Nowhere Man - 4. Chapter 4: Scarecrows
In the south, they have a term for special people. For people who aren’t all there in the mind. For the Forest Gumps that walk and talk among the rest of us, but seem to walk a little slower—as though they have a couple of screws loose. Where I’m from, they call them Scarecrows.
Standing there in the dark, looking at Tyler’s blank smile as he flicked his lighter on and off at me, I couldn’t help but think he looked like a scarecrow. A tall skinny scarecrow, whose brain was stuffed with straw.
“Night,” I said politely, holding my ground.
“How was your night?” he asked, taking a step closer.
“It was dark,” I said.
“Do anything fun?” Normally, I wouldn’t have associated this level of conversation as particularly chatty, but coming from this guy, it was downright talkative. What had made its way into his Wheatie-O’s? He took another step closer and I entered into his whiskey soaked stratosphere. That’s what had crawled into his Wheatie-O’s.
“I went for a ride with a friend,” I said, not sure what else to say. I wasn’t going to tell him about the rodeo clown. It was none of his business.
“Got any more plans?” he asked. What the fuck was he getting at? Why was he here? How did he know I was home? Was he watching me? Why was this guy affecting me so much?
“Yeah,” I said, casually shifting my weight from one leg to another. I swatted at a fly that flew past my face. “I’ve got a hot date waiting for me inside.” He knew it was a lie. He knew I’d been out with a guy, probably thought I’d gone down to the Flats or something; if he knew what those were.
Why was I being so resistant towards this guy? It wasn’t late at all, about ten. I could hang out with him for a while. Have some whiskey and see what else happened. But deep down, I didn’t want to put myself in that situation again and have to run out of the trailer at midnight wondering if the guy I’d sang silly country songs with all night was going to be alright or if he was going to fly off the handle.
“I wrote some more words to Nowhere Man,” he said. “You should hear the second stanza sometime.”
“Maybe sometime,” I said, sticking to my guns. I walked inside leaving him flicking his lighter and walking back down the trail.
I lay down on my bed and stared at the ceiling fan twirl around slowly. I started thinking really deeply. I knew what I was. I knew who I was. I knew that what I was and who I was were connected.
But these guys I kept running into, how much about themselves did they know? Tyler was a grown man sitting in an empty trailer almost begging guys to give him head, to connect, and his body couldn’t take it. I couldn’t help but feel like his body had rejected me.
And yet he’d come back. Like clockwork at 10 o’clock to see what I was up to. That had to have meant something, right?
I watched the fan circulate the warm air and dust in an attempt to create a breathable living space out of this stuffy environment. What was it about this mysterious man that had him glued to my mind?
I pulled the light off and hustled out of the trailer, making sure all the lights were off as I went so that Ashley wouldn’t flip out when she got home. I walked down the trail to the next to last trailer on the left. I knocked once and there was no stir. Pete barked. I heard a footstep and then silence. What was going on?
I knocked again. If I counted to ten and he didn’t answer the door, I’d turn around and pretend like I hadn’t come at all. Four seconds later, the door opened and I was hit in the face with a waft of Marlboro Red smoke.
“I thought you had a hot date,” he said. He hadn’t picked up on my sarcasm.
“It was with myself,” I said following him in.
“You gay guys are always jacking off,” he said, walking straight to the kitchen. I started to say that’s not what I’d meant, but he continued. “I hope it wasn’t from seeing me.”
This is what confused me. Here he was, bringing it up again. What did he want me to think? Was he really going to pretend last night hadn’t happened? I felt stupid thinking about it, but I was bothered, naturally.
“I’ve got cold gin and warm whiskey,” he said. “What’s your poison?”
I looked at him, wondering if I should even take any liquor. “Gin.”
He poured two glasses of pungent gin, brought me one, and sat down on the couch next to me. “Wanna hear what I’ve added so far?”
“Mind if we drink first?” I said, lifting the glass to my lips. He glared at me and I purposely avoided eye contact.
“You wanna see if I’ll let you blow me off again, don’t you?” he asked as nonchalant as could be. I almost spat out the liquor, but instead swallowed hard and almost choked. My throat felt like he’d flicked his lighter inside of it. “You don’t have to answer. It’s why you came back.”
I decided to be an adult right then and voice my concerns to him. I’d had enough to drink that night. I wasn’t mincing any words.
“I don’t get you, guy,” I said. “If you want something, then come right out and ask for it. Stop acting like I’m some pervert creeping up on you when you’re the one creeping all over this trailer park on me. If you want something, be a man and ask for it; sing a goddamn song about that.” My face heated up.
“Do you want to suck my dick?” he asked, pointe blank, matter-of-fact, his voice a hair louder than before. It wasn’t an invitation. It was an inquiry. How was I supposed to answer that?
“What do you think?” I answered quickly. It was the safest way to go.
“I think you do,” he said with the same level of cool.
“Do you want me to?” I asked him as evenly as I could keep my tone. Two could play this childish game.
“I guess I do,” he replied after a second’s pause. He stood up and pulled off his big belt buckle. I watched his long skinny fingers undo the button that said Levi on it and lower the zipper slowly. I’d heard this sound before, a million times, from across a dingy wall. This is what it looked like.
A minute later, his dick was hard and in my mouth, the familiar smell and taste that had intoxicated me before filling me again. I was sort of upset with myself. After I’d told myself this wasn’t happening again, here I was. It was happening. Again. And I was shaking. Again.
Tomorrow, I’d be on edge yet again, dropping brass doorknobs and I knew it. I was creating the cause of my own anxiety, but for now, I was pushing that aside. He was right; I did want to suck him. But more importantly, I wanted to touch him. Touching him felt different. It didn’t feel fleeting. I wasn’t worried that he’d leave me in the fumes of his diesel car engine.
I sucked him the best I knew how, using all of the tricks I’d picked up at the Flats to get guys off. I swirled my tongue just under the head of his dick and felt him thrust into me. Somehow, I felt less submissive sitting on his couch as he stood over me. Something about not being on my knees felt right with Tyler.
Before long, he was mumbling and groaning above me. He took his left hand, the one not carrying the gin, and brought it to the back of my head. He guided me back and forth, creating the pace that best suited him.
But what did he know about the best pace? He got head from girls, probably less than enthusiastic ones from my limited experience. He didn’t know what I was capable of. I started sucking against his pace, going deeper and faster than he’d dared to guide me. I looked up and saw that he had his head lifted up, tongue hanging out. I could have bet a hundred bucks his eyes were closed.
“Fucking god,” I heard him say and a second later, he was shooting into my mouth again. The same sweetness made bitter by the thought that he was about to run into the next room and hurl.
But he didn’t. He finished and I pulled off of him, realizing that I had a huge wet spot in my pants. I hadn’t even bothered to pull my own dick out because I was so consumed in making this guy feel good.
He pulled his pants up and started to walk away and I almost panicked. Instead of going to the bathroom, he went towards the kitchen. He poured another glass of gin and brought the bottle with him to fill mine up.
“I don’t get why you like doing that so much,” he said sitting down a comfortable distance away from me. I was analyzing again.
“Me either,” I said. “I just do. Why’d you run and vomit last time?” I asked, deciding not to beat around the bush. Talking directly to him had worked really well for me earlier.
“’Cause I didn’t think I’d be able to do it,” he said. “But I’m not dead, am I?”
It wasn’t the best compliment in the world, but it was better than nothing. I’m not dead, either.
How long had he been telling himself he couldn’t do it? How long had he been mustering up the courage? He told me he used to have a gay friend, why not ask him to do it? Were these feelings a fairly new development? I doubted it.
“What are you doing tomorrow?” he asked. Already planning for another session, I thought. There was no way he’d become this comfortable with me this soon.
“Working,” I said. “8 to 4.”
“Where do you work?”
“Cale’s Cabinets,” I replied. Was that a smart move to tell him? What if he showed up at my job? How would I explain that? He didn’t say anything after that and I told him I was ready to leave. I walked myself out, wondering what exactly I was getting myself into.
The next day, I was more relaxed, confident that this guy wouldn’t rat me out to the town’s morality squad. He was dealing with his own demons in his own time. Until those were dealt with, I’d be there for him. It was a pretty neat arrangement, and if it could last, it would save me from making hour long trips to Whiskey Flats whenever I couldn’t fight the urge.
I was thinking about Tyler when the devil showed up. At four o’clock as if he’d been called, I spotted him. At first, I didn’t notice him. He was sitting in a black pickup truck at the end of the lot. I was walking to my car while the Jose’s and Consuelo’s that I worked with sipped five-o’clock-somewhere’s out of their canteens and debated which bar to go to for happy hour. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the truck. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Everything in my life was so routinized, I noticed it immediately.
And then I saw who was inside of it. Wearing a black t-shirt (the first time I’d ever seen him clothed from the waist up) and smoking a cigarette. I had two options. I could walk over there and the suspicion of all my colleagues and risk getting found out. Or I could ignore it, pretend I hadn’t seen him. I kept my eyes forward and my head down and booked it to my truck, turned the ignition, and raced out of the lot.
How dare he come to my work? What the fuck was he thinking? I gritted my teeth, pissed off that I had told him where I worked. It was bad enough he knew where I lived and could find me at home any time.
This was not okay.
I looked at my mirror only to see the black Ford and its driver following closely behind me. I pulled off the main road onto a small farm road barely wide enough for my truck. I slowed to a stop. Before my engine was even off, I got out and slammed the door. His truck came to a grinding halt behind mine.
“What the fuck are you doing? Coming to my job, are you serious?” I asked him.
“You told me to,” he said.
“I never told you to meet me at work,” I said. “In fact, I’d rather we don’t meet in the daylight, ever.”
I realized I was fuming for no reason. He hadn’t caused me any harm and I was sure no one but me had noticed him. My paranoia was getting the best of me.
“Hop in the car,” he said evenly. That deadpan tone that simultaneously chilled and warmed me at the same time. It was like he was under my skin and on top of me all at once.
“I’m not hopping in the car,” I said, looking around, squinting at the sun to the west.
“You want to,” he said. It wasn’t a question. It was a command. I did want to. And I did. I hopped in the passenger’s side and closed the door. He backed out with his left arm around my seat, giving me a huge whiff of his very manly man smell. “Seatbelt on. Safety first.”
Where the fuck were we going? Why was I leaving my car here, parked for anyone to see it? I doubted this road got travelled much, but it made me uneasy nonetheless.
“I should move my car,” I said. The statement was incredibly loaded. I was agreeing to go on this little adventure with no knowledge of where we were going. He paused, sighed like I was being a bother, and asked if I really needed to.
“Yes, I do,” I said.
I got out and pulled my car onto the grass that separated the road from the trees. It was now only partially visible from the farm road and hidden completely from the main road. I shut the windows and locked the doors, then returned to his truck and tossed my keys into the glove compartment.
“Anything else?” he asked me with big annoyed eyes. This was more emotion than he’d showed in the past couple of days and I chuckled inside as I clicked the seatbelt on.
We drove in silence for a while in a direction I wasn’t aware of. I told myself it either had to be north, south, east, or west and that if the road led away from town, I was pretty sure it could lead me back.
We chased the sun for about an hour, making less than small talk. It was like two deaf mutes were taking a roadtrip. When the sun started to get away from us, Tyler pulled a flask out of the glove compartment and took a swig. He offered me some and I inhaled the hot, sharp whiskey. Molten lava slowly carved its way down my throat, but instead of wincing, I took another swig.
“Are you gonna tell me where we’re going?” I asked.
His eyes squinted and his hair blew backwards from the wind through the open windows. “We’re going to the place we’ll be at soon.”
Great. I wondered what my brother would think when I didn’t come home. Would he put out a search party? Would he even notice? There was no way to call and tell him. I was a big boy. He wouldn’t worry.
The further we drove, the more nervous I became. I’d known this guy for a total of 48 hours. He could be leading me to my death, and here I was sipping on whiskey with him as we hit the back roads. I had a sobering thought. What if this guy wasn’t my friend at all? What if this was a huge setup? I panicked.
“What ever happened to your other gay friend?” I asked, abruptly interrupting his soft humming. He gazed at me with a blank face. “You said you had a gay friend once. “
He didn’t answer and I became more worried. This was the end of it, I thought. My risky behavior was catching up to me. They’d find my truck and think I was dead in the woods. They’d search for days and then give up. No one would ever find my body.
“Reach in there and get the other flask, will you?” he said. Another command. I opened the glove compartment and reached inside, feeling something metal, solid and cold. I used my fingers to determine if it was the flask, hopefully filled with gin this time. But it wasn’t. It was L shaped, almost too small to be what I thought it was. I pulled my hand out of the glove compartment holding what I had thought was a flask, but what I now saw was a gun.
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