Trent's male instincts stirred, thrilling him to the threshold of desire.
"Pull your pants down." The stranger's voice demanded.
Trent didn't move.
"All the way down."
A warm flush came over Trent, and he trembled.
To avoid watching the man fiddle with his equipment, Trent directed his attention to the view from the bedroom window, where the tips of hills forced themselves up and out of the fog. Beckoning hills, full of loveliness and a kind of invitation making Trent want to climb their warm passages.
"Pants down," the man repeated, reminding Trent of a one-night stand in a stranger's bedroom.
Near the man's bed, Trent dropped his pants to his ankles. Cool air drew a shiver. "Underwear too?" Trent said.
"Underwear and all." Trent's fingers quivered as he reached for the elastic band around his waist. The shorts scooted to his knees.
"And lay down."
The instruction made Trent horny. His fingers pressed deep into the thickness of the mattress as he lowered himself, face first.
"I didn't know this is how it would be." He tried to talk.
"Oh, yeah. I gotta' see your butt." The stranger laughed.
Does he know what he's doing?
Behind him glass clinked, reminding him of wine toasts at one of his favorite bars. The voice of an old friend rose in his memory. It seemed years ago when he remembered Barry would shout, "Take out yur nuts!" Conversation stopped and groups of guys would stare, scandalized.
"Hey Buddy, can you match these babies? Let's see whatcha got there." Barry grabbed hold of his bulging crotch and lay claim.
Some guys moved away, but those who played along with him waited for a chance to grab his nuts.
"I challenge anyone," Barry boasted. "I have the biggest!"
That's just Barry!
Drinking and playing.
As people crowded around, Barry prepared to bring out his jewels. Barry was a student of music, especially opera. He was also the founder of the Gay Marching Band. When he went to the Ambush bar, he'd show another side of himself.
Trent remembered how Barry had learned to become so outgoing and free with his sexuality. It made him feel intimidated and at the same time applauded Barry's brashness.
"I'm in," someone would say.
"Out with them!" Barry pressed as his eye's twinkled.
In his uninhibited way. Barry held court through sexual challenge. Everyone knew he'd win the contest, but they would still play along. Barry had the biggest package Trent had ever seen.
"Right here," the challenger would say.
Flop. Barry's pants opened, his balls on display. He cupped them with both hands and squeezed, forming a ring with his thumb and forefinger to make them even bigger.
Trent flushed with embarrassment, and the bar rolled with laughter. Barry always won the challenge, declaring victory.
"You owe me!" Barry would say, and drinks would flow.
Behind him the man spoke, bringing Trent back to the present. He was in this room because of Barry's tragic death and all the others. He hoped this unorthodox treatment would stave off his own.
"Are you ready?" The man's voice penetrated Trent's thoughts.
Feeling vulnerable, Trent pointed his butt towards the man. A cap popped off a plastic tube. He glanced over his shoulder at the large vial of red fluid, already fitted into an injection needle. He closed his eyes and pressed his head into the soft covers. "Yeah. Ready."
"This is gonna be a little stick." The man flicked Trent's butt cheek with a finger. The muscle tightened and then the needle entered.
"Ouch," Trent hissed under his breath, feeling the stick and burning sensation as the red fluid pushed into his muscled butt.
"One second. Almost done." The man soothed.
As the needle was pulled out, Trent moaned, relieved the treatment was over.
"Rest a minute." The man left the bedroom.
I hope this works. This is just too strange.
As Trent tried to relax, the man's voice spoke from the next room. "David, your turn next."
Trent pulled his shorts and pants up and left the bedroom. Tightening his belt as he entered the small living area, he glanced at David. If David hadn't heard about this treatment from a friend in the theater group, Trent would never have convinced him to try it.
"You sure it's OK?" David asked.
"Oh, Dude!" Trent jiggled his hips. "Very sexy."
David broke into a smile. "What's it called again?" he asked the man.
"Peptin. It's a supplement that'll improve your immune system."
"I don't know. This feels uncomfortable."
"Go ahead." Trent gestured towards the bedroom door as if it weren't anything to worry about. "Do it." Trend added wagging his butt back and forth.
David and the man disappeared into the bedroom. Trent exhaled with relief, glad he'd been able to get David to try this treatment. His T-Cells were too low.
When David reappeared, he was flushed and wore a sheepish smile.
"When should we come back?" Trent asked.
"In two weeks. Just give me a call." The man handed over a card.
"I don't know if I'll need another one," David said.
"You should get it twice a month. The effects wear off."
"It seems so...I don't know... illegal." David shuddered and adjusted his clothes.
"It is, but some people say it works." The man smiled. "What are your T-cells?"
"Mine?" David asked. "I have thirty-four. And I feel just fine." He should have already died with such a depleted immune system.
The man just stared.
"I've named each of them," David laughed about having so few T-cells to protect him.
Briefly aghast, the man recovered and ushered them toward the door. "This may help."
Outside, two others waited for the treatment. Anonymous people, who hoped to stall off the effects from AIDS. With the disease silently ripping away from the inside, there was no way to know when it would take you down into its death spiral. Once that happened, it would be a long and hideous death.
The man ran an undercover operation, reminding Trent of the drug purchases he'd made with Billy. Secret whispers, phone numbers and quiet apartments. He felt like a fugitive, but doing something was better than facing the inhumane alternative.
"That felt weird," David said as they walked down narrow stairs toward the car.
"That's nothing," Trent said. "I was going for this weekly thing where they took blood out of me, spun it on centrifuge for an hour, treated it with something, and then re-injected it."
"A centrifuge is this thing that spins blood vials around and settles the
chemicals". Trent knew David knew little about the world of medicine and he wanted him to know more. Trent had operated on an information is power sort of idea for some time. He hoped that armed with the right information, it would hold the virus at bay.
"What do you mean, re-inject?"
"They made me bend over and injected the stuff back into my behind."
David frowned, waiting for an explanation.
"It was totally illegal. But the idea was that they were injecting me with a little microbe that made my immune system work over time."
"What did it look like after they treated it?"
"When they lined me up to inject it into my butt, my blood always looked brown. Sort of like brown oatmeal." Trent made a sour face.
"Weren't you afraid?"
"We did it in store fronts. One time it got a little weird. The Doctor
thought someone from the FDA was watching him." Trent's eyes got bigger.
"Scary!" David shuddered as they approached the car.
"Yeah. So he did it in this dark closet next to the brooms and cleaning
"What did it do?" David opened the passenger door. Trent slid into the driver's seat and waited till they were both inside.
"I don't know. He kept saying he was a doctor and he'd invented a cure for AIDS. But he needed to test it."
I'd better not mention the green Chinese cucumber juice I'd squirted up my ass with a douche bag. That was really too weird for women in white.
"It's supposed to make a blister on your butt. Then you get feverish. The doctor said that's how you know its working." Trent went on.
I can't tell him about the idea someone had to drink small quantities of your own urine! Too twisted for topless transsexuals on TV.
Trent squirmed in the seat before he pulled away from the curb. "I can't feel any thing."
"Me either." David said.
Trent maneuvered the car into Golden Gate Park for a little escape.
"The parking fairies came through!" David clapped after closing his eyes and praying for a space. When he'd opened his eyes, Trent had pulled into a convenient parking space.
They enjoyed the Japanese Gardens, even if it was tourist season.
"This is the coolest place in the park." Trent said, as the two walked across a walk-bridge suspended over a shimmering stream full of exotic fish. The trickling water washed their minds clean.
"This is so nice." David waved, encompassing the view.
Knowing David loved this city as much as he did, Trent wanted David to live as long as possible. How could he encourage David to get involved with more alternative treatments?
"There are all sorts of AIDS treatments out there," Trent said, as they passed a wooden Buddha and rare birds from Japan.
"But do they work?" David wasn't enthusiastic.
"I don't know, but there are lots of alternative things."
"Have you ever tried Asian herbs?"
"No. That's crazy!"
The two inhaled fresh smells of nature mixed with pine. Trent waited a moment. He'd tried so many different treatment options; it was hard to understand why David was so rigid.
"I also flew to Paris for those Saranin treatments. Remember them?"
"Isn't that what Rock Hudson did?"
"Yeah. That." Trent smiled.
"Most people can't afford that," David frowned. "Besides, look what happened to him. Today was enough!" David's hand sliced the air.
If David didn't want to think about it, Trent didn't want to push it further. He couldn't tell him about the acupuncture and Vitamin C IV drip therapy and so many other desperate measures he'd taken over the years.
"Let's take a drive over to Lombard Street. You know, the crookedest street in the world."
They left the discussion behind as they worked through the city to Lombard Street. They walked to the top of the street and at the summit they let their gazes roam over the city's skyline.
"It's so steep." Trent said. Tourists poured down the street on foot and in snaking lines of cars.
"It's colourful. Chrysanthemums and all."
The street shook behind them as a cable car shuttled by. It stopped, let tourists off and clanged its bell.
"Nice flats along -"
"Um," a voice said from behind them. "Herr, Guten Tag. Um. Hello?"
Trent and David turned to face a young couple. Both the man and woman wore San Francisco tourist-bought T-shirts and had blond hair.
"That's German." Trent said to David.
David smiled at the couple.
"Guten Tag." The couple made small bows. "Live her?" The young man pointed to the ground and nodded. "Live her?"
After a blank minute, Trent understood what the gestures meant. "Live here? Yes! Yes." Trent pointed to his own chest and then at David's. "We live here." He nodded and pointed to the ground just like the man had done.
"Um. Fisssur herman's Warfth?" They flubbed out bad English-like words, shrugging in their attempt. "Fish?"
David waved his hands and sprung into an exaggerated stance. "Sure! Fisherman's Wharf! Yes. Down there." He cocked a hip and pointed with an outstretched arm.
The couple laughed at his gestures. They must have loved meeting the men who were obviously from San Francisco. Trent let David entertain them.
"See, two streets, and then straight." David's fingers gestured the walking directions. His smile lit up, and he swished like a girl.
The couple tittered and ogled their entertainer from the City.
"Down there." David pointed a walking finger, repeating the
air-directions. "Then over there." His voice turned upwards.
The couple listened close, smiling and nodding their understanding even though they knew little English. Their eyes darted from David to the winding streets, digesting as much as they could.
David's over-the-top pantomime had them completely in his spell. This was probably the best show they would catch while visiting the city.
"See?" David ended in a flare.
"Sehr gut danke." The couple beamed, their eyes glittering with excitement. "Prima, danke. Auf Wiedersehen!" They waved good-bye.
"Bye Bye." David waved like a girl.
"Bye." The couple smiled and started a trek down the street towards the Wharf.
"Do you think they could tell we're gay?" David whispered.
"Pleeeaaassseee!" Trent rolled his eyes, and they both laughed.
What a feeling of accomplishment. "I hope we helped them." David said.
"Isn't this something? People come from all over the world to see this city." Trent punched his clutched a fist into the air.
"I know," David said. His eyes welled up with tears. "And we live here."