Author: Rick Tobin

Deuteronomy 28:41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.

Just a toe. That’s all. Just her pointed phalanx appears. No more, at first. She plays me like a fly cast trout. She can’t be real, but I’m pulled in, helpless and gasping.

San Francisco rents: ninety square feet for a grand a month for one bed and a bath. Neighbor’s sneezes scatter roaches we deny on Balboa Street, but we all have them. They like fog. My lease didn’t warn me about my microscopic closet facing north. Her light came under the uneven door frame that first night, eroding my rest. I’ve slept with eyes open all my life. No one knows why. When light flares underneath, there’s no relief…as if she would allow it.

First, I was sure Nevada had fried my brains from Burning Man festivities. I took three tabs one night. Stars ate my soul. I wandered out from camp, alone. Next day deputies found me walking naked outside the park with killer sunburns, mumbling, half-mad and dehydrated. Dad got me out of the Winnemucca Mental Health Center’s holding tank for crazies or I’d still be there. Sometimes flashbacks eat my lunch. Not now. I’d take those instead of every closet cursing me since Balboa. She’s real and she has me.

My mistake, calling Sherm—trusted, faithful and gay friend. Not like my other gay contacts. We were close since grade school, even though I’m straight. Sherm was iconic. Nobody liked him, not in San Fran. A total monk—even though he would tap at me occasionally to verify which bench I was still warming. Didn’t matter. We shared all our fears, hopes, doubts and dreams. Doesn’t happen often enough in a life, but he was my go to. I had to tell him about her and what happened every night after I moved into that dump. He laughed until I convinced him to stay over, just once. He took it the wrong way and jumped at it, thinking ‘the closet’ was my code word for coming out, but then he got caught in her net. He was just as mesmerized by her shining skin and glowing face. Shockingly, she took us both, without our permission, until we were whimpering husks curled up in my tiny Murphy bed.

Sherm left before I woke. He refused calls and wouldn’t answer email or doorbells. I wasn’t sure what he thought I’d done; maybe drugged him for an escort. Anyway, for the first time in fifteen years, I lost my confidant.

Then, two weeks later, I get a call at work. He’s shaky like I’ve never heard. I empathize because I’m also enervated. Still, he apologizes and then asks forgiveness. I ask why. All he says is that two of them are in his closet. He can’t take it anymore. So that’s it. My cry for help contaminated him. A week later, cops found his corpse in the Bay. I tried to make police inquiries, but they still treat homosexuals like yesterday’s trash. To them, another dead one is a blessing.

Sherm’s price was my fault. I’ve moved six times—left the Coast to hide in Iowa. No dice. Three of them now exit closets nightly demanding servicing. I’m a mere shell of a man. Whatever happened in that desert sealed my fate. Somewhere in the cosmos, I may be worshiped as a pater gentis, but here I’m a lost soul who will soon pass in my sleep from unknown causes.