First bad decision: I was in Portland. I was walking around staring blankly at all the middle class excesses of capitalism – vegan cheese shops and boutique whiskeys, bored as hell – so I called this trick. I had made the firm decision to not see him after dialing his number the previous night and having the following interchange:
Hey man, this is Daniel’
“Yeah, you wanted to get together while I was in Portland? We were texting after you saw my ad on rentboy”
“What did I want to see you for?”
“Sorry, wrong number”
I look at my phone, and I look at the texts. Because I am not always smart I text again:
“Sorry, seem to have caught you at a bad time. Let me know if you still want to meet up”
I receive back: “Sure I do, I’m looking forward to our booking. Give me a call!”
I call again:
“Hey – this is Daniel calling”
Its the same voice: “Daniel, yes so what were the plans we had”
“The ones we were just talking about via text?”
“Can you remind me?”
Although I have made a lifelong habit of pushing past every danger sign that has ever arisen in sex work, it occurs to me that something is not going well. I hang up. I don’t text. I tell my best friend something really sketchy just happened, but he is zeroed in on the TV in front of us. He places his head in my lap and looks up at me. “Pick me” he said, pressing my fingers against his face. I file this as one of several possible encounters with law enforcement that it’s best to pretend never happened.
The next day the same number texts me “Why didn’t I hear from you?” What the fuck…I tell him, call me. He calls, and its a different voice. I mention the calls last night, and he says he doesn’t know what I’m talking about but takes it in stride. Jealous boyfriend? I’m still sketched out but make a plan to meet him at a train stop so he can drive me to his house, which lays off the public transportation route.
The tram goes through Portland’s streets, till they are no longer busy with food trucks and bars, arriving in an area of long fences and houses painted fresh, deep reds and teals. The last tram stop is at a mortuary. His luxury black car in the parking lot of the bank next to it. They are so close that when I look over to where he stands waving, I mistake him for a funeral driver.
Grant is in his 50’s, white, another face in the sea of gay men who I meet as an escort. His energy is forceful, there is an edge that is hard to connect to. I wonder if it’s meth or something less temporary. He’s very interested in me as a transgender, at the topic of transgenders in general. He is very connected to Gay Inc. He knows that my people have a problem with it. He says “I don’t think many people know how much affirmative action we do in hiring transgender persons. If you look at our staff, many of our higher ups are from your community.” I look out the window as the car curves around the hills, carefully tended lawns rolling out in front of those big white houses.
He drives into the carport of a two story. The garage door opens to a room that reminds me of my Aunt Sydney, who wasn’t my real aunt but rather my grandmothers lesbian ‘friend’. I lived with her off and on while I was a child after my mom died. Her apartment was large with rooms that smelled of mothballs. Unlike my grandmas apartment where I slept in a cot next to the closet, Sydney’s had furniture that felt like it was from another century. I remember laying on the emerald carpet underneath the stained wood table – 6 matching carved chairs with silk cushions. I would pretend to be a princess trapped in another kingdoms castle, waiting for the doors to open, and for me to be brutalized by an unknown adversary.
Grants house is decorated like this, but without the carpet being tread into a matted down surface. Chandeliers sparkle light off the gold accents of cabinets. In front of me is another boy, younger than me, brown skin, slim in white pants, with an expensive hair cut. I move to shake his hand, Grant says: “That’s Josue, don’t worry he won’t be joining us.” Our hands touch and I slightly roll my eyes in attempted camaraderie during my smile – but he looks at me blankly.
Upstairs Grant talks about how he’s taking care of Josue. He’s been letting him live downstairs for four months, after his parents kicked him out of the home, nasty business. They aren’t dating, he’s just a benefactor. I look at the deep brown silk sheets. “Do you want a bathrobe?” he asks me. He hands me one while he heads to the bathroom. I take off my clothes and they sit awkwardly in a pile next to my backpack filled with packets of lube, condoms, bits of weed and colored pencils. The carpet feels so soft on my feet and the robe gently brushes against my flesh. I try to position my limbs organically and suggestively on the high high bed. Does he want me to be butch or femme? Is he interested in a bro with a pussy or the ultimate step in queeny faggothood? He emerges and I pull his body to mine in a tight kiss. Sometimes tricks are the best sex I ever have. My brain is able to circumvent any of the insecurity that usually sullies my hook ups, with an almost religious admonishment to ‘do a good job’ – which in turn provides me with the energy to hoover dick while tweeking nipples, wrist deep in ass, something which on my days off I just don’t possess the fucks or the finesse to work out the mechanics of.
With Grant I can tell it isn’t going to be a natural 10 star review. First he gets really whiny about barebacking – something I will admit to having done in the past – but in a quick cost-benefit analysis decide this scene is already too much. He switches to a new, more perverse role play where I tell him about how dick hungry I am. It goes like this “tell me how you went into the bathroom at school so you could look at dick – how old were you?” “Um..16, yes I would sneak in after science class, hide behind the lockers. Then I would wait till boys came in after soccer practice, and masturbate watching them get naked and touch each other.” Pretty soon in the dirty talk my age rolls back to 14 and I’m still a drooling cum slut.
There is a certain legitimacy in this – in my diary from that time there is an entry which reads “God, what is the fucking matter with me? I was writing in this cute little drawing book and (shit) I wrote a story about seeing Kennedy naked at a ritual! What is it that I am so ‘attracted to this guy (who was a goth probably future trans woman in retrospect) ?” I LOVE HIM AND HE DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT FOR ME!!!! Then there are two pictures, one of my dream which is a very crude image of him lying naked on top of me and then one of his dream which is a picture of a cape with a price tag on it. I don’t share this story with Grant, or the one about the first times that I had sex. It was in my car, and midway through I remembered I still had a tampon in. Pulling it out midway and thanking god for the red condom. It stayed in the detritus of the backseat until another, aged and jobless punk rock suitor picked it up weeks later, I grabbed it out of his fist – told him it was a piece of beef jerky and threw it out of the window.
Although my brain is full of overwhelming and disturbing narratives of young sexuality to share, I keep to the secretive trans people in the bathroom trope until his dick delivers. I enthusiastically kiss him “good job!” and he lays down for post coitus discussion. “You know,” he says “Josue has never seen a vagina in his life!”
“Well, that happens” I know where this is going
“You know you could show him – that would be a real hoot”
“Yeah, I mean it’s cool”
“I’ll give you an extra $50 if you show him – just for a second. He won’t touch or anything.”
Because I am already fairly dissociated, and besides – 50 dollars for a small humiliation with someone I will never see again seem worth it– I get into the bathrobe again and he goes to prep his “friend”. I enter like a host of an extreme game show about to show the guests which bugs they are about to eat for dinner. ‘Show him!” Grant says, his voice full of glee.
I open my bathrobe and Josue looks at me sheepishly. “Hmmm, wow, ok” We are both having a hard time displaying out the kind of childlike innocence our ringleader has in mind. “You look so much like a man, but have a vagina!” he says weakly. “Yes, I know! That is a part of the transgender thing, ha ha!” We hug at an angle. Grant looks let down.
While I get dressed he asks me about the phone calls. I tell him about the weird voice on the line. Oh, yes, well it’s very likely that my phone is getting tapped, he says. I start to get excited about the prospect of blackmailing him. In the car with the heated seats, he and his not-boyfriend argue about their flight to palm springs this afternoon. I put my hand in my pocket feeling the bills fold against each other and thank the goddess for the patronage of transgender people like myself by Gay Incorporated.
Note: this story is 100% fiction -The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.