February 2010 Cover
The sun was setting in Palm Springs, turning the mountains pink. It
would be dark soon.
I logged onto the internet and right away heard from Adam. I had
hooked up with the 26-year-old a few months earlier, and we had played
online tag ever since. He wanted to see me right away.
I picked him up from his friend's place and took him to mine. We
kissed, probably for the first time, and he pressed his body so close
to mine it almost hurt. He was so much thinner and smaller than I
remembered. His smooth Latin skin grated up against my hairy torso like
it wanted to be scrubbed clean of something.
We stayed like this for a while, not so much having sex as just
clinging to each other, breathing. His phone rang, and he hopped up. I
remembered his phone was always ringing. There was some other plan on
the horizon, some other formless idea of what to do with the coming
"You wanna go over to my friend's place?" Adam asked me. "He
lives at this gay clothing-optional apartment complex."
"Hmmm -- sounds interesting."
We buzzed the bell at the wooden gate, and his friend Dean
answered, fully clothed. Strolling around the complex, I barely saw a
soul. This wasn't the free-for-all party I had anticipated. But then it
never is, is it?
Dean made us drinks in his modest one-bedroom apartment while we
critiqued some bad porn. Neighbors popped their heads in the door,
never staying very long. Finally, Adam's phone rang again. It was time
to go off somewhere else, to pour ourselves into the unknown night.
"Mind if we stop by my car?" he asked.
I pulled up behind his parked four-door, and he popped the
trunk. It was overflowing with clothes and belongings that almost
spilled onto the ground.
"You got a place to stay, right?" I asked him when he got back
into my car.
"Yeah, at my friend's. But most of my stuff is in my car."
"I lived in my car for a few weeks in college when
I was in between places, so I know how it is."
He looked at me sheepishly.
"There have been some nights that I have slept in my car," he
said, holding up a bright orange ticket. "They may tow the car. It's
been parked here too long. But I got a day or two to move it. Just need
to get my friend with the jumper cables to start it up first."
The next stop was his friend's motel room. An older guy sat on
the bed while a younger guy obsessively checked his iPhone. The air was
thick with smoke from God knows what. I could barely breathe. I was
glad when Adam announced we had to go.
"I can walk home from here," he told me in the motel parking
lot. He was holding back the water in his eyes. "I'm sorry.
I'm such a mess."
I hugged him, but he eventually pushed himself away.
"Thanks for putting up with me tonight," he said. "Call me
later, like in an hour or so."
"Why?" I asked. It came out wrong.
He walked away from me across the dark parking lot. I could only
make out the shape of his light-colored pants. He would disappear into
the darkness like a dim star obscured by a cloud, and that would be the
last trace of him.
I thought about just letting go of his chaotic life. It wasn't
worth it. His mess was his own. But as I turned out of the parking lot,
I found myself near his car. He was fishing something out of the back
seat. I rolled down my window.
"Are you going to be okay?"
"I hope so," was his honest reply.