by torino koji
Hey, hey momma, said the way you move
Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove
It began with a guitar riff: long and wailing and shrill, winding up and away from the speakers of the stereo, startling the cat right off the bed and out the door, and prompting Jude’s mother to come tearing into the room, screeching about how he needed to turn that terrible music down before he blew out his eardrums or they had a noise complaint or something.
That guitar riff was what started everything: the dark hair, the jewelry, the obsession with being the biggest rebel he possibly could be. His mother, of course, heartily disapproved; his little sister Lillian thought it was funny until he began to steal her eyeliner, and pocket change for nail polish.
“Why don’t you just get a job, you freakin’ free-loading emo kid?” Lilli was a sweetheart like that.
Jude’s first job, with him looking like that with his dark hair and dark clothes and nail polish and ear rings that he’d put in himself, was at the local Safeway. Half their employees under thirty looked like that, so nobody thought it was at all strange to see some new kid wandering around murmuring the lyrics to an angry acid-metal song. His second job—which didn’t pay as well and was even more purely part time than Safeway—was at one of the music stores downtown, where he put prices on secondhand CDs and complained about the music the owners played.
“If you don’t like it, you can go work somewhere else, you know.” But there was always the off chance of Metallica or Zeppelin or Sabbath.
It was through a combination of good grades—he was in standard classes and not very many of them at that—exemplary service around the house—he’d never dusted that many shelves in his life—and working way more than he really should have been as a part time employee that he got tickets to his first concert for his eighteenth birthday.
Really, he had to point out to his mother and Lillian, it was totally lame that he was going to his first concert when he was eighteen. Not that he was complaining or ungrateful or anything. Just, you know, a little confused as to why it had taken him so long to realize how cool music really was.
The concert was—well, it actually wasn’t that good, except that the opening act was a local band that had gotten a little coverage on one of the local radio stations, so he knew one of the kids. Standing with the other boys and the one screeching girl, Kenneth stuck out like a sore thumb, all lazy grace on the guitar, blond hair short, freckles dark under the poor lighting on the stage.
The headlining band was repetitive and urbane in concert, and Jude left the concert feeling slightly relieved that it was finally over. Near the entrance of the concert green, the local band was sitting behind a white folding table with a little canopy over them and a hand-painted canvas sign that read:
CDS 4 SALE !!!
Kenneth sat behind the table, looking as bored as he had playing the guitar. He had a cigarette drooping from his mouth, and would occasionally bring his fingers up to pull it away from his mouth to exhale a stream of white smoke. Jude stood and watched him, until the lead singer came over and draped herself over his back.
She wasn’t pretty, wasn’t even really that striking, despite the many-layered hair in several different colors, the piercings and tattoos. She looked about four years older than Kenneth or Jude, but had deep lines around her mouth that said she was older. Her strange leather bodice showed more than it concealed, especially when she pressed her tits into the back of Kenneth’s head. She hitched up her tattered black skirt as Jude continued to stare.
Finally, Kenneth chuckled, as lazily as her actions. He stubbed out his cigarette and asked, “Are you gonna buy something or not, Kramer?”
“You know this kid?” the lead singer asked Kenneth. Her voice, despite her earlier screaming, was quite pleasant, if a little raspy.
Kenneth stared at Jude evenly as Jude approached the table, and didn’t say anything to her. Eventually she left the area. Jude shuffled through the CDs—there were three different ones, all self-produced with glossy Kinko’s-printed booklets depicting something retro and hip. There were t-shirts and pins and patches.
“Nice plugs,” Kenneth mumbled, leaning forward on his elbows and cradling his chin in his hands. Out from under the harsh lights on stage and this close, Jude could count the small freckles that made Kenneth look a little ruddy across his nose and cheeks from far away. “Where’d you get ’em?”
“I did ’em,” Jude murmured, suddenly nervous now that Kenneth was talking to him, because they’d never talked before. Kenneth nodded, slow and mellow, and just kept watching Jude as intently as—something really intent.
When Jude picked up their newest CD, Kenneth said, “If you like that, you should track me down at school and I’ll give you the demo I’m putting together. Most of the songs on there are either my writing or my singing.”
“Really?” Jude knew he sounded like some sort of hyped-up fangirl. Kenneth chuckled with a slow, lazy smile, and nodded. Jude cleared his throat and shifted from foot to foot and said, “That’s cool.” He laid down the CD, and then an XL shirt with their band logo on it.
Kenneth rang everything up, then grinned and asked, “You want me to sign anything?” He pulled a sharpie out of his jacket pocket and waved it around like a baton for a second before he laughed. Jude smiled goofily, and shoved all the merchandise back at Kenneth.
He put the shirt on over his clothes as he walked away from the stand, giggling to himself a little and pulling his cellphone out of his pocket to tell his mom to come pick him up.
“Why don’t you just get your license, Jude? I can’t be your chaperone all the time!” But that didn’t stop her from coming to get him.
He looked down at the case, opened it, and stared at the CD for a second, where Kenneth had written in a slanting scrawl:
Hope you had a great time. Call me sometime. 614-8275
The giggles came over him again, and when his mother finally showed up in her minivan, he hopped into the car and exulted over the opening band but spoke barely a word about the headliner he’d gone to see. She said nothing really, except to ask how much money the merchandise had cost—not that much—and if he’d eaten—no.
He kept his ears open around town for another performance involving the band Kenneth was in, worked his butt off as the end of first semester zoomed toward him, and never once actually picked up his phone and called Kenneth, even though he saw him at school and had the number plugged into his phone.
He’d taken to lying in his bed, listening to the quiet, lazy drones of guitar and the lead singer’s more subdued voice, and staring at the number glowing on his phone, white on blue, before he’d snap the phone shut and bury his face in his pillow and go to sleep. Kenneth never approached him at school, though they’d occasionally nod at each other in the hall.
At the semester, Jude went and got his tongue pierced, and moved his plugs up a gauge. His tongue was still a little swollen, and he was feeling a little stupid from rash spending, so that was the day he called up Kenneth and said, “So, I’ve been listening to the CD, and I really like it. Wanna go get coffee or something?”
There was silence for a second, then, “Who’s this?” all tired and slurred.
Jude swore under his breath and flopped back on his bed. “Jude. Kramer.”
“Oh. Hey, Kramer.” A yawn sounded on the other end, what sounded like a scratch of the head and somebody talking in the background; Jude heard his last name repeated, and swore a little more loudly.
“Look, uh, sorry. I shouldn’t have called. You’re busy.”
“No, it’s just Kris,” Kenneth muttered. There was a rustle, some swearing, laughter in the background. “Sorry. So, you said something about coffee? ‘Cause I am slightly majorly hung-over and coffee sounds amazing.”
“Yeah,” Jude muttered. He relayed the address of the place where he normally took coffee, near the music store downtown, and Kenneth said he’d be there in an hour.
Jude slapped the phone against his forehead a few times when he’d hung up, growling, “Stupid!” over and over to himself with each slap until Lilli came in and looked at him funny.
“What the heck is wrong with you?”
“Hey!” Jude burst, grabbing his sister’s arm and grinning at her. “So, I’m having coffee with this guy, and I need help picking out an outfit and also I need you to drive me over to Delluco’s in an hour.”
“And why would I do that?” Lillian muttered scathingly.
Jude cocked a brow at her. “Because once I’m out of your hair, there’s nobody stopping you from having that McCreery boy over to fuck you.”
“You are such a prick!” But she still went over to his closet and managed to rustle up something that actually made him not look like a total freak: a girl’s Zeppelin shirt he’d gotten in Portland the last time he’d been up, some boot-cut jeans, a button down shirt Lilli was pretty sure had once belonged to a hobo, and his paint- and stain-splattered black boots with the metal insets.
They loaded into the car, and as Lilli pumped some Goo Goo Dolls through the speakers, she asked, “So, who’s this guy? I mean, you haven’t been looking at anybody since Hayden got it in his head that he wasn’t keen on dick anymore, and you hadn’t told me anything—”
“Lilli, you’re my baby sister, not my fag hag,” Jude objected. “Please stop caring, it’s weird.”
“I’m just worried about you is all,” Lilli snapped. She drummed her fingers on the steering wheel and hummed a little. “I mean, Hayden kinda drove you off the deep end, and I just don’t want you to set yourself up for a giant heartbreak or something. Yeah, I’m your sister. So I get to have a say in whether or not you start stealing my makeup and binge-eating Rocky Road ice cream.”
“Well.” And he chewed on his tongue ring a little, rolling it around even though that hurt a lot and he really wasn’t supposed to for another few weeks. “I don’t know what’s going on. I doubt there will be ice cream and any more makeup stealing than normal.”
They pulled up in front of the coffee shop, and Lilli said, “Good. Get out of the car. Call me if you need a ride. We’ll go to the movies if he turns you down, okay?” She grinned. “And hey, if he’s straight? I don’t think McCreery is gonna work out.”
“You total slut.”
Kenneth was already sitting in the coffee shop, tucked into a corner, dressed too warmly for the weather and wearing big sunglasses with white frames. He smiled pleasantly enough, and when Jude sat down, he told him, “Sorry I was such a douche on the phone. It was way before my alarm should have gone off, and Kris was being a jerk.”
“Yeah. It’s cool.”
“Didn’t recognize the number, you know? And you just went off.” His smile became a cheeky grin. “I’m glad you liked the CD. Here.” He slapped a jewel case on the table. “I made a copy of the demo, in case you want it.”
A barrista came by with coffee for Kenneth, and Jude asked for water and played with the sugar packets. After a second, Kenneth laughed that lazy laugh and asked, “I thought we were going out for coffee? Don’t people normally drink some sort of caffeinated drink when that happens?”
“Can’t,” Jude stated simply. The barrista put the glass of water down in front of him and told him there were pitchers at the counter. “Just got my tongue pierced.”
“Seriously?” Jude nodded. Kenneth leaned forward, leering just a little and sliding his sunglasses down his nose a little. “Can I see?”
Jude slowly opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue. Kenneth snorted, giggled for a second, then slid his glasses back up as Jude sat back and shut his mouth.
“That is wicked, man,” Kenneth murmured, but there was something about the light pink under his freckles and the tilt to the corners of his mouth that spoke volumes for the piercing being more than just wicked.
Jude ran his finger along the edge of the water glass. “I can’t do anything interesting with it for another three weeks.”
“Interesting?” Kenneth questioned.
Jude nodded, and smiled as innocently as possible. “Can’t even kiss anybody. Not with tongue, anyway.”
“Who’ve you got to kiss with tongue, Judy?”
Jude shifted and looked up at Kenneth. Nobody but Hayden had ever called him that, but it sounded all right coming out of Kenneth’s mouth. Better than Kramer, anyway.
They sat and talked and drank their drinks, and when the last of Kenneth’s coffee was done, he stood and stretched, then looked at Jude and said, “I can’t stay.”
“Kris, right? Gotta make sure she hasn’t burned my apartment down.”
“No, it’s cool, Kenneth.”
“You can call me Kenny.” He took off his sunglasses, squinted, then plopped them onto Jude’s hair. “We should do this again sometime. I have a little gig, just me, next week. We can go out for pie at Sharis afterward, okay?”
“Yeah,” Jude murmured, and flicked the sunglasses down onto his nose. Kenny grinned. “That’d be great.”
“Seven o’clock. Doors open at five-thirty. I set up at five.”
“I’ll be there quarter-to.”
“Hopeful bastard,” Kenny muttered lazily, and left with his hands pushed into his coat pockets.
A week later, Jude found himself regretfully dialing Kenny’s number while his sister railed at him from the next room, and told him when he picked up, “I can’t come to the gig. My sister’s freaking out because her fuck-buddy is a moron and somehow I’ve gotten enlisted into helping her come up with plans to fix the whole fiasco—”
“It’s cool, Judy,” Kenny told him, then said something to somebody else, then said, “I’m sorry you can’t come. My next gig’s not for another couple of weeks.”
“Well, I’ll see you around school and stuff.”
“Yeah,” Kenny murmured, then said more firmly, “Hey, the next gig is Wednesday, two weeks from now. Think you can make it?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Jude told him, then boldly said into the phone, “My tongue ring’ll be all healed up.”
“I might take advantage of some tongue kisses then.”
In the end, Jude wasn’t any help for McCreery’s minor fuckup, and Lilli eventually just called him up and broke it off anyway. Jude went to his room, upset he’d missed Kenny’s gig, and put on the demo CD. He flipped through the songs, settling for the fifth track, which was an all-guitar power ballad that Jude was pretty sure was about an ex.
The CD turned over and began at the beginning after the fifth track, playing a track that, the case said, wasn’t part of the demo. Jude couldn’t believe it.
He listened, eyes closed, to a strange compiled medley that involved any song with the name Jude in it, all in a sharp, unusual key that suited the warped lyrics well. Kenny’s voice was clear and true and as lazy as his strumming, and it was stupidly romantic that Kenny had made an extra track just for him.
His hands slipped up from the bedspread and sat on his lower stomach, just above his jeans, as Kenny warbled, “And any time you feel the pain, hey Jude refrain: don’t carry the world upon your shoulders.” The sentiment seemed genuine, in that unusual key, out of Paul McCartney’s voice and into Kenny’s, and it rang and resonated with him for a moment.
He slid his hands lower, tucking his fingers beneath the waistband of his jeans and boxers, feeling the warmth of his skin rise beneath his fingertips. The CD flicked to the next song, a speedy, hateful tune sung on a sickly sweet melody. His cock jumped against the side of his leg as he unzipped his jeans and shimmied his hips.
His cellphone went off as he took his cock into his hand, and he answered the phone, palming himself, without checking the caller ID. “What?”
“What’re you wearing?” The duality of Kenny’s voice in recording and over the phone with the sound of Sharis in the background made Jude groan a little. Kenny chuckled silkily. “I didn’t think it was that hard a question.”
“Fuck, I’m not sure if you have the best timing or the worst timing in the world.” He curled his fingers almost-tight, slid them up once and played with his foreskin, then down to squeeze the base of his cock with a hiss.
Kenny was quiet for a second, then hummed in a way that Jude knew he must have been leering. “Oh really, Judy? Miss me that much? You barely even know me.”
“Oh, fuck you,” Jude mumbled. He fumbled with the phone for a second, putting it onto speaker and tossing it onto the pillow beside his head as he groaned in pleasure.
“Is that me I hear in the background? You kinky little twink,” Kenny laughed.
“Don’t talk about that,” Jude whined, playing with his balls absentmindedly as he pulled down his foreskin and rubbed his thumb over the head of his cock.
“What d’you want me to talk about, Judy?”
“Anything. Not that.” He whined wordlessly, slammed his head against his pillow, swore, “Fuck, I want you to fuck me, Kenny. Just keep talking. Talk about anything.”
“The gig went well,” Kenny reported in the sort of voice normal people used to read the dictionary. “There were a lot of horny girls not wearing panties in the front row with their legs wide open. Bald all around. And one guy that kept tweaking out in the middle of the third row.”
“Yeah? What’d you play?”
“A few covers. The stuff on the demo.” There was the clink of cutlery. “Hey Jude.”
“What?” Jude gasped, arching into his own touch. He abandoned his balls to tweak his nipple, and swore as he arched again.
Kenny laughed. “The song, Judy. Dedicated it to you, but nobody knew it.”
“Sweet of you. Are you gonna buy me dinner next?”
“I was gonna do that tonight,” Kenny reported gently. “You’ve skipped straight to the third date, Judy. How’s it lookin’ there?”
“Hard,” Jude bemoaned. “Can’t you help me out here?”
“I’m in the middle of Sharis, Judy. I’m not going to talk you down with the green-card waitress watching me.”
“Fuck. Fuck you. Fuck!” He writhed against the covers, fisting his cock hard as he brought his other hand down to his hole and pressed against himself. “Oh god, oh fuck. Kenny. Kenny, I want you. I want you in me.”
“I’m flattered, Judy.” Kenny was laughing at him. Jude rolled onto his stomach, lifted his hips, and rubbed at his hole as he gasped next to the phone. He tried to imagine it: Kenny holding the phone to his ear, picking at his food, shifting in his seat as he got hard over the sounds coming through to him, hearing all about how much he was wanted.
“God, I’m so hard,” Jude grumbled into the phone. He licked his lips, tugged at his cock, got his middle finger in just a little, dry and a little rough. “Are you?”
“Yeah,” Kenny mumbled. The CD switched to the fifth song, that power ballad.
“Do you want me?”
Kenny chuckled. “Nobody else here is gettin’ me goin’, Judy. I’d say I’m all yours.”
“I want you in me—anything. Fingers. Your cock. Fuck, tell me about your cock, Kenny.”
He heard the cutlery get set down, and Kenny’s serious, urgent whisper: “I’m gonna get arrested for indecent exposure if you keep asking me to do things like that, Jude Kramer. So are you going to tell me where you live so I can come do what you’re asking me, or not?”
Jude gasped out his address just as Lilli thumped on the wall and screamed at him to turn the music down. “Hurry. Fuck, I want you so bad.”
“I’ll be there in ten.”
“Five. Won’t last.”
Kenny laughed. “You better. I’m gonna do you whether you’re all there in the head or not.”
Seven minutes later, Jude had two fingers in himself, was seeing the vague sparkles from not getting off, and jumped when Kenny slipped in, already unbuttoning his shirt. He was wearing ratty jeans and a couple of layers of shirts that came off slower than they should have. He had tattoos on his shoulders, the sun and moon. He had his nipples pierced.
Jude came with a harsh groan, and sank against his pillows with his hand awkwardly tucked under his ass and his chest heaving.
Kenny slipped onto the bed with only his jeans on. They were undone, revealing strawberry-blond hair from his belly button to the nothing beneath his jeans. His fingers ran through the come on Jude’s belly and hip, and he chuckled a little.
“I’m flattered, really,” he muttered, all that same laziness. Jude groaned and thought about hitting him with a pillow. But that would take energy, and he was completely limp-boned.
Kenny touched his fingers, where they disappeared into him, nudged his own blunt fingers against them. Jude groaned and shifted his legs wide, looking up at Kenny and the makeup on his face.
Kenny chuckled in the silence, listening to the Jude rendition. Jude flushed dark and hot.
“Thought it was pretty weird, fucking to music,” Kenny mumbled, bending to apply a biting kiss to the middle of his chest. “Pretty sexy, fucking to myself singing.”
“You are … so full of yourself.”
“You’re gonna be full of me too,” Kenny leered.
Jude rolled his eyes. “Didn’t know this … was a … porno.”
“You’re the one bein’ all ‘Fuck me, Kenny. I need you, Kenny. I’m so hard. I want your cock!’ and I’m from a porno?”
Jude grabbed Kenny by the ears, dragged him down, and kissed him hungrily. “I still want your cock,” he whispered when they broke, and ground up against the lazy guitarist. “I’m just not making bad jokes about it.”
“I’m funny,” Kenny murmured. The CD turned over again, and as Kenny let one hand slid down between Jude’s legs, he reached for the remote for the stereo and turned the CD player off; the stereo switched to the radio, and blared something soft and classic rock and deliciously filthy-sounding. Kenny slipped a finger into him with a leer.
Jude stared at the ceiling of his room, felt Kenny’s quick and messy preparations sped by Jude’s own playing and relaxation and a million and a half other things, for sure, and started only when he felt the blunt head of Kenny’s cock at his entrance.
“Hey, go slow, okay?” Jude whispered as the head of Kenny’s cock slipped in. “It’s been a while. Are you wearing a condom?”
“Fuck a condom,” Kenny groused against Jude’s throat. “Fuck it. I’m clean. Trust me, I’m good. It’ll feel good. Fuck, you’re so fucking tight!”
“Uh,” was just about the only half-way intelligent noise Jude could make, and that itself dissolved into a garbled, keening sort of wail, the likes of which hadn’t been heard from his bedroom since his jack-ass ex had fucked him for the very first time ever ever ever.
Kenny smiled at him and settled back on his haunches, and fucked him, then. But it was slow, and Jude’s eyes rolled, and the radio lulled them through the ebb and flow of passion until Kenny was groaning deep in his throat, and Jude could feel him coming, like he’d never felt anyone coming before because that time it was really inside him.
In the morning, he woke sore and sticky and gross feeling, completely alone. He lay there a moment, wondering if everything had been real up until Kenny had hung up and then he’d just gotten off and fallen asleep, a little stiff and too lazy to shower. But his pillow smelled like cologne and sex and he was sticky in places he shouldn’t have been from just fingering himself.
So he swore, violently, and wished the guys he liked didn’t all turn out to be total pricks.
“Don’t look at me like that, Judy, it’s not my fault I got over experimenting.” Except Hayden had assured he wasn’t experimenting, the dumb prick.
He showered, the water turned on hot and steaming until his skin was pink in uneven splotches. He brushed his teeth and felt around inside himself until he was as clean as he was going to get because he’d been an idiot, letting Kenny—Kenneth—go in there without a condom on.
In his room, he pulled on his baggy shirt from the concert, a pair of sleep pants, and trucked himself on stumbling, depressed feet out into the kitchen to see if they had any Rocky Road ice cream in the freezer.
Lilli was sitting at the table, looking a little pissed off.
“Okay, first off, stop looking so damn sorry for yourself, Judas Alan Kramer. You’re a douchebag.”
“Shut up, Lilli,” Jude muttered, opening the freezer and sticking his head in a little ways.
“Second, if you’re going to fuck, do it more quietly.” Jude swore into the freezer. “You’re lucky mom didn’t wake up and explode and kill you or something. You know she doesn’t like it when you even kiss boys—”
“Yeah, Lilli, I know.”
She sat silently for a second, before sniffing. “Shut the freezer before you give yourself frostbite. Your man-friend left you some stuff before he left. They’re on the coffee table.”
Jude pulled out of the freezer, shut the door, and peered around the corner of the wall toward the freezer, where a couple of jewel cases and some suspiciously ticket-shaped items lay strewn over the magazines and day-old plates.
“Said he had to get out of here before his cousin Kris burned the whole apartment complex down. Told me to tell you he was sorry he couldn’t give them to you last night, but you’d understand.” She scoffed. “I understand, in case you don’t.”
There was a stack of tickets wrapped up in a fold of white paper, across which was written in that terrible, slanting scrawl:
Sorry I had to gyp out of there so fast. Carrie called and said my cousin was on the shit again. Here are tickets for you and anybody you’d like to bring to my next three shows. ♥
Jude stared at the note, and the tickets, and then at his sister, who just smiled.
It began with a guitar riff, and ended with a heart.