Tomcats

"My name is Doug, and I have breast cancer." All I can think as these poor, gaunt, fatally ill women were looking up at me as I stood before their support group was, 'don't laugh, don't laugh'. Their wide eyes overflowed with sympathy and grief for my imaginary condition. I didn't have the heart to tell them I was only here for the refreshments.

How did I end up here? I used to have a crappy part-time cleaning service job. I used to live with a guy named Raphael, who pretended to be my friend just long enough for me to move in with him....then kick me out on my ass after an argument. I used to have the world's most beautiful boyfriend, who doesn't want to know from me now that I'm on the street and need him most. Life is like that-- when it rains it pours. All the good stuff comes at once and then you pay for it with ten times as much bad stuff. I've been completely abandoned by everyone I know and love. I could go to my sister and mother, who live in a small apartment with barely enough room for the two of them and a cat, but you have to understand. I've been the man of my nuclear family since I was ten. The crazy old man who sired me didn't have it in him, so I had to step up to the plate. All my life, I've been the rock, the plaster holding together what was left of my family after we escaped that old, violent lunatic. My mother and kid sister don't have much money, and they certainly don't need a moocher like me eating up all their food and sleeping on the kitchen floor.

Better they think I went on with my life and forgot about them for a while, than let them see me like this.

So this is what depths I've stooped to. You'd be surprised what you're capable of when you're homeless and starving, though crashing support groups is a new low for me. Usually I just go dumpster diving, or stand by the burger king waste baskets waiting for people to approach with their meager leavings then steal their trays. I've tried going to soup kitchens but it's like prison; intimidating, overcrowded and if a bunch of guys see a new face and they want that dude's food, they're going to come over and take it, and there ain't a damn thing that new dude is gonna do about it. Just being *around* a soup kitchen is dangerous. And it's not like the food tastes any better than vomit. Begging on the subway for food is risky, cause it's illegal. Transit cops are a bunch of douchenards who are always uber-pissed 'cause they aren't good enough to be real cops. Real cops can be bitches too. Especially since now you can't even eat or put your feet up without worrying about some stupid fine. Sleeping on the subways are good and bad. Good because regular people won't bother you. Bad because you've got a lot of competition, and other bums will definately try to knife you for your shit.

I primarily stay in Brooklyn, because I know my way around. I know which buildings are empty and aren't part of gang territory, and I know which store owners don't pay too much attention to their outdoor merchandise. I've been bold enough to go up, try on a shirt and just walk away with it, leaving the old nasty one behind. I will go to a fruit store, fill a few bags and just walk away. (Thrift stores are my favorites) I've only had people chase me a handful of times, and was only caught once. Not many people are suspicious because I try not to look like a bum. I go into restaurants and clean my hands and face often, and when possible, take a hooker bath. (A hooker bath is that quick wash-down prostitutes do to freshen up in between johns)

Lately I've taken to trading with a few other residentially-challenged persons such as myself. There's Percy, this old dude with 2 teeth and more hair coming out of the mole on his chin than he has on his head. He lives in Prospect Park, though I rarely go in there, especially alone; I'd be just asking for problems. We usually meet by the subway station. He apparently knows a lot of kids so I can always get some canned food or a lighter for whatever random toys I can steal. Then there's this crazy woman with tits down to her knees; she lives in Crown Heights and will take any kind of cigarettes I can bum off people. She gets me those trick metrocards with the bent edges that will get you past a turnstyle every time. (They don't work on the bus though, I learned that the hard way.) And then there's Marlo, who hangs out in Canarsie. Even filthy, he's a beautiful sight; tall, lean and wirey, with thick, shoulderlength curly black hair, dark brown eyes and a scraggly beard. He doesn't carry anything on him, because he's super-religious and he thinks God will provide everything he needs. Perhaps I go to see Marlo too much, but despite our conflicting opinions on a higher power, we get along famously. Strangely enough, it is I more than god who provides for him. In fact, I've gone to great lengths to steal unique foods and gifts he would appreciate. What he offers me in return isn't material. It's security, company and advice, which has probably been the reason I'm keeping myself together as well as I am.

In other words, I love him, and the fact that he's so religious makes me hesitant to let him know. Tonight I find myself on the L train once again, on my way to see Marlo. I can always find him inside the Holy Family roman-catholic church, helping out, in confession or just sitting there quietly staring off into space, which is exactly how I find him tonight. I sit down next to him and mutter quietly into his ear.

"Psst. Ey, meng. Joo gots da blow? I gots da green."

After a long moment he turns to me, his thick eyebrows knitted. "Behave, midget, you're in God's house."

"Yeah, he tried to lock me out but I got in through the doggie-door. That'll show him, eh?" I reach into my pocket when I see him inhaling, preparing to tell me to have some respect. "Besides, I come bearing gifts. You hungry? I got you some cheese."

"I...cheese?" His eyes light up. He's so fucking beautiful. He unfolds his hands and touches the foil package. His arms are so dirty they're black, all the way past his elbows. He kind of reminded me of a cat that way, how some of them had limbs of a different color. "Wow, it's cracker barrel. Where did you get this?"

"Some shmoe left the trunk of his car open with bags of grocieries inside...haha, then took some upstairs. I grabbed what I could and ran. You want to eat this here, or outside on the lawn?"

He gives me a solemn look. "There's a man who roams the station who could use this more than us."

"Are you kidding me??" I stuff it back in my pocket angrily. "That guy could'a come out and kicked my a--"

"Doug!" He cuts me off. His shout slices through the opressing silence of this place and echoes ominously. I allow a moment of silence to follow. His dark, dramatic eyes burn with insult. "This. Is. God's. House." He grits his teeth and points towards the door. "We'll continue this conversation outside."

I give him a wide-eyed, sorrowful expression and sulk towards the door. He mutters a prayer and eventually follows me.

We sit beneath the singular tree out in front. He used to call in the twin gardens. I'd retorted with, "a five-by-eight patch of dying, yellow grass does not a garden make." I suppose to someone who's never been outside this city, it's as much of a garden as he's ever really seen. We sit there in silence for a few moments and a big black man with a pot belly and a greasy muscle shirt walks by and hocks a big, juicy loogey right at the foot of the steps.

"Disgraceful." Marlo snarls under his breath.

"Down, boy." I massage my fingertips into his shoulder. "Most people have no idea what's going on around them. He probably didn't even see this was a church." He merely stares hatefully as the man shuffles away. "I'm going to compromise with you. I'll break this cheese in half. We share one half and we give the other to that dude in the train station, okay?" He turns to raise his brows hopefully at me. "It's probably better we each have a part, too much of this rich stuff would make us sick."

He grins, putting his hand on my arm. "You have a point. And I think I might be starting to rub off on you."

"Haw!" I start to get up. "That'll be the day. Now show me where this friend'a yours sleeps."

__

That night, he insists on coming with me into Bensonhurst. We make our way to this old age home they'd begun to rebuild, but abandoned. The bare, skeletal structure of the metal beams, rusted over from rain and wind was poorly concealed with wood and billboards with a picture of the promised finished product along with hebrew text. It provided cover more than shelter, and it's harder to get into now than the original old age home had been, but it sufficed. Marlo is duely impressed. We climb down into the ditch they'd begun to build into a basement, where I'd buried a styrofoam cooler in the earth. He watches me with awe as I open the lid to reveal extra clothes, some toothpaste, an assortment of old, tattered washcloths and a yellowing bottle of tap water.

"Wow, you really have it made over here, don't you?"

"I'm a packrat, I have little treasure troves all over this town. If you learned a thing or two from me, you wouldn't have to beg for change on the subway. You'd be able to forage for yourself and have everything you need."

"I *do* have everything I need." He smiles, and it gives me pause. He has such a broad, heart-melting smile that makes my innards tingle. There's a long gap of silence in our conversation where I just stare longingly at him and his dark eyes scan wonderously over the contents of my secret stash. I imagine him leaning over to kiss me. His long, wirey arms winding around me, his chest heaving against mine, our tongues duelling desperately with one another... That thought is interrupted by a nagging, almost painful itch on my scalp. I scrap at it like a flea-bit mongrel. I don't know how he keeps sane with his hair down like that. My hair is almost three times longer and I have to keep it up lest the itching drive me nuts. Being unwashed was the next to worst thing about being homeless for me. (Second only to the gnawing hunger, parching thirst and witless boredom of course.) I couldn't even imagine having sex while being this filthy. I even stop masturbating when my senses are rent assunder by my own awful stench. That's why I wash up in public restrooms so often; even the sickeningly-sweet chemical handsoap smell is better than sweaty, putrid flesh, subway grit and stale urine.

"This isn't much," I state suddenly, the overwhelming need to further impress him taking over. "You should see what I have stashed in Dyker Park. In fact, that's where we're going tonight."

"Oh yeah?" His eyes meet mine, that smile still big, broad and delighted.

"Oh yeeeaaaah." I chuckle. "In fact, we should head over there now before we miss it." I stuff the toothpaste and rags into my pocket.

"Miss what?"

"It's a surprise. C'mon, it's not terribly far."

We take the leisurely walk down to Dyker Park. He digs through random garbage pails along the way and finds an entire, untouched whopper. We share it. A few people give us lingering glances, but nobody says anything. If you've ever been to Brooklyn, a "park" is a sad little rubber playground or a few yards worth of fenced off grass for a baseball field. Dyker Park was a baseball field, a huge playground with actual trees, a jungle gym, a bacci ball and basketball court attached to a golf course with a bit of woods in between. If you walked around the entire thing, it would take you almost 2 hours. It was the closest thing we had to wilderness. The wooded area is littered with garbage, marred with used condoms, empty nickel bags and syringes, the trees broken and carved into by bored, destructive teenagers and their occasional illegal raves. The worst part was in the dead of night, there was rumored to be a cult of satanists who lurked there. One of my friends was chased by them, he said they were like ghosts. Our only real proof of their exsistance were the few dog or cat corpses they'd leave behind stuffed in garbage bags...their insides removed for sacrifice.

Despite all this, I was never afraid; I always felt at home here. When I take Marlo into the baseball field, he spots the hole in the chain-link fence leading to the wooded area. "Are we going in there?"

"We don't need to. My gift basket is buried right at the edge of the field. You don't want to go in there at night anyway." It's lucky that I know exactly where I put it. There isn't much light in here, and the edges of the field are so far away, when you're against the fence you can't even really see the road. He watches me unbury a small plastic cooler and take out some soap.

"What is that?" His thick brows knit. "Doug, is that soap?" He runs his fingertips over it as though trying to remember what it's used for.

"It's intergral to my surprise." He gives me a quizzical look and I gesture towards the sky. "It's going to rain tonight, my friend. It's going to rain like a monsoon, and we're going to get clean."

He pauses for a few moments to look at me as though I were sporting a dildo on my forehead. "You're nuts, midget."

I gasp, feigning insult. "Why am I nuts!?"

"Okay..." He laughs, putting his hands out in gesture. "Okay, first of all, why get clean? We'll only get dirty again."

I wrap my arms around myself and sigh. "Don't you miss being clean, Marlo? Have you forgotten how great a shower feels?"

He sighs in return, his head lowered. "No, not really. How do you know it's going to rain anyhow? You got a radio in there too?"

I lift my nose to the air and huff in the scent of heavy condensation. "I smell it. And besides, I've had so many bones broken in my lifetime, I can predict the weather better than Al Roker."

"Haha! That's not saying much." Just then, there's a crack of thunder in the distance. Marlo's face goes pale. "Mother of God, you weren't kidding." I don't respond, I just close my eyes and smile, loving the smell of pending rain in the air. There's a cool, heavy breeze. The kind that you can hear, the kind that comes right before a storm, carrying with it a warning for anyone intuned enough to listen.

"There. You smell it now?"

"Yeah, I do. That's amazing." He pauses, looking uncertain. "Maybe we should find cover."

I feel the Earth beneath me sigh in relief as the first droplet makes contact with the thirsty soil. "It's too late now. We'll never make it." I open my eyes and I can barely make out his lean form, shrunken away in fear from the forces of nature like so many of the sheep of his faith do. I hand him one of the bars of soap. Lightning strikes and he shudders. I take off my shirt. "Embrace this. Trust me, it's going to be excellent. Though it might be easier if you took off that filthy wifebeater." It thunders again, and the heavens open up and it downpours with a vengeful anger, each droplet the size of a penny, soaking our hair, rehydrating our skin, making the dirt into mud beneath out feet within moments.

"It's POURING! Doug, it's FREEZING!!" He huggles into himself, still holding the soap. "Good Lord, what are you doing??"

"What does it look like I'm doing?" I laugh, tossing my pants at him. "Live a little, Marlo! Can't you dance naked in the rain like a heathen for just one night? C'mon, praise Thor and get clean with me!"

"NO!" He screams, sinking to his knees, arms wrapped tight around himself. "You're a LUNATIC!"

"I've had better luck getting cats into a flea dip!"

"Please, Doug, let's find cover. Please?" He begs me, his eyes wide. I sink to my knees next to him, lathering the soap in my hands, then taking his, working the suds into his long, boney fingers, massaging in between them, getting the dirt out of his nails. He sits there quietly watching me do this. "Y-y-you're naked." He murmurs. The only reason I'm able to hear him over the perpetual hiss of the storm is because his quivering lips are right next to my ear.

I mutter back into his ear, getting dangerously close to him. "The wet clothes cling to you, make you cold. Trust me, I wouldn't steer you wrong."

"Ah-ah-are...are you gay? Is this a gay thing? 'Cause I've heard you talk about women before, and I never thought you could be..."

"Oh, just shut up and take your damn shirt off, for chrissakes." I tear the tank top over his head and he gasps in surprise. "I can't believe I'm forcing a grown man to bathe. You're pathetic!" My soaped up hands knead and massage up his arms, over his shoulders and neck. He's breathing heavily, staring at me with big doe-eyes. "I'm your friend, Marlo. Being clean makes people happy. I just want you to be happy."

He swallows hard, putting his head down shamefully. "I am happy. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..."

"Shhh. Just relax." With a grin, I move in back of him, my chest flush against his back, my thighs hugging his. I replenish the lather on my hands and slide up his abs, over his chest, and down his sides. His body softens and leans back into mine. His head lulls back, leaning against my shoulder. It takes every ounce of will I have not to sink my teeth into his neck. Instead, I reach into his lap and undo his pants. He tenses. "Slide them off. I won't make you uncomfortable. You'll see how much nicer it is without clothing." He nods and obediently lifts his ass up a bit to slide off his pants and underwear. We're both naked now, and I'm angled in a way where he can't feel my raging hardon press up against the small of his back. He takes the soap he's been holding and begins lathering his legs and crotch. My fingers massage his scalp and the back of his neck. He groans in pleasure and arches himself back into me.

"Ohh God, this *does* feel good." He grits his teeth, grinding the back of his head into my chest. "I...I will never doubt you again."

"Good." I purr into his ear. "S'bout time you put that faith to good use." I knead his hair between my palms, getting it all nice, clean and fluffy, then let the rain wash the soap away. My fingertips then massage tight circles around his shoulderblades, down his spinal column and his flanks, moving gradually down to his hips. By now he's puddy in my hands. My erection is blatantly pressed up against his back and he doesn't care. He's groaning and panting with long-buried hedonistic abandon, he's soaping up my thighs, reaching back for my waist, and when I feel bold enough to travel from his inner thighs to his groin, to my delight, he's hard as a rock. I soap up the thick, veined shaft, my fingertips caressing the sensitive length, making his pelvis buck against me. He swallows a cry and reaches back, pulling me closer to him by my head.

"Ohhhmigawd!" He gasps. "What have you done to me??"

"Nothing you don't want..." I plant meaningful kisses and nibbles along his jugular as my fist pounds his throbbing meat. His ass rises and arches against my cock.

"No, this...aahhh! aahh! Oh God! This is wrong!"

"Listen to me...this is an act of love, Marlo." My tongue drags over his slippery shoulders in between words. "Your god gave you this body...obeying it's needs isn't a sin."

"Buh-but not with you, you're a man, please!" His voice cracks with strain, but his body is relenting. My free hand lovingly cradles his loaded balls as I work at his shaft. His pelvis bucks against my fist. He needs this, and as much as he protests, he wants it just as much.

My breath is ragged with desire as I moan into his ear, "How long has it been...months? Years? Let me bring you pleasure, love. A man needs to get his rocks off as much as he needs food and drink." My fingers dance just over the head, making him jump and thrash.

"OhhhfffFUUCK! Pleasepleaseplease don't do this!!" He sobs, his head all the way back, both hands reaching backwards to pull my upper body closer to him.

"If you don't want it, stop my hands." I trail the tip of my tongue along his earlobe. He continues to sob but doesn't stop me. "C'mon, make me stop, prove you don't want it." I top the statement off by sinking my teeth into his shoulder. At this, he lets out a high-pitched squeal and grabs a fistful of my hair in desperation. The moment I let go, he sits up, twisting his body halfway around to plant kisses over my shoulder, neck and cheeks. I let go of his dick and turn him the rest of the way around to fully face me. We kiss, hard, deep, wracked with passion and purpose. His nails dig forcefully into my back, and I break our kiss to yelp out in pure carnal bliss. I fall backwards in the soupy mud with him on top of me. He doesn't need any more cohersing, his resolve is gone, he has given in. His throbbing erection grinds into my thigh as he humps me like a dog in heat. His tongue is frantically dueling with mine, both his hands now grip my ass cheeks, pulling the bottom half of my body into him. The rain beats against his back and I rake my fingernails down so hard, his whole body shudders with a mix of pain and ecstacy.

He mutters curses in Spanish into my ear as he frantically tries to rub himself off on me, but he's not getting off that easily. I wrap my legs around his slim waist, keeping him from grinding against me. He tries to slide my legs down but I hold him fast. "Fuck, c'mon, I need to keep...uhhh...going..."

"Sit up on your knees." I bite my lip, spreading my legs, staring lustfully into his eyes. "Let me teach you how to fuck a man." He doesn't need to be told twice, and I reward his dilligance by pulling my legs back, and arching my ass up so the tip of his cock brushes up against my puckered hole. It doesn't take a genius to know where to go from here. "Spit all over it, baby." I mutter as he immediately tries to stuff it in. "Make it glide..." He spits thick gobs of saliva all over my ass and his shaft, hunching over so the rain doesn't wash it away so quickly. "...Oooh, that's it, get it all over...now--Ohh! Omigawd, easy! Take it....take it..." I'm cut off as he lifts my hips up off the ground and in one smooth stroke, pushes his entire length into my ass. "AGHHH!! Oh GOD!!" It burns so much, it's been so long that I can't help but let out a blood-curdling scream. He doesn't care. He groans and digs his nails into my ass cheeks, withdrawing and slamming his cock home once more. I fumble for my erection clumsily to try and distract myself from the searing pain. He's lifting the lower half of my body completely off the ground with every frenzied thrust. My back is arched in a semi-circle with the top of my head touching the muddy grass. I've never been taken like this, with so much strength, passion and desperation. My head swims with an overwhelming arousal, the likes of which I've never known. The kind that can only come from knowing your partner is completely in control. After a few moments, the pain dies down somewhat and the intense pleasure of his shaft stretching my hole bleeds through. I beat my dick off like a madman. He leans himself forward to lick the rain off my chest.

"Ohhh, Doug, you feel so good!" He gasps, licking me again in the same spot, his eyes screwed shut. "Soo....tight...oh God, so much tighter than a woman..."

"Yes, baby, you don't....ahh! ...don't need a woman, I'll be your woman. Just take me."

"Ohhhyeaahhh, I just need to cum in you..." He moans, wrenching me up almost violently to meet his hard-working hips.

"That's all I wanna be, love, just a slut, a hole for you to cum in....anytime you --"

"Anytime I want." He cuts me off, hissing through his teeth, letting one of my ass cheeks go in favor of grabbing a fistful of my hair. "Even when we aren't clean? Would you suck my dick clean?" His heavy-lidded eyes staring meaningfully into mine.

"Oh yesss!!" My free hand pushes off the ground to help arch myself up into him, showing him how much I needed it. "All you need to do is take it out and I couldn't say no!" He pumps me several more times, and I toy with the tip of my dick, loving the sensitive sensation coupled with the hard, rough ride.

"Is that what you want from me, Doug? You want me to treat you like a bitch?" He grits his teeth.

"YES! Omigawd, YESS!" My back lowers onto the ground and I use the leverage to push myself up again and again, impaling myself on him. "I want to be yours, baby, I love you!" I gasp, shutting my eyes, turning my head away. "I don't care if you like it or not, just fuck me! Fuck me and pump your thick, creamy load into my ass!" I can feel his whole body shuddering violently with pending release as he slams into me, I can feel how close he's getting, and see the sheer determination on his face. He forces the top half of my body flat onto the ground and works desperately to milk his cock off inside me. I grab my dick again and jerk myself as though the world was about to end. I need to catch up to him, I need to shoot off with his thick member buried inside me. I need to be his whore.

"Oohhh, you like that? You like it when I invade that tight ass of yours? That feel good to you, bitch??" He grinds his teeth and continues to saw that dick into me fast and brutal. All I can manage to reply is a high-pitched moan. His cock is working my canal like a puppet, sending a flood of hot ecstacy to overwhelm my entire body. I can no longer formulate words, I'm a trembling, dripping, screaming fucktoy; he's breaking me, and I love it.

He suddenly leans over me, pushing my legs all the way back with his shoulders. The sudden shift of our position makes a wet sucking sound from the mud we're fucking in. I toss my head back and let out a sharp cry as he plows further into me than ever before. It feels like it's hitting my guts. I'm so filled up that it feels like I might pass out before I cum. I can open my eyes now that his shoulders are blocking my face from the rain. The sight of him hunched over, teeth bared, the salty droplets pouring from his hair and chin, and sliding from his shoulders and down that beautiful chest...it's quite possibly the sexiest damn thing I've ever seen.

"Fuck, I'm so close!" He growls. I arch my hips to meet his thrusts. "I'm gonna make you my bitch, Doug! I'm gonna... gonna...ohhh yeah, clench your ass around it, just like that!"

"Fuckin' pound me, baby!" I plead. He's right on the edge. That throbbing prick spears into me so deep, hitting such an amazing spot that my whole body spasms. I can't shout out a warning fast enough. The climax hits me with such force that at first I can't make a sound. He groans as my seed splatters all over him. The second wave hits and I cry out so loud that my screams drown out the thunder. My pucker squeezes tight around his cock, and as quick as the rain is washing my seed away, I keep shooting more and more all over his chest and stomach, screaming and thrashing against him.

"Oh yeah..." He gasps, his jaw hanging open, his eyes shut tight. "...Ohhhfuck yeah, here it comes, bitch- deep inside that tight little ass!!" He pulls back and rams it all the way in, I feel his dick explode and pump me full of his thick, hot cream. "Ahh! AAH! Ohhhh, TAKE IT! BITCH!" Every muscle on him strains as he unloads himself, burst after burst, overflowing my spent, heaving body.

My eyes roll back in my head as he finishes off in me, we're both panting so loud, each breath is a raspy moan. He doesn't pull out, he merely twitches his softening member from inside my abused ass. His eyes travel over my body, and soon his hands take over. I respond to his touch warmly with weak moans, moving into his caress. He's had his orgasm and he's still here, still inside me, not freaking out, not accousing me of seducing him. Not yet. He slides himself out of me and we both sit up uncomfortably. My ass throbs, and I know I'm going to feel how bad he brutalized me later on, but I don't care. The rain is still hard enough where we can still take a nice leisurely shower. I grunt in pain as I try to shift position.

"I hurt you." He frowns wide-eyed at me.

"No, you rocked me." I chuckle, rubbing the back of my neck awkwardly. "Are you okay?"

"I'm...." He pauses, looking around. "I don't know. It's like I'm in shock. Does this make me gay?"

"You still like chicks?"

"Very much, yes."

"Then nothing we do will ever make you gay."

He lets out a shakey sigh/giggle. I move closer to him to kiss him on the cheek, and he looks at me with an expression I can't put to words. "So what am I?"

I shrug. "Bisexual? Bi-curious? You gotta figure that out for yourself. Do you feel better now that your balls are empty?"

He shies away from me, knitting his brows. "You're always so vulgar. I feel good, yes. Better than I have in a while. But I doubt you did this for me." He pauses and looks directly in my eyes. "Did you mean what you said before? About loving me?"

"Why, you gonna tell me it's wrong?" I manage to find the soap on a nearby patch of grass and lather up my crotch and stomach. He doesn't answer, and eventually I look up at him sternly. "Did it feel wrong?"

He looks away, and after a long pause he finally shakes his head no. "You are my best friend. You're so attentive to me, always bringing me such wonderful things to eat, always worrying about my welfare. If I had to be intimate with another man, I'm glad it was you." His eyes meet mine again and I blush beet red. I'm only glad it's dark and the rain's beating into our eyes so he can't see.

"Thank you. That's very sweet." I say in a low tone. "But did you enjoy it? I mean me....did you enjoy me as a sexual partner? I mean do you think you could do this again with me?" Suddenly he looks at me and begins laughing. I pause and glare at him wide-eyed. "What? What's so funny?"

"Your hair is so muddy and the rain's not getting it out. You just look so silly. Here, give me the soap, I'll help." He lathers up my face and hair, his fingers feeling so wonderful massaging my scalp. He then leans over and presses his lips against mine. No tongue, not even suction. I wrap my arms around him and moan timidly against his mouth. We stay like that for a good long while, our lips gradually parting into a real kiss, I tilt my head pushing my tongue into his mouth and he accepts it. We wrap our arms around each other, gently, lovingly exploring each other's forms. I think for a moment he's trying to start another round of sex, but after a while he merely breaks the kiss and holds me, rocking me side to side.

It feels amazing.

__

The next day, we don't talk about it. We hop the trains and I follow him from car to car in silence while he gives his usual "I'm homeless and starving, please help" shpiel to the uninterested passengers. Some woman, instead of giving him money, gives him a half of her sandwich, and when he goes to take it, she grabs his wrist. He drops the sandwich and gasps in surprise. I reach for my pocketknife on sheer instinct.

"Go to Goodwill." She speaks softly to him. "They'll set you up with a place and some money, and they'll train you for a job." She then lets go of him and he clumsily stumbles backwards into a pole. She raises both eyebrows at him. "What you're doing is illegal, and I'm a cop. Go get help and you won't need to panhandle like this."

He doesn't respond, instead he bolts to the next car. I follow quickly, giving her a lingering glance as I pass. "Wait up!" I shout to him as he races past the next car and into the following one. He doesn't, but we manage to meet up in the front car. "Are you okay? Did that broad hurt you??" I check his arm over, all out of breath from running.

"Crazy lady. Like a cop would know what it's like in a shelter. How dare she." He sits down, raking his now clean and fluffy hair back behind his ears nervously.

"You can stay in the church, but I don't think it's a bad idea if these people can get you a jo--"

"Government agencies, BAH!" He cuts me off, tossing his arms up in frustration. "They don't do squat for you." He turns angrily to me. "I have all the freedom I need, I don't pay taxes, I am taken care of in every way as long as the Lord is with me. The government just wants me to make money so they can steal it from me. Screw them."

I give him a hearty belly laugh. "You're right, but you are a second class citizen. You have nothing to call your own. No shelter, nothing to do all day, no feeling of accomplishment, if you see something you want to have to break the law to get it..."

"Who cares about the law? We make our own laws. That's what true freedom is about. Having all this stuff just means you have more to lose." He sighs. "Look, if you want to go, you go ahead. You want to try and become one of these will-weakened idiots, that's fine. But you'll be right back with me with nothing to show for it but shattered hope."

"You're such a ray of sunshine today." I laugh, taking his hand. He squeezes. "If anything, I want to see what I can get out of the deal, if it's free. You know what I always say, 'you should regret the things you've done, not the things you haven't.' If I end up right back here, what have I lost?"

"Whatever." He growls. "I'll see you around." The doors open and he darts out. I don't follow him.

***TWO YEARS LATER***

I am the primordial fish that landed ashore and filled it's little body with air for the first time. I have had, lost and slowly but surely regained. In case you were wondering, I did go to Goodwill, and because of them, I have a small, dinky apartment and a stressful minimum wage retail job; but it's something. It's a lot more than I ever thought I'd have again. If I'm hungry, I just reach into my pocket and there's usually a few bucks in there for me to buy food with. I haven't had to steal for anything in a long time. When I'm dirty, I can take a shower in my very own bathtub whenever I please. When I sleep, my very own four walls protect me from intruders. (That, and my fireaxe) I have something to wake up to. I've contacted my family again and had to live down all the jewish guilt from losing touch, but they remain ignorant of my misfortune; my successful reputation remains intact. I even saw Ricky again. He saw me wearing decent clothes and comes up to me on the street to ask me what I was doing these days. I told him if he ever spoke a word to me again, after my fists got through with his pretty little face, the only place he'd be able to find work is a freakshow. It felt real good.
Sometimes when I lie awake on the bed that is all mine, I think of those dark days, but I don't regret them. The fact that I've clawed my way back not once, but twice, gives me more confidence than anything else I could have accomplished.

I managed to buy myself a walkman, and make some tapes from the radio that I also bought. Luxuries are wonderful, I could never take them for granted again. I sit on the train coming home from work, falling asleep from my exhaustion. I barely register the man who comes into my car and gives us some "I am homeless and starving, please help" shpiel.

Suddenly something shakes me awake. "Doug??"

My eyes fling open to see the same old skinny, filthy Marlo in that same wifebeater I knew years before. His face is brighter than a christmas tree. I gasp, leap up and throw my arms around him like a maniac. Everyone in the whole car is staring at us. "Omigawdomigawdomigawd!!! I've missed you so much!" I try my hardest not to burst into tears. He holds me tight and rocks me side to side. He's utterly filthy and smells godsawful, but I don't care.

"I've missed you too, midget." He pulls away from me, holding my shoulders with both arms, looking me up and down. "Your beard is gone..and um....you're dressed up!"

"I have a job! And my own place! Oh, Marlo you have to come see it!" I leap with excitement like a prissy little school girl.

"I..." He looks sad. "We have...nothing in common anymore."

"We will." I nod. "Because you're coming to Goodwill with me, and you're staying in my place until you get your own. I don't want to hear shit because you're doing it and that's final." I grab his hand and he pulls it away from me, insulted.

"No, I told you, that life isn't for me. You can't MAKE me go."

"So you're going to die out here, on the streets?" I raise my voice, well aware that we're putting on a nice little show for these people. "At least come home with me so I can clean you up." We both pause and I give a pleading look. "Marlo. Please. Just come home with me once. I'll feed you, give you new clothes, a warm bed to sleep in, at least for the night." He still wrinkles his brow and continues to give me that uncertain gaze. "Please."

He looks down and shakes his head skeptically. "Fine." I'm so happy I hug him again. People actually start clapping.

"Oh, go fuck yourselves." I can't help but laugh.

__

He comes home with me and I do exactly what I promise. We take a nice, long sensual shower together, I scrub him down and we fool around playfully. When we get out, I order some italian and he eats like he's never had a scrap of food in his life. Afterwards he tries to leave, but I make him stay with a blowjob. He follows up by abusing my ass again. We fall asleep in each other's arms like lovers, and by morning he's gone. Though he left my window open and his wifebearter on my chair so I know he'll be back. He knows whenever he needs to eat, fuck or shower, he'll always have a place here with me, in my ass, and in my arms.

Gawds, how romantic.

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