By Chris Carr
"D? What was that?" Awakened, D’von lay quietly, feigning sleep. Cory remained, his attention rapt on his roommate’s face. D’von listened to his quiet breathing, wishing this moment could go away. He heard a door close, further down the hall and imagined a student stumbling toward the bathroom. Was he holding his breath… and would that help?
"D?" Cory’s voice startling him, he accepted that he wasn’t going to leave. Cracking one eye open, he gazed into the darkness at his ro’dogg. There was a time when Cory was but a nuisance with his loud colognes and posters of divas. Those early days when they all but avoided each other. Shared room space, small enough to be intimate, it was the true proving ground…
"Yo, what you doin’?"
"Damn nigga, you know it’s 3:00 in the mornin’?"
Alarm clocks and rap, played at mind numbing levels. Pushups at 7:00, the funk of week old socks and cologne, strong and pungent.
"Hey, can you turn that down?"
"… nigga what the hell is that shit and why got to put on so much?"
"… you through? Well then when you gon’ be through ‘cause I need ta type this report…"
The door closed down the hall, the student on his return trip, breaking the awkward silence. Cory’s eyes averted, glancing for an instant towards the sound but soon returned to observe his roommate. Glancing at Cory’s pensive eyes, he suppressed the images that immediately surfaced. Reeling, he slowly closed his eyes, hoping to silence them.
"Did you know?"
"Know what?" D’von finally spoke.
"That he was… like that?" D’von closed his eyes again. Following a prolonged silence he muttered, "Dunno… not really."
..."You think he did it on purpose?" D’von said nothing. "Probably why he was so free with all them drinks," Cory prattled. Despite himself, D’von couldn’t help studying the youth’s features. His rich, coffee brown skin, punctuated with the last traces of acne. And those eyes. Those sultry, hazel eyes and the way they penetrated…
"What kinda magazine you think he shoots for?"
"Fo’ sho ain’t what we thought," D’von cracked.
"So… that mean…"
"Yeah, we probably played ourselves." Cory shook his head.
"What was the name of that magazine again? ‘Stroke…Stroking…"
"It had ‘boys’ in it, I know that," D’von said, his words dripping with sarcasm.
D’von didn’t want to think about it. He’d straight played himself and wondered was it worth it. He could only hope the magazine’s circulation was small and limited…. Hopefully, in another state.
A long silence passed, D’von listening to Cory’s quiet respirations. How much time had passed since the clock tolled 2:00 he wasn’t certain, but he wasn’t sleepy. Couldn’t stop the pounding in his chest, despite his exterior display of indifference.
"Did… you… know?" Silent, D’von lay very still. "I mean, ‘cause it ain’t no big thing… ‘Cept for when all that shit started shootin’ out on my…."
"Yo! Cory! Yo!" D’von finally sat up. His eyes a pair of saucers, he stared at Cory. "Like I said, it was an accident."
"But did you know?" Silence. Dropping his head, D’von rubbed his hand through his wooly hair. Looking up, he gently gnawed his bottom lip.
"Maybe it was the drinks. Or all them hot lights or somethin’ but…" He dropped his head again.
"You ever did that before?"
"Naw, I’d have to be really hot to make that much."
D’von rolled his eyes. "No. I was talkin’ ‘bout… ‘bout… with a guy?" Cory shook his head no and for the first time that night, broke his stare. Studying the covers, he picked at lint balls.
"Never?" D’von pressed. Cory shook his head no. "Nikka. C’mon, not even, ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mines’ wit yo’ peeps?"
"Came up in a li’l town," Cory explained. "Ain’t had no peeps my age."
D’von lay back, his arm tucked beneath his head, staring at the ceiling. Raising slightly up, he glanced at the clock. The numbers lazily informing him it was just past 2:12, he slid under the covers again.
"Guess you did," Cory said.
His eyes blinking from beneath the covers, D’von spouted, "Yo, don’t get it twisted. Like I said, me and a coupla my peeps did the ‘show me yours’ shit and that’s it."
"Damn nigga, I was just askin’." D’von eyed him suspect then allowed a reluctant smile. Cory shook his head.
"Should’ve seen yo’self," He chuckled, "Eyes all crossed and sweatin’ like a pig and shit. When you started doin’ all that huffin’ and blowin’, I thought you was ‘bout to have a heart attack or somethin’." D’von snickered nervously. "Till you let loose on my leg. I was like, ‘what tha fuck!" Retreating further beneath the covers, D’von couldn’t resist a chuckle.
"Shit was skeetin’ out like a god damn water hose or somethin’. Damn, you think that faggot was shootin’ that shit?"
"Uh… I wouldn’t know," D’von quipped, laughing now. Cory shook his head.
Then the silence engulfed them once more. Cold and foreboding, like an unwanted visitor, it extended, holding them in its clutches. After some time, Cory quietly inquired,
"Was it me?"
...Pulling the covers further over his head, he tried to disappear. Concluding that smothering couldn’t be worse than his present condition, he endured the suffocating heat, averting his eyes from Cory’s stare.
"So?" Shocked, D’von glanced at Cory.
"So what?" Cory’s gaze intensified. "Damn, I told you I was sorry," D’von spouted, pulling the covers higher. Cory shook his head.
"Ain’t got a clue," He muttered. D’von blinked, glancing up at him. Cory gazed cynically at him, then shook his head again.
"Think I ain’t knowin’?"
"Knowin’ what?" D’von spat, curling into a ball beneath the covers.
Cory merely shook his head again, irritating D’von even more.
"Damn, why you actin’ stupid?" Nothing. The silence greeting them again, D’von frantically avoided Cory’s eyes.
"D?" Nothing. "D’von?" D’von chanced a glance at him, his knees pulled almost to his chest now.
"Told you…ain’t no big thing."
A train whistle sounded in the distance, echoing about the open quad beneath their window. Heading into the last of Spring, they’d experienced a sudden heat wave. Cory wore nothing but his boxers but even in the cold months, he’d only add a t-shirt.
It’d become so hot beneath the covers, D’von was getting a mild headache. Or at least, that was what he was telling himself. Like all the other lies he told himself. It don’t mean nothin’ if you don’t do it. Or his favorite, everybody has those thoughts, once in a while.
"D?" God! What he’d give to be anywhere else right now!! "D…it’s doin’ it now, huh? D? Ain’t no big thing…"
Cory’s hand snaking beneath the covers, D’von stifled a shriek when it grazed his aching hardness. His eyes squeezed shut, he listened to the distant train whistle as Cory’s hand slipped around his hard inches. Still curled into a ball, he pulled his legs higher, trying to dislodge Cory’s hand but the boy wouldn’t relent. Instead, he lay along side him, his hand firmly around his rigidity.
"Naw, C," D’von protested, pushing Cory’s hand away. Cory rolled toward him, his hand lodged between D’von’s legs. "Naw C," D’von repeated, resisting Cory’s attempts to lay him prone.
"D?" Cory whispered. "D… you ma boy?"
"But it cain’t be like this," D’von resisted.
Cory moved closer, his face right at D’von’s. "D? Look at me." Cory’s hand driving him up the wall, D’von fought his inhibitions, cracking his eyes open. "It’s all good," Cory stated, his hazel eyes meeting D’von’s....