excerpted from a work in progress entitled The Path
' Ginger ' yellow magic, calming air “They waited. The door did not open. The rain did not stop. The darkness made a tent and covered them completely.” Timothy Findley, Not Wanted on the Voyage Sitting down - silent - on the fiberglass bench, he looked pale as his towel, his reddish hair damp, lifeless. Pressing his knuckles against the hard plastic surface he sat on his fists until his hands turned white - then he lowered his head and stared at the floor of the steam room. He could hear someone whisper, with a slight soft giggle in their tone, “Ginger.” He thought he was talking to him. But when he raised his eyes slightly, to see, he decided it was someone making fun of him - or trying to flirt. But the stranger wasn’t talking directly to him. He was whispering to someone sitting beside him, both raising their eyes surreptitiously, thought the mist, trying to catch his gaze, but he never looked up long enough. Softly - “Ginger.” Flirting seemed like the wrong term for this kind of environment. Making fun of someone’s hair colour seemed far too juvenile for the unbridled pseudo sophistication of a men’s steam room where straight and queer mixed and mingled - few questions asked, even fewer answered. It must be flirting - or a bit of both. Flirting combined with slight, titillated mockery. In his experience, some people responded to redheads like that - with a mixture of dread and desire. There were eight men, four on each bench. Four more could fit before it filled to capacity, but he didn’t know that because he hadn’t read the sign beside the door - and because he had never been to this particular site before. Suddenly it all seemed very Christian to him. Four short of an Apostolic gathering, sitting on benches across from like-minded individuals, relaxing after supping, waiting for something that might never materialize, nervous a few resistant non-zealots may be hiding in a small crowd of chosen ‘faggots.’ Loving ‘faggots’ because it spoke of a saucy appropriated muse who resisted hate and all hate stood for. Being christened by droplets from the sweating ceiling of a small chapel like room. It was very religious. All they needed was some church music, or opera. Eh. This was the only central location, notorious for its posh, exclusive, over-priced membership plus section with the free coffee, cable TV, complimentary toiletries, and all the towels you could use during a single visit. Lockers for overnight storage, a private sauna, steam room, and workout facility with a variety of weight machines, treadmills, stationary bikes and cardio enhancing trainers. He had always just said Y. But he liked the combination of all four letters. Together they sounded like a complete sentence - like a question beginning with the word why and ending with a particularly Canadian interjection - eh. “Why Em see, eh?” “Because she has eyes.” Or when he would call his best friend - drag name; Angel Lake - to join him on the elliptical trainer at his neighbourhood location closer to the west end river area. ‘She’ would always come in full make-up and hot pink workout shorts, a white tank top and runners with red flashing lights in the soles, her long highlighted bronze hair teased and teasing to within an inch of its life. Patrons made a bit of a stink about her when it all started but she threatened them with litigious glee and they backed off. “Hi. I’m at the Y. “Why? “Why not? Wanna join me? “Why? “Why not? (irritated pause) Get over here bitch. We both need to work out and it’s a lot more fun when you’re here.” She would arrive twenty minutes later, walk straight to the elliptical trainer, put one earphone in, listen to music and chatter away to him about this that and the other thing - and inevitably, like clockwork, every time they met, at some point she would interject, into the conversation, as natural as can be, looking straight at her depressive, conservatively dressed best friend in his tight white v-neck gym shirt and his Adidas track pants and his white Nike’s - Young man, there’s no need to feel down. I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground. I said, young man, ‘cause you’re in a new town, there’s no need to feel down. This predictable contrived repartee always made him laugh, and think of the time, years earlier, when he took his nephews to the waterpark at the community centre in suburban Calgary. They were all just minding their own business splashing around in the big pool with all the families frolicking about. He had just been on a harrowing waterslide with his youngest nephew who screamed with laughter the whole way down the slide, only a few feet ahead of him, prostrate, limbs flailing in a thin layer of water rushing through the huge plastic tunnel. Always afraid of tunnels as a child, but for some reason waterslides had never bothered him. Until this one. It was unusually dark and he was instantly terrified as he pushed off into a swirling corridor of watery doom - suppressing the urge to scream all the way down. He didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of his nephew. But when they got back to the big pool and the music competition started he couldn’t resist taking part, prompting all three of his young wards to scurry out of the water and hide in the change room. They knew their uncle was a diva but they had no idea what it would look like in a pool, with iconic musical accompaniment. Over the loudspeaker, coming from a lifeguard in what looked like a vintage speedo and a jam packed basket that would put the food bank to shame - “The best dancer will win a big prize. Is everybody ready? Get set. Go!” And the music began. At first he couldn’t believe his ears. Did these people even know the origins of the song? Apparently not. Moms and Dads, toddlers in their arms, laughing and singing along, pre-teens and even some tattooed older boys and their bejeweled girlfriends hanging off the side of their adolescent beau’s torsos as they all tried to do the best YMCA dance they possibly could. Village people? This was a full-fledged community of wild water babies gone viral. First; arms raised on an angle above your head, straight and tense, bent outwards. No slouching. Y? Y not? Next: that weird heart-like curve of both upper limbs that didn’t really look like an M, more like some horizontal pretzel M, but it was the best the human body could muster. Then the claw-like curve of both arms to make a strange bumpy C-like configuration, with your head in the middle ruining the perfect swerve of the arms. And finally the triangular shape of upper limbs above the head and joined in a peak with palms extended and fingertips taut and touching. Eh? Y. M. C. A. … Just go to the Y.M.C.A. Young man, are you listening to me? Young man, young man, what do you wanna be? By the end of the song he was breathless - would have been sweating had it been on dry land. He looked around and a few people were staring. His nephews were nowhere in sight. As he waded out of the pool he could hear the teenaged squeals of the winners who were on the pool deck beside the lifeguard getting their big prize- a pair of goggles? What a massive disappointment that must have been when a six pack of beer, a boatload of condoms, and a couple of hours in the parking lot in the back seat of an air conditioned car with the pick of the bikinied litter would have been a far more appropriate reward for dancing mindlessly to an anthem-like tune that spoke in guarded narrative strains about the carnal camaraderie of men fraternizing at a once exclusively same-sex site for Christian associates and other like-minded biological male souls and their crucified soulmates. But thoughts of past outings with his nephews, two thousand miles away, were the furthest thing from his mind. He was sitting in a steam room he had never been in before, doing something he had never done before, and he was having second thoughts.
“Ginger.” It was a little louder the third time, probably because there were fewer men in the steam room. Just the three of them - ‘Ginger’ and the two ginger-loving fellows across from him. They separated, sliding subtly away from each other on the bench, leaving about eighteen inches between them, just room enough for another body, with a few inches to spare. Then the one on the right rested his palm on the bench, gently patting the empty space and looking straight at Ginger. Ginger didn’t look up, but his eyes were not completely averted. That way the retina and pupil have of turning slightly upwards without much movement in the outer area of the eye - the lid, upper and lower, remaining almost completely still, and the encasing head still too, where eyes reside - just slight vertical movement allowing one to gain enough vision to view the ‘cum-ings’ and goings of something lurid and lovely happening only inches away. “Ginger.” Followed by another set of light taps on the bench, from the stranger’s flattened palm. Nonplussed, slightly ruffled, and very timid, Ginger took his extra towel from his shoulders and rubbed his head. To his unpleasant surprise there were faint yellow streaks on the white cotton cloth. It was the light red rinse he had used in the hotel room the night before. This was embarrassing. If he did what those ginger lovers wanted him to do, fill that empty space between them - and play along, in a parodic tuneful manner, 'killing them softly with his schlong,' so to speak - they might touch his head and discover the secret only his hairdresser knew for sure. He had the right complexion for a redhead. It didn’t look fake. But he couldn’t risk it. So he got up slowly and started to walk toward the steam room door - demurely and with considerable self-restraint. “Ginger. C’mon. Please.” And then the stranger on the left gently tugged at the second towel that Ginger had carelessly let drag behind him as he tried to exit. Ginger stopped, then turned, then caved. Sitting between them quickly became a scene from what one might describe as three horny entangled muses out for an afternoon of lust, goodwill and rococo like bodily charm - this way and that way, all akimbo, graceful and skewed in their heavenly sculpted moves. The two cohorts kept muttering flattering endearments under their breath, and then it happened. “What the fuck?” The one on the left had run his fingers through Ginger’s hair, trying to subtly guide his head toward his own crotch. But Ginger wasn’t having any of that, and as he quickly pulled his head away he noticed a yellowish tinge on the stranger’s palms. “Are you kidding me?” In the steam the reddish hue spread into a thin light amber tone. The mist gave the overall impression of something faint and yellow ''ish- magical and calming - in the air, floating just above the surface of the flesh. A peaceful film of ethereal powder damp and gently winging it through a sweet translucent atmosphere. Like wafts of sacred substance drifting through a church. Eh. “He dyes his hair, and then you he goes to a steam room. Is he nuts?” “Calm down Henry. He’s very cute.” Ginger thought to himself, “I may be the third person but I am not IN the third person. Talk to me, not about me. I’m here, sitting right between you two ginger loving jackasses. Be nice. I’m new to this kind of thing. I usually only engage in this type of behavior in large city parks - in foreign countries, preferably the Mediterranean - or with hookers in expensive hotels in upstate New York - Albany or Syracuse, the odd time Schenectady because I love the sound of that word.” Once Henry was calm, the yellow matter wiped from his palm, and the air had grown thicker with bursts of steam that renewed themselves every quarter of an hour, the threesome began again. The left side muse was blowing Ginger, lapping his hard cock like some engorged crucifix, crossed by Ginger’s ample balls, the rest of the priestly object comprised by a finely grown shaft of light hair from the base of his penis to just above his navel. The right side muse servicing Ginger’s butthole with a single index finger thrust fully, with spit, into the tightening sphincter. Although relatively new to all of this, Ginger took to it like a duck to water, so to speak. He swiftly grabbed his own balls tightly, cupping them in his palm, increasing the pleasurable sensation of having his cock proficiently sucked, stabilizing the array of sensations and focusing on the desired orgasm, his head tilted back slightly against the steam room wall. When he came his eyes were closed and all action on both sides had ended, several seconds before the erotic explosion. He moaned, opened his eyes, looked around. There was no one there. Standing up quickly, slightly stunned by his own behavior, but fulfilled, then sitting back down - silent - on his solid fiberglass seat, he looked pale as his towel, his reddish hair damp, lifeless. Running his fingers through his own hair, pressing his knuckles against the hard plastic surface, he sat on his fists until his hands felt numb - then he smiled, and lowered his head and stared at the floor of the steam room. His palms bled yellow, nailed by his buttocks to the hard submissive surface of the damp spent bench.