the brothers arrive in time
They arrived in a battered red jeep just as the hours of siesta and sun
boiled the dust choked streets of the border town. Before the cloud of their
arrival had settled, they had booked a room in the town’s inn, one of those
nameless, authentic places in a town too small for tourists, where only
travellers ever reach. Kerouac and Casaday had stayed in this town, in the
pages of _On the Road_, or at least a town like this.
Tangier in the ’40’s had
places like this…
Kiki, the small child of the family who owned the hotel, brought them a
bottle of Mezcal, cooled by an inadequate refrigerator in the cantina
Already, the room had grown close with the smell of their bodies,
and the two looked at him with eyes of a color never seen in this village. The
color of Canadian lakes, high in the mountains that drink the sky in their
cold, cold depths. As he held out the drink this is what he saw:
Two anglos, alike enough to be brothers. Both have already stripped off
overshirts, and are wearing ribbed white t-shirts, the kind with the straps for
shoulders, tucked into jeans.
The pants of the one on the left are made of
leather instead of the more commonplace denim. Both wear heavy boots. The pair
on the right somewhat darker, heavier than those on the left. Their hair is
thick and curling in the steamy air, not yet plastered to their foreheads, but
long and thick and luxuriant enough in this heat.
There are posters of bodybuilders glued to the wall by unwholesome means, a
battered desk and chair, a plywood bedframe and mattress, and a small washbasin
that dispenses undrinkable, tepid water.
A window, shuttered, claws of sunlight
raking though it. The air is heavy and still.
Kiki hands the bottle to the one on the left wordlessly, and departs with a
tropically colored piece of money in his hand.
Piece by piece, they strip out of clothing, glances passing back and forth
First the undershirts. The boots hit the floor with bawdy thumps.
The room hotter than anyone should bear. Clothes a misery. Off with the
jeans–the leather, the denim ones. Some rough modesty keeps their underwear
around their loins. One wears blaxk briefs, cut high on his legs, with a thick
waistband; the other wears a pair surprisingly white and clean after the
Still too hot.
They are drinking from the bottle, back and forth, to keep
cool. One sits in the room’s only chair, the other on the floor at the base of
the bed. The one in the chair, bored, curious, begins opening desk drawers. He
is thinking “too hot, too hot–what else can come off–take my tattoos off to
get cooler. ” In a bottom drawer he finds something heavy, pulls it out.
of clippers, heavy like the hand of authority, like the pair your father used
to use, like the ones they use on Marines, and sheep. White shorts looks at
White briefs went first, and his hair dusts the floor.
That left on his
head forms a jet-black cap against the blue, blue of his eyes in his dark, dark
face. He sits in the chair, working on black shorts’ head. Black shorts sits on
the floor, his arms resting over the knees of his barber, his head tipped back,
brushing the other’s crotch. He can feel a rising shaft beneath the flimsy
cotton. his mouth is open and his eyes tipped back in a look just short of
White shorts smiles. He feels the eigth of an inch of stubble on the
back of the others’ neck and the sides of his head.
They have to pause now.
The razor has got too hot. Black shorts is
impatient. His buzz is only half done. A cock’s comb of and inch or more of
length covers the top of his head. White shorts leans over the sink, smoking a
cigarette, ashing in the narrow drain. The cord of the clippers snakes around
black shorts’ ankle. There are hairclippings stuck to his back.
Black shorts props himself up on the headboard of the bed.
He is very
quiet, so as not to disturb his sleeping companion. The starched sheet rests
across his lap as he strokes his crew cut head and looks across the room at
the back of the chair, where the two pairs of briefs are hung together. He
reaches over and strokes his sleeping companions head and thinks “more alike
each moment–more alike each day–“. The other man awakes. He reaches out,
pulls himself into a sitting position.
He puts his arm arond the first man’s
hard-muscled shoulders. They sit together like that for a long time, stroking
each other’s stubbled heads, huddled against the cold in a too-hot room. Their
hair is only the most visible reminder of irrevocability.