a guide to visiting men on business

the hotel

You will arrive bleary eyed and hungry.

You have ridden the bus into the city because you are punishing yourself in advance for taking a vacation.

The room key has been left at the oversized front desk under his name.

It is always under his name.

This will be important later.

An over-enthusiastic concierge explains that this is the most exciting thing to happen all week using only the words

                “YES!!! I spoke with him this morning!!!! I can help you over here!!!”

You imagine bouncing exclamation marks appearing over his head.

You imagine that he hasn’t slept all night.

You imagine a tale of his life, his dreams, his pain, and how he came to be so excited by room key exchanges.

You stop imagining because you are too tired for this kind of creativity.

They have courtesy apples and a cucumber water variant in the lobby.

You are probably more dehydrated than hungry.

But take an apple and skip the fruit water.

You jerk/drag your luggage to the wrong elevator bank because you weren’t listening to the instructions.

You knew how elevators work.

Your triceps throb because you decided to work out at five o’clock this morning before you left for the airport.

More luxury punishment.

The elevator ride is so smooth you think you’ve gotten stuck until the bell sings and the doors slide open.

As you go in search of the room you wonder after why there is always so much space next to the elevator banks in old hotels.

What were people doing at hotel elevators banks back then.

There is a room service cart sitting unattended two doors down from yours.   His.

        Whatever.

You debate looting it for tiny toothpastes.

Don’t. You’re too tired for this kind of criminal activity.

Swipe. Red blinking light. Too fast? Swipe. Red blinking light. Too slow? Swipe. Red blinking light. How.

A fourth try and a single large exhaustion tear unlocks the door to 1008.

1008: The Room

It’s nicer than you expected.

It always is.

He’s left you something on the dresser. Or the bed.

He always does.

There’s a note. There’s chocolate. If you’re lucky, there are flowers.

The note contains a few lines of /glad you’re here/ but is mostly just his schedule for the day.

The chocolate is from a local place.

You smile. You take a photo of the gifts and text it to him.

You debate taking a shower. You even locate towels and fuck with the faucet until the water turns on.

But after washing your face and getting undressed you decide better of it.

Get in bed.

You remember you said you you’d go for an exploration walk.

Fuck.

You swore you’d do it even if you were tired.

You torture yourself with the thought of getting dressed again.

You fall asleep.

He wakes you up by kissing you.

He looks better than you remember.

He wants sex.

This frustrates you.

You’re not sure why.

You like sex with him.

You turn him down.

You turn him down using no words and only dispassionate kisses.

He is disappointed.

You feel equal parts guilty and annoyed.

Debate apologising. Don’t.

the visit

You alternate swallowing food and jealousy as you listen to him tell you about his coworker. The project. Their skill set. The work dinners. Their talent. He lights up talking.

You’re pretty sure he’s been sleeping with them.

You toy with the idea of being ok with this. With the idea of him breaking out in a heart felt confession.

His apology. Your apathy.

Anxiety rises as your body catches up to your brain.

Swallow it.

He is still talking about work. Deadlines. His coworker again. Their magic “X-factor”.

He doesn’t say “x-factor”. That’s your word.

You said it to beat him to it.

You said it to avoid hearing him say it.

He notices you’re being weird.

He shifts.

He takes your hand.

He says he is glad you are here.

He says how much he missed you.

He is genuine.

You believe him.

You would rather not believe him.

You don’t know why.

Give a noncommittal shrug in response. A half smile too, if you’re feeling generous.

He looks at you hard.

Jumps up from the table, covers the tab. Grabs your coat. Grabs your wrist.

He’s taking you on an exploration walk.

The next few days are full of food and sex.

Turns out there is not much to do in this city.

(There never is.)

Except food and sex.

So you wake up.

You fuck.

He goes to work.

You eat.

You sleep. Longer than you expected.

You workout.

You meet him for lunch.

You eat.

You sleep.

He kisses your neck.

He pushes you against walls to fuck you.

He holds your face in his palms and pushes himself up and in to you.

You push back. Exhale.

You eat.

You fuck.

He talks about work.

You fuck.

You workout.

He talks about work.

You push him into a wall.

You eat.

He talks about work.

You fuck.

You eat.

You eat.

You eat.

You eat.

You fucking eat.

You eat with the coworker.

You eat with the fucking coworker.

You eat with these two fucking coworkers.

You eat with these two fucking coworkers who are fucking.

Be sure to be nice to them.

Ask your own questions.

Take a genuine interest.

Compliment them.

Wonder what they sound like in bed.

Say how happy you are that these few weeks have gone to plan.

Imagine you sound better in bed.

Imagine he knows this.

Imagine he doesn’t like fucking them as much as he thought he would, as much as he likes fucking you. Imagine he has gotten no catharsis out of fucking his fucking coworker. Imagine this fertilises his guilt.

You cannot stop imagining.

He touches your hand. Kisses your fingertips, in front of the coworker. He is tender. He writes in his notes app and shows you under the table that he wants to leave and go walking with you. Walking and talking… Movie? Whiskey? You touch his leg gratefully.

He makes an excuse to leave the coworker.

Years from now it will be your own fault.

You will grow tired of visiting him on business.

You will grow weary of the key always being under his name

                               and never under yours.

You don’t want to punish yourself for any more vacations.

Don’t want to look at any more cucumber water variant.

And you definitely don’t want to meet any more coworkers.

You will decline the invitation only once.

You will open your mouth to make a nice excuse.

No sound will come out.

You won’t know why.

He will offer to buy your plane ticket, pay for your cab so you don’t have to take the bus.

You ask how you would get the key.

He says he will leave it under his name. No problem.

You say you don’t think that will work.

He is disappointed.

This makes you sad.

Debate apologising. Don’t.

Hang up instead.

It is important you do the next bit at his apartment.

Get in bed.

Crawl under the covers.

Slide your fingers down your stomach.

Touch yourself.

Think about someone else.

Finish thinking about someone else.

Finish.

finish.

finish.

..

finish.

..

christ just fucking finish.

You cannot.

You pick up the phone.

Put it down.

Try again.

It feels like nothing.

Keep trying.

It starts to hurt.

Keep trying.

It hurts.

The muscles inside you contract.

It hurts.

Contract.

Pick up the phone.

He answers.

His voice is saccharine.

Now finish.

I did some paintings. They look like this.

Acrylic on canvas. Tape, & a heavy misuse of brushes.

A writing.

Knit Allegory

I haven’t been wearing your sweaters.

They’re hanging

On the back of my door

It isn’t warm or anything,

Frost on windowsills and I’m cold.

 

You forgot them there on purpose. Sleeves pre-rolled up, for me

Little woven soldiers on plastic coat hooks

And I really am fucking cold.

 

 

I thought I’d tell you now

Since I guess I don’t know when I’ll have a better time

That I looked up from reading

At the half-man shadows they cast –

Asymmetrical and impotent.

Shuddered at their expectancy

and noticed

I’m wearing all my own clothes.