marek: a brief retrospective of a troubled relationship
Originally published from Prague on Thursday, December 20, 2007 using Blogger
“Why you angry me?” I asked him on the first night he was back, in Tarzan-English. I was
in my chair at the desk. He was sitting on the bed, legs spread and
his hands folded, propping up his chin. He wasn’t looking at me. He
still had his coat and cap on, as if he wasn’t sure he was staying, or
that I’d let him stay.
I let him think about his answer. I wanted to know why he’d stolen
that 500 Kč, other than the obvious reason that he wanted to get high.
He didn’t answer quickly, rubbing his chin with his fingers, and I
just sat there looking at him.
“Because Kuba,” he said finally. “I think you have new boy, ale no
problem for me. You, Kuba kissing, sleeping. Ale no problem for me.”
“Okay, ty jarly,” I said. You were jealous.
He shrugged and said, “‘No,” meaning yes, “Small.”
“I am stupid boy,” he added.
No argument with that.
He had his own question: “Proč you give me keys?” Meaning why had I
let him back in when he came to the window asking if he could take a
“You know why,” I answered, sick of saying the same thing over and
over to him.
“Ah hah!” he said, unfolding his hands. “Bee-cause love.”
Then he thought a few seconds. “I no love man. Nikdy. [Never.] I like
you. No love.”
Then he took that shower.
The irony about the last few weeks’ living with Marek is that, after having rejected him and thrown him out, telling him never to come back, I feel like I know him better now than ever, and I still like him. Rather than sex or movies or drinking out at Rudolfa, we spent a lot of time talking. Among other topics, he drew a convincing parallel between his piko use and my beer consumption. His point was not that it has the same effects but that since we both like our vices and had no intention of giving them up, it really was not the others’ concern what we each decided to do with our bodies. I agreed. I had given up long ago attempting to get him off the drug. As far as I know he’s never violated my rule of not shooting up in the flat. There’s nothing else I can do, especially given my resources.
I did point out, however, that my love of beer has never resulted in my stealing from my friends, or stealing for a living. He took this as well as could be expected. He said that when he wants piko he doesn’t think of anything else, only what he has to do in order to have some more. I told him when I want beer and I don’t have the money, I simply do without. I don’t run around madly raiding my friends’ refrigerators or pester them to take me for a drink or two. Beer is better, I concluded. He grunted at that, and said, “For you.”
But I saw the same with Valentýn: I will never win against the drug. Marek will never love me more than he loves whatever he gets from abusing amphetamines. I spoke about it with a friend of mine who knows more than I do about drug addicts and drug use. He said it like this: Marek may like his life with you, on a scale of 1 to 10, around a 5 or 6; he may like women around an 8 or 9; but, the feeling he gets from piko is more like a 15 or 20. It’s off the scale, a complete departure from normal pleasures, which explains why nothing can get in his way of having another hit and why addicts have so much trouble maintaining relationships. Or caring about sustaining a normal living arrangement. For Marek, a few weeks or months of homelessness, and the resulting estrangement from me, is worth it. I’ll never understand that. The closest I can come is by comparing my love of straight, trashy boys. For me, that addiction has resulted in some unsafe decisions and an unstable life. Most of the time, I have also concluded that it was worth it.
If there is any beauty in the thing Marek and I have made, it’s that we have provided each other a refuge, however transitory and fragile and crackling with conflict on its borders, from our respective addictions. In his mind, he calls it Vanocé; I just call it Mark. He wants out of the street life, in a fuzzy, uncommitted sort of way, and talks about it in ways calculated to please me as much as to express his own desires, but he really hasn’t seen or understood what his life beyond his addiction might look like. He’s concluded, accurately, that it can’t look exactly like the life he has with me. Still, I think one of the reasons why he keeps coming back is that life with me has teased him into believing something he didn’t think was possible.
I think I now know why he’s turned so straight on me in bed, and it’s my own fault. A rent boy who’s fresh is inevitably more passionate and experimental. Every straight boy who ends up selling his body for a living has had an unfulfilled fantasy of sex with a man. I believe that. Normally, that fantasy either gets repressed, or it gets satisfied by chance, and the boy moves on. A rent boy relives it indefinitely, until there’s nothing fantastic or fresh about it. That resultant fear that it’s never going to end, and that exhaustion when its demands renew themselves every day, is part of what’s happened to Marek.
What he didn’t expect was that the man he had sex with the most would blog about it on the Internet. I’ve heard hints of it before from Marek, but it’s clear now that he’s read the blog, or rather, had it read to him. During the past few weeks he’s blamed it on Eda, on Honza, a similarly addicted station rent boy, and on someone close to me. Marek is liar, I know. But someone showed him, it’s clear. Who did it doesn’t matter. Blogging in intimate, embarrassing detail, and without pseudonyms, was my choice, and although he knew from the beginning that I was writing about our lives and posting photos, finding out exactly what I had written must have come as a shock, especially if it came via the interpretations of another boy.
“Big problem for me,” he said.
I introduced Marek to Internet porn and he loved it. He’d never shown
much interest in watching straight porn when one of the other boys in
the flat put it on. Guess circle jerks were not his style. When I
showed him Monica Montes getting gang-fucked by 15 or so butch,
muscled Brazilians, he couldn’t take his eyes off the LCD.
Sitting next to him in front of the laptop, I recognized the glazed
look in his eyes. I asked him if he was hard. “Big erection,” he
said. I reached over and felt him up. It wasn’t big, it never was, but
he was getting there. I pinched the tip and asked him if he wanted me
to suck him while he watched. “Why no?” he responded, unbuckling
and unbuttoning and giving me access. Eventually he stood up and
began slowly fucking my face. He was as hard as I’ve ever felt him.
His dick rigid and red, pulsing whenever I pulled back to look at it.
“Now you are big,” I said, cuffing his dick softly, watching it spring
back into place. It curved a bit to my right, something I hadn’t
noticed before. “Because I looking woman…She like this, no?” he
asked. He came quickly in my mouth, as he usually did, as each boy in
turn unloaded on Monica’s face, the cum pooling on the floor between
He’s lost face and the material proof of his public masculinity - how is he to know who’s read it? - and it explains his behavior. How whenever I lie down next to him he immediately throws his hands over his head so he won’t accidentally touch me. How he screws his eyes shut and locks his lips whenever my face gets close to his. It’s still easy to get him hard, particularly in the mornings, when a couple brushes of my fingertips on his tummy, or a hard fingernail-scratch on his ass, will get him up and smiling. His ass is otherwise off-limits now; suddenly he doesn’t like getting rimmed. But I remember how it was the only 100% sure way of getting him as rock-hard as he was when he watched straight porn.
I miss the sly signals he used to give when he wanted something to happen. If he came to bed and took off his underwear before he got under the sheets, and said, laughing “Co kukaš?” What are you looking at? I knew he was horny. (He didn’t always go to bed nude. This past week, more often than not, he climbed into bed fully clothed, socks and all.) If he jumped into the bed next to me and threw one arm over my back roughly, I knew he wanted to fuck. If he buried himself in the covers and looked at me with one eye from underneath, the corners crinkled from the unseen smile, I knew he just wanted to be worshiped. Whatever Mark wanted to give me that day, I was happy to take. When I started to beg, as I did this last week, I knew it was over.
During our talks, as usual, he reminisced. He remembered things about our first biznis that I had forgotten, and that I didn’t know. Arssi had arranged the whole thing but Marek told me he didn’t know Arssi before that day at the station.
Arssi had come up behind Marek, put one arm around his shoulders and said, “No, pojd’, you have biznis!”
Yes, come on; you have biznis! We repeated this line to each other throughout the day he told me, and it made us laugh every time.
Marek claimed that I was his first, that he hadn’t even thought about it before Arssi had insisted he take that golden opportunity, and that it had taken him the better part of the evening with me to figure out that I wanted sex from him and that I was going to pay him for it. That confusion helps explain why, when I tried to kiss him on the lips at Villa Mansland, that he refused and looked at me like I was crazy. It doesn’t explain why when we eventually hooked up at the tram stop - play-fighting and horsing around, acts that became emblematic tension-busters in our friendship - that he finally agreed to accompany me to Pinocchio. Only memory-suppression explains why he can recall everything that happened that night except the sex.
But I remember. The deep, wet, desperate kisses; the full hard-on in his cargoes when I reached down to check; the rough way he turned me around, pushed on the back of my head with his fist, pulled down my jeans and tried to put it in right there, in one of Pinocchio’s dark back rooms. You should remember that, Marek; don’t blame it on the three beers. It’s worth remembering. We only a had few nights like that afterwards; only a few surpass it.
Sometimes I think if I were better at being a doormat, I could have endured a relationship with Marek, and helped him turn the corner. That fortitude would require the emotional distance and skills of a social worker, however, not a lover. When I heard him refer to me as “just some faggot,” when one of his thieving compatriots asked me who I was, I lost all distance. He said it in Czech, behind a partially-closed door, and it wasn’t for my ears, but the casual and quick way he replied to the question broke me. Not like turning a light on, but rather, like shattering every light in a room with no windows.
He’d already pissed me off by sneaking this thief into my building without my permission, hiding him when I’d looked out the window to make sure he was alone. He’d already refused to perform some rather simple acts so that I could get off. He’d already made it clear, in subtle ways, that sex was never going to be the same between us, as long as the rest of the world would find out about it later on the blog. Yet whenever he came back after an infraction, I would always give him a choice. Sleep on the sofa or in one of the other beds and I’ll still support you - if I have a home, you have a home. Choose to sleep in my bed and you’re my boyfriend, with every obligation and privilege that entails. For his own reasons, he always chose my bed.
The question at the point when I heard him dismiss me as “just some faggot” was whether I could allow in my bed someone who felt such contempt for me. I settled the question quickly. I followed him out into the street and confronted him.
“I am buzerant, Marek? I am BUZERANT?!” I said, pushing him. (It’s comical now remembering and depicting the self-righteousness and inflamed indignity I felt.) He just turned and began to walk away. I followed and pushed him again.
“Stay the fuck out of my life, Mark! Don’t come back!”
This time he turned and menaced me with a raising and lowering of his shoulders, a flexing of his elbows. I didn’t back away. It just pissed me off more. We stood there glaring at each other on the sidewalk. He said something thuggy in Czech and left. I caught the Czech word that basically means “asshole;” at least he wasn’t calling me a faggot.
Panting and still livid, I thought of something good to call him. I walked around the corner of the building to see him loping off with his friend the thief into the street.
“I am buzerant? YOU ARE ŠLAPKA!” If I am a faggot then you are a whore. The phrase echoed down between the buildings, but he didn’t turn back or respond. Not then.
Marek was in the flat when I came back from the potraviny. He hadn’t
been there when I’d left. The only time I’d ever left the MacBook out,
open on the desk, downloading porn, and that was the only time Marek
had decided he’d climb into the flat. It was still warm and although
I’d closed and fastened the French windows, I’d forgotten that I’d
left the upper casement windows open. So he’d stood on the sill
outside and had shimmied over. “Rick?” I heard from the other
room after I’d come in. I panicked. I didn’t recognize the voice at
first. Marek’s head poked out from around the corner. He didn’t
exactly look like someone who’d been caught in the act of doing
something wrong but he neither did he look like someone who had the
right to be there on his own. He hadn’t been in the TV room; he’d been
in my room along with the MacBook. He was also obviously high.
Later I imagined him standing in my room debating about whether he
should take my life out the window with him. I knew that if he’d had
more time he would have. It takes about 20 minutes roundtrip to go to
the corner store and back. I’d come back just in time. He used this
event as an example of my being able to trust him. Nevertheless, I
never left the MacBook out on its own again, no matter how short a
time I was going to be gone.
I don’t remember what I did after that until I recall opening up my window with a bundle of Marek’s clothes, intending to throw them on the street. He was standing there a couple meters from the window, hands in his pockets. I could see the script in his head.
“Rick, I must speaking you,” he announced calmly.
Then I threw the clothes out.
“What?” I said.
“You life Prague, you house, you life station, finished. You dead. Unnerstand me?”
His friend was standing off to the side with a pained look on his face, not looking at Mark but not looking at me either. I knew what this was. I’d caused him to lose face in front of his colleague in crime. Here, he was trying to get it back. I’ve never actually seen Marek angry so I have no basis for comparison, but this performance neither looked nor sounded angry or convincing.
So I laughed, looked around and found something else to throw his way. Then I struggled to close the window and jammed the blinds in the process. I was still laughing when I finally managed to secure everything. I didn’t bother to determine whether he’d left or not. I remember feeling anguish, for a very brief period, until I thought how ugly I must looking wearing that expression. As always with Marek, I’m relieved he’s gone, and I miss him.
We’d talked all week about the possibility of my taking him with me when I left Prague. I told him I would at least help him get his ID in Slovakia and then we’d figure things out from there. I told him he’d have to get a real job wherever we ended up. He said he would and that even if he found a girl to love, which is what he wanted since he said it was not possible to have a relationship with a Prague girl, but only with a foreign man, he would still have sex with me, because I had helped him.
“Why no?” he asked.
I have a hard time deciding now who was the bigger fool, or the bigger bastard.
He wouldn’t let me lick him clean. He’d been watching Internet porn
and had just come. He was squeezing cum out of his dick as I watched
and slapped his cock against the wooden desk chair. I scooted close to
the edge of the bed and asked him to, please, put his dick in my
mouth. “No, I want looking,” he said, keeping his eyes on his
dick, not the MacBook, where the porn was still looping. “What?”
“I no looking my sperma. Nikdy.” He’d always told me that he
never masturbated and now the look of fascination on his face
confirmed this. He played with his cum and kept trying to force the
last drops out. All for himself.