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Excerpt from Arcade
There was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle parked by the door when I pulled into the lot, and I got the idea that I had to connect with its owner. He was easy enough to spot once I was inside. It’s never a mystery with those guys. They’re all such brand junkies. Everything Harley-Davidson. The whole basis of the culture is supposed to be this anti-corporate rebellion and free-spirited journeying out into the world of adventure and unpredictability, but these guys are absolute slaves to the brand name. All of their clothes say Harley-Davidson on them somewhere. Their credit cards, wallets, baby clothes, teddy bears, coffee mugs, shot glasses, Christmas ornaments, their pocketknives, pencils and pens. It’s not sufficient that everyone in the family is labeled, they must be tagged from head to toe in apparel sanctioned and produced by Harley-Davidson, Inc. No other adult fashion phenomenon rivals it.
The part that gets to me most is that the whole thing suggests a tremendous amount of disposable income, which flies in the face of the working man image of motorcycle culture I had growing up, in particular as portrayed in the 1985 based-on-a-true-story film Mask, starring Eric Stoltz as Rocky Dennis, a teenager afflicted with Craniodiaphyseal Dysplasia, a disorder that made his skull grow in unusual ways, so that his head was enormous and oddly shaped. In the film, Cher plays his mother, a biker chick surrounded by her biker friends. Outsiders themselves, Cher’s gang of biker friends serves as an unconventional family for Rocky, accepting him without reservation despite his radical deformity. The same movie could never be made today. The guys with Harleys would be weekend warrior types in the highest tax brackets. They might attend a benefit for Rocky, but would never become a surrogate family to him or even otherwise acknowledge his existence.
The Harley guy at the arcade was mid-forties, relatively fit, short hair. He looked like the kind of guy who might hold season tickets to his college football team, who drives an expensive pickup that he washes obsessively when he isn’t on his bike. He was wearing a Harley t-shirt, naturally. When I found him among the racks of movies in the store and asked the time, he checked his Harley-Davidson wristwatch. He was actually a little too classically good-looking to be my type, but he was close enough. We went to the hallway and found a booth. He touched me a bit and I touched him. It was always an uncertain moment. No one knows where things are going at first. I could tell he wasn’t getting what he wanted.
“To be honest,” he said, “I just came out here to get a blow job. Would you mind?”
He was so attractive and unusually well-mannered, I considered it for a moment.
“Actually, I don’t do that out here,” I told him finally, getting myself back into my pants. “You won’t have a hard time though. You look great.”
I meant what I said, that it wouldn’t be difficult finding someone willing to go down on him even if it meant no reciprocation. There are innumerable men who are happy to fellate other men regardless of whether they will receive services in return. In online ads every day, scores of men make the same offer. “You come over, watch some porn. Straight or gay, I’ve got ‘em both. Pull down your pants and let me give you the best blowjob of your life. No recip required.”
These insatiable cocksuckers have transcendent experiences giving head. They’re happiest when they’re at it. It’s amazing. You can’t believe it when you connect with one of them. It’s simultaneously incredibly fun and mildly terrifying, particularly when you imagine all the legs they’ve sat between on the floor, just there to perform a service. Don’t mind me. There are thousands of videos online of truckers and roofers and deliverymen plopping themselves down on the sofas of these types of men. Their pants are down, their shirts are on. Squeals are audible from an off-camera TV, the sounds of a female porn performer. Sometimes the guy will have a remote control in his hand, fast-forwarding to the good parts. Or a cigarette or a beer. They exert the full force of their will in striking the image of straightness, which they pull off surprisingly well considering that their genitals are in the mouths of other men.
Later that same week, I had an encounter with a second biker at the arcade. He was equally easy to spot, though he was far from the weekend warrior type. This one looked like he might actually have been a friend to old Rocky Dennis and Cher back in the Mask days. I could see a crowd gathering in one of the booths. I tried it and found the door unlocked. Four guys, all with their pants undone and cocks in hand. On the floor knelt the biker, a thin middle-aged man with a ponytail and a long, gray beard. He wore no shirt and a sleeveless denim vest with a big patch sewn onto the back, reading “Lone Wolf – No Club.”
He was at the center of an incredible scene. The lone wolf brought men to climax one after another. No recip required. Men entered and left the booth. It smelled strongly. Our pheromones filled the air. I stood in the corner and watched. It was disgusting and vile and fascinating. The biker seemed to be in the throes of something. A born again Christian might have taken it as proof that possession was a reality. We all kept feeding tokens into the slot. I didn’t know where any of it was going. It went on and on.
I stayed and watched until no one was left in the place that hadn’t been in that booth. It had been a long time and a lot of men. I kept expecting myself to leave in the next minute, and the next, and the next. But I stayed. Before that, I hadn’t known something like what I’d witnessed could spontaneously occur.
In the end, I was alone with the lone wolf. I couldn’t get a handle on him. He seemed almost like a machine to me, but I knew he was a real person with a framed photo of his mother in an apartment or trailer home somewhere. He hadn’t said anything the entire time, and he didn’t say anything now. He stood up as I was putting my dick in my pants, his knees hurt from being on the floor for so long.
He was a mess. With his pants still around his ankles, he sat on one of the benches and took a red handkerchief from his back pocket. He tried to clean himself up.
“Thanks for letting me watch,” I said. “No problem,” he said, his voice gravelly and parched.
Drew Nellins Smith’s essays, reviews, and interviews have appeared in many places in print and online, including The Believer, Tin House, Paste Magazine, The Millions, The Daily Beast, and Electric Literature. He lives in Austin, TX. Arcade is his first novel.