My Dead Friend
John Michael Cummings
The world, full of harried students of life, should
learn about us, Jerry. We were the best, the most exciting, at living, like a young god
and an old devil on a bizarre day of amnesty. We mocked all of man while sharing only a
decade of time. History, indeed, should include us on its shelf. We were always jaunty and
musing and brooding, because we both realized and heeded the joke and warning of life:
Always, it ends before it is finished.
You ended yourself before you finished
living. Once without you, I blamed you for killing yourself off, for neglecting your
health like a car engine that, once gunked, overheats and blows apart along a seam. Your
legs went first, their veins like wrinkled straws. But even when enfeebled, you still
dominated with your endless selfishness. Yes, you loved me, yet, also true, you destroyed
me as a man--by beautifying and spoiling me into thinking myself more lovely than any
woman. For this reason, among others, I have today become not only as interesting but also
as miserable as you.
In another direction, I am still
the same fiend you remember. Wake up, old friend, and see the narcissistic monster you
created. Rise, you pervert! Did you know that, with me, you were actually a pedophile,
imagine that. With my just anger for you, I should now claw the ground until I grab hold
of your bones, then break them like sticks, until I clutch and crumble your rotten limbs
into dust, until I...until again I sob for your death. I love you, my dead and gone
In my life since you died, my lovers
have left me because of these strange mood swings of mine, because of my self-loathing. I
am not Adonis, old friend, but Frankensteins creation. Like the old devil in you, I
hate because I exist. Once, we both concluded that you had saved me as an insecure country
boy from the local cycle of dereliction and indifference; once, we both agreed you had
fostered my creativity and transformed me into a collegiate lad and corporate cadet of
glib and gleeful charm. During those years, even though everyone thought us grandfather
and grandson, with you in your seventies and me in my late teens, we existed together, in
the mysterious undercurrents, less like family members than hideously ill-matched lovers.
Your face and body disgusted me then, especially when I was prissy and depressed--but I
still relished, all along, your unrelenting but harmless study of me, of my moods, my
emotions, my sensitivity. All along, yours was a comfortingly eccentric mind.
Unsurprisingly, I grew up into an
artist, looking for novels to write wherever I moved, draining energy from my lovers to
write them, and fighting for fame so that I could sneer at those who raised and formed me.
On this morning, six years to the day since your death, I am once again stroking your warm
gravestone. Lying high on this hill, where you view the Republican River snaking towards
Nebraska, suits you, lazy old man. Why, being diabetic, did you eat candy bars until your
arteries collapsed? Though, I do know why you chose to die: loneliness at your late age.
Then, when finally fearful of death, you asked that, when my time comes, I lie beside you
in the ground, to have myself placed near you for the rest of time, in gratification of
your rescue of me at a young age. Today, I have returned here, to my birthplace and to
your resting place, to make peace with the squalid memories of my heritage. My wife is
gone, my youth behind me, my conscience troubled.
You often remarked that nobody, to you,
ever looked perfect, that always some area of everyone's anatomy looked peculiar or even
ugly. Your legs, bony, scabrous and pale, repulsed me, I must now tell you. My lover
Bethany, eight years older than I, walks on succulently muscled legs. Men with a taste for
muscle in women eye her thighs with the fantasy of pressing them against their face like
warm towels. Her thighs emerge from her shorts with size and shape, with tone and luster.
When I massage them at night, after Beth has run or biked or swum, I savor them like a
cannibal, nibbling and licking them.
"Stop eating me," she
In glory of gripping them, I do not
hear her. What drives me wild is their daring resemblance to those of a classical Greek
man. In this respect, perhaps I, like you, am gay--or are we all bisexual? Either way,
heady with desire from touching Beth, I roll my hands around her quads, my penis firm and
heavy. Under me, she lies watching, curious of my fascination with what to her are only
"That's not massaging," she
"Stopping getting off on my
legs," she says with playful sass. She has the clean, keen, sun-freckled face of an
athlete. Soccer, running, swimming--all have strengthened, shaped, and toned especially
her thighs, from the bone to the tan of her skin. As a sex-loving man, I benefit from her
dedication to sports.
I even come on her thighs, regularly.
With her strong hands, she pumps it from me, spilling the semen on her quads, pooling it
there. Then I rub it up and down her legs. Always, she looks amazed. "Putting
yourself into the art again?" she asks as her legs are smeared.
"Adding a little of myself to the
lost-wax process," I quip.
She teaches art; I studied it; we both
My semen, still warm, is now spread
over the face of her legs.
"That's an interesting
feeling," she always admits. In the darkness, her smile is luminous. "You're an
Why do I have her ejaculate me on her
thighs? Admittedly, I never tire of my own sexual strangeness. "Okay, I'll clean you
up now," I say and do, eventually. Am I dominating her? Disrespecting her? Defiling
her? No, rather, like a dog, I am marking her as mine. She is mine. What I want to say,
Jerry, is that I will be buried beside her, not you. Do not wake up. You are dead.