Sic Transit Gloria [Jason]
Memoir by Robert L. Patrick
Will you leave me alone if I write about you? Stop sending the Polaroid’s, the telegrams. Stop. The movement in the corner of my eye, the dreams where you lay next to me. Stop. Warm, manly, fragile Jason.
There’s you standing in the dark corner of Touché (beer and urine, cowboys and bikers) black leather jacket, shirtless, tall, and strong. Aviators shielding your eyes, long black hair slicked back from your forehead, but for one lock (a rape). Then there are the flies (bar acolytes) floating around you, all hopeful for a look, a touch, a lick of your sweat, to rub against you as they pass by, and you so tall above them, staring at me, then ignoring me (an aphrodisiac, foreplay, a feather against my neck tracing down my scapula, touching a nipple, and along my side) standing in the opposite corner surprised that you’re interested, so not what anyone in the bar would think you’d look at, let alone want. And later, when we were standing so close together talking in one ear or the other, what were we saying? Do you remember cradling my ass in your big hand and pulling me up into a kiss, even I had to rise up to meet your dark lips, white teeth, velvet tongue. That kiss sunk me.
All those men stood back from us, sideways glances charting our progress, setting the tone for their night, while we talked and kissed some more, Levi’s stretched tight across our crotches, hands memorizing the terrain, the highs and lows of our own landscapes; your arms made for holding another man; and desire, a psychic light of want, lifting me off the floor high above you, the magician’s assistant, while the audience applauded your legerdemain. We must have fucked, did we? Do you remember, Jason?
There’s you lying in bed, arms flung above your head and me astride your smooth body, the bristly hairs of my thighs commingled with the silkiness of yours, resting my hands on your chest, the heartbeat of a warrior. I did not know then how delicate you really were, all I knew was that I had capitulated and flung myself, all of me, at you and you had caught me, and worshiped me, much as I did you. Your black hair the night against the clouds of pillows framing your beautiful eyes, nose, a small spray of freckled roses across its bridge, ones that I would count one two three when you closed your eyes and stroked my thighs.
Afterward, you lifted your body up off the bed and giant that you were, strode into the bathroom to piss, legs apart, a colossus; then to the kitchen for a clean ashtray, grabbing our warm beers from the living room, and finally standing in the doorway, lit from behind, a crazy-ass grin splitting your face until I said, “what?” “Nothing,” you replied as you sank back into the crook of my outstretched arm, and rolled toward me, our bodies matched inch-for-inch (or so it seemed at the time), “nothing” you said as you buried your face into my chest. Do you remember that?
There’s you nervous about me meeting your sister, but she and I fall together conspiratorially in the living room, while you bang around in the small kitchen, a useless apron tied at your waist, spatula in one hand, the smells and sounds of dinner swirling around you—a mystic at Delphi reading chicken entrails in the hopes that you’ll be able to discern what we are cooking up on our own. Until your blond-headed sister (the opposite of you) takes my hand and says, “don’t break his heart, you hear?” blue eyed beauty, all soft curves, but with the same menace on her face that I’d seen in yours when you fucked me. It hurt.
Did you not know how she scared me? How after that evening, I started the withdrawal, the pulling away from you? Slippery, exhausted, limp. I worked hard to make you happy, did we love each other? Did you love me? I believe I thought I could until I couldn’t any longer. Do you remember now?
There’s you sitting in a chair at a smudged window looking out onto a dirty Chicago winter day—that gray sky, ground, meeting in your eyes. The dealer’s boyfriend is doing what young men do around you; staring at your crotch, licking his lips, close enough to laugh at nothing, sitting cross-legged at your feet, wanting you to drop your pants—he may have asked you to do so—did you ask me if I minded? Perhaps, I know it happened while I sat there waiting for his master to cut the drugs and roll a joint; he cared so little, just a part of doing business.
You acted like it didn’t matter and maybe it didn’t. After all, I had acquiesced, not angry, perhaps a bit turned on by the young man’s craven desire. Didn’t I think then that I had you for myself, no one, and no one could take you from me, regardless of their lips and hunger? Our passion for each other did not seem to lessen, ice melting and pulling away from the shoreline, the racket of seagulls outside the frosted window. Do you remember that?
There’s you sitting in your deuce and a quarter, idling on 18th street while I slipped down into the basement apartment to see a pal and score a bag. My friend dithering and withering in equal measure, “he’s no good for you, bobpatrick,” his tongue darted out and back in again, tempting, hissing, the radiator rattling under the window. I did not respond, what could be said that would have been the truth, “I know”? (A raised eyebrow from both of us.)
But I come back up from that little hell, and there you are: sloppy grin, luxurious black hair falling into your eyes, arm across the back of the seat reaching to the window, gesturing with your long fingers (how I loved the magic of your hands, long for them even now) to get in, “let’s go home.” and we did. Was it later that same day, I left you? What excuse could I have given? Do you remember, Jason?
I called you months later, your sister answered, unhappy with me, but relented and gave the phone to you, a little boy, sad and hurt still, smarting as if I’d slapped you. It’s then I remembered the one night you whispered in my ear as your heart pounded against mine, “I love you.”
Robert L. Patrick lives in southern California with his long-time companion of 32 years and their rescue dog, Billy. Robert has been a visual arts professional for over 35 years and obsesses over the lack of art criticism for the middle class, fancy-Nancy writers, gay culture, gardening, aesthetics (and the lack thereof,) poetry, art history, contemporary art, museums, artists of all stripes, creativity, and the state of the union.