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Hot night, streets are filled with life,
Carnival faces in Rembrandt light,
And your hair tumbles down like Sahara gold.
-Bruce Cockburn, "Sahara Gold"
It was growing dark by the time Ray returned from the market, and I had all four jack-o-lanterns glowing merrily on the front porch, though the heat and humidity made it feel more like summer than like Halloween.
Ray had removed his leather jacket and stuffed it into the top of a grocery bag, one of the arms trailing like a seasonally appropriate zombie.
"I thought you were just picking up candy." I held the front door for him, since both his arms were full.
"Yeah." He moved past me into the kitchen and dropped the bags onto the counter. "Half price, too. Procrastination pays."
I looked at the four grocery bags. "Rosemarie said she rarely got more than fifteen trick-or-treaters when she lived here."
"Yeah, so? This is America, Fraser. We're all about choices." He proffered a bag of candy. "Did you know you can get Reeses and Snickers and Three Musketeers all mixed up in one bag now? And no Reeses Pieces. Yeah, right, 'E.T.' and all, but nobody likes that crap."
A response seemed to be called for. "How fascinating."
"Shut up, Fraser," he said cheerfully as he continued removing packages. "And I had to get Tootsie Rolls."
"Of course," I agreed.
"Not Halloween without them. Nobody really likes them but everybody eats them anyway." His T-shirt rode up as he reached for the mixing bowl on top of the refrigerator, exposing a narrow band of bare skin. "And Bazooka for the stupid comic strips," he said, ripping into the plastic bags and upending them, sending candy cascading into the bowl, not to mention the counter and the floor. "And, you know, Smarties and Dum-Dums because they cancel each other out ..."
He hauled out a handful of candy. "Want some?"
Lollipop sticks and paper straws poked between his fingers in every direction. None of it looked even remotely edible. "No, thank you."
"Suit yourself." Ray's voice was garbled. I turned and saw him emptying four of the paper straws into his mouth at once.
"Pixy Stix," he said with a multicolored grin. "Pure sugar crack. Sure you don't want to taste?"
"All right." I crowded him back against the refrigerator and kissed him. The candy was harshly sweet and sour, but mixed with the slightly salty flavor of Ray's skin, not unpleasant. I began following the spilled grains along his chin and jaw.
"Nuh-uh, none of that." He pushed me back. "Doorbell's gonna ring any minute. Don't wanna scandalize any of the neighbors that ain't already scandalized."
"After five months here, I doubt that anyone on the block is under any illusions as to the nature of our relationship."
"Knowing's not the same thing as seeing." He brushed grains of candy from the corner of my mouth just as the doorbell rang for the first time.
By the time an hour had gone by, Ray had eaten about twice as much candy as he'd given away, and his mouth had taken on a deepening rainbow coloration. "Eat enough of these and your tongue feels like you licked a power sander," he mumbled through a mouthful.
"Overindulgence in blackberries can have much the same effect, as I discovered to my dismay," I told him. "Despite my grandmother's warnings."
He nudged me back against the door and brushed his candy-stained fingers against my mouth. "Such a thing as too much of a good thing, huh?"
I licked his sweet-sour fingers. "So I'm told."
The doorbell rang.
Ray stepped back to let me free. I kissed him before I moved out of his way so he could distribute candy to two Disney monsters and a pink sparkly confection who was either a princess, a ballerina, or a fairy, if not all three.
The moment the door closed he was on me again, hands sliding easily into my back pockets. He and I smelled almost the same now. Our laundry detergent, our soap. His semi-edible snack foods. I put my hands under his shirt, feeling warm, living skin, fast pulse.
He shivered, moved closer, and his hands came out of my pockets to grasp my buttocks. "We never did it in the doorway yet."
"A shameful oversight." His belly quivered as I brushed my fingers over it. I tugged on his fly button for a moment to tease him, felt his laughter against my knuckles, before my own impatience overcame me and I undid the first two buttons in quick succession.
The doorbell rang again.
"Jeez," he said, and flailed for the porch light switch without lifting his mouth from mine.
"The jack-o-lanterns," I sighed. "They're going to keep coming until we blow out the candles."
"All right, all right." He hastily untucked my T-shirt. "I'll give them some candy and you blow out the damned pumpkins."
He opened the door and thrust the rest of the bowl at a couple of startled teenagers carrying pillowcases. I pinched out the candles and crowded him back off the porch and into the house.
As soon as the door latched behind us, he pulled me back against his chest, stroking over my groin with his left hand while he undid the buttons with his right. "Jesus, Fraser," he muttered, and I leaned my head back against his shoulder. The last button slipped free, and he spun me around and pushed me down on the couch.
I looked up at him, panting and disheveled, and then I tossed a pillow on the floor at my feet. His eyes flicked down to it and back up to my face, and he gave me a feral grin. "Smart-ass," he said, and dropped to his knees.
He was hampered by all the clothes we'd been to busy to remove, but his mouth was hot and skillful and his eyes on my face were knowing. I let him see everything.
After a while he closed his eyes, and I put my hand in his gel-stiff hair, gold in the lamplight, and closed mine, too, leaning my head against the back of the couch and letting the shiver of pleasure spread through my body and then center on his mouth.
Outside I could hear voices and laughter and the wind flinging leaves against our window. Rain before midnight, then, and a deep chill by morning. Ray reached up a hand and thumbed one of my nipples through the T-shirt, catching it with the edges of his nails, rougher than he could have been without the protection of the soft fabric. I heard myself cry out from a long way off.
For a long moment I rode the crest of the wave, and then I shouted his name and went crashing over.
"Mm," he said, moving stiffly to sit beside me. "Thanks for the pillow. Mouth's still nineteen, but the knees're on the wrong side of forty."
"Your food preferences are evidently frozen at twelve, so on the average you're quite youthful." I maneuvered us until he was on his back and I was half on top of him, then leaned down to kiss his still-greenish mouth. He tasted like sugar and citric acid and me.
All the way down his neck I found tart grains of spilled powder. "See," he said, "told you you'd like it."
"Context," I said, nibbling below his ear, "is everything." I pushed up his shirt and ran a thumb around the rim of his navel, and he shuddered.
"Yeah," he said hoarsely, and reached down to finish undoing his jeans and pull his briefs out of the way for me.
I took his cock in a gentle grip, spreading wetness with the pad of my thumb -- he loved using his mouth on me, and had been known to shock me by climaxing while he did so, though he always tried not to deprive me by doing that. I brought my wet thumb to my mouth, tasting tart-sweet even here, and got it wetter before touching him again.
"Fuck yes," he growled, and his left hand, which had been undoing buttons, now moved to grip his cock around the base and hold it away from his body, offering it to me.
I made a tight circle of my fingers and let him push in and out of it, eyes tightly closed, neck stretched. "Fuck, Fraser, slower, god." I slowed down, but he didn't. "Ah, can't, gonna come, jesus, never stop --" and there was a moment of stillness and then his cock jerked in my hand and he climaxed all over both of us.
"Fuck," he groaned, putting at least four syllables into the word. "Aw, Fraser, jesus," as I sucked two of my fingers into my mouth. He grinned at me. "So that's what you like better than candy."
He reached over his head to grasp the arm of the couch and stretched, and his spattered shirt rode up over his belly, and already I was half aroused against his thigh. He raised his eyebrows at me. "That was awful fast. Wanna go again?'
"Perhaps in a few minutes." I pulled off my own T-shirt, turning it inside-out so it wouldn't mess up our couch, and his eyes flickered appreciatively over my torso.
"'s OK," he said. "We got time."
"I hope so," I said, and laid my head on his chest.
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September 24, 2002