Narcissus and the Broken Giver

Photograph by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia

Photograph by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia

text by Marc Frazier


            Strains of Tchaikovsky fill Bruce’s second-story apartment. Curtains swish lightly in the breeze like a mournful dance—dancers illusive, then static; then, he thinks,

mocking. The clock ticks off minutes as only a Sunday afternoon clock can.

            Bruce enters the bedroom, his favorite place to relax when alone. Although tastefully decorated, elements of its décor are dissonant like the strings of the symphony he listens to, or his own needs and wants. The bed is an old metal frame with box springs. On the wall to the left of the bed is a long wall mirror. Stretched out on the bed Bruce stares out a rather large open window.

            The mustiness. It clings to me. Acts on my senses. The mustiness of summer cottages in resort towns open to their first boarders of the season. He tries not to think. A fly buzzes somewhere near. The time away has done nothing, he fears, as he traces the lines of his right palm with the forefinger of his left hand and vice versa.

            Suddenly Bruce jumps up and yanks open the top right drawer of the large, antique wooden chest. He reads and rereads and stares without reading the piece of paper before him. It sounds poetic, he can and cannot understand it, he could appreciate it and then he could hate its author. He hears footsteps on the stairs. He cannot mistake their author. The same.

            The music stops, the clock ticks, he hears the knock. He contemplates whether to answer it or not. Again the knock. He sits unmoved on the bed. Then he hears the door close and sees him standing in the bedroom doorway.

            David stands not smiling, not not smiling. “Didn’t know if you were home or not.” Silence. Bruce realizes he is holding the note in his hand. This disturbs him thinking it gives David too much power, that he cares enough to have it there, in his unsteady hands, that David knows all this with one glance.

            David nervously brushes his red bangs to either side of his forehead. Tom jumps from the bed, hands fisted, swinging wildly at the other man who remains motionless, “You son of a bitch, you fucking, mother-fucking son of a bitch.”

            David, being physically the stronger, overpowers Bruce’s fists with his hands. Bruce sinks to the floor holding as if to a ridge on a mountainside to David’s belt. He sobs. “I trusted you.” He feels like he will fall off this precipice, unprotected, all the way to the bottom. David’s hands are overlaid upon Tom’s clenching tightly to his belt. “You son of a bitch.”

            Bruce’s hands open David’s fly and take out his cock. This is the intimacy we had he thinks. David stands more smiling than not smiling, glancing sideways in the mirror reflecting his firm chest swelling, lapsing, his six-pack abs.

            When David’s guttural breathing slows, Bruce says evenly, “I don’t ever, ever want to see you again, you son of a bitch.”