Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Wrapping Paper Wars --- by Chuck Teixeira


By Chuck Teixeira


Gift wrap for Christmas was more elaborate than the stuff used in September exchanges among secret friends. On every block between Parque Lourdes and Calle 53, a dozen people were selling the stuff. Most of the vendors were old women with worried faces, all the more wrinkled against the smooth finish of the rolls marshaled or rioting just below their chins. School vacation begun, children reinforced the rickety carts guarding their grandmothers.

He made enough money to neglect school

Alvaro had not been much older – or taller -- than these ragged elves when armed rebels blew up a power station near Bogota, and the longest blackout in Colombia’s history rotated through town. Among his early ventures, he hauled crates of candles to intersections to sell to motorists in tangled traffic. That summer, he made money enough to to neglect school and search instead for another hole to plug profitably. By the time we met, he had developed and sold a small mint that stamped out tejo disks marked for different neighborhood and factory leagues – the humbler the patron, the greater the demand. And he was unloading a factory that produced heavy cotton tees with logos for Ciudad Bolivar and other slums that the young professionals rabid for the shirts would never dare enter.

Alvaro slept late most mornings

These ventures produced enough to support Alvaro’s sleeping late most mornings to recover the faceful of boy a previous nights’ booze had eroded. He called his business Godfather Enterprises because it provided work for the poor, sometimes even for poor who weren’t related to him by blood or marriage. From the moment we met, I knew the world would eventually provide everything he wanted. And when we met -- spoiler alert -- he wanted me.

Eyes barely open, face red, lips swollen, the shoulders still powerful, small tits slipping above a gut beginning to bloom, he slouched drunk and dissolute in the barber chair as urine poured harmlessly over the brown leather cushion under his swollen penis. He thought the photo was ugly and asked me to erase it. I asked him not to post it on dating web sites.

He didn't remember much from last night

He didn’t remember much else from that night: my leading him to the cold bathroom, his spraying himself, the walls and floor, then finally happening upon enough eye-hand coordination to plug his cock into my mouth -- my gratitude that there was still a flood to savor and swallow. Is it only short and stocky men who keep producing the serene fluids most brutes lose at puberty?

Serene or not, a fellow who believed what he heard at Mass was not easy to love. One frosty night, after another golden shower and a drying off enough to bundle him into a cab for his drive home, I dreamt about my mother, long dead and shivering on the ugly sofa I had bought for my first apartment. All the afghans she had crocheted for her children and grandchildren weren’t enough to keep her warm. Restlessly, she threw them on the floor as quickly as I could pick them up to cover her again.

A fellow who believed what he heard at Mass was not easy to love

The next morning, I shared the dream with Alvaro. Clearly a mistake in the same conversation in which I asked if he thought I would go to hell for getting him drunk, sucking his ass and fucking him raw. No, he said, God wants partners to do as much as possible together. Then the theological non-sequitur: let the dead enjoy their eternal rest. Eternal rest? I had just said my mother was too cold to get even a single-night’s decent sleep?

The next morning, I shared a dream

Such indifference I should have expected after the way Alvaro mishandled the incest issue. When he was still more bright-eyed boy than aging boozer, I suggested that, given the disparity in our ages, he might be the child I had allowed a girlfriend to abort before I became a responsible adult. He had the same light skin, hair and eyes that she had. In its mercy, the universe had given me a second chance to love and care for him. I would be the best father and lover a kid from the slums could reasonably expect, and not just because of the magnificent buttocks and legs he had developed playing soccer there. I would do everything humanly comfortable to merit his pardon. His mechanical response: only God can forgive.

I let myself drift into flirting with Alejandro

Not totally a surprise, I hope, somewhere between Alvaro’s boyhood and his boozing, I let myself drift into flirting with Alejandro, also a younger man whom I met at the gym on Calle 45 and Carrera 17, just two blocks from my apartment. Alejandro was an accountant changing careers, now a law student at Pontifical Javeriana and a part-time magistrate in penal matters. Unlike Alvaro, Alejandro had a mind and a liberal and professional education. He could hold his own on subjects beyond whether I really loved him or was just taking advantage of a beautiful body and naivete. Moreover, despite a strong physical resemblance to Alvaro, Alejandro was dark, the way a Colombian was supposed to be.

I really wanted to be faithful

For a while, I resisted my attraction to Alejandro. Of course, I thanked him for the knock-out nudes he occasionally texted, but I seldom let things go beyond tongue-kissing and nipple-twisting in the locker room. I really wanted to be faithful. Unfortunately, Alvaro’s dogmatism and Alejandro’s charm kept getting in the way.

Eventually, I reminded Alvaro about my unforgivable sin of allowing his mother to abort. It was Christmas Eve, right after giving him the hastily-wrapped but high-quality sweatshirt I had bought that afternoon during the final half-price sale at the Adidas outlet on Carrera 13. I explained that he must have been a twin and that I would be spending some time with his brother.

No problem, he said, but when you finally figure out that entrepreneurs, whatever their shortcomings, are more sincere than accountants or lawyers, don’t bother feeling bad: Christ has already died for our sins, so none of us has to grieve through that again.



Author’s BioHaving practiced law in San Francisco, California for many years, Chuck Teixeira now teaches English in Bogota, Colombia. His writing has appeared in numerous print and on-line magazines, including Esquire, Portland Review, Permafrost, Blue Lyre, Wilde Oats, Jonathan, and Gay Flash Fiction. Some of Chuck's stories have been collected in three volumes, Sierra Showdown, Against Slander and Thicket – available on Amazon.com.

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