FictionWritingAlan SharpeHome Page


Once Audrey, my castmate, finally wore me down, we went out, ending up in a Harlem loft where a record company with more money than taste was holding a release party for it's latest gangsta rap atrocity. Despite the rampant display of garish bad taste and ostentation, (or because of it) the evening was mesmerizing. I was still hopelessly starstruck and this particular constellation was like none I had ever experienced in the midwest. Quite content to hover near the buffet table, I spent most of the night gaping and grazing.

"Don't just stand there stuffing yourself with free shrimp and barbecue." Audrey, had to yell into my ear to be heard over the sound system. "Go get your groove on."

"But I don't know anyone here except you."

"All the more reason to get out there and mingle. Why do you think they call it show business? "Lip Service" is not going to run forever, you know. Eventually, you're going to need another job. Some contact you make tonight might lead to something." There was logic in what she said, but that hardly made the idea any more appealing.

"You know I don't like talking to strangers...and famous strangers intimidate me."

"Please! Disregard the hype and attitude. Despite what they may think of themselves, everyone in here is not famous." She thrust a neon-colored drink into my hand. "Try one of these. Maybe it'll bring out your personality."

"What is this?" It seemed a dubious proposition.

"A sledgehammer."

"Alcohol makes me--"

"One little drink is not going to hurt, and it might loosen you up."

I don't usually drink anything stronger than Snapple, so that one little sledgehammer hit me pretty hard. The second and third ones hit even harder. I finally did make it onto the dance floor though and, with the lights flashing and the music pumping, even "got my groove on." Several times. I just don't remember how -- or with whom. I don't even remember how I made it home to bed that night. But, once there, I had a long, vivid, erotic, dream about meeting a gorgeous man and making passionate love all night.

I awoke hot and sweaty the next morning; the bed sheets inexplicably tangled around my ankles. Rolling over, I reached to retrieve them and froze--. I was not alone. Any foggy remnants of sleep evaporated instantly at the sight of the naked body lying next to me. The smooth, milk chocolate, brother snoring softly beside me was undeniably fine, but only vaguely familiar. When he felt me stir, he reached over and wrapped a muscular arm around me, hugging me back against his chest in an unmistakably intimate way. I felt his erection, stiffen and bump against my butt.

My heart -- and thoughts -- raced. What was I doing, waking from a sound sleep to find a total stranger in my bed? Several months of the "Daily News" most lurid crime headlines and a catalogue of AIDS statistics flashed across my mind until I noted -- with great relief -- three (!) empty condom wrappers strewn on the nightstand beside a Rolex watch worth more than my share of the national debt. Feeling a bit more secure, but still clueless, I relaxed somewhat and allowed my companion relax me even more.

Later, while he showered and I retrieved his clothes from behind and underneath the sofabed, I realized from where (besides the previous night's festivities) I knew my mystery man. Grinning boyishly up from the cover of a back issue of "T.V. Guide" on the coffee table, was my overnight guest. Better known as "Curtis", recent cast addition and prominent resident sex symbol on "Loved and Loveless", one of the soaps I watched each day before leaving for the theater. Stunned, I picked up the magazine and saw where he'd autographed it for me. "Hope you enjoy my performance tonight. Thanks for your support, Curtis a.k.a. Jamal Beckford." I had to sit down.

I was still sitting there when he emerged naked from the bathroom and stood there glistening while I admired his freshly scrubbed perfection and wondered exactly what type of "support" I had promised him. Once he began to dress, the ensuing conversation is a blur. That is, until I made the mistake of mentioning that I'd had no idea he was gay. The look he gave me would've stopped Mike Tyson in his tracks.

"What do you mean?" Caught offguard, I plunged ahead, explaining the obvious. "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about! I'm not gay!" Confused and not knowing any better, I pointed out the previous night's evidence to the contrary, but the brother was not having it. "I told you, I'm not gay." He repeated firmly. "...I just like to freak, sometimes."

I suppose I shouldn't have observed that he could just as easily have spent the night freaking with one of the many women at the party, because that's when he lost it completely. Started yelling and screaming, called me a "mudslinging, traitor-to-the race, black faggot" and threatened me with everyone from his agent, manager, publicist, bodyguard, and the network's libel lawyers -- to his cousins in Newark, Al Sharpton and the Million Man March. I could only stare blankly at him in amazement.

When my front door slammed behind him, I was still staring. And still sore. I knew I hadn't fucked myself. I listened for the "Twilight Zone" theme music. Despite occasional, adolescent experimentation, I'd never been contortionist enough to give myself head -- definitely not the expert, ravenous, deep throat I'd enjoyed the previous night. If he wasn't gay, he'd certainly gone out of his way to be polite.

As it turned out, that first night was no isolated incident. Ever the optimist, I continued dating and sleeping with the brothers whenever the opportunity presented itself. Invariably, afterwards, almost all of them insisted that they were straight. Most wouldn't even entertain the notion that they might be bisexual. Even after I stopped bothering to ask, they volunteered their heterosexual credentials: wives, girlfriends, children, etc. Conveniently, they always failed to correct my unfortunate misimpression until after a bout of hot, sweaty, sex.

The second time, it was a popular new jack balladeer with a heartthrob image and the reputation for being quite the ladies man. When he trooped into a Brooklyn after-hours jazz joint with a bunch of his "boyz", I recognized him immediately. They were having a rowdy good time, but our eyes kept meeting and I began to think to myself "Hmmmmmmm." When he unfurled his lanky frame, ran his hand casually through his dreadlocks and headed for the men's room, my curiosity got the better of me and I followed. He didn't acknowledge me when I entered the john. We were alone, so I positioned myself at the urinal beside his, the better to discreetly check out his "discography". I must not have been discreet enough.

"Looking for something" Startled, I looked up. Right into his sexy brown eyes.


"I noticed you checking me the club."

"I thought I recognized you, but I wasn't sure."

"So you followed me in here to get an...autograph?"

"I guess I just didn't believe someone like you would be in a dive like this."

"Oh, I'm a jazz buff from way back. Besides, it's my night out with the fellas and I'm trying to keep it low key, y'know." He had finished his business, but seemed in no hurry to put his impressive equipment away and zip up. "The press always tries to twist shit into shit." I nodded sympathetically and he strolled to the sink to wash his hands. His reflection in the mirror caught me checking out his muscular butt. He grinned. "Is that your man, out there?"

"Who? Where? Oh. No, just a friend, grabbing a late bite after work."

"Sounds like fun."

"You certainly seem to be enjoying yourself with your crew."

"Something tells me I could have a better time with you tonight. Think you could ditch your friend?" He laughed at the look on my face. "Meet me outside...if you're still hungry" I went back to my companion, told the biggest, fastest, lie possible -- then walked outside. He was waiting for me in a champagne-colored Lexus. When I got in, he cranked up a slow jam station on his system and started singing along. I know it sounds corny, but it worked. The impromptu concert for one that began in the car, was finished in the guest room of a friend of a friend's Park Slope walk-up where -- after spending the rest of the night running through his quite extensive repertoire of sexual acrobatics -- we fell asleep.

It was the next morning, when I inadvertently let the "G" word slip. I wasn't even referring to him. I was talking about myself. But brotherman hit the door faster than a Diana Ross CD hits the cut-out bin. The next time I saw him, was three months later on the Soul Train Awards. He was escorting some scantily-clad hootchie with extensions who clung to his arm tightly and smirked smugly for the cameras. "Please..., " I thought to myself, reaching for the remote. "...if she only knew."

The straw that finally broke the camel's back came later. I met this dude in the Village. I was heading for the subway after dinner and a movie with friends. He honked, then leaned across the front seat of his jeep to ask if I had a light. Once I got a good look at his bald head, goatee and the fine dusting of black hair that trailed down his muscled chest and rippled stomach into a well-packed pair of sweats, I told him there was a book of matches in my apartment on the table next to my bed. He popped the lock and I got in.

When I emerged from the bathroom wearing nothing but "CK-be" and a smile, he had already fired up a joint and was reaching for the biography of James Baldwin that lay open on the nightstand. He flipped through a few pages, then tossed it aside disdainfully.

"What's the matter?"

"I heard he was a faggot. What are you doing reading that shit?"

Now, physically, this brother was perfection. I mean, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say he made Tyson Beckford...look like Steve Urkel. His mahogany nakedness seemed to glow against my white sheets as I stood there another moment, watching him stroke his growing erection and trying to pretend that I had misunderstood him. But it was no use. I sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. My guest offered me a hit off the joint. When I shook my head, he shrugged and his biceps bulged as he took a final hit, then stubbed it out in my MOMA ashtray.

"If you don't want none of that joint..." He growled, fisting his ebony hardness. "...then how about some of this one?" Just as I was weakening, I noticed James Baldwin's picture staring at me from the back of the book on the nightstand. I sighed again, knowing what I had to do.

I was kicking myself as soon as the door closed behind him. Just thinking about what might have been, I beat off twice that night and still went to sleep evil and horny. But the next morning, when the trash trucks and sunshine streaming through my open window woke me, I propped myself up on the pillows and finished reading the Baldwin book.

Someday my black prince will come...hopefully. But when he does, I want him to be someone I don't have to hide out with in the shadows. Someone who knows who he is and what he wants. And, if it hasn't happened yet, it's a lot more likely now that I've cleaned house, cleaned up my act...and stopped rummaging around in closets.

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