In Skater's Time

by Rick Beck

Chapter 8

Head On

We'd left Jamie high and dry. He watched us longingly, as Gordo headed for the door with me in tow. I knew this, because I looked back to see the expression on Jamie's face, while Gordo was getting away. His hopes of a mid-day interlude, with the stud in his dreams, slipped away. Jamie was every bit as straight as Pat.

"You have a stereo?" I asked as we walked our boards back up the hill.

He started laughing. I failed to see the humor in it. It was a simple question.

"It's for my girl. I give her the CD and she gives me... you get the idea. Treat people nice, they remember you at Christmas, or when they're horny and want a good time."

I did get the idea. Before I knew it we were behind the mall and there was this huge staircase in front of us. He sat on the bottom step and took the CD from the bag and read both sides.

"So you went up there to get money to buy a CD, so you can screw your girlfriend?" I asked, trying to put the pieces together. I'd seen him with Pat, and I saw Pat hand Gordo something, after he left Pat's lap. I figured that something was money, which made the entire sequence even more bizarre. Who does that?

"My girlfriend'll screw me without me giving her anything. I like giving her stuff. Pat's cool. He likes me. You don't understand all this do you?"

"No!" I said, looking at his curvy lips. "It seems like the long way around to me. You have some kind of sexual connection to everyone you know, Gordo."

"I do, don't I. Maybe it's genetic, do you think?"

"I'm just along for the ride. I stopped thinking miles ago," I said, but Gordo represented my only experience so far, and I wanted to put it behind me.

He wasn't handsome. He was skinny. He didn't have all that much to offer anyone, that made his craziness acceptable, but there was something about him I really liked. He had this way of making me feel alive. Alive in a way I'd never felt alive before. I thought about the first day we met quite often. I remembered how much better it was, being with someone, than I imagined it would be. I remembered who taught me that too, and I couldn't let go.

"You like Pat?" Gordo asked, spitting in a high arch as some people came down the steps and stepped gingerly around us. "He's fine. Not the way you mean. I don't know him."

"You didn't know me," he reminded me.

"I still don't. Why'd you buy me breakfast?"

"It was lunch time. How could I buy you breakfast?" Gordo asked.

He used my words against me, proving, once again, how much I knew..

"You know what I mean. You rich?"

He laughed easy like and then there was this serious look that came on his face. He looked at me carefully, like he was thinking about what I had said.

"I suppose I am. What I am is free. I didn't buy you anything. I know a guy in MacDonald. He saves stuff for me instead of dumping it. No skin off his nose. If you treat people right you're rich beyond your wildest dreams."

"You mean if you give them what you want they give you what you want?"

"Be nice and people are nice to you. That way you got everything. Rich beyond your wildest dreams, Z. It takes no more energy to be nice, than it does to be mean. No future in being mean, you know. I guess I'm rich, in a manner of speaking. I know how to get what I want," Gordo said.

I live in a culvert over near Santee. No stereo. My old man's a military drunk. Worst kind. He comes home and if I want to live, I leave. He busted my arm when he came home when I was seven, my jaw when he came home when I was nine, and kicked me down the stairs after he came home when I was eleven. I started to see a pattern, you know. I split."

"Fuck!" I said, trying to get my arms around it, but no one could get their arms around that.

Gordo had once again changed the equation. As much as his craziness was a turnoff, how could he not be crazy. I had parents who loved me beyond any reason I gave them to do that. It's the way they were, and I suppose it's the way they were treated as kids, but Gordo had no expectation of kindness, and he had to be thinking up ways to avoid his father, before he was old enough to finish being a kid, and that sucked bit time. It made me think of Helter Skelter. That was Gordo's life so far. How would he be able to survive, once his looks and his willingness to do anything no longer worked.

"I hang around for my mother when he ain't around but he's been home a year now without leaving." He checked me out carefully and leaned back and placed his elbows on the step behind him. "Get the horrified look off your face. Shit happens, and I'm way better off living on the street. I'm not always waiting to see what my old man might break next. If he didn't like me when I was ten, he sure as hell has no use for me at nineteen.

I'm used to being on the street. I couldn't live inside. I couldn't live like Pat. At least I don't get no bones broke less I break 'em. We take care of each other. It's where my life is at present."


"Yeah, there's Benny, and Tim, and Zack, Gene, who goes with Peggy, Ace, Dart, and from time to time Ralph, and John, who lives with his girlfriend some. sometimes, and Brenda on weekends when she don't want to stay home. We look out for each other."

"You really live in a culvert?"

"Z, you don't make shit like that up. I live in a culvert up under a bridge, and no I ain't no troll or goblin or whatever lives under bridges."

"I know that," I objected.

"Well quit looking at me like I am," he said, glancing at me a couple of times before looking out at the trolley tracks. "I got every right to be as crazy as I want to be."

"I'm sorry," I said. "What can I do?" It had changed everything. I knew Gordo was a lot tougher than I figured him for, and yet he had a way with people I'd never seen. He was this sweet little kid that grew up way too fast. He certainly knew his way around people. I guess you had to if you wanted to survive on the street.

"Sorry for what? You didn't kick me down the stairs. Quit getting your panties in a bunch, will yeah. I only told you cause I like you. Now you're going to look at me like I'm a geek. Right?"

"I'm not," I argued. "It explains a lot, Gordo. You're the first guy I ever did it with. You think I can just walk away from that. I had a thousand guys that I might have done it with, and I never did, until I did it with you," I said.

"I'm pretty good, huh," he bragged.

"I'm still hanging around you, in spite of how crazy you act. You scare me. You're going to get yourself killed, Gordo," I said.

"I scare myself, Z. I'm going along fine, and then, suddenly, I'm this runaway train. I can't stop. I know I'm crazy, but I try to act normal," he said.

Gordo wasn't normal. How could he be normal?

"Well, now you know. I get it out right off, if I like someone. Don't see no sense in wasting time, you know. People going to judge you wrong, I want to know it right out. I say where I am so you know. I don't lie and I won't steal if there's any way to avoid it. Then I only takes from those what gots plenty."

Like Pat?"

"Lord no. Pat's my friend. He needs to give me money to make the deal complete for him. Relieves his guilt."

"Guilt because you're so young?"

"Guilt because I'm so male. This really isn't an act, is it? Are you pulling my leg?"

"I don't think so."

"I usually find something I need before I go over there. Gives "credibility to when I ask him so he doesn't need to offer it first. Which is how it worked the first few times but then I figured out how to make it easier on both of us. We're all just trying to make it, Z. It's the self righteous assholes that make it hard on those of us who start with nothing. I'd pull myself up by my bootstraps, you know, but I can't afford boots. You know how many times I'd have to visit Pat to be able to buy boots?"

I laughed. He laughed, because he made me laugh. I had no idea how people could be so mean to other people. I didn't know anyone who was mean to me.

"You're a good person at heart, Gordo. Why didn't your mother do something?"

"Why do you ask so many questions? I do what comes to mind. I got certain ways of ding things, which work for me, but I don't have a reason for everything I do. I don't know why I do half the stuff I do. It seems like a good idea at the time. Other times, I'm out of control. No one has to tell me that. I know it. You apparently don't, because you're still hanging around me.""

There was crazy, and there was crazy.

"Because I like you. I've never met anyone like you. Because I'm curious."

"That makes sense," Gordo said.

"Your girlfriend?" I asked.

"She's something else. She likes me. She don't know all this shit. I like her. I don't want her to know my father tried to drown me in the toilet. It's not a thing a girl should hear, you know," Gordo said.

"I took you along so you'd have a place to go if you need something like that. You look like your wrapped a little tight, Z. You need to learn to loosen up. Pat can do that for you, and if you need something, after you give him what he wants, he'll see you get what you want. That way he isn't paying for it. He's of an age he don't want to think the only we he can get what he wants is to buy it. We'll all get that old one day," Gordo said.

"How old is he?" I asked.

"He says twenty-eight. I'm sure he's thirty. He's old. Even his old lady won't stay with him," Gordo said. "When I go there, I make his day."

"I'll take your word for it," I said.

"It's not like I didn't see you watching him," he said.

"I wasn't looking at him," I said, feeling a bit weird saying it.

"Hard to take your eyes off me sometimes, isn't it?" Gordo asked.

"I am still caught on the idea that you were my first," I said. "That's special."

"Anyone showed you the tube?"

"No," I said.

"Come on," he said, grabbing his board and racing up the steps to the rear of Grossmont Mall.

I picked up my board and started up the long staircase after him.

I was winded, once I reached the top of the stairs. Gordo was waiting for me. As soon as my head appeared, I heard Gordo's board hit the surface of the parking lot. He was skating away from me by the time I was in the parking lot.

He wasn't skating at breakneck speed, and I caught up with him. We crossed the road road, but the light was green and we had the right-of-way this time. I saw where we were going, before we got there.

What they called the tube was this huge sewer pipe that had to be twelve feet high. It hadn't rained since I'd been there but I knew how once it did rain all the rivers and streams overflowed in nothing flat and then the next day it looked like it hadn't rained in about a hundred years.

It was the tube that funneled the water off the hill, where Grossmount Plaza sat. The biggest park of the parking lot slopped down toward the trolley tracks at the bottom of the stairs. At the bottom of the hill were the half pipes skaters used for passage anywhere. If a storm deposited a tire, trash, or an old stove, the skater's removed it, because ninety-nine percent of the time, the half pipes were dry as a bone and years of water flowing over the surface made it smoother than any sidewalk.

I didn't know if the tube ever filled up, but it was at the back of the and the parking lot all slanted down in that direction, so a lot of water would run off quick if it rained hard. Inside the tube on one side was a platform that stood three feet high and was maybe three feet wide.

"Where I sleep is like this. We're up off the ground if it rains. Our blankets and stuff will stay dry. Try it out. It's an extra firm," he said, lying down on the concrete.

I leaped up and lay down beside him. Hard wasn't the word for it. It really got hard once I felt his hand on me. At first it shocked me, but he got my attention, big time. I thought about our last time and it made me smile. This time was different. He moved beyond my reach before I thought to reach for him. I remembered what he said about guys returning the favor, only it wasn't like that this time. On purpose, I suspected. I suppose everyone should know what it's like to get your knob polished. I never had a clue, not that I knew much about this kind of stuff. It took my breath away at first but then I didn't care if I ever breathed again or not. I pictured Gordo sitting in the chair with Pat and I remembered what it looked like. The look on Gordo's face, the way their bodies moved, how they both became part of it. I was sure I felt just like he looked, and I understood.

He was amazing. As I learned more about Gordo, I worried a little less about the things he said. Gordo, like most boys, was full of contradictions and testosterone. Like everyone, he wanted to love, and to be loved. Lonely was no place to be. After so much madness, I wasn't lonely, if I was with Gordo. No matter what else went on, at a moment like this, it was as good as anything in my life had ever been. He may not do it, but he did it for me, and that afternoon in that huge pipe, was definitely going to make it into my journal.

When he got me about as far as I could go, I tried to get control, stop him, warn him, something, anything. Instead I did nothing. Well, I can't really say nothing because I about blew a gasket as I unloaded on him like I'd never unloaded before. It was like falling off a cliff, and rocketing into the sky at the same time. Then, my parachute allowed me to drift gently back to earth, and it took place in a split second, while lasting for hours.

What Gordo was faced with was like the heavy rains that ran off the parking lot above, before rushing down to meet the half pipes that ran below the hill. The tube was ten or twelve feet wide and way high, but the half pipes were thirty feet wide, and ten feet deep. They could carry an immense amount of water, keeping it from flooding the roads and nearby communities.

I figured there had been a lot of flooding, before they came up with the idea of digging the channels to guided the water to the Pacific, a dozen miles away. The Pacific Ocean could hold all the water that ran into it, but nothing could channel the flood that Gordo inspired me to unleash. I was amazed by how my climax seemed to last forever.

I began to understand what Gordo was after at Pat's. Only for me, Gordo being down there, doing that, was ten times better than anything anyone had done for me.

The first time he did that, I was way too nervous. I worried I was too small, I might not respond the right way, or he just wouldn't like me enough to want to do it again, but I didn't know what he expected, but I got more pleasure than I knew existed in the entire universe.

"So, now you know it all," he said, carrying his board as we walked back up into the bottom of the parking lot. "Everything about me."

"It was incredible. I felt so helpless. I mean I never expected you to...." I shut up, before I said too much.

"I don't do that, so don't expect it every time we're together, Z."

"I won't," I said. "I didn't know anything could be that..., wonderful," I said.

"I don't do that for just anyone, you know," Gordo said.

"Have you ever done that to Pat?" I asked, thinking guys might return the favor, once in a while, if they weren't too straight.

"Pat? No way. I mean, if I did, he wouldn't want anything to do with me after that. For him, he is living a fantasy. He pretends he's straight, and he pretends he doesn't like sucking guys off, but the man can swallow a dick. He's not looking for happy returns. He wants the arrangement like it is," Gordo said.

"Because he thinks he's straight?" I asked.

"He knows he's gay. He simply likes doing guys that want something from him. He does what he wants to do, and then he pays you for allowing him to do it. It's complicated, Z. People can't simply ask for what they want. It has something to do with the fear of rejection, and like that.""

"I suppose it takes time to figure out how people work," I said.

"You'll be fine, Z. Give it a little time, and you'll figure it out," he said.

This time, when he dropped his board on the asphalt, I knew he was off for parts unknown, and I followed at my own peril. I wasn't invited, and I watched him grow smaller, as he skated around the corner of the building. He left me with a lot to think about.

I knew, the more I was around him, the more I liked him. Knowing about his father changed everything.

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