I have only one photograph of Alex left: standing behind the cash register of Sunflower Pool. His brother Tom is there, too. I’m in the chemical section. I can see Alex from the side. He’s wearing jeans and a T-shirt and a light spring coat. He stretches out over the counter and half his forearms show from the sleeves of the jacket—he has grown out of it. Dirty blond hair covers his ears.
That was in 1976. My parents wanted me to get a job, and were talking to our neighbor, Mr. Glasser. He was part owner of Sunflower Pool. He hired me to pour chlorine. The chlorine shed was in a back building. A 200 gallon plastic tank of liquid chlorine came to a spigot. I’d turn it on and it would fill a trough. I had 4 siphons. I dipped the siphons into the chlorine to get them going. I’d fill 4 gallon jugs at a time. I’d put 4 of the gallons together in a plastic crate, then stack them on a wood skid. When the skid was full—16 crates of chlorine stacked 4 deep—I’d get the forklift out of the loading dock, drive it over to the chlorine, pick up the skid, drive it up the hill to the front of the store.
Once the trough broke and flooded the shack with chlorine up to my ankles. I was wearing low-top Converse All-Stars (we didn’t call them Chuck Taylor’s). All the cloth dissolved immediately. Only the rubber soles, the rubber toe area of the shoes and the metal eyelets were left. I drove home barefoot to get another pair of tennis shoes.
Three summers later, I borrowed my dad’s Nikon, a 35 millimeter, and took 12 rolls of black and white photographs of Alex as he was repainting his car, a 1967 Rambler, 4 door, powder blue, that his Aunt Martha gave him. He called her Tante Marta.
Alex’s family was German. His father had been a Hitler Youth. As a boy his dad was forced to defend Berlin with the old men, as all the soldiers from 18-60 were dead or in POW camps. An artillery shell hit 100 feet from his father, then a 12-year-old boy. His only injury is that his head no longer sat upright on his shoulders. It leaned slightly to the left side. His kids called him “Lop” behind his back.
I was 15 that summer. My dad, a General Motors carburator engineer, had been transferred from Drayton Plains, Michigan, where I’d been since 1963—I’d grown up there. He was transferred back to the mother ship, Rochester Products, the carburator division of GM in Rochester, New York where I was born.
All my friends lived in Michigan. We moved to a suburb of Rochester called Greece. It was mostly farm land that was slowly being converted to housing subdivisions. We lived in a condo while our new house was being built a mile south of Lake Ontario.
I didn’t know I was gay then. I tried to date a few girls. I only knew fag and cocksucker, and anyone called that in the assembly-line neighborhood I grew-up in got beat up. Even though I dreamed of the paper boy, who was 12, when I was 9—day dreamed about him too—I knew the whole fag/getting beat-up thing was no good. There was also a Victorian insane asylum in Pontiac, built in 1878—I’d see the spires every time my mom drove us out of the Pontiac Mall—we heard the fag kids went there for shock treatments.
I tried to cover. I got decent at sports. I was a catcher in baseball. I liked catcher because I got to put on all the equipment, mask, chest and leg protectors. Also not many boys wanted to be catcher—in fact no one in my neighborhood wanted the job. You got hit with bats, balls and runners. I liked it—it kept me from being a fag.
I hated Rochester. All my friends were in Michigan. On a dark morning in early September—cold already—I waited at what I was told was my bus stop. There was a boy there my age or a year older. He was lean, dark curly hair. I said, “Hey” to him my first day at the bus stop. He did not speak to me. I had a crush on him but didn’t know it. He knew it. He left death threat notes to me, slipping the notes under my dad’s windshield wiper. He told me to be careful about the boy, and about the note.
“What did it say?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter. He’s not a good person.”
My dad knew that a death threat—as I had no friends in Greece—would upset me. Part of me was glad he didn’t tell me, part of me wanted to know what they said. I never found out.
I always looked two years younger than everyone in my class. I was in 11th grade in a new school and was 15. I looked 13. As none of the upper classmen knew me, they assumed I was a freshman, and tried to haze me in the stairwells of my new high school. “I’m a junior,” or “I just moved here from Michigan,” and I’d show them my ring.
The first year at the new high school totally sucked. I made the varsity baseball team because I put a concrete donut on my wood bat, had my parents back the cars out of the garage, and I’d do 200 swings a day during the winter. Hard swings. I hated Rochester. So by spring training, which started with a Jugs machine pitching baseballs to us, I was rocketing the ball around while the other kids’ timing was still off.
Still, it was down to me and Sam for the final spot on the team. He was cut. He sat naked on the wood locker room bench next to me. He was an Adonis. Italian. Smooth skin. Toned. Flat stomach muscles. Beautiful cock and balls hanging relaxed. He told me last year he had leukemia that spring—was on chemo—so wasn’t at his best. Otherwise I would’ve been cut.
I sucked all that year on the baseball team. I couldn’t hit once the real pitchers started. I had lost my confidence.
That summer my dad bought me a 1969 Monte Carlo, gold with a black vinyl top. It had a V-8 engine. Got 12 miles per gallon. A two-door, bench seats front and back. I loved how the engine roared. Each day on my drive to Sunflower Pool I took the Parkway, a highway that ran along the south shore of Lake Ontario. Each day I’d push the speed up a bit. The car was real stable at 110. Then it started to shimmy a bit. Like the wheels weren’t entirely on the road. Like it was drifting and floating.
After pouring a skid of chlorine, I walked into the loading dock to get the forklift. To my right was a shop, a pump shop. There was a boy working there, standing with his back to me at his workbench. He was 14. I was 5-9 and he was already 5-11. He was skinny with long fingers that were strong. His hands were much bigger than mine. That was Alex.
Alex became my first friend in Rochester. He turned around one day as I was getting the forklift and watched me. I looked at him and drove the lift out. We never did talk much though we spent much of the next 6 summers together.
He asked me for a ride home one night. His brother Tom had driven him to work, then left earlier with the car to pick up his girlfriend.
When the store was locked up, I got in my car and waited for Alex. My whole body ached from 8 hours of pouring skids of chlorine. I played the FM radio and drank a Coke from a bottle. There was a Coke machine in the store that sold the small Cokes—6 ounce bottles.
Alex walked out the back of his shop toward my car. He was drinking a Coke, too. He moved fast and smooth with the big strides of his long legs. His jeans were 28/34s. They still sagged on his hips. They were straight bottoms. He got in my car and I was wondering how I would get home if I took him home as I knew only one way to work, and didn’t know the Rochester roads.
The Stones’ “Angie” was on. “Eye-and-Jay,” Alex sung.
I turned down the radio. “You want to get something to eat?” he said.
“Sure.” I drove up the hill and stopped where the driveway met the street—”Turn left,” he said.
We ended up at Don & Bobs, a diner with stainless steel walls on a road that ran along Lake Ontario. We ordered cheeseburgers, fries and Coke. Alex held his burger in his right hand—his fingers were longer than the bun. He shoveled in a third of the burger, it puffed up his cheeks, then he jammed in five fries with his left hand. His meal was done in two minutes.
I wore jean shorts to work all that summer. The style was to cut them short. Way short. If I sat down you could see my balls in my jockey shorts. They were made from cut jeans, so the edges were frayed. I never wore socks in my Converse All-Stars. And a T-shirt.
I pulled out of the driveway and he pointed, “Turn there.” We drove to a parking lot that held cars only one deep—so you wouldn’t drive into the lake there were logs in front of us. “There,” he pointed.
He didn’t ask me if I wanted to go swimming. It was 11 at night, a warm and muggy Rochester summer evening. We walked down to the rocky beach. I didn’t know how to swim so sat on a rock. He pulled off his T-shirt and threw it on some rocks. He pulled off his tennis shoes and socks. He pulled off his jeans and threw them at me hard; I caught most of them, though one leg hit me on the side of the head. He threw his white briefs on some other rocks, ran into the lake, after 5 big strides he dove in. He swam straight out. I lost sight of him after four strokes.
A half hour passed. Every five minutes I got more nervous. I wasn’t going to leave. I thought something was wrong. Waves hit the shore rocks. Then I saw his chest lift out of the water, and slide back down.
He walked up to me and said, “Give me your shirt.”
“Yours is over there, ” I said.
“I’m freezing, give me your shirt.”
I took off my T-shirt, gave it to him—he wiped himself down with it, threw it back to me, and got dressed. I put my mostly wet shirt back on.
He directed me to his parents’ house in the city. On the drive back, he told me about his high school, I told him about Michigan. He hopped out when I pulled in his driveway and head toward his parents covered porch. “How do I get home?” I asked out the window.
He came back over, leaned in the passenger side window. After giving me directions I wasn’t sure I could follow, he said, “You working tomorrow?”
He turned around and went inside.
Alex showed me different parts of Rochester every time our shifts ended at the same time. He’d ask me every day when I was off, then tell his brother Tom he didn’t need a ride. On my third week there, we were both told to go upstairs to the warehouse to sort the shelves and do inventory.
The second floor warehouse had floor to ceiling wood shelves ten feet tall. There were two large doors that lead to a freight elevator.
“Be quiet,” Alex said. “Check this out.”
He picked up a pellet gun, a rifle, that was propped near the double doors. Slowly, he opened one door. Across from us was a ledge just under the roof. The building was made of cinderblocks. A line of five pigeons cooed on the ledge. “They shit on everything.” He handed me the gun.
I aimed at a pigeon that was only 6 feet away. I hit it in the breast. There was a small puff of feathers and the pigeon dropped off the ledge and straight down. Into an open dumpster. The pellet gun was so quiet it didn’t bother the other four pigeons still sitting there. Alex took the gun from me, aimed, but hit between two pigeons. The hollow lead pellet splat against a cinderblock making enough noise that the four birds took off.
Two hours later our T-shirts were soaked with sweat. We both took our shirts off and put them on a shelf. Some of the boxes were large swimming pool covers, too big for one person to move. We moved them together. Alex’s torso had a thin coating of sweat everywhere. When we lifted boxes together I could smell his armpits. When we were done he put on my shirt and walked down the stairs to the showroom. I put on his and liked the smell of it. No one noticed we’d swapped shirts.
It was just a summer job for me, and I was only allowed to use the car for work. Alex didn’t have a car. So we couldn’t see each other until the next summer. I’d turned 16, was still 5-9, but Alex had grown an inch, was now 15 and 6 feet tall. He was still skinny as ever. His forehead was a bit oily and he had a couple red zits on my first day back that June of 1977.
After our first shift back together when I drove him home he said, “You wanna see my room?”
Alex had two sisters and two brothers. Only one brother was younger than him; all the others were older. They lived in a two-storey house with a full attic and full basement. Alex had his own room: it had high ceilings and hardwood floors.
I wore jeans that were 28/34 like Alex, but I rolled my cuffs. Alex opened his closet and told me to take a pair of his jeans.
“What for,” I said.
“I’m going to wear yours.” He pulled a pair of worn and faded jeans off a hanger and handed them to me.
I turned away from him, facing the open closet, and took off my jeans. I then put on his. I sat down on his bed. Facing me he took off his jeans, picked mine off the floor, and put them on.
For the next four summers we traded clothes. Every time he came to my house, he’d strip to his jockeys and grab what he wanted out of my closet and out of my drawers. Socks, too, and sometimes underwear.
One day when he was going through my drawers, he found a pair of white socks and told me to wear them. “I don’t like socks,” I told him. ”
Wear them today and tomorrow to work.”
I did it. When I drove him home that night, he pulled his shoes off in my car, took off his socks, told me to give him mine, and to wear his. I like how he told me what to do. How he told me where to drive in Rochester. He rarely said “Bye” or anything. After putting on my socks, he got out of my car, carrying his tennis shoes, and went up the steps to his porch and went inside.
I never put Alex’s clothes in the laundry hamper at home. I thought then my mom might ask where I got the clothes. She knew we swapped clothes in my bedroom—but she never said anything. I thought as long as I didn’t put Alex’s clothes in the wash, she probably wouldn’t say anything. I was right.
For the next four summers we traded clothes every week. After that first summer I only wore his clothes after he’d worn them for a couple days without washing them. I could smell Alex’s legs in his jeans. I liked the smell of his armpits in his t-shirts.
We never talked about it. Even the first time in my bedroom he immediately opened my closet and drawers and took my stuff, and left his.
I liked Alex’s older brother Tom, too. He was cool at work. He accepted me like Alex did. They weren’t like the kids at my high school. Tom was two years older than Alex, just as tall, but a bit thicker. He wasn’t fat—just thicker muscles where Alex was all wiry.
Three weeks into my first summer at Sunflower Pool, when Alex and I went out every day our shifts ended at the same time, I was getting a Coke for a quarter and using the bottle opener attached to the Coke machine to open it when Tom walked up to me.
“I just want you to know Alex is gay,” he said.
I didn’t smile, I didn’t say a word: I took a gulp of Coke, looked at Tom, and walked back to the water testing station. Alex said he wanted to try Chinese food so we drove around looking for a Chinese restaurant when we got out of work. We found one over by Kodak. We both liked it a lot. We decided that night to never eat at McDonald’s again.
Alex didn’t like high school and was thinking of dropping out. He wanted to get a pickup truck and start his own swimming pool business. He’d service pools and build them.
I got accepted to Michigan State that summer, and was moving to East Lansing in the fall. I was seventeen.
I lived on the top floor of West Wilson Hall, a six-storey dorm. I didn’t like it my first week—45,000 students—it was too big. I asked my parents if I could come home and they said no.
Michigan State sent me a postcard to fill out for roommates. It asked if I smoke, and if I wanted a quiet floor for studying. I checked no smoking and that I wanted a quiet floor.
When my RA Eric took me to my room and opened my door, a cloud of smoke poured into the hall. My roommates were smoking a bong that was sitting on a steamer trunk in the middle of the room. I set my bags down. They said “Hey,” and we shook hands. They asked me if I wanted a toke. I said no (I hadn’t smoked pot yet). They were cranking the music loud.
After unpacking I said, “Did you fill out that postcard they sent?”
Ron said, “Yeah.”
“I checked non-smoking,” I said.
“So did I, man,” Ron said.
“But you smoke.”
“The postcard was just about tobacco.”
We shared a bathroom with another room. Five of us shared a bathroom. One day I was going in but didn’t know Ron was coming out of the shower. I saw him naked and he had the largest dick I’d ever seen. It was thick and 7 inches flaccid—like John Lennon’s on “Two Virgins,” though Ron was cut.
Later when a girl dumped him for her boyfriend back home, he said it was probably because his dick was too small, that her boyfriend probably had a 10 inch dick. I just couldn’t believe Ron could think his dick was too small.
Ron said his goal in life was to have a chain of drug stores called “Ronnie Drugs.” He dropped out the first quarter with all F’s, and my other roommate, Rick, dropped out second quarter with mostly F’s saying college sucked.
I wrote Alex a letter every month my freshman year. He only wrote back once, with green ink on lined paper. I still have that letter.
The next summer Sunflower Pool hired me back. I had turned eighteen and Alex was seventeen. I was still 5-9, but he was 6-1 now. But still weighed 130.
Alex’s favorite album was Supertramp’s Breakfast In America. My favorite band was The Beatles, and I liked the Rolling Stones a lot.
We’d take turns putting cassettes in my car stereo. I didn’t think Supertramp was very good and tried to explain why I didn’t like it. I said some of the lyrics were “clichés.”
We saw on a magazine that Mick Jagger had a diamond in his front tooth. We decided we wanted one. We went to a dentist’s office and said we wanted a diamond in one of our front teeth. The dentist said this was not a good idea. I had the magazine cover of Mick in my pocket and showed it to the dentist. He said the only way to do that is to file down your tooth, then put the diamond in a crown.
We said, OK, let’s do that, how much is it?
The dentist said he refused to file down our healthy teeth and to put on a crown. We thought he was a dickhead but gave up the plan and decided to get our ears pierced instead. We split the pair of studs they give you when they pierce your ear. They were blue rhinestones.
One August night after work Alex directed me to Hamlin Beach State Park that runs along the coast of Lake Ontario about 20 miles west of Rochester. When we got there there was a wood parking arm blocking the entrance at the stone guard house.
“They can’t close the beach,” I said, “It’s state land, we all own it,” and I drove around the wood arm.
Alex directed me to the far west parking lot that was near some sand cliffs. We parked the car and walked up a hill. The grass stopped and there was a barbed-wire fence with NO TRESPASSING signs on it. Behind the fence were woods. Alex showed me a place where the fence had been pushed down, we stepped over it and onto a sand path.
We walked about a hundred yards out to a bluff 40 feet above the beach. The cliffs were sandy. I sat down on the edge, all of the trees near the edge of the cliff, their roots dangled down in the air. Alex sat behind me. His legs wrapped around mine and he wrapped his arms around me. We didn’t talk. His flat stomach was against my back. I leaned my head back into his chest.
After a couple hours cones of light descended from the sky of many colors. They pulsed. We had no idea what was going on. We didn’t know they were the Northern Lights.
When we walked down the cliff to my car around 3 in the morning, my car was gone. We walked ten miles to find a pay phone and called the police. They had towed my car.
It was a huge amount of money to get my car out of impound. Instead of paying the fine, I went to court in Hamlin to make my case that the beach should not be closed at night. The judge yelled at me, doubled the fine, and told me to get out of his town.
The next night we were off together we drove around the guard house again but hid my car in the trees, driving off the road. The Northern Lights weren’t out, but we sat on the cliff edge in the same way not talking for hours.
That summer we finally got into beer. We’d bring six packs when we’d walk into the woods or go back to the beach at night. I’d drunk drive home every night. Once he took me into the winding roads through Durand Eastman Park, and I was so drunk I couldn’t stay in my lane. I’d just barely stay on the road in the other lane of oncoming traffic. But fortunately that whole summer there was never anyone driving in the other lane when we were in it.
That summer Alex’s aunt gave him her car. He decided to learn how to paint a car, got a book, sanded it down, filled the dents, and got a car paint sprayer. This took many hours over the summer. I’d drive to his aunt’s house to watch him work on the car. Over several weeks I took twelve rolls of film of Alex working on his car. He never minded getting his picture taken. He never smiled to the camera though sometimes he looked directly in it—or into my eyes that were at the viewfinder. I got him from all angles, shirt on and off.
But when Alex told me he was getting married to a girl three summers later—I looked through the 144 photos of him again and threw them all away: negatives, too. I haven’t made too many mistakes in my life—but that’s one of my bad ones. I got him so clear and so young. I still dream about those photos. Many of them are burned in my memory. Alex had a great face, wide, with high cheekbones, thin full lips, honest eyes.
But that second year of college, I tried to be straight and got a girlfriend. She lived in Geneva, New York, about an hour drive east of Rochester. So on weekends I’d leave Sunflower Pool Friday afternoon and drive to Geneva to be with Rose. And this was before Alex had ever dated a girl. And I didn’t lie to him about it—he knew I had a girlfriend.
I was really happy the first time I had sex with Rose in my loft in Wilson Hall—I enjoyed it—it meant I wasn’t gay. But she dumped me the next summer for many reasons, one being that I didn’t want to get married.
So that fourth summer we were together on week days. Emotional Rescue” was getting a lot of play on my car stereo. We were also into David Bowie, and went to see him at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. He was amazing in his yellow suit. I got a bad headache by the time we drunk drove there on the New York State Thruway. I decided I was too drunk to drive, so pulled over on the shoulder to let Alex drive. He was drunk as me but more impatient. All the cars were going like 65 and Alex wanted to go 90. Since he couldn’t pass, he drove 90 on the far right shoulder. Even up hills—if anyone had been parked there changing a tire we would’ve all died. But like our drunk drives through Durand Eastman Park—we never had a problem. When we pulled into the Carrier Dome parking lot, he told me to turn around. I leaned against him and he massaged my temples until my headache was gone. Then we went in and listened to Bowie. We’d never seen anything so great before. For me it was art but I don’t know what it was for Alex.
The next summer I didn’t come home, I stayed at Michigan State and took a couple classes. I was walking in the flood plain of the Red Cedar River which flowed through campus one afternoon and saw the Theatre Department doing a Shakespeare play. I sat on a brick wall and watched it. A boy named Mark—in short shorts—sat next to me. He was straight but was OK I was into him. We hung out all summer, then I brought him home for a week, and introduced him to Alex. Mark would let me suck him. I wasn’t sure I would like it but I did. I didn’t tell Alex this. But me being with a college boy—I saw it hurt Alex in his eyes.
That spring my dad called saying that his cancer had returned after 15 years. He was treated for Hodgkin’s Disease in 1967 when he was 30. But they gave him too much radiation, and 15 years later the radiation site—in his left lung—developed tumors all around the radiation area. He called me in February and was dead by August. I moved back home for those last 7 months. And got my job back at Sunflower Pool.
By this time Alex was seeing Lori, who would become his wife. But we still hung out.
One late afternoon he took me for a drive in his Rambler. He found a wooded area and drove the car through the trees. We were in the woods about 200 yards. He shut off the engine and we kept the windows rolled up. We didn’t talk but our breath steamed the windows completely. Then the fog on the windows started to drip. I looked at Alex’s slender legs—looked at his powder blue jeans—looked at his crotch. I’d already sucked Mark a couple times, and Alex told me he’d had a boyfriend for a couple years in high school. An older muscular straight black kid named Rocky. Rocky kept Alex from getting beaten up in high school because Rocky was a star football player and straight. He threatened anyone who would bother Alex and let Alex suck him.
I live over that late afternoon a lot in Alex’s car. Wishing I’d made the first move, put my hand on the top of his leg, stroked his thigh. But for us, whoever made the first move was gay. After a couple hours in the car smelling each other’s breath, we rolled down the windows, let the steam clear away, and we drove to the beach so Alex could swim.
That summer we got into massaging each other. We’d strip to our briefs and then do each other with baby oil—avoiding the cock and balls—but otherwise massaging every inch, toes, hands, everywhere else. He’d do me an hour-and-a-half or two hours, then I’d do him the same. Once we were on a towel at Hamlin Beach on a hot summer day, and we were taking our time putting sun tan lotion on each other. In front of us 25 feet away were 2 straight couples, around our ages. The two boys headed toward us calling us fags and telling us to get the fuck off the beach. They had amazing muscles, were some kind of high school or college athletes. They were both around 5-11 but packed with 180 pounds or so of muscles. Their girlfriends came with them. One of the girlfriends called us fags, too, and was laughing, and clearly wanted to watch us get our assess kicked. I was still 5-9, 130 pounds, didn’t know how to fight. Alex was still 6-1, but still 130. I’d never seen him mad—he sprang up in a fury and head right to both the guys coming at us. One of the girlfriends was telling her boyfriend to leave us alone. She started to hold him back.
I grabbed Alex around the stomach—his stomach was flat and hard—and with all my strength I pulled him away. “Let’s go,” I said.
I think he would’ve killed them both. Every fiber of his body was ready for a fight. Although they were aggressive, Alex became homicidal. Hamlin Beach is broken up into six sections, each with its own parking lot just south of the sandy beach. I grabbed our blanket and towels and we head to my car. The two guys stopped advancing, but yelled if they saw us fags again they’d kill us.
My heart was racing, Alex was covered in sweat. I drove two parking lots east. We took our big blanket to a grassy area by the beach. I sat down cross-legged and was close to crying. Alex sat down in back of me cross legged and massaged my shoulders with his big hands. He massaged my neck. After about fifteen minutes I was settled down and Alex walked into the lake, took a couple steps, dove in, and swam for a half hour. I kept looking around to see if the guys would come back, but they didn’t.
After college I got my first job as a psych tech at a psychiatric hospital for children. I had a small studio apartment with a loft. Alex asked if he could bring Rocky over one winter afternoon, and I said sure. It was the first time I’d met Rocky. He was more beautiful than I expected. He had dark black skin. He was 5-11, 190 pounds of pure muscle. He was very gentle and we drank some beers. We listened to music, I talked about my job, Alex talked about Lori, and I wasn’t sure why Rocky was there. I was thinking we were supposed to have a threesome—but no one made the first move. Or I was thinking Alex and I were supposed to service Rocky—but I only wanted Alex.
Alex asked me if he and Lori could use my apartment when I was at work. I made him a key. In the loft was my futon, and they always made it back up after they fucked. The only way I knew they’d been there is that Alex always left an empty bottle of red wine on its side in the middle of my oak living room floor. He always took the cork with him.
He came over one afternoon and gave me his wedding invitation. I was pissed. I didn’t go.
I went back to see Alex when I was 27. He had two boys already with Lori. He took me in his pick-up truck to a river and woods where we used to walk. We walked in a mile—into wilderness south of Lake Ontario. He asked me if I wanted to have sex with him and his wife. I said sure—but I knew I only wanted to have sex with him—but that maybe I could do something with Lori. Maybe we could both eat her out together and kiss while we did it.
I sat down on the bank of the river and Alex remained standing next to me. His cock in his jeans was at the level of my mouth. I wanted to suck him off, but thought I’d wait for our threesome. He told me about his swimming pool business and I told him about living in Los Angeles.
Alex picked me up in his giant black pick-up the next night. He pulled into the gas station and said, “Give me twenty dollars,” which I did. He filled up his truck and we went to Hamlin Beach. He said Lori totally freaked when he told her he wanted us to have a threesome. He had not expected her to be so upset. I said that happened to me once, too. I was with a girl Sarah in college, and my friend John said he and his girlfriend wanted to have sex with us. John was totally hot, his girlfriend was very good looking, but was not my type. But Sarah was great, and I was very excited to play with John. But when I asked Sarah she broke down crying—sobbing that went on and on. I was freaked—I had no idea I’d get that type of response. John was bummed, too.
He took me back to Hamlin Beach. We walked to the cliff where we used to sit so often. I sat down first, and Alex sat in back of me. He held me like when we were kids. We didn’t talk but stayed that way three hours. When Alex took me home that was the last time I saw him.
My last trip back to Rochester was 5 years ago. I was 45, Alex 44. I drove up to his house in my renter car. I parked down the street, wondering if I’d see him going in or out. I had sent him a postcard with my number telling him I’d be in town and said let’s get coffee. He never called. I decided not to knock on his door. As I was driving slowly away I saw his 15-year-old son playing catch with a football with one of his friends in the street. His eyes tracked the spiral.
The author of this piece has chosen to anonymize certain places and names.
Craig Cotter was born in 1960 in New York and has lived in California since 1986. New poems have appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review, Hawai’i Review, Poetry New Zealand, California Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, Caliban Online, Columbia Poetry Review and Tampa Review. His fourth book of poems, After Lunch with Frank O’Hara, is currently available from Chelsea Station Editions. Find him at http://www.craigcotter.com.