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All Things Equal by Chris Carr
It rained, that day, he’d never forget. The phone ringing incessantly in the background, he gazed at the smiling couple. For the umpteenth time that night, the answering machine came on, the familiar voice tugging at him.
Sometimes, late at night, the vision of him, standing in the rain, his image blurred through the rain streaked windshield haunted him, Jaime’s presence ever close. His scent, his supple, olive brown skin. The crucifix he wore around his neck and the sensation of it dragging lightly across his bare chest. Squeezing the picture, he closed his eyes, memories from that day rushing in.
The sky gray, the air had been somewhat chilly, a little unusual for Southern Cali. For some time he’d stood before the tangle of strange workings, but, try as he may, all he saw was a dead engine. Cars, headaches with wheels, he thought, closing the hood.
"Might be your battery." Glancing around, he caught first glimpse of him, standing opposite his car. His dark, menacing eyes, seizing him, he thumbed his head up as he approached. With a flutter, Bracey stilled himself, admiring the pencil thin growth of hair, encircling his ripe red lips, the trail terminating in a goatee, beneath his strong chin.
"Yo, pop yo’ hood," He instructed, standing in front of the car. Conceding, Bracey popped the latch, watching intently as he reached inside that confusion of amassed parts, directing Bracey to "start it up," a few minutes later. The stubborn car refusing to comply, he ducked his head under the hood, searching for another solution.
The skies darkening, Bracey exited the car, standing beside him as he jiggled wires and checked connections. With a loud clap of thunder, the first drops fell, wetting them instantly as it suddenly became a sound downpour. Fearing the worse, Bracey watched anxiously, the wet newspaper he held over them useless.
"Try it again."
Behind the wheel, he gazed at him, his confidence pitted against Bracey’s ambiguity. Astonished, when the engine roared to life, he watched as Jaime raised his hands in a celebratory gesture, closing the hood.
"Need to keep them cables clean," He admonished, flashing him smile. Did I just blush, Bracey thought.
"Jaime," He said, sticking his hand out.
"Bracey." Bracey shook his hand, a charge surging through his midsection at the touch.
"So… you stay close?" Bracey gave him a guarded look. Chuckling, Jaime reported, "It even like that," his slight accent, subtly lacing his words. "Your battery’s low and if your engine stops, you gonna be walkin’."
Following him home, he stopped only long enough to make sure everything was ok.
"A’ight, I gotta be out," He said at the door, "but if you like, we can kick it sometime."
Jotting his number down, he flashed Bracey one last smile and left.
Their first night out was wondrous, Jaime taking him to the Universal City Walk. A proud, same gender loving brotha, Bracey had rarely dated outside his race but this spirited, intriguing young Latino, was quickly melting his resolve.
Beneath the stars they traversed the busy walk, laughing and talking over hot sausages at Jody’s and sitting on the last row in the theater to watch "Rush Hour 2." Jaime refused to let him pay for anything, forking over money like it grew on trees.
"Don’t do this for everybody," He said, paying for their ticket, "so why don’t you just enjoy it, a’ight?"
Their disparate heritages a source of great interest, they found much to talk about. Jaime liked House, while Bracey loved jazz and R&B. Bracey liked cooking, Jaime loved basketball. Bracey was out, his deeply religious family reluctantly accepting his lifestyle, Jaime was not. Jaime was Catholic, Bracey was Baptist.
"Why y’all got to have such long services?" Jaime charged.
"Why y’all got to be tellin’ all your business to the priest?" On and on it went, way into the night on some occasions, hours flying by like minutes.
Born in Puerto Rico, Jaime’s travel record was rather extensive, his family moving to the States when he was eight. Miami, New York, Houston, Jaime’s trek across the country seemed never ending.
"Tell me about New York," Bracey inquired, one quiet evening. Jaime was in the habit of coming over, straight from his job and they’d just finished dinner. Sprawled on the floor in front of the TV, they were huddled under a blanket.
"What you wanna know?"
"What’s it like?" Bracey asked, cuddling close.
"Crowded," Jaime snorted. "The streets are always crowded. Day, night, it don’t matter. People… everywhere. The sights, the smells… noise…" His arms encircling Bracey’s torso, he added, "and dirty."
"Yeah. It ain’t like what you see on the TV ‘cause, they don’t show the real New York. All the graffiti and trash on the streets. Them vents, with the white smoke coming out them. The soot on the buildings, the subways, rumbling beneath the sidewalk. Damn, the subway... be seein’ mo’ niggas down there" He accounted, a far off look in his eyes. Bracey eyed him angrily.
"Like you do here?" Jaime snapped out of his revelry, realizing he’d let on too much. "Ain’t looking at nobody but you, now," He said, stroking Bracey’s cheek.
"But on the real… I used to love riding the train. Catch the D train by my house, then transfer over at Herald Square. Ride that thing all the way down to Times Square, then back again, I didn’t run into any of my homeys. Fucking cold down there in the winter and like an oven in the summer."
"I hear there’s a lot of Puerto Ricans in New York."
"New Yoricans, ese. Yeah, lot of us up there. Your uncle comes up and he stays with you, then your auntie or your primo Miguel from Ponce or your mother’s nephew from Mayaguez. Pretty soon, you got your whole family and it’s like you never left."
"Damn," Bracey marveled.
"See, but it ain’t like that. Puerto Ricans just know how to take care of their own, hombre."
"I feel ya. It’s just, if I thought I had to put up with my uncle Bernard from Lubbock, or my messy aunt Diane from Chicago…" Shaking his head, Bracey shuddered at the thought.
"You take care of your family, B, it’s all you got," Jaime maintained.
"All you got, huh?"
"I just thought…"
Cutting him mid-sentence, Jaime leaned over, pressing his soft, full lips against his. Oh Jaime, Bracey flushed, remembering that kiss. How he could make love.
"You know what I like about you?" He related, out of the blue one evening. Bracey shook his head, tending a skillet of sizzling fish. Walking over, Jaime stood behind him, enfolding him in his arms.
"Your eyes." He looked at him, gently swaying as he talked. "Everything’s there, right in your eyes. You try to hide it sometimes, but I can still see."
"Oh yeah, and what you see now?"
Jaime looked at him, his hands tracing over Bracey’s midsection. "You had a bad day." Bracey’s eyes flourished. "Somebody made you mad and…" Pausing he stared at him, "it wasn’t your fault."
Smacks, raising above the sizzle, Jaime kissed him tenderly. Holding him firm, he pulled his shirt tail up, his hands on Bracey’s stomach now.
"Baby," Bracey interjected, between kisses, "the food…"
Ignoring him, Jaime pulled his shirt off.
A nip at his nipple.
"it.. oooh… off."
Jaime loved to kiss. And hold and hug and touch and… Jaime was affectionate. And spontaneous! The first time he made a move, it caught him totally off guard. They’d been going out for some time, each date ending with a soulful but discreet kiss and no more. It drove Bracey crazy, the way Jaime held out and he was throwing out hints everywhere. He commented on Jaime’s dark, sultry eyes. His soft pink lips and how temptingly kissable they looked. His sexy physique, rippling with muscles, all to no avail.
Finally, on the way home from a night of club hopping one morning, Jaime just reached over and started unbuttoning his pants. Bracey almost drove up on the curb when Jaime reached in his pants and stroked his dick.
"What’re you doin’?" He yelped, gripping the wheel.
Silent, Jaime caressed his chest, his fingers diddling Bracey’s hardening nipples. Glancing anxiously at him, Bracey found it harder and harder to direct the car. Veering slightly, he shuddered.
"You trying to get us killed?"
"Ok, if you want me to stop," Jaime taunted, pulling away.
"No! Yes… Jaime!"
"Up to you."
Confused, Bracey drove on, veering back and forth each time Jaime did something until finally, he pulled over. In a flash, Jaime was all over him, kissing and caressing him. Stunned, Bracey recoiled as Jaime undressed him.
"Baby," He protested, looking nervously around.
"You want me to stop, just say it," Jaime returned, nibbling at his ear.
The cool night air sensuous on his bare chest, Jaime was working on his pants, all to Bracey’s dismay. He hadn’t messed around in a car since high school. The signal light blinked idly and his parking lights were still on. Busses passed and cars whizzed by, each one alarming to Bracey but Jaime was relentless, working him into a frenzy.
So passionate, his kisses reaching to the depths of his soul. His tongue tickling Bracey’s ear, he whispered softly.
"Te gusta? Gusta esto, rico? "
His hardness rearing upwards, Bracey dripped sweet droplets on Jaime’s stroking hand. Moaning and trembling, he glanced up, a bright light approaching. The officer demanding the duo "get a room", they laughed like silly school kids, once he left.
The car couldn’t move fast enough for Bracey, his erection never diminishing as they rushed home. Jaime taunted him, stroking his stiff hardness at red lights, holding him right at release. When he pulled into the parking garage, Jaime was all over him again.
Ripping his shirt off, he yanked Bracey’s pants down to his ankles, all the while caressing his bare chest. Though he doubted anyone would be in the garage at that hour, Bracey couldn’t stop glancing anxiously around.
"Jaime," He supplicated, the sensations incredible. "Baby… oooh… can’t …. mmmm… we …. ahhhhh… go, inside?"
"Spread your legs," Jaime said, reaching between his legs. Bracey complied, widening his bare legs.
"Ohh, Jaime," He grunted as Jaime stroked his asshole. "Baby… please?"
"Please what? Ain’t this what been askin’ for?"
He fingered Bracey’s tight hole, nibbling on his erect nipple in turn. Bracey squirmed, his dick standing extremely hard, harder than it’d ever been before. Jaime spoke to him in a mixture of English and Spanish, egging him on as he screwed first one, then two fingers up his hot hole.
"Open yo’ legs," He insisted, pulling Bracey’s legs wider.
"But Jaime," Bracey pleaded.
To his surprise, Jaime hopped out the car, darting around to the driver’s side. Opening the door, he pulled Bracey from the car, his pants still around his ankles. Jaime closed the door, leading him towards the front of the car. Lifting him, he plopped him on the hood, snatching his shoes, and pants off. The cold night air caressing his bare legs, Bracey shivered as Jaime lapped at his nipples again. In time, Bracey became accustomed to Jaime’s hot blooded, devil-may-care approach to sex, but on that night, he was in a quandary, trying to keep up.
His clothes strewn about the garage floor, he sat on the warm hood, his body on autopilot, while his head begged for sense of decency. Oblivious, Jaime shed his clothes, tossing his shirt, shoes and pants aside as he kissed him. When he caught glimpse of Jaime’s raring-to-go chorizo he felt himself letting go.
Reaching to stroke it, he whimpered as Jaime fingered his hole again. His legs spread, he leaned back on the hood, his hand still wrapped around Jaime’s hardness.
"You want this?" Jaime inquired, pushing his torpedo upwards, towards Bracey’s hole. "Yeah, I think you do." Pulling him over the edge of the car, he directed his wickedly hard python at Bracey’s opening.
With a loud sigh, Bracey wiggled about, Jaime’s huge, pre-cum slicked club stretching him enormously. Face to face, they peered between his legs, watching as Jaime’s dick slid in. His toes spread wide, Bracey clutched him for all he was worth, his legs snapped around Jaime’s waist. The dick was gooooood. Better than he could’ve ever dreamed.
Atop that parked car, they consummated their relationship, Jaime reaming him for all he was worth, both of them spurting off in a matter of minutes in ecstasy. From then on, Bracey never knew when or how Jaime would make a move but he loved it. Carrying their clothes to his apartment, they walked the complex in their underwear, immediately initiating another session, as soon as they’d entered Bracey’s apartment.
Jaime was a definite top. His years, living on the streets had made him so, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He thrived most when he was assaulting a thick, fat booty, his tireless prong reaching to its depths. Once, when Bracey attempted fingering his asshole, he’d literally thrown him out the bed, an unfortunate reflex reaction.
But Bracey liked being reamed, writhing about the bed as Jaime rode him. Jaime’s uncut python extra hard, it would fill him like no other. Sometimes Jaime would wake him, his insistent erection prodding Bracey’s aperture in the night. Snuggled close, he’d embrace him, his body warm behind him. Whispering in Spanish, he’d guide his length home, tenderly kissing him as he advanced.
Their bodies locked, the bed would gently sway as Jaime fucked. Right then, right there, he was enraptured. Nothing turned him on more than a man in his bed, snuggled close, his hardness stroking him, sometimes until they fell asleep.
But it was that same, sizzling Latino passion that ultimately drove them apart. Jaime’s sexual drive insatiable, he played around. When Bracey learned he’d been sleeping around, he was incensed.
"How could you, Jaime?" He wailed, throwing their picture at him.
"I’m sorry, I can’t help it," Jaime pleaded, ducking flying items.
The phone ringing incessantly, he stared at that same picture, Jaime’s impish glare still stunning.
They’d taken the picture at a park fair and as he gazed it was almost as if he could hear the carousel calliope, lyrically playing in the background.
In the months since their separation, he’d run into him around town, both of them still attending the same haunts. On an occasion, he’d notice him with a guy, another notch on his bedpost, he supposed. But it was their meeting at McDonalds a few days ago, the same one they’d first met, that had him reeling.
"Just let me talk to you," He’d pleaded, his eyes sad.
Calls… Jaime called. Sometimes two, three times a day when they were together.
"Just was thinkin’ ‘bout you," He’d say, his gravelly voice raking chills up Bracey’s midsection. Now the calls were endless, his voice no less enchanting. On his job, his home phone, his cell, he left messages, each of them petitions to just talk.
"I miss you," He’d supplicate.
"Bracey… You there? Bracey, you there, pick up."
Walking over to the phone, he stared at the voice, summoning him from the black box.
"Bracey please… just let me talk, ok?"
Ain’t nothing to say.
"Bracey? I know you think it ain’t nothing I can say, but just give me a chance…"
To what, break my heart again?
"….I ain’t never loved nobody before, Bracey… All them other guys, they didn’t mean nothing….. Bracey…. I love you Bracey … Yo te amo Bracey…"
There are times he thinks back and wonders how different things would be if he hadn’t picked up the phone. What would his life be like and how would he have survived without Jaime? As they sat on the beach, listening to the melodic repetition of waves, crashing ashore, he was grateful he did. Sure, they had their ups and downs and sometimes Jaime’s wildly erratic temperament drove him crazy, but he wouldn’t trade him for the world.
Their relationship stronger than ever, Jaime was in the process of moving in. Things were a little touch and go at first, Bracey maintaining a protective distance. But Jaime was determined, refusing to take no for an answer. Little by little he strove to regain Bracey’s trust, stopping by often and calling all the time. He’d found something precious and didn’t intend to loose it this time.
In all his turbulent existence, he’d always pushed true love away, fearing the consequences. Love hurt, from his experience and it wasn’t fair. Though he still missed him dearly, Bracey had been very instrumental, helping him deal with his greatest loss, his father. With memories of warm, tropical breezes, the repetitive roar of the ocean in the background, he would recall the fond times they had together, a gift from Bracey, the memories treasures now.
"You love something, it goes away," He’d explained.
"So you made me go away to avoid the risk?" Hunching his shoulders, he looked at Bracey. Snuggled in Bracey’s bed, they were laying face to face, chatting.
"Well, why do you think you ran after all those guys?"
"I…." This was hard. Pausing, he looked away. He rarely talked about his feelings. "I told you, they didn’t mean nothing."
"Then why, Jaime?" He was getting frustrated again, tears welling in his eyes. Men can be so stubborn.
"I guess I did." Jaime stroked Bracey’s cheek. "Make you go away," He confessed. Exhaling, he rolled onto his back, staring at the ceiling. "I didn’t want you to leave, so I got scared you would leave."
"So you got with them other guys?" Sitting up on his elbow, he looked at him intently.
"Bracey…" He implored, "all the other times, when I was with a guy, it was all about me. I didn’t care about the other guy, I was just about the fuck. But you was different." He studied Bracey’s face. "I knew that from the beginning," He revealed, looking down. "When we first shook hands at that Mickey D’s. You remember? It rained."
"Cats and dogs," Bracey affirmed.
"And you was so damn cute, them big eyes of yours just watching as I tried to fix your car."
"We was gettin’ wet."
"Remember… ‘member when I shook your hand and you was all blushing and shit?" Bracey nodded, his face heating up. "That shake was totally different. It wasn’t just another setup fo’ the ass, I could tell. And that shit freaked me out. If you really knew me… would you…"
"Still love you?" Jaime nodded, closing his eyes. "But I do. Even though you a knucklehead and stubborn, just like a typical male, I still love you. In fact, it’s that hard to get at part, I want the most."
"Ain’t nobody ever got that."
"I know," Bracey whispered, "I know."
"Shit hurts." Bracey nodded, stroking his smooth chest. "But if you want it," Reaching his hand beneath the covers, Jaime found Bracey’s guiding it between his legs. "I’ll give it to you," He said, pushing Bracey’s fingers toward his asshole. His heart racing, Bracey’s eyes bucked.
Shocked, he watched as Jaime lay back, spreading his legs for greater access. Speechless, he felt him guide his hand across his tight hole, flinching as Bracey’s finger plucked it.
"You don’t have to…"
"Shhhh," He said, pulling him to him.
Laying atop him, Bracey felt his heart, thundering in his chest. Did he want this? Would it change his impression of Jaime? Searching Jaime’s face, he looked for a clue.
"Do it," Jaime whispered, spreading his legs. "Es suyo."
"What does that…"
"It’s yours," He plainly stated.
It was the ultimate sacrifice, the gesture so touching, he found himself torn. Laying atop him, he embraced him, their bodies warm as they clung. Tossing the covers back, Jaime spread his legs further, reaching between them to find Bracey’s hardening love-rocket.
"Do it," He whispered again. "Todas cosas iguales…. All things equal."