeeze in return. Nothing too heavy, but flirting is part of the gig and Beau prides itself on being queer friendly, so every Thursday afternoon I bring my middle-aged accountant his cappuccino and ask him if he's been a good boy, and every Friday morning I let a bunch of giggling twinks check my ass out while I scrub tables.
I round one of Jess's busy tables and head for table fourteen next to the window. The girl's sunglasses almost take up her entire face but her mouth is certified collagen-perfect.
Just as I get the weight of her omelette dish in one hand, trying not to feel the hot china against my forearm, she reaches to grab the orange juice and the drinks tray lilts dangerously to one side, latte wobbling.
I cringe before the heavy silver cutlery even hits the floor. I have done this so many times I know the trajectory of the fork; the sound of two exquisitely-poached eggs bursting open on impact with the polished-concrete floor to leave a stunted, yolky smear; the sound of fresh hollandaise sauce dripping into someone's lap as I overcorrect and try to get the last bald piece of toast to just stay on the plate.
On the plus side, I only slop a little of their coffee order, the spill soaked up by the neat little napkins Ziggy thoughtfully folds onto the saucers just for me.
"For fuck's sake!"
It's a roar. I knew it would be. That lap is Tom Ford after all. I'd be furious too. His girlfriend is already staring determinedly at her Blackberry as he shoots out of his chair with a scrape-squeal. This is going to be ugly.
If Frankie was on shift she'd be diving in to save me with all the right protocol, drinks comp'd, dry cleaning, one of the dish boys out to mop. Instead I get Jenna, slouched over the maître d' stand and cracking gum like this is really shitty entertainment for her. Over behind the bar Ziggy shoots me a pained look, hair plastered to his forehead with damp from the steam, hands relentlessly busy with tamp and machine.
So no cavalry then.
Shit, shit, shit.
"I'm so sorry sir!" I scramble to say, whipping out the dinner serviette tucked in the back of my short-apron. Breakfast is a paper-napkin deal and those babies aren't going to soak up this mess. His hands get in the way, automatically trying to keep my inept swipes away from his crotch and at the same time trying to grab the white cloth out of my hands. He's got Chef's best hollandaise on the hem of his designer polo too. I could just cry.
I start bleating apologies instead, almost throwing the serviette at him, bobbing up and down between table and floor and trying to pick up bits of egg uselessly, offering breakfast 'on me' which makes no sense since it's not my fucking restaurant -and will you still be wanting the coffees? No of course not you stupid fool- apologising to his girlfriend until she finds sauce on her crocodile-skin shoes and starts to wail.
I can feel my face getting hot as I break away from the disaster zone. I don't even meet Ziggy's sympathetic eyes as I pass the bar, tunnel visioned on making it through the kitchen flap.
"Fucking useless," Antony drawls, yanking the mess out of my hands and throwing it into the sink. Paul, our dish-pig, shoots him a filthy glance as it slops over his apron. "Count yourself lucky Chef's not in, Carter. He likes seeing you cry. Order up!"
One of the casual girls saunters in, effortlessly layers several scorching-hot plates of Full English on her skinny arms and disappears out the flap with a swing of her shiny ponytail.
I kick the mise en place cabinet open, shoving the spay'n'wipe under one arm along with a wad of paper towel. "That was one fucking time and I'd burnt myself!"
Antony chuckles from where he's busy prepping. "You burnt yourself 'cos you were a shit waiter."
"He still is a shit waiter," Paul contributes, not looking up from his suds and dishes.
"Don't listen to them, Carter," says Frankie, elbowing out of the back where we get changed before shift. Her forearms are wet from disinfecting and her white blouse is still unbuttoned. I watch Antony's eyes flicker over the pink flash of bra before he turns back to his preparation. Chef tears him a new one if they run out of veg during the lunch service.
"Ziggy makes his coffee too hot. We all burn ourselves at least once."
I sigh. "It's not Ziggy's fault. I am a shit waiter."
"Hey, save the dramatics" Antony says, pointing his knife at me, "I hate it when you and Jake fag up my kitchen."
"Chef's kitchen," I hear Paul mutter.
"Hey," Frankie soothes, ever the mother hen, pulling the paper towel out of my hands and replacing it with a blue chux. "Don't listen to these losers, they're just jealous it's your cute butt out there getting tips."
"Speaking of tips," Jenna says, breezing in through the barista's door which means she was probably taking advantage of the empty floor to chat up Ziggy. I can see a shrivelled piece of gum lolling around behind her sharp teeth as she talks. "You're comping table fourteen's meals and coffees."
"What? Jenna! Don't be a bitch."
"No," Jenna says unfazed, already tapping away at her iPhone. "This is the second time this week. You can pay in tips or I can dock you but you're paying. You can make it up Friday."
Friday. Wait, Friday!
"Jenna I have Friday off. I'm visiting my sister in Vermont."
She fixes me with a hard stare. "Ha! Touching. I'll see you Friday at six pm for dinner service."
"You can't do that. I checked that out with Claire months ago!"
"I'll go clean up," Frankie says, eyes bugging behind Jenna's back. The flap swings behind her. I can tell Antony is watching us warily over his prep.
Claire's the owner but she's only ever in on Saturday breakfasts while her kids have their squash lessons nearby. Claire trumps Jenna but it's Jenna you'll have to deal with every service if you go behind her back.
Jenna jams her iPhone up between her ear and her shoulder, pulling at the cuff of her uniform. "Carter, you see this badge?" She flicks her shiny gold manager pin.
I sigh. "Yes."
"Well Claire gave me this pin after two years of working at Beau because I was the best waiter she'd ever seen, and because she trusts that I know how to organise people. That's why I'm the manager, and you're a waitress, who can't even keep her plate level after five years of working the same shift."
I feel my hackles rise, face flushing even darker. Her phone is dialling.
"Now Frankie is going to clean up your mess and make sure Mr and Mrs Hollandaise stay for complimentary coffees," she says in a bored tone, "and then you're going to go put sixty dollars in the till under orange juice, decaf latte, long black, vegetarian omelette, and Full English with extra mushrooms, and then you're going to sign out and I will see you 6 pm Friday." Her eyes track lazily down my spattered front. "Now go clean that shit off your shoes, it's un-fucking-professional- yes, hello! No I'll hold," she finishes cheerily, already disappearing back through the flap.
Antony makes a hissing noise before turning back to his work.
"Fuck!" I scream, slamming my way out back and ripping my apron off, ditching it against the wall with an unsatisfying 'flump'.
After a few anonymous staff complaints, the change-room got partitioned by gender. The girls got the toilets and the guys got left with the disorganised storage area with the walk-in fridge up the back.
I yank on the industrial steel and shove my head inside, willing myself not to explode.
"Hey Carter, how's things?"
I look up, startled. Jake's leaning against one of the stainless steel racks, tapping his cigarette ash against a tray of salting aubergines and looking as impossibly cool as ever in a hoodie and a leather jacket I could have sex with.
"Dude that's gross," I moan.
"No," he laughs, "That's gross." He gestures with his cigarette at the smear of sauce that's somehow managed to get on the fly of my jeans.
"Aw mannn." I swipe uselessly at the denim with the palm of my hand but the oil's settled into the fabric well and truly and left a suspect-looking stain.
"Was that Jenna I heard tearing strips of some unfortunate."
"Yeah," I breathe, stepping into the fridge and leaning my head against one of the icy shelves. "My sister's going to kill me."
"Ok. Tell me."
He grins. "Tell you what?"
"You know what. Tell me."
He puts his cigarette out and flicks it under the shelving unit next to a near-liquid rotten tomato. I never realised how filthy this place was until now. Well, no, I probably realised it was filthy when I walked in on Jake and Ziggy having sex in here on my second day. Turns out food hygiene isn't very high on the concern register for horny guys.
"Even if I have to kill you?"
"It's gotta be better than here. What is it? Hustling? I can hustle. I've seen 'My Private Idaho.'"
Jake snorts. "I'm not hooking, Carter. God, that's so noughties, what's wrong with you."
"Where'd you get the suit then?"
"I bought it."
I scoff. "You bought an Yves Saint Laurent suit on an 18-dollar-an-hour salary?"
"Has anyone ever told you, you have an incredible eye for clothes?"
I shrug. "My dad was a tailor. Fess up."
He rolls his eyes. "Ok, but don't freak out."
I feel my chest puff up with indignation. "I'm not a gimp, Jake, jeez. Tell me, I won't freak."
"Ok. I might have…" Jake gives me a long searching look, "done a few pornos," he says breathily, then promptly looks interested in his nails.
"Porn?" I say dully, "You do porn? You're a porn star."
"Shh shut up," he hisses, "I don't do porn, and I'm not a porn star, I'm a porn actor. Sometimes… More like an extra." He shakes his perfectly-styled, blond head. "It's just a few hundred dollars here and there."
"F- hundred dollars?" I choke.
Jake nods. "Yeah. Just for my rent, so I can buy the 'nice things' you know."
Oh, I know. "What do you…what do you, you know, do?" I ask, scandalised. I'm starting to see it now. Jake's cute little body getting bent over a desk by some hairy 'teacher' in a cheap suit too short in the arms. Something cheesy on the chalkboard like 'Sex Ed'. Oh my god. "Oh my god."
Jake laughs nervously, picking at his gorgeous jacket. "I just…you know, have sex with some of the 'up and cummers'."
My eyebrows shoot upwards. "Up and…"
"Up and cummers, the guys trying to make a name in the business. I mean, it's not so big here as like, San Fernando, so the pool is pretty shallow. But the guys just starting out on the scene, they need a cute twink to 'prove' themselves on and then if the clip sells they get requested by a name actor."
I gasp. "And you're that twink?"
He laughs again but he isn't blushing I realise. "Sometimes. I mean, I'm a bit thin you know, so most of the time they just use me in the background. Of like," he lowers his voice, "an orgy."
Something dawns on me. "Oh my god, Jake. What have you been in? Shit what if I've-"
He cackles. "Oh babycakes, don't worry about that. I'm sure it's nothing your tender eyes have seen."
"Sorry Carter, but you're as straight-up-vanilla as they come, it's obvious."
I find myself crossing my arms over my chest protectively, but also because the cold of the fridge is starting to settle under my flesh.
"Nothing about me is obvious," I mutter bitterly.
Jake claps his hands on my shoulders. It's meant to be condescending but I have about 4 inches of height on him. "No baby, you're not obvious at all. That's why I don't think you want to do this."
"Why? Is it bad? Did you get peed on?"
"What?" he sputters, "What, Carter no! It's a softcore studio. The hardcore stuff is for the boys in the Valley." He fiddles with the corner of his cigarette pack. "Ok, have you seen…Pork Pals 4?"
I burst out laughing so hard I can see him wincing away from the spit. "Pork -hahaha- Pork Pals?"
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. I'm in that, about twenty minutes in getting my ass eaten out behind Patrick Bone."
I stop laughing immediately, sucking in a startled breath of cold air. "You…you've met Patrick Bone?"
He nods smugly. "In the flesh, so to speak."
I suppress a full body shiver. Patrick Bone is the ten inches of my tween fantasies. The barebacking, 6' 4 feature of every torrent polluting my parents' computer since age fourteen.
I'm already patting all my pockets looking for my notepad and pen. "Ok. Where's it at?"
"Whoah, settle champ. It's not for everyone. Though…" he gives me an appreciative once over. "You could definitely do it."
I grin. "So give me a number."
"How about I do you one better." He whips a black card out the back of his jeans. I'm about to say something about carrying a porno card around when I notice the name in glossy black letters against the matte paper.
"Hard Pop Entertainment? I thought it was softcore."
He nods. "Oh it is. Robert -he's the director- will get you to sign a contract. You just tick what you want to do and don't tick anything nasty. If you tick the nasty stuff he'll pass you over to another studio."
"Are you trying to say this place has standards?" I can't keep the scepticism out of my voice but when Jake reaches to take the card back I snatch it away.
He chucks a damp cloth at me which I use to scrub down my jeans and shoes and then we step out of the fridge together, Jake propping the door open just a crack just to mess with Chef.
"How do I get the ball rolling?"
"That's the easy part. First you have to get a clean report from a clinic."
I nod. There's barely a boy in Manhattan who'll go ass up without getting your sexual credentials these days.
Jake continues, stripping off his jacket -DKNY I decide. "Then you submit a few pictures. They ask for four but you can do more if you want."
I swallow. "Naked pictures?"
Jake gives me a look. "No, Carter, pics with your favorite pajamas on, that's what's selling in gay porn these days."
"Ok, ok, then what?"
"Then baby," Jake says, tying his apron off. Jake is the only guy at Beau who can make the long-apron look cool. "If they like you, you get a call."
We push out into the kitchen. Antony and Paul are away from their stations and Chef's waiting next to them, round face practically glowing with malicious glee. The time-old pantomime starts: Chef mock-burning his hand on a frypan, lip quivering, starting to ball, while Antony flutters around him cooing. Paul is making an annoying keening sound I suppose is meant to be a violin.
Jake shoots me a sly look as he backs out through the flaps. "Better to burn up than fade away, right Carter?"
Milo catches me in the hallway trying to balance some last-minute groceries on my hip and get my key in the shitty old deadlock. The cheap, yellowing light bulbs don't do his complexion any favors, his dark cheeks pitted with acne scars.
Milo has a bad leg which he reckons got broken during a stampede for Queen tickets in 1974, which I guess is his 'Nam story because every time we get a new tenant I can hear him bemoaning the two steel pins under his knee. The building has crappy heating too so he's always in pain, and in a foul mood. But anyway, usually I can hear him scrape-hop-dragging towards me. It's just my bad luck that this time I don't, and he's scanning down his little clipboard self-importantly before I can get through the door.
"You are late in rent again, Mr. Press."
"Yep, yes Milo, I am." I'm jiggering my key desperately in the lock. Milo takes the opportunity to crane his neck and perv on my groceries. I'm sure he's looking for industrial sized lube and a copy of Playgirl. Milo straight up told me when I moved in that he only accepted me because he thought I'd be a courteous knitting companion for Mrs Milo. When that never eventuated he started suspecting me of hosting deviant S&M parties in my peeling-carpet one bed/one bath.
Milo sniffs obnoxiously. "Why I smell cat food?"
"Uhh, hard times?"
He narrows his beady eyes. "You cannot trick Milo! You have cat! You can't have cat, I forbid."
I roll my eyes. "How much extra?"
We're interrupted by the clatter of the Spanish family that lives down the hall clambering up the stairwell. Milo's such a shit landlord he tried to fix the elevator himself and got it condemned. Only the crazy old witch in 42B is game enough to still ride it. You can hear her sometimes, the metal trolley shrieking in its brackets all the way down. She's arthritic as fuck but she must be pretty flexible to get under the caution tape.
Mrs. Jimenez says a shy hello as her kids scramble ahead of her carrying the shopping and Milo gives her his usual slimy greeting. Once her door shuts I can see the wheels in his head start turning.
"I no like especially cats, they make my wife sick."
I roll my eyes. "I've got…" I delve through my pockets for the last of my tip. "Twenty dollars."
"Twenty dollars and you not use hot water this week."
"What! Milo you cheapskate!"
There's no way he can monitor that, right? I imagine having a nice, hot shower, looking down and seeing Milo's beady black eye staring up at me from out of the drain…and feel all the hair stand up on my arms.
He glares at me, affronted. "I not cheapskate. I American citizen. I bargain."
"Fine, fine, god bless," I growl, handing over the cash and watching him pocket it greedily. He whips out one of the handkerchiefs he's always using to swab his greasy hairline.
"You are good boy, I let you pay rent on Friday."
My door swings open and I can see Milo's eyes drinking up every detail. Aside from the few suggestive tear-outs of football players who've probably never played football in their lives, it's pretty tame. Slightly sunken mattress, unmade bed, a fake plant in one corner, a lamp in the other.
"I appreciate that Milo," I say, pointedly edging the door shut so he'll piss off.
Milo nods to himself. "Yes, yes, I understand it's a slow week yes. But I have very busy week. Very nice Kurdish family needing place, I tell them maybe soon yes?"
Nice threat asshole. Subtle. "You'll get your money Friday," I bite out, kicking the door shut even as I hear him reminding me once more -no hot water. I wait until I hear him limp away before I let out a frustrated groan.
"Fuuuuuck." I drag my feet towards the kitchen, dumping the groceries on the sticky counter.
Ham hops up to paw at the paper bag inquisitively. "Yeah, yeah, I'll fix you some din-dins you needy brute." I grab him up onto my chest and pat him too-rough the way he likes then go about scooping his disgusting food out into his bowl. I got each can for 30 cents because they expired yesterday. Welcome to my glamorous existence. Ham doesn't seem to mind, lost in his own world, gorging himself on reject spam.
I make myself a croque-monsieur -the only thing I can ever be screwed making after a long shift. Piece of white bread, ham, pre-shredded cheese, oven for ten minutes -it's the closest I'll get to being in Paris.
I fiddle Jake's card out my back pocket and twiddle it between my thumbs and forefingers.
Feet aching, I kick off my shoes, throw my belt somewhere in the direction of the chair I use to prop my uniform up, and collapse face first on my bed, breathing in the calming smell of my own funk and reaching under the metal frame for my laptop.
Hardpopentertainment dot com. One thing you can't pin Milo for is skimping on the internet service. The page loads within the second and blasts me with generic sex music while I jab at the mute key. The page is plain black, like the card with the studio name spelled out in glossy, metric font -something to appeal to minimalists and closet cases I guess. Me, personally I've never been turned away by the inviting image of a big, juicy uncut splashed across the entire screen.
I settle the laptop on my chest, ignoring the smell of stale grease and warily click enter.
A few images slide onto the screen. I make an impressed noise. "Ham come look at this, it's pretty tasteful." It really is. A black menu bar with The Men, Payment, In Store and Contact Us and below it a transitioning panel with some faceless abs and arms sliding in and out of focus. I find and click Employment and am confronted with a standard looking form -name, age, number, that sort of shit- a lengthy T&C section which I tick, and finally, a link to attach my photos.
"Ham, bring me the camera you lazy fuck." The oven bell goes. "Never mind, I'll get it while I'm up."
I fix my croque with a glass of milk while Ham pushes his food bowl across the linoleum, frantically licking dregs. "And that is why you're fat Hammy," I say around a mouth of cheesy bliss.
I grab my camera -last year's birthday present from mom, very thoughtful, equip your gay son with the perfect tool to further his innate exhibitionism- and check myself out in the mirror on the back of the door.
I'm halfway to calling Jake to ask him what type of photos I should be taking before I remember he'll be at Magenta, probably queening it up with some gorgeously-tanned stud on one arm and Ziggy on the other.
Instead I set the camera on top of my dresser and take a front-on in my black uniform slacks with my shirt open; a profile pick; and one of me sucking coyly on a finger and pushing my butt out. I don't know why I do that one, it just strikes me as something typical of nude shots on sites like Corbin Fisher.
I try jacking my dick for a while so I can take a cockshot but I'm so tired I end up just snapping a pretty pathetic picture of my dick at half-mast. I hook my camera up to my laptop before I can chicken out and hit send, staring at the cheerful 'Thank you for your submission!' message until my eyes blur, then go take the fucking hottest shower of my life.