A man I’ve met only an hour before rubs my back and kisses my neck, his lips thin and wet, deformed by foreign speech. Most likely Dutch, but I can’t know for sure. He’s tall and he’s blond, traditionally handsome, but this is Amsterdam on a holiday weekend. The hostels are full-to-bursting with drunk and horny tourists of a varied, seemingly endless supply. I am naked and my body responds to his hands as they should, melting like butter. His hands are soft: not the rough and calloused sort of my fantasies, but smooth and slick with massage oil. I moan because I know he wants me to. Emboldened by the sound, he replaces the force of his hands on my back with the weight of his body. I’m hairless, nineteen, and his hair sticks to the oil on my back as he slides all over me, his teeth biting at me. It’s erotic. This is Amsterdam, the way that no one else has described it to me past puritanical whispers and long, knowing looks. I am young and desirable and on drugs and experiencing the lowest point of my life thus far.
He murmurs something in my ear as I rub against his cock. I don’t understand a word of his murmuring, but he must fetishize my silence as obedience because now he’s repeating “good boy, good boy” in English and it makes me feel sick. Not physically sick because I’m feeling really good, but mentally. Definitely not emotionally, no, that’s being kept in check by the alcohol from Church, the coke from the skinny-fat blonde in the restroom stall, and the ecstasy-viagra combo sold to this unnamed man by the skinny-fat entrepreneur. I can see the hyphens in my head, turning everything to one thing. The stranger rubbing himself on top of me is bold and his cock is getting harder, pressing horizontally in-between my oil-slick legs. Like a hyphen, forcing us together.
The events of the night come to me all at once then go away again, like bombastic waves against the shore, keeping rhythm with the man. I’m suddenly embarrassed because I remember leaving Church, balanced on the handlebars of his bike. It’s not the encounter itself or the sudden realization that I can’t remember the location of his apartment. I’m embarrassed by the knowing look from the locals as we passed from the debauched side of town toward the other, more discreet place of living.
“Good boy.” He keeps saying it. I don’t know what response he’ll understand, so I moan each time like it’s all I’ll ever want to hear. He’s hard, so I must be doing well. Ow. He’s pulling my hair to turn my head so I can kiss him. “Good boy.” Good, as in well-behaved, as in keep doing exactly as he likes. He must speak some English, but his tongue feels cold inside my mouth, and I can’t imagine a tongue as cold as this as having the capability to form anything other than the words “good” and “boy.”
But he has, or must have, because I’m remembering how at Church, in front of everyone, he asked if he could suck me and I said yes, said yes like it was what I’d wanted from him all night long when really, no, it was not. There was a reason, even now I know there was a reason, why I’d wanted to say no. But I couldn’t think of it when he asked if he could suck me, and I should have known better, should have known that this is something that happens when you take yourself to Church.
He’s carrying me to his bed, actually carrying me. He’s tall. I did not realize how fucking tall he is—tall like a Viking. People fetishize Vikings. I have a drink in my hand that I don’t remember drinking, but I guess I grabbed it when this unnamed man made the move to carry me away. He’s setting me down on his bed, struggling a bit since we’re both so slick with oil, and I’m trying to remember what was said as I grabbed the bottle. Good boy? No, he said something else—something else in English. Maybe everything he has said has been in English, the words distorted by that cold and foreign tongue. Or Dutch, silly Dutch.
Church. Ha. Funny name, Church. The unnamed man is laughing because I’m laughing? Wonder what he’d do if I was crying. There’s nothing left to feel, no danger here tonight. Good boy, good boy. Fuck me, this bed is soft. I could fall asleep, this bed is so soft.
I read about the church online years before this trip was ever even planned. Such a bad boy, even all the way back when. Little me, still going to Real Church while I read about Church-Church, island-in-the-sky-with-the-rainbows-and-music-and-men-for-gay-boys-church. So taboo, Church. Naked boys all walking around, touching each other in the basement, telling themselves that they feel fine there in the dark, that they feel good. So good. He’s in bed with me now and I don’t push him away because really, truly, this feels good.
I could fall asleep but some drug is wearing off now, I think. I’m drunk, but something’s wearing off. I don’t do drugs. I’m a good boy, so I can’t tell you what drug it is, only that I’m suddenly realizing how dark it is in this stranger’s room, so dark that his face looks blue. I don’t see a light, just his face, all blue. He’s kissing me with those thin lips: all teeth and all wet. My lips hurt. He hasn’t shaved and I’m remembering what I saw in the mirror after our bike ride, after making it up his stairs into the apartment. Ouch, all red and raw, my lips. It still felt good—he felt good—but now something’s wearing off and this fucking hurts.
I’m remembering now: Church. I met this man in the basement, in the dark, and far removed from the music and the dancing. It was all so far away, replaced with panting and groping. He wasn’t the first one who grabbed me, but he liked me, liked having me all to himself: his good boy. He’s big. He moved me to the corner so the others couldn’t grab me and I liked it; I let him push me against the wall because the way he wanted me felt good. We went upstairs for air and he said my lips were bleeding. They were bleeding bad, but I didn’t stop him. We took a break and then I kissed him, and he kissed me, and it felt good.
I want it to feel good, but something’s wearing off. I only just met this man and now I’m realizing that his craving isn’t something that I know. He isn’t satisfied with biting my neck. He likes kisses, cold and wet, thin-lipped kisses. Ouch. He’s got a finger inside me. Ouch. I think it’s his finger; I feel his hand: yes, it’s his finger. He’s got long fingers, I remember. They felt good inside the basement.
Church, yes, we took a break. He spoke English. My lips were bleeding. I said sorry and he said he wasn’t bothered. He was older than I’d expected: he looked younger in the dark. Now he’s moving off of me, my legs are in the air, and he’s smiling as he positions me. He’s really smiling, all teeth and darkness, except for shadows in the blue. There’s blue light down here, up there—I don’t know from where. He didn’t mind the blood. He asked me, do I mind? No, this feels good. I’m hurting. He’s HIV positive, he told me. This hurts. He was honest with me, ouch, no, ouch, stop, stop, please stop.
“You’re down? Coming down?” He’s asking. “No.” I’m lying: why am I lying, why am I here, where am I? I’m in Amsterdam with a stranger and he has a disease and he’s been very nice and very honest but where exactly am I, what is this apartment building, I lost my phone tonight, I don’t have a map, who do I ask, I can’t ask him, he’s been very nice, very good, a good man but he has a disease.
I’m getting up, I’m shaking. “I didn’t fuck you,” he’s saying. He speaks English? I’m apologizing: I’m telling him I’m sorry, no, that’s not it, really, I knew the whole time, it felt good but now I have to go, I have friends waiting, only I don’t and he knows that because I told him on our break, on our little break for air at Church.
I’m getting up and coming down. My hysteria is ebbing. He’s a good man and he says he didn’t fuck me. What time is it? The light is blue, it’s getting paler and I see it now from out the window.
He’s smiling, this stranger. He’s smiling like he’s seen me here before, like he’s been this scared before and didn’t show it. I know this. I know that’s what he’s thinking. He’s thinking “I used to be a good boy.” I know because he told me, he said so back at Church.
I’m dressing and leaving and offering to come back tomorrow, but the pale blue light tells me that it’s already tomorrow and the man whose name I can’t remember is smiling like he knows I really won’t. Finnigan. That’s his name. Figures, he’d be Finn. I’m in the doorway and turning to give him one last look so I’ll remember. Finnigan. I met this man named Finnigan at Church, in the basement of the Church. I shouldn’t remember his name. Maybe I’ll forget it. Or maybe, if I remember, remembering can mean I’m sorry.
I’m maybe drunk and maybe lost, but I feel good. Finnigan didn’t just like me, he desired me. My lips hurt, they’re raw and they’re still bleeding, but there’s some time left still for Amsterdam. I’m a tourist, I’m alive, and I’ll take what I can get. I’m entitled. I’m the worst. I’ll stumble home now, not home but to my hostel. I’ll sleep this off and I’ll recover. I’ll forget Finnigan, or I’ll remember him. I don’t know. Maybe both, in that order. Jesus. I’m breathing in cold air and I feel good. I’m doing what I think I should be doing and it’s not great, what I do, but it feels good. Don’t tell my mother or my brother or my friends back home.
Don’t tell anyone, but this feels good.