COLLAPSE

By Alex Ciobanu

Dicks were flying at me from every direction, but I just couldn’t catch any. I sit on my bed and blow the smoke out towards the opened window, from a joint leftover from last night. I’m only a little drunk now. I watch the smoke fill the room, unveiled by the six different colors of the Tetris lamp. I’m still giddy with excitement over what transpired earlier. Frantic laughing took over me on the bus home, when the last dick flew in on a grey bubble at 4:50 am, an ex-fling drunk texting me, “Are you out tonight? I’m on my way to Vauxhall with a friend.”

It was merely a chuckle minutes earlier on the tube to Brixton, when Jack kissed me again and went out at Stockwell. I sat down, and just seconds later another ex walked by outside the carriage, waving hello with characteristic enthusiasm. I didn’t want it to end, to stamp out the joy of the absurd. I snickered all the way home in my palm. I remind myself now to keep laughing.

I used to decry being a club scene gay. It always felt like it stripped intimacy of its building blocks, one by one, until you get to the hole, or the phallus, depending on how you swing. I was better than that, I was an intellectual. Now it doesn’t really matter either way. Nothing feels good, but it’s fun to see people behave as if it does.

 

It’s in the way they all manifested at once. Potential, former. I went to the club because Patrick was going to be there. I’ve known him for a few months, and it’s always been the same, friendly conversations on Fridays or Saturdays that never went anywhere. I wanted this night, as I did all the other nights, to make me feel like there was a point to it. He’s a young Irish guy, with blue eyes, blond hair, and a beautiful, kind face that always seems inviting. Never to kiss him, though. Or to suck him off, anywhere, anytime. I would’ve, had it seemed at any moment that he was flirting. There seems to be something off about him. Almost too polite, seeming never aware that everyone around him wants to lick every inch of his chiselled abs, or his pecs and biceps carved like that of a Greek God. His demeanour is that of a stoner, but without having smoked any weed.

He makes me stupidly aware of my sex drive, as very few guys do. Once, on a night like this, I thought at the end we would be taking the bus together, as he lives in Streatham too. But standing outside the club, a friend of his approached him and offered him a ride home. There were always other friends interjecting, grabbing his attention. I was on the bus home, resigned to my unlucky sex life, when I saw him sitting alone at the stop in Brixton. Before I could react, the bus had left. I rushed out of my seat and mulled over whether to get out at the next stop and bolt over there. And I did. I ran down the street, but when I got there, he was gone.

I wish I was still that determined.

“Have you met Alex?” a regular customer asked Patrick, trying to introduce the two of us, taking me away from having just met Jack.

“Yeah, we’re good friends,” Patrick replied earnestly, cordially putting his hand on my shoulder.

I laughed so hard; I hid it, only a chuckle out loud. I moved away and started to dance, at moderate speed.

It’s absurd that we would be good friends, even friends at all. It’s short-sighted. Or maybe he is just a nice guy who likes to be friends with people. Maybe he’d prefer he weren’t considered just a piece of meat, which is what I’ve been technically doing. It’s all empty anyway.

Jack, a good-looking guy from Newcastle, about twenty-eight years old and dressed in a pink tight T-shirt, spent the better part of the next hour and a half trying to set me up with his friend, who backed away in embarrassment.

Matthew was an insanely handsome guy, wearing a regular sized plaid shirt and straight jeans, so obtrusively hetero looking that it was annoying and attractive. He’s twenty-four, working in Westminster; I dragged it out of him while waiting on the platform for his train, the only bits of information he could muster saying all night, besides “you’re cute too” spoken awkwardly by the bar earlier.

I wasn’t comfortable with being the self-assured one, to try to develop a rapport. It was all ridiculous anyway. I couldn’t understand why he was shy, this grown man with amazing features and the body of a jock. I sat on the bench next to him at 4:15 am, only a few minutes left before his northbound train was due, Jack on the other side. He needed to know I was worthy, that I wasn’t just some Romanian guy working in a gay bar. “I’m a writer, doing an MA at Westminster,” I told him.

“I work in Westminster. Maybe I’ll see you on Grindr,” he said, with a chuckle.

He could’ve just given me his number. Instead, his train came and he seemed shocked I didn’t go with him. There he stood, raising his arms in confusion, betraying his severe intoxication.

“I thought he knew I was going south,” I told Jack as we were walking to the other platform, “maybe you could give me his number.”

It never happened. Jack went into a self-deprecating speech about how he didn’t think I liked him, trapping me into saying he was a handsome guy. True as it may have been, “I like your friend better” were not words I could speak out loud. He kissed me, without an invitation or a sign that I wanted it. All I felt was his stubble irritating my skin.

I’ve done it before. I tend to let guys kiss me because I feel like they need that from me to feel good. I’m helping, it’s the least I can do. No one can do that for me anymore.

It’s funny how quickly Jack switched from pimp to client. “You always date assholes,” he told Matthew earlier, while I stood there watching in amusement as Matthew squirmed and looked for any way to flee from the pushiness. What made them think I’m a good guy? I was just there, responding to social cues.

“I’m not going to ask you to come back to mine or anything. What I want you to take away from tonight is that you’re a really sexy guy,” Jack told me as he we were approaching Stockwell.

 

I was never going to go home with Jack, or Matthew. I didn’t need him to raise my self-esteem. I know I’m a good-looking guy. Do I come across as someone who needs to be reassured? Isn’t it pointless anyway? All I have is myself, and I find that arrogance is necessary to function. It’s fun to see how absurd it is for people to rely on others for fulfilment. I’m free. It’s amusing how empty it all is; it’s the attitude I adopted recently. It’s entertaining to strain social standards.

The weed makes my head spin and I lie down. In an instant, I turn on myself. It’s not joy. It’s all a sham I built around myself so that I don’t break down in insignificance. I’m stupidly aware of my every feeling, and I see myself as a derivative puppet, whose thoughts and emotions could never be valid in themselves. Do these people feel whole, authentic? I pick at the thought, like you’d do with a scab at the back of your head, one you can’t see but can’t help but remove, and I’m short of breath. My heart is pounding. That nothing matters is no longer comforting, it’s suffocating.

I turned the night into an absurdist scenario. I built on the coincidences. I wanted them to be funny and validate the new me, a reward for being so good at my positive spin on nihilism. But I twisted it too much now, and my head is bleeding because I took away the cover. It all should’ve been nothing more than a soundbite.

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