In high-school Spanish class, Daniel’s teacher wouldn’t teach them the “yo” (“I”) form of “costar” (“to cost”): “I cost.” Daniel came out in ninth grade. He could draw a line from the point of coming out until now, during which time he never learned how to say to guys clearly, in other ways, “Here is what I’m worth.”
Daniel lived in a dump and hated it. There was a hole in the interior of the wall, through which racoons traversed, bringing an infestation of fleas into the apartment. They would bite him, and when they were done, they would ping from his body into the air. The landlord was useless. Daniel could never get his landlord to hire an exterminator, smoke out the fleas, patch the raccoon hole, or otherwise resolve the problem. At night, Daniel would lay in the bathtub, often multiple times a night, sometimes fully clothed, to drown the fleas that devoured him. When he got in the bathtub, they died and floated to the surface in droves. It was the only way to deal with the fleas.
To make extra money, Daniel frequently dog sat an Australian Shepherd for a couple, two gay guys. They paid Daniel fifty dollars each time. That was what a good time cost you, fifty dollars. Daniel came over for weekends and holidays to dog-sit, while the couple, Armando and Micha, went out with their friends, other gay men who looked much younger than them, and much younger than Daniel, too. Armando and Micha took MDMA, ecstasy pills stamped with the Tesla logo, mushrooms, and tabs of LSD. Daniel never got to know their group of friends very well, but he didn’t mind the dog. The couple was always having to give treatments to the dog to rid it of fleas. Daniel thought poorly of himself that he gave a dog fleas. He snuck some of the spot treatments out, but they didn’t work for household use. Even though he wanted to get a dog for companionship, he knew he couldn’t afford to own one in the long-run, and he was also less than thrilled about how often Armando and Micha’s dog whined to be taken outside.
Daniel didn’t have anyone else he considered a friend, besides Armando and Micha, that is, not the dog. Daniel was fat (for a gay guy) and wasn’t good-looking. He had a giant wine stain right in the middle of his forehead. He had only ever had one actual boyfriend, who didn’t work out, and then there was the roommate, who didn’t work out either. There was also Aaron, a guy who Daniel hooked up with regularly. They met while working for a veterinary pharmaceutical company that sold pills for pets and horses. Aaron was employed there as a manager and Daniel worked on the hotline. Aaron was in an open relationship with another man who didn’t work with them. Every time they met up, Aaron had sex with Daniel, not the other way around, meaning Aaron used Daniel for sex. Aaron was aggressive when getting oral. He said he didn’t want to do anything else because he was in an open relationship and because of STDs.
During work, Aaron messaged Daniel, “Want to go back to my place during lunch when you’re done with your call?”
“Sure, can you drive me?”
“No,” Aaron said. “Just meet me there.” He provided his address. Daniel thought, that’s fine because he knows I bike anyway.
“Sure, man, I’ll meet you there,” Daniel replied. He biked over to the apartment after clocking out.
“Come on, people,” Daniel said, biking along the sidewalk on the main street. “You’ve never seen a bike before?”
“Get off the fucking sidewalk,” someone, a woman, yelled back. Daniel stopped for a dog that was walking in front of him on a leash proudly carrying a long stick.
“Hey! That’s my stick,” Daniel called out. “I had that earlier!”
In Aaron’s living room, he got Daniel high on his triple-chambered bong. He thought it was better to get guys stoned before he skull-fucked them hard. Aaron stripped off his underwear and commanded, “Lay down on the floor, I want to face-fuck you.”
Daniel agreed in the spirit of charity. The word, “charity,” could frequently be used in lieu of the word, “love.” Those two words could be practically interchangeable when used as nouns. Daniel thought charity was better because it didn’t cheapen the idea of love.
But this time, after Aaron left, Daniel thought he was in love. Daniel thought to himself that the next time with Aaron, he would swallow without being forced, because that’s not just what Aaron wanted, but Daniel wanted to show that he wanted more if Aaron wanted more. Daniel thought, how else would I go about doing that? Of course, he imagined that one direct way to go about doing it would be to simply ask, “Do you want anything more out of this?” He considered telling Aaron about his feelings for him, feelings that developed from how they had sex. But then, he would have to be emotionally prepared for the answer from Aaron to be, “No,” and it was definitely more likely than not to be, “No,” coming from a guy like Aaron. Daniel plugged a sex tail he bought online into his ass. Looking at himself in the mirror from behind, Daniel admired his tail. Nobody could imagine Daniel this way, even the most fucked-up person of all of the fucked-up people. No way they could. He liked that. Daniel would get the courage to ask Aaron for more, and if Aaron doesn’t want to actually be with you, he thought, maybe you should have Aaron pay you.
Before Aaron, Daniel’s first real boyfriend physically abused him but didn’t sexually abuse him. That wasn’t the reason the relationship ended. Instead, it was because Daniel’s then-boyfriend had moved away to New York City.
After that, Daniel lived with a second guy who was much older, who told everyone they were together, when they weren’t. Daniel tried to be clear that, after his experience with his previous boyfriend, he didn’t want another relationship. Daniel also said he didn’t want sex. He wasn’t attracted to the guy at any rate. Daniel wasn’t into older. The man was unemployed and was always around, constantly doing whatever Daniel was doing, even when Daniel wanted to be alone, having talked Daniel into letting him move in after only a couple of months. The old man was the worst possible physical specimen even compared to Daniel, and he stunk worse than shit, so even the fleas avoided him, or else they couldn’t tell that he was a new blood source at all. Once, when Daniel was high on mushrooms, which he stole from Armando and Micha, the man knocked on Daniel’s bedroom door and tried to get in for sex.
“Can I come visit?” he said softly through the door. High as a kite and still on the way up, Daniel sucked him off even though he didn’t want to. Both the old man’s stomach and his ass sagged grotesquely. The man tasted unclean and he was. Daniel could still remember distinctly that the dick stunk, too – or else the man didn’t wipe his ass, or else wash his ass – and that the dick had a crusted protrusion on the shaft that Daniel could feel in his mouth. After that, Daniel moved out hastily, leaving all his furniture and other possessions behind. However, the guy considered Daniel to have abandoned all his things and refused to give them back. Having bought everything on credit, Daniel was still paying everything down, while the guy and his new roommate enjoyed them. Daniel hated the old motherfucker and rationalized the decision to move out like he did as a form of self-harm.
Third, there was Aaron, who fucked him rough. Made him do what Aaron wanted, made him take it, made him take it all.
Aren’t gay guys really always one of those three types?
The next time they hooked up, it was at Aaron’s place again. Daniel owned just an air mattress, he had barely any furniture, so couldn’t host. Aaron got Daniel stoned again with his bong, and again showed no mercy on his mouth. Afterward, Daniel did tell Aaron about his feelings, and that the feelings were developing from the way they were having sex. “I could give you everything that your boyfriend gives you,” Daniel said. “What’s one thing he gives you that I couldn’t give to you?” Aaron said Daniel wasn’t his type. Meaning, to fuck, but not to date, apparently. Daniel replied that it was fine, but he wanted Aaron to pay for sex, for the way he wanted to fuck. Aaron laughed and then told the truth, that he was out of Daniel’s league.
It was expected, a gay whore always treated a gay whore like shit, and as all gays were whores, all gays always treated you like shit. Inside the bedroom, outside the bedroom. It was a given in the gay community. And, it was especially a given in an open relationship, where Aaron reserved making love for his boyfriend. Daniel learned to like it. The trick was you had to learn how to treat them like shit in return. Pretending to use the bathroom before leaving Aaron’s apartment, Daniel surreptitiously pissed down the spout of Aaron’s dirty bong. Not much. It was still two-thirds water. But, Daniel thought, now maybe just a little of me can be in his throat without asking, too.
After he got home, Daniel looked up Aaron’s boyfriend online and based on physical appearance alone, Daniel knew he could never compete. Daniel signed Aaron up – first name, last name, Aaron’s physical address, and work e-mail address with his pharmaceutical company – to be spammed with matches from russian-gay-escort.com.
Daniel took a dog collar that he stole from Armando and Micha. He liked wearing it during meals. He wore the dog collar and nothing else, put out food on the linoleum tile, and ate it off the floor on his hands and knees. He used to believe nobody would actually think about him that way, although that’s what he thought of himself. Soon things changed.
He met up with Aaron less and less, and found a website for human puppies and their handlers, doms and subs who played as dogs, to meet up. “This is not a furry site. Post nudes,” it said. He created a profile wearing nothing but the Australian Shepherd’s dog collar as well as the sex tail. “New pup here,” he wrote. “Bottom bitch. Willing to wear leash. Dogs rule.”
Daniel hired himself out to “Dog Dad” who was looking for a houseboy, well, a good boy who would play as a dog in his house. Dog Dad paid Daniel three hundred dollars per week to be a dog, every Tuesday and Thursday, at Dog Dad’s house. Dog Dad called him, “Socrates.” Daniel originally wore the sex tail. But, on the first day, Dog Dad pulled it out. He did want Daniel to wear a black dog mask complete with a hood and a muzzle, though. “I want you to cover your face,” Dog Dad said. Then, he added, “I think you’ve got a great body.”
Around the house, Dog Dad put Daniel in diapers and would change him. Then, Dog Dad said training was over, and he wanted Daniel to start going outside in the yard. He lived in a large house on a private street where nobody could see into the backyard. There were awards all over the house. Dog Dad was a lawyer who had won many awards from public-interest organizations for his charitable work. Dog Dad watched Daniel from the sliding-glass door while Daniel squatted totally in the nude on the back lawn. Dog Dad slid open the door and called out, “Ready to come inside, buddy?” and Daniel bounded for the door on his hands and knees, in paw mitts, with his tongue out. Dog Dad cleaned off each of Daniel’s paws as he held them out one at a time, then wiped Daniel’s ass crack with a Wet One. There was a packet kept on the floor by the door. Daniel walked around on all fours inside the house. Dog Dad also walked him on a leash, sometimes in the backyard and sometimes in the house, too. Daniel would get stroked, he got fucked from behind in a cage, he was shoved inside a kennel, and – Daniel’s favorite – he ate and drank from bowls set out for him on the floor.
— Justin F. Robinette is a graduate of Duke University. He has enjoyed having his work published in online magazines like the Erotic Review online magazine and others. Work is forthcoming in the winnow magazine and HauntedMTL’s upcoming horror anthology, Queer as Hell.