Charcoal on Paper
Artwork from the short story “Faery Hill” by Michael Aaron Casares.
Charcoal on Paper
Artwork from the short story “Faery Hill” by Michael Aaron Casares.
I gazed at the skyline, hypnotized by its dim outline against the darkening gray-purple sky. The orange had faded near a horizon I could not see. I could make out the rough edges of each edifice, the precise architecture of each construction, but as I gazed at them, the buildings began to mesh into each other. They began to soften and their color deepen until eventually they were spires of verdant knolls. I’d never seen such a thing. The sky settled to a deep midnight cerulean, speckled with stars. The streets had changed, too. They’d become darkened dirt roads, compressed and chilled, mud lined with lush and thick grass, tailored and groomed neatly. I could not see well in the dim night, but torches lined the street all the way to Faery Hill. I continued on, trying not to limp. I felt my strength leaving my legs and arms. The torches lit the way, but every few minutes, a glowing light would flutter by, sparkling whispers and luminescence casted around it. The lights flew by in pinks and greens, purples and blues and zipped into the air, climbing and dodging between the verdant knolls and hills. This profound hallucination was so immaculate, I felt myself short of breath, and I felt my heart start to race again. The drug had grabbed a hold of me. I stopped. I had to shake it off. I had never had a bad trip on the drug before, but I’d also never been so immersed in a delusion before. I rubbed my eyes and blinked repeatedly. The green spires and towering column knolls had vanished, and in their place, the same tired buildings that populated downtown. The fire torches were gone, too, and once again were street lights. There were no neon fire flies zipping by, only the somber darkness of a sky muted by dull city lights and reticence. Everything I’d seen before vanished to normalcy. I slouched my way up the road. A car or two passed by. I was already in downtown proper again, and on the streets of Faery Hill. The stores and restaurants were lit for the evening, and the bars had all come to life. Traffic would be substantially less on the highways now, a steady flow. Here on the streets, though, traffic was picking up again. The late dinner crowd was arriving for the bars and the restaurants. Some of the shops would close soon. The workers and the consumers of the world were changing guard for the night.
My proprietors lived off Fourth in a corner of Faery Hill not many traveled. It was dingy and dirty, and just beyond their complex was a construction site and dirt hills. It was not an attractive spot and only homeless, cruisers, and drug users occupied its shadows and corners. The complex rounded the street and was a literal dead end where thru traffic was concerned. My sellers were quiet, but cordial. Two guys were all I ever saw. I supposed they were lovers, but, to be honest, I didn’t even know if they were gay. They were both very attractive so I gathered, even if they weren’t gay, they were gay. I notified them of my arrival via text while I walked. They were cool with me stopping in. The entrance was to the left of the building, on the far side of the street from where I was coming. I had composed since leaving The Catalan, but I’d used all my paper towels and was afraid of what would happen if I started to bleed again. I guess if it were a drug related symptom, they would know.
As I approached their door, I felt another wave creeping up on me. It was like gravity was prickling the back of my skull, persuading me, coaxing me to reel back into a delusion. I stood in front of the door, wanting to knock, but also wanting this feeling to wash away. I steadied my eyes as I watched sparkling white lights slowly float from my peripherals forward. Then, a blue glowing spot fluttered by with a slight buzz. The door reflected the blue. I looked up, panicked. The door stood, the only remnant I recognized of my world. It was the entrance to the deep green, leafy mound that stood before me, and towering green spires surrounding it. The door opened and a hand seized my arm and pulled me forward. I gasped, uttering a brief shock. I was ushered in by a pair of hands that pulled and pushed at me urgently.
“Get in,” a voice said. I didn’t see anybody until the door was closed. A soft purple light turned on and I knew immediately I was in the anteroom of my proprietors.
“I—,” I began to speak, but I stammered instead.
“Don’t talk. It’s okay.” I felt his hands on my shoulders. His grasp had gentled, I supposed because I exhibited some sort of coherence. I wonder how bad I looked.
“You are much farther along than we’d expected.”
Wait. What? We walked forward. The halls were nice, elegant with crown molding and carved wooden paneling that was bisected by stone white walls. The details were almost lost in the purple light. I still did not see my counterpart.
“You’ve been using haven’t you? We could tell the moment you walked up to the door. The energy was magnificent.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The Faery Dust. The drug you’ve been peddling for us.” My head began to spin. So this was the drug’s name. It made sense. I coulda’ figured that out myself, I guess. I was somewhat relieved my seller understood what was going on with me, because that meant that he could possibly help me, and at the same time, there was something that didn’t sit well with me. It was a strange energy. We continued down the hall, the light had begun to taper off, and color re-emerged as a torch lit the hall, casting shadows that fought with the already dim hues. At last I saw him. He was standing next to me, his hair long and fawnish; his jawline was strong but delicate; his lips regal, yet inviting, his body boyish, but firm. I couldn’t explain it.
“We’d like to thank you for the excellent job you’ve done. You were doing so well.” Finality was in his tone. I wondered where he was taking me as he ushered me through a door. This is where we usually did business. I had a moment of clarity as the drug receded. I could feel the marks on my face like ghost lines. My ears had started to hurt.
“You see, Alex. There is a certainty for those who enjoy partaking in Faery Dust. It changes you.”
“What are you talking about? You mean there’s side effects? What, what kind of damage does it do?”
“It changes you.” Before I’d realized it, there was some type of cuffs around my wrists. My heart jumped.
“Hey!” I screamed at him, but the effort only made me woozy. “What are you doing?”
“Faery Dust is a very important substance to us, Alex. And in order for us to keep it in production, certain actions must be taken. Its users, for instance eventually become its manufacturers.” My dealer walked forward, standing in front of me. There was something different about him. His skin seemed soft, his ears were like mine, long and pointed. He looked like a fairy from children’s books.
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
He walked forward, a ghost in the dim room. He looked me in the eyes, his gaze met mine and I saw a veneer of gloss that sparkled deep in his irises. His pupils were bottomless pits. He huffed acutely. Thin flaps of flesh, three on each cheek lifted on his face like gills, and flapped down. My heart sank as the marks reminded me of mine.
“The drug changes you, Alex.”
A giant luminescence expanded from his eyes. It began blue and purple and brightened to white, becoming a brilliant star that surrounded me. It was warm and blanketed my body. Shadows began to thin and disappear. The details of the room and my proprietor in front of me gone, everything vanished in the light.
“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part five of five.
My head began to swim. There were a few others in the bar besides the randoms sitting at the bar itself. A couple was near the stage at a high top nursing drinks and chatting. A young dude on his cell phone absentmindedly sipped his margarita. All in the shadow of the orange fire that burned in front of them. I felt my blood begin to thin and quicken. My heart palpitated. I leaned against the wall and looked up. I didn’t want to be conspicuous. I think I was starting to sweat. Then she came up to me. The cocktail waitress. Yes. I had been expecting her. She looked troubled, but smiled nonetheless. I smiled back at her. I ordered a whiskey coke. She walked away with a bow and a smile. I leaned against the wall again, and looked at the ceiling. It was a high ceiling bar. It seemed to get lost in the dim shadows. I felt a rush come over me, it rose like a chill that convulsed quickly through my body. I shook. I felt the drug coursing through me. A second surge of lust and exuberance. I rubbed my thigh with the palm of my hand. I inhaled deeply. The music came to my ears. Deep pulsing bass beats. Sweeping synthesizers accented by sparkling bells and trumpeting lyrics. A beautiful piece, by a pop mistress I didn’t know. I sighed, letting the wave come over me. My heart continued to thrum in my chest. The waitress returned with my whiskey coke. It was a double. I pulled my card out.
“On the house, Jack. Bosses orders.” Is all she said. I bowed, thankful. Then she turned and looked me in the eyes curtly.
“But I got ta’ say, you don’t look too good.” She looked closer at me, “I can’t really tell, but are you bleeding?”
“What?” What the heck was she going on about? The music wasn’t loud, but I was having a hard time grasping what she was saying.
“Nevermind. Enjoy your drink.” She walked away without so much as a smile. My mind swelled again and I turned away from her and the bar and looked to the stage and that bright neon sign. The color was bold, an orange with a reddish hue. It almost looked gold in some spots.
What was that waitress going on about though? I wondered. I sipped my drink. It was strong. I sucked a quarter down in one gust of my straw. I let the alcohol wash over my body. It seemed to temper the high. I sipped on as the music played. I felt my heart beginning to flutter as opposed to thrum. I supposed I was calming down. My skin didn’t feel hot and tingly and I was able to take full deep breaths. I’d finish my drink, maybe have a second, leave a healthy tip and be on my way. As my body began to regulate again, I felt a slight warm mark on my cheek. I touched it with my hand. It was moist. I must have been sweating. The poor waitress probably thought I looked a mess. As I pulled my hand away from my face I noticed my fingers appeared sullied and dark. Was it not sweat on my cheek? The color of the liquid on my fingers was almost black in the light; a nebulous, purple bedazzled with black glitter in the blood orange neon light. I put my drink down, and nearly stood up. I seized, remembering to be inconspicuous. I felt the drug’s influence returning. I was starting to panic inside about my face and whether or not it was blood on my hand. I wanted to go. But, I felt paralyzed by the drug, afraid to move, afraid I’d do something obvious and awkward and everyone would know. I stalled for a second, miles stretching between heartbeats.
I had to know. I stood up firmly and walked passed the bar and its denizens, the tenders and the flies, and avoided the nagging sensation that I was being watched. The bathrooms were at the back, down a hallway that led to an exit. Everything was black: the hallway walls, ceiling, floors. Dim red orange fixtures kept with the bars theme. In the bathroom, I approached the sink. The mirrors above them were dim lit with a hazy, dull yellow. I saw the crimson streaks on my cheek. It startled me. Thin lines stretched across my cheek. I could see where my fingers had made a mess. What scratched me? I wondered. It caused me to bleed and I didn’t even realize. I turned my head in the mirror, and was shocked to see thin lines on my other cheek, too. There were three that stretched from the corner of my mouth to the base of my earlobe. Thin streaks like ink slid from each cut. My heart started to race, but I did everything I could to coax myself to remain calm. I turned the water on, grabbed some paper towels and proceeded to clean my wounds. I was stunned. As I gazed in the mirror at my cuts, I noticed my flesh would lift, like deep, thin slivers. How deep were these gashes? I looked in the mirror again, the water running. My body felt weird, like a low humming electric charge was coursing through it. I was grateful the place wasn’t busy or there’d probably be some guy asking me questions and making small talk. I continued to wipe away the stains. As I gazed at the reflection, my attention was caught. I looked twice suddenly caught off guard. Was it a trick of the drug I’d used, or was I losing my mind? The iris of my eyes had become angular, half diamonds. Almost like cat eyes. I peered harshly at them as my heart rate rose. I gazed in my eyes’ reflection. I looked for their color. They used to be typical brown, only hazel in the light. Now they seemed to be blue, or purple. I looked deeply in them and suddenly saw muffled bursts of light and reticence. They began to glow and sparkle.
I freaked out. I pulled myself from the mirror, turning fully away from the scene. I breathed heavily. I grabbed at my ears, placing my hands on my cheeks, my fingers caressing the lobes. I could feel the thin sheaths of flesh underneath on my palms. They were warm. I ran my fingers up my ears, stressed by the drug. Confused by what it was making me feel and see. My ears, for example, now felt long, the cartilage much harder and stiff. I gasped as I felt the rigid point they came to, the flesh so callous it felt like soft bone. I started to hyperventilate, as I turned to the mirror again. I looked so pathetic holding my ears as my cheeks began to streak the deep crimson streams I worked so hard to clean. Suddenly, my head swooned. I felt dizzy, dazed. My vision and hearing became amplified, my eyes bubbled and my hearing piqued. I needed to get out of there. The vibes of the Catalan were usually much better. I hoped this was all a trip, and that hallucination was a part of the drug I’d never experienced, or perhaps the consequence of extended use. I knew where I could get answers.
I cleansed my cheeks again of the blood that seeped from the cuts, gathered a handful of paper towels, and left the men’s room, heading back to the exit. The door was a through way, and exited to an alley. The main difference between this neighborhood and Faery Hill, was there was far more green and trees, even just on the outskirts of Faery Hill proper. There was a green square in Faery Hill where they had festivals and concerts, but that was about it. Faery Hill was concrete, downtown, and constrained. I walked the alley feeling woozy. Not from blood loss was my initial hope. I touched my cheeks and inspected my fingers. There were no blood stains. I took that as a good sign. I walked forward. I had decided to visit my proprietors and under the guise of re-upping, get some answers to what was happening. The wooziness hit me again and caused me to stumble a little. This trip felt much different from others. The rush I usually felt inside my head seemed to cast its influence over my extremities. It felt difficult to walk, but at the same time, it may have all been in my head. Damn, the drug. I made it out of the alley and on to the sidewalk of a main street. I turned the corner and was in front of The Catalan again. It had gotten much darker out and the street signs and business had begun to light up. The buildings were cast in shadow and formed a crooked skyline of monolithic silhouettes. Office buildings, apartment homes, their lights speckled the dark. I walked forward hoping I looked alright, staring at the city before me, heading back to Faery Hill.
“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part four of five.
We walked through the back of the bar again and out to the patio. Nobody was occupying the space as the day light was still far too bright. There was a semi rusted metal exit door. We walked out, Adam not keen on using openly on property. The alley was wide enough for a city garbage truck to pass through, but no two-way traffic; the backs of buildings lined the alley all the way to the book-ending streets. I thought the roads were trashy, but the alleys were worse. Puddles of brown and gray water sat, deflated reflections of cracked walls and dusty windows glaring at us. We moved to the side of the bar, where a narrow passage ran to the front of the bar between two buildings. The passage was blocked with a boarded fence. All types of trash and debris littered the ground.
“It’s safe here. No one will see us.” Adam assured. He pulled a glass pipe from his front pocket and reached into his back pocket, pulling out his wallet. A tiny gram baggie of the silver white dust hung, pinched between excited fingertips. I felt a surge of energy welling up inside me. My body was anticipatory. Not much was needed to get a high. Adam pulled a silver stem out of his wallet next. It was a metal tool of some sort I’d never seen before. It had a scoop shaped head. He dipped it in the bag, a perfect little mound atop the tool. He dumped it in the mouth of the pipe. He handed it to me as he searched for a lighter. Once found, he motioned the pipe back to him and lit up. The flame licked the bottom of the glass pipe for a few seconds and then I heard a familiar crackling sound. The stuff was beginning to melt and fume. A faint white mist began to rise from the dust. Slowly it began to turn magenta, and then purple. It was ready to inhale. Adam sucked the smoke in quick and handed me the device, a few beats till he started coughing. I mimicked his technique and inhaled the drug. It tasted mechanical, like metal and copper wires. It fizzled slightly in my mouth as it went down. I felt a heavy pocket in my lungs that slowly expanded from my chest outward into my various extremities and eventually to my head. I felt a bubble in my head, my eyes began to fishbowl. I rubbed my arms, my skin tingling and suddenly becoming sensitive. Adam was going through the same thing, rubbing his arms up and down, gasping and gagging in some type of ecstasy. He started massaging his crotch with an open palm.
“Oh, man. That feels good.” He giggled, “damn.” Adam looked me in the eyes, his grin silly looking beneath his manly ‘stache. I was dazed, caressing my forearms and thighs. I felt alert, but my sense of touch had become heightened. I felt a rush coming. Adam kept rubbing his crotch.
“Damn, man. I need it right now.” Adam started unbuttoning his jeans. “I need it now, Alex. Give me some.”
I was in no state to disagree with Adam. His jeans were already down his knees, his cock bulging and struggling against his boxer briefs.
“Give it to me.” He leaned forward and kissed me roughly, his lips on top of mine, leaving them moist and slick. He grabbed my dick and started fondling it aggressively. I was already aroused. We started making out, kissing and breathing loudly. I felt everything, and that rush of the drug had overcome me. I felt heightened and dizzy, a wired state of drunkenness. Adam pulled his underwear down and leaned against the wall, pushing his ass into my crotch, moving it up and down against my hardened shaft. The sensitivity made me moan. His flesh was warm, his ass was firm and round. Without hesitating I penetrated him, the head of my cock struggling to enter at first, but then, after a few hard pushes, a few hard sighs, I eased into Adam. The heat of his body was too much for me. We became loud and aggressive, his toned ass swiveling against my waist. We fucked for about ten minutes before I came. He came from the sheer pleasure of feeling me inside him, working over his prostrate. We were both still high as we pulled our pants up, laughing to each other. My mind more than swirled now. It swam in waves. I felt good. I felt lucid, but mellow, like my body had been massaged for an hour. The rush of the drug had left with my ejaculations.
“Fuck man. That was good. Thanks, Lex.” Adam said. He leaned over and kissed me again, his tongue breaking through my lips, his mustache tickling my flesh. He pulled away and winked at me. “I better get inside.”
“For sure.” I said.
“Come on in. I’ll get you another drink. Maybe Eric’ll wanna come out back with ya.” I felt my body stiffen at the prospect. I hadn’t tried Eric, yet. I knew he liked my drugs though.
“Nah,” I said, and I noticed obvious relief on Adam’s face. “I’m good, man. I should probably skedaddle. But, uh, I enjoyed that very much.”
Adam smiled back at me. “I know I did.” He turned and started walking out of the passage way, “Alright, man. Well, I guess I’ll see you around soon, then.”
“I’ll be around.” Adam turned the corner and headed back into the bar. I lingered in the corridor for a few more minutes, getting my bearing, deciding where I’d go next. Aside from the still-congested traffic, I wanted this high to come down just a bit before I started to drive, and a second or third rush was also bound to come. I walked out of the narrow pass and into the alley, looking up and down it in both directions. Filth cracked asphalt and the gray light of a dimming sun once orange in the sky greeted me. My high was strong still, I’ll felt totally lucid, but everything had a cushion, and everything seemed clear. Everything felt bearable. The dirty alley was filled with trash, yes, but there was a reason that trash was there. Someone had left it there. And that suddenly made it okay. The rancid stenches that attacked you in variant corners, the grime and sewage, everything a byproduct of a natural reaction—it was organic in spite of its insipid presence. I looked around as I walked forward. Maybe I could hop around and go to another bar. Hell, I could probably go through another back patio somewhere.
I made it to the end of the street before I knew it. Cars moved at a swift pace over a cross of four lanes. I wasn’t interested in crossing the street just yet. I hung a left and walked up Conner Street, which ran perpendicular to 6th street, home of Faery Hill and the likes. I was headed north of that though. To a place I could ride out my high peaceably. The city had gotten darker outside the alley. Night fell fast. The gray light had become a dust, deepening the shadows and softening their edge. I walked forward. I looked average as possible, inconspicuous. People walked by me. I did my best to look ahead or look down. A couple blocks down and I was at The Catalan. It was just outside of Faery Hill proper, in other words, out of the gayborhood, but it was a nice place and the bartender, who I think was the owner, was very easy on the eyes. Like Jack Lat’s, The Catalan was dark. No matter what time of day, when you walked into The Catalan you were greeted immediately with a dim blood orange glow, and not much else. A wall size neon sign adorned the back wall of The Catalan; it named the place for itself as the center piece. It was nice to look at. Candles lit the high tops that lined the back wall. The front wall were black-glossed windows with a matte finish. They kept the daylight out. The Catalan had its own charm, and had been around for a long time. The back wall was also a stage, and had hosted dozens of live acts throughout the decades. Unfortunately, The Catalan did observe the smoking ban, and was a clean whiff when you walked in. It smelled more of mop soap and spilled beer. I was feeling light and a little dizzy. They table serviced at The Catalan until dark, so I sat in a corner about half to the back. It was nice. It would be a good place to ride out my high.
“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part three of five.
I parked on the street. There was always parking at this time, the time just after the dinner rush, but before the bar rush. I lit a cigarette as I got out of my car. Jack Lats’ was one of the only establishments in the whole city that allowed their patrons to smoke. A city ordinance had banned the activity from all public business, but the owners fought for their right to allow smoking in their establishment. An obnoxiously bold sign was posted outside that read, “This establishment allows smoking in doors. If you don’t like it, take your butt somewhere else.” They’d been sued, of course, but won the case as a privately owned business. It didn’t hurt their bottom line. A lot of gay people were smokers.
I walked into the bar, my eyes immediately accosted by its dim presence. The neon signs lit like beacons on the wall above the main bar and around the room. The dance floor was not on. It was too early for all of that. A few drinkers scattered throughout the place. A couple in the corner, awkwardly close to each other, a few friends grouped at the bar corner, a few more pairs sitting at high tops puffing away and laughing. The juke box was playing a kick-back Madonna in her retro, dance glory. Adam was working the bar, a client. He looked up when I walked in and smiled, winking as he mixed a drink for a solo barfly. He turned to me when done.
“Hey, my man, what’s going on?” He was a mullet wearing, mustache baring gay man. A Village Person in the flesh, I always thought, and wondered how the gay culture had circled back around to that stereotyped look. Facial hair, groomed or not, had become a fad among the gays again. Made it a little easier to distinguish a top from a bottom, but that was beside the point.
“Not much. Just doin’ my rounds, you know.” I looked at him squarely. He knew I meant business.
“Cool, cool. Can I get you a drink? I’ll go get Danny.”
“Sure.” He always served on the house. Another perk of being a drug dealer. I never had to tell him what I wanted. He always knew. A whiskey man, I flavored it up with a coke and a splash of grenadine. My own Jack Cherry Coke. No one else ordered it, he told me once. Tossed a couple of cherries in it. James disappeared from the bar, walking to the back where the office was. By the time I’d about finished my cocktail, he’d returned, inviting me back. No one paid attention to us, consumed by their beverages and company. Smoke wafted in the air, billiards clicked, Madonna was on a marathon, a modern era song now pulsing with the latest synths and rave beats.
“Lexxie!” Danny squealed. “Well if it isn’t my favorite top daddy in the whole wide world!” Danny wasn’t the only one whom referred to me as Lexxie, but I did prefer Alex. He was a total blouse from what I’d been told. I’d never known him sexually, despite being invited to numerous parties throughout our brief history together. I never went even though I could probably wrack up new business. I was particular about my clients, and didn’t need many. It also helped keep a low profile and limited the amount of runs I’d have to make. Sometimes all you needed were the right people to be successful.
The office was small, but nice. It looked clean and everything seemed to be in proper place. The lights were provided by a few table and floor lamps. The carpet looked new and clean. He remained at his desk; a multi-drawered credenza. A flat screen computer, paperwork and files, and a desk lamp sat idle before him. There was a long couch and coffee table to the right, ash trays and pillows decorated the furniture. A small fridge sat in the corner, and a large cabinet occupied opposite corner. The place was well put together and not what you’d expect in a dive like this. Danny was clean faced with a short, styled coif, and fit with toned arms. He wore a tight black shirt and slacks. He was older than he looked, more of a daddy than I was.
“Thanks for stopping by, Alex. I always appreciate the visit.” I liked how Danny got straight to business. He never seemed big on wasting time.
“For sure.” Danny stood up and opened one the doors on his credenza’s second level.
“Sooo,” he intoned, “A G for an 0, right?”
Danny hadn’t bought as much before. He musta’ been prepping for a party or something, “Yessir.” I dug into my coat pocket. I pulled out a baggie of pearly silver white dust. It was best smoked. I couldn’t imagine this drug been around long enough for people to try different, crazy ways of consuming it. As far as I knew, no one had ever mainlined it. Danny licked his lips as we made the exchange.
“Thanks, Alex. I deeply appreciate it,“ he said again. I think he was fiending.
“For sure, man. Anytime. As long as I stay wired, I’ll always be there for you.”
Danny shook my hand and pulled me in for a hug. It was customary with him. I embraced back as he stroked my back with a flat hand. I semi forced a release. He laughed. We didn’t much small talk, and it was okay by me. I was usually in and out. Sometimes I caught a drink, other times a hit with Brett, another bartender. I hadn’t seen him this time.
“I guess I’ll see you around, Danny.” He bowed and agreed cordially. I hugged him again, and turned away. The scene was not as awkward as it read, it was just extremely formal. A business transaction.
“Be sure to grab a couple drinks on me. Adam, you take care of Lexxie.” Danny was pointing in the air towards Adam, who stood by the door looking at his phone.
“Sure thing, Danny.”
Adam, the mustached and mulleted bartender and I walked out of the office, back into the dim sanctuary of the dive bar. I had a couple more drinks at the bar with him. It was the best way to pass rush hour in this city. Madonna was still playing on the jukebox. Musta’ been a die-hard fan in the audience today. He gossiped a bit about Danny, remarked how he was throwing a smasher in honor of Jimmy, a good friend that’d gone missing. He’d been ill, and then one day just was gone. We took a shot to Jimmy. My head began to swirl a bit. Motion swiveled. Another bartender came in. Eric. Eric was a hot, young one. His toned and muscled physique was a fan favorite and a reason why he worked the night shift. He created more loyal patrons in his waist-hi jeans, the band of his jockstrap usually riding over his beltline, making patrons thirstier every time he turned around. Adam and I shared another shot as Eric finished his set-ups. All the barflies were to themselves at the moment, none requiring attention or another round. Adam and I had been laughing and enjoying each other’s company when he asked if I wanted to share a hit with him out back. I obliged, not intent on leaving downtown yet. The traffic was still thick.
“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part two of five.
My heart rate was elevated and steady. Perspiration beaded down my temples, sliding below my jaw line. He was warm, almost hot on my skin. We’d been fucking long enough we’d both caught a sweat, the lubrication of which caused our flesh to slip against each other. It turned me on more. I felt my body tense, my veins tighten, my joints lock. The shock of release always stopped my breath. Jarod moaned, the presence of my discharge heavy in his body. I sighed, relieved. He sighed, content. I didn’t do this often, but I’d known Jarod for a long time. He was one of the only ones I enjoyed bare. He was one of the only ones who let me. Jarod pulled himself off me, my dick already becoming flaccid, though still sensitive and pulsing. He turned around and looked at me from the bed. He smiled, pressing his head into the pillow, moving his head side to side as if still in a state of ecstasy. He shrugged his pale shoulders comfortably, his naturally thin body with a sheen in the dim light.
“That felt so good.” He said, giggling. I agreed, braced over him like a captor. I looked him in the eyes. We got together every now and then to enjoy each other’s company, and other things. We could go for hours, and sometimes I was game for that, but usually I needed sometime to recoup my vitality.
“We should do it again. Did you take one of those pills?” he asked caressing my forearm with his fingertips.
“Awwww.” He whined coyly. He sighed lightly again, “Well, there’s always next time. Thanks for bringing by my package.”
“Of course.” I was Jarod’s delivery boy, as he liked to call me. Once a week or so I’d stop by with his usual purchase. A fun drug that was popular among the community. When I became open about selling I was surprised at the attention I started getting from all the boys. I had gone from invisible to a desirable john. That’s how it felt anyway. But Jarod had always been there. He’d been around long before them. We even started using together before I invested in selling. I was not the kind to use drugs for sex; I’ll admit I allowed myself to if the boy was hot: slim waist, thick hips, round ass, cute face, but it was nothing like me and Jarod. I thought of him as a friend, too. I had my rounds to do before the night was done.
“You making deliveries today, huh?” he asked, sitting up. I had hopped off the bed, kicking off the damp sheets.
“Yeah. You up to anything later? Maybe I can swing back around?”
“I’m free all day.” Jarrod perked up.
“Cool. You’ll probably be riding that till I get back.” He smiled.
I made my rounds, trying to sell out before too long. It wasn’t hard. I had a few clients in the city’s northwest where those living comfortably above median income stayed. Tea Town it was called. Some people referred to it as hill country, but I knew better. It was just greener per capita with highly groomed lawns and tall security walls. It wasn’t the true hill country of rolling verdant mounts, and small rocky peaks. My clients lived there all the same. These were the ones that bought the most. They were typically older men, overweight, balding, or flesh a withered paper bag. They always asked for sex. Sometimes I let them give me a blow job, but I made it clear that the favor was in no way for exchange of goods. It was to sate their appetite. They could use the drug for whatever activities they had that did not include me. With this drug in their arsenal, it was no problem. It was a favorite aphrodisiac in the scene. Everyone was using it.
By the time I left Tea Town half my day was gone and I’d head south to the city center. There were several clients downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods. The area had become more gentrified over the years, to the point that buyers were paying hundreds of thousands for shit properties that’d been around for decades and never saw money or care. The curse of new money struck the town about one to two decades ago, and it had seen rapid growth in development, but a decline in heart and morale. More people called the streets home these days, and more homes became B&B’s and law offices, studios and tech agencies. It was amazing to me how many of these affluent types were into drugs, there was a consistent patronage here. And they were all gay. My people.
It didn’t bother me at first. I thought it was great, the ability to fit into the private lives of so many well-to do and prominent people. Even the ones popular in the scene considered me their friend. I was the go-to guy. Not many people deal’d what I had and it was hard to come by. Of course, what they didn’t know is that my provider dealt exclusively with me. But I was the one responsible for introducing and spreading the latest craze in recreational drug use. The drug was best described as giving users the alertness and high of ice and the rush and euphoria of poppers. It nearly lasted as long, too. It was great for sex. People used it everywhere, from private homes, to clubs, to bathhouses and who knows where else. I’d turned a profit running the junk, and had nurtured a healthy nest egg for myself. Far as I knew, no one had ever OD’ed on it; my benefactors assured me it was harmless as weed. They said there were no side effects. I couldn’t believe it when I first tried it. Something this good had to have side effects. They also never talked about where it came from or how it was made. It was mysterious to me as my benefactors. I started having doubts about the whole thing when some of my longtime buyers began to disappear. It was no big deal at first. At first I thought they’d just stopped using, but then it was three buyers, then four and five. I began to doubt the side effects claim and knew something was up.
Driving through traffic was a pain. Sometimes it took three times the drive time it would when traffic was light. Twenty minutes to cross the city became an hour if I was lucky. The city loomed before me as I approached it on the interstate. What had once been a gorgeous skyline, crystalline views on a blue cloudless day, now seemed hazy and jaundiced. Proud, modern buildings that once gleamed, now dulled in the haze of dusk. The buildings had become expectant sentinels demanding reverence; they were no longer inviting and desirable. The once verdant parks had begun to keel, the trees baring their skeletons, the grass patching to dirt and filthy soil. I exited the interstate on a down ramp, a tall concrete edifice advertising local law enforcement: a female officer, a smile beneath accusing eyes, some message about drinking and driving. Half the straight men in the city would probably drive drunk if it meant being pulled over by her. As I slipped below the ramp to street level, the sky light changed. It went from a putrid yellow orange, to overcast shadows and gray. Red brake lights lined the street for a mile. Drivers waited with frustration in their cars, isolated lone drivers trying to get home, trying to get wherever they needed to go, probably running late, always forgetting about the traffic, never planning ahead. I always did the same, but fortunately where I had to be was usually on my time. Trips during rush hour had become a practice in patience, and I had patience in reserves.
I was headed to an area of downtown called Faery Hill. It was a ‘neighborhood’ for the alternative lifestyle. Gay bars and clubs, gay owned stores, specialty shops and restaurants, the local bathhouse, gay B&B, all sequestered to a chain of blocks on the west end of downtown. There were some high end boutiques and restaurants north and south of the strip, but Faery Hill was more inviting for the traveler, price-wise, and looked it—well traveled, diverse, and used. Incidentally, this was also where my dealers lived. I had to make a run to one of my preferred watering holes, Jack Lats’ Inn. It wasn’t the most popular bar on the strip. It was old, it was dark, but it was reliable. It reminded me more of a dive bar with a small, LED lit dance floor and several pool tables toward the back. The patio looked out onto a back alley where drunks went to purge their wasted earnings, and the homeless used for a private latrine. The owner and bartenders were nice, and half of them were my clients. They’d put in a sizable order and were expecting me shortly after opening. Late as it felt, I was on time.
“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part one of five.