I always found out B. was back in town when, early in the morning, he'd slide open my bedroom window. I'd met him when I was fifteen and would spy on him and his friends down at the White Hen, as they perched on benches, swallowing acid and waving down cars for rides. He was a born sexual deviant, so when I walked by — slowly, on purpose — it didn't take him long to talk to me. Back then, when he wasn't out on manual-labor jobs and he hadn't yet gone to boot camp to avoid jail time, B. was skinny, waiting with a gracious patience for something to happen. Anything. I'd sip beer, pretending to be drunk while listening to them bicker. Then B. would walk me home and slip me some punk-rock mix tapes, along with his tongue.
Then I wouldn't see him for awhile. B. was always leaving town (for girls, out-of-state jobs, secret reasons), traveling, then getting stuck till he'd scrounge enough money to get back. One day our friend Josh handed me a torn-off piece of lined paper that read:
D., I was wondering if you wood lyke to be my pencil-pal and hang out through the postal service.
I'm in trouble and I'm going to be away for a while. If you don't like the fact that I'm a jail-bird or if you have a boyfriend who wouldn't like it it's okay and I'm still your friend —> but I will cry and be rilly sad if you cannot write. — bored B.
After that it was always the same: letters from all over the country, hidden under my mattress. Or his return: hands infiltrating my bed, taking my underwear hostage. I always resisted him just slightly, and he ignored my reluctance just enough to give us both something. Then we'd get up, talk about books, art projects, people we wanted to fuck and people we did. We'd smoke leisurely, make plans for later. I never asked why he always cut our time short. I assumed he had other windows to sneak into.
He was exciting for someone like me, alone, in high school, stuck on a dirty street in a small town, nestled alongside a chain of lakes, like mucky freckles across the top of Illinois. You know, close to Great America. We had water sports and four-lane-highway, midnight teen-drag-racing. If you got busted, you could read the town's motto — "For the Fun of It" — written in cursive on the side of the cop car, next to a picture of a sailboat.
All I had was an old, manual camera. No car. Some steadily drying-up paints. A disconnected telephone, an old house full of dog hair, pork roasts and ketchup, and a stereo system. I practiced with my camera, imitating photos I'd seen in books. Setting up still-lifes on the carpet. Naked self-portraits and heaps of metal in the backyard. Still, I was shy. I never used it at parties, or held it out,facing me as I hugged a friend. The first person I took pictures of was my reluctant mom. The second person in line was B.
B. had just returned from a month-long job his uncle gave him, something to do with quarries up in the U.P.-Michigan wasteland. He was dried out, toned up, and had been completely deprived of women. He rapped on my window and came in slow and silent, gripping the sides of my neck. I slid my knee between his legs, and he pressed his hard cock against me.
But when we went for a walk downtown and passed an alley, B. nudged me into it so I could take his picture. He admitted that he wouldn't mind being a male model, with his half-naked picture in magazines. "Don't tell anyone," he made me promise. We slid back out of that narrow strip, looking both ways, real casual in case we'd been spotted. As we crossed a set of train tracks in the center of town, we spotted a freshly dead fish at rest on a railroad tie. Untouched. No hook attached. No lake for miles in any direction. We laughed over how the hell it got there, but B. was distracted.