Getting Off Chapter 1

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I woke up early because it was my mom's birthday, and I needed to make money so I could buy her a present. As always, my father had gotten tickets for a Broadway matinee so I didn’t have much time. On her last birthday I was living in a car, and I didn’t even call her. I really wanted to get her a great gift.

I walked to the bathroom, where the toilet was still clogged, and prepared to piss. The toilet had been clogged for at least three months, so the room perpetually smelled of urine and the thought of opening the lid and looking at encrusted waste was too much for me to handle. I hadn't paid Keyspan in awhile, so the hot water was turned off. Any kind of shower consisted of filling paper cups with water, nuking them for forty five seconds and then carefully pouring them over the places I was dirty. I had to pee really badly, but if I were to pee in the shower I would have to stand in my own urine in order to get clean. I could turn on the water to wash away the pee, but then it would be too cold to stand in. I thought hard for a moment about whether it was worth it to go down the street to find a place to pee just for a subpar shower. I opted to pee freely in the tub and hoped it was the hardest choice I'd have to make all day.

Peeing, I looked down at the zipper of the black jeans I'd woken up in and realized there was a small jungle protruding from the opening. I was up early to get as much work done as possible, but I wouldn’t be effective at work until I’d taken care of this hair cancer.

I slid down my jeans, which were so tapered at the bottom I had to pull them inside out and tug to get them off. I then pulled my thermal underwear down followed by my actual underwear.

When I grabbed the scissors from the toothbrush cup, I smelled a terrible combination of metal and garbage juice. "Ullchh," I croaked. I smelled again. It was like someone had used the scissors to hack up a week-old dead body. I emptied the toothbrush cup and found some murky grey throat-water lurking at the bottom and poured it down the drain.

Dr. Bronner, the hippy soap god, and I took care of the smell and potential disease that lurked in the cup and on the scissors. Finally, when all was sanitized, I went to town on my pubes like Edward Scissorhands to a neighbor’s tree. A few minutes later all that was left was no more than a dandelion around my dick and I rejoiced at what seemed like an entire inch of length revealed. My mailbox truly looked taller having trimmed the grass around it.

It was time to go to work.

I went into my bedroom and tossed all of the dirty clothes off the bed until the mattress was bare, no sheets, no pillows. Then I opened my laptop and logged on. As I waited to connect, I surveyed my bedroom. The day’s aesthetic would most definitely be squat-house chic. Whenever I had an extra moment I liked to create a bit of atmosphere. With some creativity, I could really alter how one experienced my setting. Add a canopy and I was a young prince. Some books on the bed and a pencil behind my ear, and I was a student in need of book money. I doubted anyone really noticed, but I did. I guess you can leave the theater, but the theater never leaves you.

I opened my Internet browser and waited for it to load. Then I entered the URL followed by my username and password. A pop-up alerted me that there were hundreds of sexy gay singles in my Brooklyn zip code.

In the “host” section of the site, I clicked the “start a new room” tab.

The black screen of my white laptop blinked a few times and I was logged into the room under my screen name, "Sid Licious." I took a last look in the mirror and applied a little cover up to my arms, evening out the red marks and dark spots. I marveled once more at what was going on downstairs and put my clothes back on. The hair on my head was sticking up and out in all different directions and I ruffled it up a little bit until it looked like a well-tossed salad. I grabbed the laptop and brought it onto my mattress with me, then adjusted the top half of it, where the camera was, so that I was in frame.

On the screen was my chat room box, which displayed the number of visitors on the top right and listed their names vertically. So far, it was just me, old Sid Licious, by his lonesome. I figured that perhaps it was just too early in the morning to make any money. Although, when I got hired by the website, the owner had emphasized, "It's never too early, or too late."

Visitors to the site had the choice of being seen or just watching me. The ones who chose to be seen would pop up on the bottom of the screen in little boxes as they entered the room. Staring at the lack of boxes, I figured that generally about fifty percent of people wanted to be watched.

I cleaned under my nails and checked Gawker.com to see if they’d spotted my favorite actor and childhood idol, Jackson Agnew. When I was in middle school I would stay home sick from school watching his movies all day. My friends would tell me I was gay because I had his pictures all over my walls, but I idolized the guy. He made me want to be an actor. The first time I ever went on Gawker they had a picture of Jackson at a restaurant called the Spotted Pig eating deviled eggs. After that I checked Gawker every day and ate deviled eggs until they repulsed me. It’d been a long time since the site had even mentioned Jackson Agnew, but I still continued to check.

Although Jackson hadn’t been in a film in years, he had written a play. Donut Hole was the story of a young man obsessed with his weight, who eventually joins a cult. Donut Hole had a short run in San Francisco, and little had been heard from Jackson since. Scattered across the floor of my apartment were printed pages of a monologue from the end of the play, which I’d been reading over every day for months.

I had a new email from my best friend Todd Dean whom I still had not actually seen since moving to New York. A year ago, Todd had written a movie and bought me a ticket to LA so I could play the lead. My co-star was a bosomy blonde named Theresa, and three days into shooting she got cast in a movie that was being shot in Hawaii starring Shia Labeouf. Once Theresa left the movie fell apart and I moved back East and started getting high a lot. Todd took off to tour the country and find himself. An email from Todd was a rare thing lately.

All it said was: What’s up? Check this out … with a link to a You Tube video of an 80 year old woman in a flower print dress dancing sexily to the 80’s electro pop song, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. The woman spun around on her shag carpet as she sang, “Gonna turn around and, hurt you.” I tried to laugh.

My computer beeped.

-Hello????

-Hey hi whats up?

-Hey, how are you doing?

I could tell right there that this was going to be an easy customer. I was quickly learning the types, and the ones who asked “how are you doing,” off the bat like that were the chatters. I was lucky I’d had something leftover that when I woke up that morning. I would never have been able to placate this type of guy if I were sick. If I kept him for close to half an hour, I’d probably make enough to be able to buy a decent gift for my mom. I thought, before responding about how to keep him chatting.

-Good, I was just reading...

I considered sending him a link to the old woman dancing video, but figured it would probably disrupt whatever he was going for, and reminded myself to get into character. What would I be reading? Sartre? Batman? American Boyscout?

-Playboy

-Where did you get a Playboy?

-I steal them from my dad's closet.

-I bet you weren't doing much reading at all ;)

-I like the pictures too, lol.

I noticed there was no box on the bottom of the screen.

-You don't want me to see you?

-I don't have a cam

He was lying.

-So you like girls?

-Yeah

-What do you like about them?

-I dunno, boobs and stuff.

-Do you only like girls?

-I guess, I dunno.

-Have you ever done anything with a guy? When no one else was around?

-Yeah, I been fishing with my uncle once.

Stupid answers were the key to making money on this site.

-When is the last time you had sex with a girl?

-Last night, she gave me a blowjob and stuff, it was great, but it took me awhile to cum.

-Why do you think that is?

Most chatters would have been about done by that point, moved on to making requests, but this guy had stuff to work out. I realized that this dude played properly could be lucrative.

Another name popped up along with a video box. It was a small square, which meant it was a cheap web-cam and the resolution was shitty. In the box was a guy stroking his dick, which was small, thick and fairly limp, more like he was milking an udder.

-SHO ME YOUR CHEST! LICK YOUR NIPPLE.

I wanted to ignore this new guy. He seemed hostile and I figured there would be more money and less of a nuisance with the first one. I also wanted his gross dick to disappear. Still, a second guy meant more cash, a better gift.

-I don't know, I mean I like girls, but they are annoying sometimes ya know? I guess it is just easier with girls, and my friends think it's cool.

The chatter didn’t respond. Then Mr. All Caps spoke up again.

-TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRT OR I'M FINIDNG ANOTHER BOY.

The chatter was still in the room. I could see his name, but he’d stopped answering. Either he was embarrassed or he was just letting Mr. Caps call the shots.

-Whatever you say dude.

I began peeling off my dirty grey thermal. I sneaked a whiff of my pits. They smelled like an Italian sub.

-YOUR OUT OF FRAME, FIX YOUR CAM!

I grabbed the top of my computer, tilted it a bit and showed my belly. I looked down at the box. The guy had stopped milking his dick, and his hand was floating a bit above his penis, palm up. It looked like he was doing some kind of magic dick trick, but it was hard to tell through the bad resolution. Then a few drops of stringy liquid dropped from the top of the box where his mouth would be, dripping into his hand and he went back to work. I felt the nachos I’d eaten the day before make their way up my throat, but remembered the toilet was clogged, so I drank the remains of an old Dr. Pepper to wash it down.

-Good?

I pulled my thermal all the way off and tossed it on the floor.

-YA GOOD. YOUR A DIRTY, DIRTY BOY. LICK YOUR NIPPLE NOW.

I stretched my nipple up toward my mouth and took a quick lick. I felt proud that I was able to reach. I figured most guys probably couldn’t. Slowly I snapped the button of my jeans open, since I knew he’d be asking for it, and the guy started to go nuts, steadily jerking away. I needed to rack up enough time to earn a decent amount of cash. I felt like I was moving too fast and I didn't want to lose him so I used an old trick.

-Oh shit!!! My dad's coming downstairs. Don't say anything.

I threw a sheet over the computer and went into the living room to pick up some of the garbage. I had about three minutes, tops, before they'd log off and pop in a DVD instead. Walking into the living room, a rodent that looked too big to be a mouse and too small to be a rat, scurried between my legs and across the room. I chucked a bloody paper towel into a garbage bag, annoyed that the creature had gotten into my house.

Picking up trash, I tried not to think about things, like the fact that with the exception of a stupid YouTube link, my friend Todd was pretty much ignoring me and that I was about to see my parents for the first time since getting back on dope. There was mouse/rat poop on the floor. How had I let it get this bad?

I tried to clean up a couple of empty bags, but the mess was too scattered and I gave up. When I came back to the computer, Caps was jerking a slow, irritated jerk waiting for me to return.

-Oh Shit, that was close, I woulda been in sooo much trouble.

-SHOW YOUR COCK NOW!!!

I peeled off my bottoms, not taking the time to look seductive and flopped out of my long johns. Angling myself so that my dick was properly featured, I stood nude in front of the screen with my hands on my hips and an impatient "what now?" look on my face.

-OK NOW STICK YOUR FINGER UP YOUR ASS YOU DITRY LITTLE BOY.

-Ooh… No.

-GRAB YUR COCK!

With my hands still on my hips, I began to sway and shake, ignoring his request. I continued swaying, gaining speed and rhythm like I’d just zoned out to the music in my head. Then I started flopping my cock all around in mockery of the caps guy. Lost in the moment, I reached for the track pad on my laptop, opened iTunes and put on “Never Gonna Give You Up,” then commenced flopping while imitating the old lady. Down in the video box the guy continued his piston jerking, and I pictured my earnings racking up like a slot machine in my head as the session neared the half hour mark. I pictured my mom with a genuine smile because she could tell I’d worked for her gift. The thought made me smile and kept me dancing. My hips wiggled to the rhythm of the 80’s synthesizer zaps and bass beats. Midway through the number I looked down at the box and saw the guy freeze. Urgently, he reached for one of the decorative pillows that he was sitting on and covered his crotch with it. Finally, the box disappeared. At the top corner of the screen, it said the time was 1:34. I had to get dressed and buy a present for my mom before three.

Sliding back into my long johns, there was another beep. It was a message from the first guy, the chatter.

-Are you still there?

-Sorry buddy, I've got baseball practice. Look for me tomorrow morning.

I logged off and checked my account balance in the members/revenues section of Camboyz. I’d earned a cool hundred and fifty bucks from the Chatter and Caps combined and I clicked for the funds to be transferred to my Paypal account. Then I transferred the $150 balance from my Paypal account to my checking account, threw on clothes and hopped on the train.

The shot from that morning seemed like it would be just enough to last me through the play and dinner. I really wanted it to last. I needed a good meal and if the shot wore off my appetite would disappear also.

The show was about to start when I got out of the subway near Times Square. Ten blocks uptown there were some really nice boutiques where I could buy my mom a decent scarf or gloves, but as it was, I hardly had enough time to make it before curtain. In the immediate area the only option was a CVS drugstore. I booked through the revolving door of CVS hoping to find something nice. Walking up and down the aisles, everything reeked of cheap. I passed one of those spinning white racks full of self -help books on how to lose weight through your job or make money through exercise. The gift aisle had only cards and stuffed bears. I picked up a small white bear. My mother, one of the toughest prosecutors in New Jersey, was pretty much the last person who would enjoy a stuffed bear.

I looked at my phone and saw that I had ten minutes to get to the Theater. I considered giving up on CVS, heading uptown to get something nice and accepting that I’d be late. Then I imagined having to be sneaked into the play by an usher, stepping on people’s bags and toes while my mom telepathically expressed to me that I’d ruined her birthday. My shoes slid on the tile floor as I shuffled up and down the aisles. I was starting to sweat. I closed my eyes and tried to think of what my mom would like. Her bathroom was the first thing that came to mind.

It had been weeks since I’d had a real shower and yearned for the one in my parents’ bathroom. It was a large, tiled, glass-enclosed box and the water from the showerhead was perfectly positioned to hit you from the right angle. It was the greatest shower I’d ever been in.

I remembered that they always had the same soap that my mother loved. She always smelled of that soap and complained when she couldn’t find it in the store.

Sure enough they had my mom’s soap at the CVS right next to good old Dr. Bronner in the soap aisle. Her favorite was cucumber and if they were out of cucumber, then she liked lavender. I bought three bars of cucumber, and three bars of lavender and then a huge tube of the new liquid soap that had just come out and threw it all in a gift bag with a Georgia O’Keefe flower on it. I put the bear in there too.

Walking out of CVS I had six minutes until curtain.

After running for seven blocks I arrived at the Theater glistening with sweat. I wore a sport jacket over my hoodie and had my hair combed neatly to the side. I spotted my mother outside the Theater and gave her a hug. She seemed shorter than she had on her last birthday. I broke from her and shook my dad's hand dude style, trying to hide the gift bag I was holding behind my back.

Walking down the first row mezzanine of the Theater, I was struck with a fleeting fear of heights. It brought on images of my body landing splat in the middle of the orchestra, bleeding on tubas and violins. If an old man sneezed hard enough I could have fallen to my death. Grasping the rail in front of us I inched along behind my parents. We finally got to A211-A214, where a man and woman were storing their jackets and shopping bags. We asked them to move their stuff and I began to shake and sweat with fear as they huffed and puffed slowly picking up their shit. The old man had a torso much like the man who had jerked off in front of me all morning. I wondered if there was a chance that he was the man who typed in all caps but such a coincidence was unlikely.

For an hour and a half, an overweight, flamingly gay man pretended to be a bumbling President of the United States. All the liberals in the audience, or rather, the whole audience, laughed at the constant jabs at the Bush administration. The old man behind us asked his wife to repeat the punch line to every joke because his hearing sucked. After each joke my mom would glance over at me to see if I was laughing and when I noticed, I laughed. Finally, just as I began to overcome my fear of heights, it was intermission.

I only had a few minutes to smoke a cigarette and go to the bathroom, so I put my hand up as a blinder and walked briskly into the aisle past the seats, tripping with each step on peoples’ purses and toes. I went outside with all of the smokers, each of whom could have been their own anti-smoking commercial. Watching them, I thought that Kiehls would be wise to make a skin cream for smokers, to help them not look like they’ve attempted to smoke their own faces. I took three huge drags of my cigarette and tossed it on the ground.

When I finally reached the men’s room, I balked. There were two urinals right next to each other, with no wall between them. An old man with dark stains all over his skin had his white briefs and chinos hanging down below his knees, his belt clanging against the tiled floor. I felt like I was at work all over again.

I took my place next to the old man and whipped it out like Billy the Kid in a penis showdown, while wearing a face that said, “That’s right buddy, I got control of mine.” I let it go and stared at the eggshell tiles on the ceiling. Before I was even halfway done, I started to notice that the guy beside me was acting weird. He was glancing quickly towards me and taking big loud inhales like he was trying to taste the bouquet in a glass of merlot. I tried to ignore him, going on about my business, until he turned his head toward me and glared right at me. I looked at him for a second and then back downward at the pink cake I was peeing on. I stared at the cake, counted to ten and looked back up to find the old man still looking at me, gawking almost. Holding my ground, I stared right back at him, finishing my pee. My skin tightened as I screwed my face at him, but he just continued staring back with some kind of agenda. I was ready to start screaming if he didn’t just spit it out. Then he did.

"Son, I can smell your crotch from here. You need to wash up.”

Even though I heard him, I murmured, “What?”

“Yer cratch smells!” His shaky hand came down on the wet metal flusher. “Wash yerself!”

With my eyes still locked into his, my expression went undone and my guard broke. I thought about the rest of my cash and the fact that it would be gone as soon as I got home. I wished I had a better gift for my mom. The old man left and I remained at the urinal, bladder empty, staring at the pink urinal cake.

All day I’d been telling myself that everything I was doing was for a good gift, a good birthday for my mom. All day I’d been lying to myself. I’d been doing that for a while now.

I promised myself that I was going to start getting up early every morning so I could focus. I didn’t want to be in this situation again. I wanted to be clean, to get my shit together. Maybe then I’d be able to pay my bills, go on auditions, even get a better job. Most importantly I’d be able to shower. I headed back to the mezzanine hoping things would turn around for the second act.

Annotations and comments

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There's a lot of "so" happening in these first two sentences. I'm not sure if this is intentional to establish a tone...
"On her last birthday..." this is a neat sentence perhaps your story starts here?
I like this line as a starter too.
So something like, "On my mother's last birthday, I didn't even call her." Now it was a year later and her birthday once again, and I was determined to wake up early and earn enough money to get her a great gift." Something like that?
I think this is strong: "On my mother's last birthday I was living in a car. I didn’t even call her." This relates to my comment about the parents. Considering the circumstances of this guy's life, I would bet he's got a not-so-perfect relationship with the rents. What are their reactions when they meet outside the theater? That's what I didn't get a clear sense of...
So you're telling me this guy sleeps in skinny jeans, pisses in the shower, and is concerned about the length of his pubic hair? Hmmmmmm a wee bit inconsistent. Unless it's a neurosis but even if it is he ought to be more prepared.
I love this. starting with 'I went to town on my pubes...'
Oh, I'm glad you said that because it's one of those things I've looked at from time to time and wondered if it should go.
I like "Dr. Bonner, the hippy soap god" Cause it's so damn accurate. these guys all use that weird cult soap.
Nice.
This is great also...I really like these intense little jabs that show us who he is without dragging out too much description.
love this paragraph but really love this line and that you just leave it at that.
sorry, im commenting all over the place now. thats just because i like your character. I think here where you start to bring up the idea that this guy is a junkie -"I was lucky I d had leftovers..." maybe give the reader a little more as to what your referring. Even stating outright, I was lucky I had a little leftover dope (is it still called dope?).
What's his mom's soap?
The inspiration for this soap would be Yardley's Rose and Lavender soaps.
This character is so interesting, I think this is a good opportunity to flesh out some details about his parents...
Hey Ryan, Thank for the comment, where are you referring to? The first chapter? The parents are introduced in the next. Maybe it should be quicker.
Jon, if you scroll down to the CVS scene, you'll see the phrase highlighted...
You're telling me this in reference to Ryan's above comment? Btw, I got a really kind comment from Millicent Ware, I found out via email, but it's not showing up on RL.
there is so much good stuff here I gave up on highlighting. I love all the chat dialogue, I loved all that came after it, the interaction with the parents was perfect. I personally dont want to know any more about them by this point, i think its perfect. I also like how sometimes the character goes on about what seems like boring details, especially in the beginning. It sets the stage for what its like to be a junkie and how magnified all the mundane details (like toilet seats) are in that kind of life. I cant wait to read the rest.
I can't wait for you to read the rest either. Thanks to your comments there's a special spring in my step today!
Something about this guy is compelling, even though his daily life makes my skin crawl! It's good to see his reaction when his condition is pointed out. I think you're right about introducing the parents more quickly. Would they react to his lack of grooming? If not, their non-reaction could be very interesting, too.