I went to bed early but I couldn’t sleep. So around 10, I wandered through the growing crowd in the courtyard to the Log Cabin. My heart raced when I thought I glimpsed Jack making out with a saddle worn, pseudo-cowboy type outside the Last Round-Up, the motel’s shitty little western bar. The guy wasn’t much taller than us which made his oversize cowboy hat look even more ridiculous. But as I approached them, I realized I was wrong.
It was my last night in Orlando – I definitely had no plans of ever returning – and so I didn’t give a shit what people thought of me. I went shirtless. Though not billowing like the numbers flocking to the Marlboro, the men at The Log Cabin were a livelier group than I had encountered the two previous nights. Maybe it was because I was totally sober.
No one – me included – could ignore the young guy who pranced in around 11, donned in sexy faded jeans and a black T that read ‘High Voltage – Heavy Metal.” Tall, body builder-built, with a hairless, baby face and buzz cut, he was one of those rare sightings you just couldn’t keep your eyes off of. As I sipped my drink, I saw that he was looking my way.
I was standing by the bathroom waiting in line to take a piss when he gave me another stare – this time a long one, from around the corner. I was liquor-free, but I needed to get Jack off my mind for a lousy five minutes. I walked straight up to him and smiled.
“So how’s it goin’?” I asked.
A broad grin came on his face.
“You know, you’re the top man in this place tonight,” I continued.
He grinned again, looking a bit embarrassed by my comment.
“In fact, you should be able to go up to anybody in this dump and say ‘you’ and save all that beer money.”
“It isn’t that easy,” he replied, a response I found bizarre coming from him. “But then, tonight, I didn’t have to. You came to me.”
I asked him his age. Twenty-nine. Jack’s age.
A minute later, he was stroking my chest. Just as he was bending down to kiss me, Boyd and Jesse entered the place. I know they saw us because I could see Jesse wink at me from the corner of my eye.
Brian lived just a few blocks away in some apartment complex off Orange Blossom Trail. I thought this 6’4” boy-man would be a God-sent distraction, sucking my dick, eating out my pits, rimming by furry butt hole, and matting my chest hair down with his sweat. But I couldn’t get hard, blamed it on what little alcohol I had had that night, and snuck out back to the motel.
The real reason was Jack.
The next morning, no goodbyes from the gang. It was as if they were intentionally ignoring me. After all, who wanted to be bothered with someone else’s problem? I waited by the pool after checking out, waited as long as I could, hoping against hope that I would see Jack reappear from some corner. But at about 1 when the dark, heavy clouds started rolling in, I decided I couldn’t hang around anymore. Jack would have to find me – back in Lauderdale. I left my number at the desk in case he surfaced and left.
It thunder-stormed for most of the eternal ride back. I was freezing in the car since the only way I could keep the windows from fogging up was to have the ac up full blast. Sometimes the visibility was as non-existent like being in a snowstorm back home in New York in February. One good thing – it kept my mind off Jack’s stuff – cell phone, wallet, keys – that was strewn across the passenger seat next to me like relics.
Somehow I made it back in one piece and fell into bed with my clothes on, exhausted.
The next day, between classes, I rechecked the address on Jack’s driver’s license. My game plan was to go to his apartment off Sunrise after school, drop off his keys and wallet and overnighter and, most importantly, see if he had shown up. That’s when I noticed it – there was Jack’s mug on his license but the name was different – Alan W. Lacey. Where the hell had “Jack” come from?
The first thing that struck me walking into his place was that the furnishings were lean and mean like he had either just moved in, or was just moving out. Funny for someone who bragged about being a millionaire. There was no sign anyone had been in the place for days. In fact, a half eaten, hard-as-a-rock tuna fish sandwich was still lying on the kitchen counter.
That’s when I noticed it, stuck to the front of the refrigerator. The front page of an issue of the SoFlo Gay News going back to July. Circled in red ink was a story about some old faggot in Jacksonville who had taken a guy home who then robbed and budgeoned him to death with a hammer. According to the story, two of the old man’s friends had seen them together that night at Hennessey’s, Jacksonville’s version of Lenny’s Hideaway.
The guy called himself Jamie, the same name that fat fuck at the Marlboro who Jack nearly drown had called him. The story included a police sketch.
The guy in the sketch was a dead ringer for Jack.
I know it sounds paranoid, but from that moment on I made sure not to leave my fingerprints on anything and wiped down his keys and wallet and the straps on the overnighter that I left on the dining room floor before I exited.
Maybe I should have called the cops right then. But, soon, I realized it was too late.
That’s when my shadows – and the endless hang-up calls to my apartment – overtook me.
Why I don’t know, but I was afraid I’d run into Boyd or Jesse at the Driveshaft, or someone else who might have seen me in Orlando, so I decided not to go out. Skipping the gym came next. I had told too many people there about my Labor Day weekend plans – they’d be nosey. But why did that matter I kept asking myself.
Because I was afraid Jack knew I knew?
I couldn’t concentrate at work, lost control of my classes – it was my junior year in college all over again – and after awhile I stopped going in all together, spending the day mostly in bed. Finally I left my resignation on the principal’s voice mail after hours – “family issues” – and just ignored his calls after that until they stopped coming.
I couldn’t drive because the man behind me looked like Jack. Coming back for me. After all, our original plan for Orlando was for him to do the driving and pick me up. He had my address. He knew where I lived.
There was a time when I jerked off thinking of Jack and that big dick of his in my mouth. But now all there were were nightmares, Jack, naked and bloody, sneaking into my apartment through my screened terrace, coming up to my bed and forcing a plastic bag over my head until I couldn’t breathe, while he took a utility knife and very neatly sliced off my dick at the root. So I locked the terrace door, drew the blinds closed and began sleeping on the sofa in the living room so any windows or doors would be in my eyesight.
But the nightmares kept coming.
I was afraid to take a shower – there was always that dark, muddled figure through the glass – so I stopped.
Those dead calls continued for weeks. Dozens of them, all hours of the day and night. Hang-up after hang-up. As if someone were checking to see if I were here.
That is until last Thursday. The caller finally left a message.
“Fuzzy, I think it’s time we talked.”
Now I spend my days and nights aimlessly wandering around my apartment, taking catnaps when I can, and waiting.
Waiting for Jack.
Waiting for Jack to find me.
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