Chapter 1: Addictions
Neon. Will it ever go out of fashion? Patrick sure hoped so; he always thought it was the tackiest thing a business could offer. He much preferred lighted signs or billboards. Ignoring the pink, blazing eyesore that displayed the words “Boyz Club” with a roll of his eyes, the red headed teen walked around the back of the building to the staff entrance.
Once inside, the familiar smell of booze, sweat, and smoke hit him like a ton of bricks; but he’d become used to it over the years; he figured he should, because he was told that it was what Hell smelled like.
“Hey, Patty!” A loud booming voice called out to him and through all the cigarette smoke came Babe, the tallest, buffest, blackest exotic dancer to be seen in all of Nevada. “I hear you turned legal today. Congratulations!”
“Ha-ha, thanks Babe,” Patrick fake laughed in a sarcastic tone. “You know I got emancipated years ago, right? Today’s just another day.”
“Yeah but no matter what age you are, you’re always gonna be the baby of the family!”
Somehow Patrick evaded the eminent lung-crushing hug from Babe as he quipped, “You know that Dax and Jean are younger than me, right?”
“Yeah, but they’re three feet taller!” Irene put in her own hyperbole as she walked into the hallway-turned-extended-dressing-room. The delightful drag queen managed to catch Patrick off guard and give him a wet kiss on the cheek, instantly receiving a cringe in return. “Happy Birthday, Patrick.” Irene’s effeminate voice crooned teasingly as she threw a wink in the boy’s direction before turning on her stilettos and heading to the stairs.
Patrick wiped away the dark maroon lipstick left from Irene’s smooch the moment she left the backstage.
“You’re a little later than usual, Pat.” Gregor, the smoking hot Russian club manager pointed out nonchalantly. Patrick had a hard time making eye contact with the older man that he had an incessant crush on.
“Sorry, my roommate managed to destroy my computer, so I had to go get it repaired by a professional.” It was an outright lie, and he pulled it off beautifully. He was actually late because he and his roommate had a fight, and he had to smoke some weed to calm down before work.
“It makes no difference to me.” Gregor shrugged. “It just means our customers will be even more eager to see you.”
Patrick stripped off his shirt and dropped his pants, completely uninhibited in front of all of the other dancers backstage. Gregor looked away with a frown while the boy took off his underwear and changed into a tight red speedo.
“I have you scheduled for private dances tonight. And since it’s your birthday, you get to keep forty percent of the tips.”
“That’s awfully kind of you.” Patrick stated suspiciously. “What’s the catch?”
Patrick stared with a deadpanned glare for a few more moments before the Russian relented. “Alright, you stop offering to suck my cock and you get to keep forty percent tonight. How does that sound?”
“Much better.” Patrick tried handing Gregor the bottle of massage oil, but was turned down with yet another frown.
“You always make sure we’re even; you never want to owe any favors to anyone.” Gregor stated exasperatedly. “Why is that?”
He tried to look away while Patrick vigorously rubbed copious amounts of glittery oil onto his tanned, hairless skin.
The redhead fished out a pair of red flats from his duffel before responding coyly, “Let me know if you change your mind about that blowjob.” And with that Patrick turned away and headed straight towards the door leading to the club floor. Bright strobe lights and loud music assaulted his senses the moment he entered the club’s main seating area. It took his eyes a moment to adjust to the flashing lights, but once they did, he put on his innocent, yet sexy smile that never failed to hook the really rich customers, and just stood there, waiting for the men to come to him. And he didn’t have to wait long. In a matter of seconds a tall, blonde, middle aged man came up from behind and touched the boy’s elbow. Patrick turned around, never breaking his demeanor while he looked into the man’s blue eyes with false innocence. He took the offered twenty dollar bill without breaking eye contact and shoved into the waistband of his thong.
“How ’bout a dance?” The man’s pervy smile could not have been more obvious. But Patrick became accustomed to that smile. He knew that he looked very young; and his slender, petite body type typically attracted the pedophiles and sugar-daddies-seeking-sugar-babies.
“I thought you’d never ask.” Patrick learned to make every transaction seem personal; they were likely to be more satisfied (and more generous) that way.
The man took Patrick’s hand, which surprised him, but he allowed it, and he was led to a comfortable booth seat that faced the gyrating strippers on stage. The man sat down and slouched into a comfortable position more appropriate for a lap dance. Patrick wasted no time in straddling his man’s spindly legs and leaning over him like he would if he were to ride his cock.
“My name is Jim.” The man’s breath was already ragged with arousal.
“Mine’s Phoenix.” Patrick gave his pseudonym as naturally as he would his own name. He was always such a good liar; and not just because he had no conscience, but because he believed his own lies; whether for a moment, or a lifetime, Patrick could purposefully believe his own deceptions with such conviction that he was not, in a sense, really lying.
For all the praise that could be spoken of his cunning mind, not much could be said for his memory; for he instantly forgot the man’s name upon whose lap he sat; mostly because he did not care to remember. He rarely gave two seconds of thought about the perverts who came into the club just so they could imagine having sex with an underage boy.
He found himself being the surrogate “child” in many customers’ fantasies; some of them were private about it, others were shameless, asking if they could call him by their nephew’s name. It continually disgusted Patrick, somewhere deep inside. But during work hours he was Phoenix, the anything-goes exotic dancer who complied with every one of the customer’s fantasies without a single ounce of judgment.
For the remaining seven minutes of the lap dance, Patrick expertly swayed his hips in a way that perfectly simulated a bottoming-from-the-top sex position. He made little gasps and moans in the man’s ear and occasionally leaned away to run his hands all over his shiny, glittery body in such a sensual manner that even the oldest man in the world could not help but get an erection. And this customer was no exception. Amidst the pulsing lights in the dark club, Patrick could see a distinct tent in the man’s trousers. He made a point to brush against it just once, with the inside of his thigh, a few seconds before his time was up. John (or was it James?) looked at the redhead pleadingly, almost whimpering when the dance ended.
“I’ll pay you for another one.” The shaky voice begged. Patrick knew that the man was really saying ‘Please let me come,’ and he knew better than that. The entire business ran off of angst and sexual frustration. If he gave the man his release he wouldn’t need to come back for another four days, at least. This way he got the man hooked on the arousal; the sensuality and perfection that is Phoenix.
“I have people waiting for me, daddy.” Patrick added the nickname to further the man’s arousal. Although the man never said it aloud, Patrick already knew his deep, dark sexual desires. He always knew. “Maybe next time you come to visit me we can have longer fun, hmm?” He chose that moment to nimbly dismount the customer and give him a quick wink before disappearing into the crowd, leaving the man completely debauched and with the worst case of blue balls he ever had in his life.
Ten private dances later, Patrick felt completely and totally at ease with his role again. He had entirely forgotten about the fight with his roommate just a couple hours before, and he exuded the confidence of Phoenix, his alternate persona that knew of nothing but providing arousal and visual pleasure to all (for a price, of course.)
Nearing the end of the night, Patrick wisely expected some of the ‘leftovers’ to approach him for sexual favors. Many club attendees thought that if they stuck around long enough, when most of the paying customers had gone, the strippers would drop to their knees and suck cock for a twenty. And that might have been reality for some clubs, but not this one. Gregor ran a tight ship, and would not allow his employees to have sex (oral or otherwise) in his establishment, under penalty of termination.
And Patrick had never broken that rule. Not once. And he had no idea what had gotten into him, but this night in particular he let his mind wander. He thought about what it would be like to have forbidden sex in the club, where no one could see. He even scanned the floor layout for any blind spots, just in case.
But Gregor thought of everything, being that the only safe place to hook up with someone would be the bathroom, the least desirable location in all of Nevada. And it’s not that their bathroom was particularly disgusting, but it was the smell that really got to you. By the end of the night, vomit, diarrhea, sex and masturbation had all taken place in that tiny one-stall bathroom and the only way you could go in there to clean it would be with a hazmat suit on. The very thought instantly killed Patrick’s horny mood.
An unfamiliar voice drew Patrick out of his thoughts.
“Are you looking for a good time tonight, sweetheart?” A well-built, tanned frat boy with great hair stood a little too close for comfort, but his demeanor seemed nice enough.
“Sorry, not on the menu here.” Patrick answered reluctantly. “If you want a dance I’m still game though.”
“Nah, I’m more into the real thing.” Mr. Brick Wall moved in even closer to the short red head and soon had him cornered against a wall. “I’m really horny tonight,” Frat boy divulged in his obviously buzzed state. “And I think you’re really horny too. What you say we get out of here and maybe go to my place? I have HBO.”
Patrick scoffed, trying not to show his contemplation of the stranger’s offer. “Like we’d really be going to your place to watch HBO.”
“You’re right.” The other conceded. “If you came home with me I’d fuck you all night, in every position I can think of, which believe me, is a lot.”
Patrick shuddered visibly at the man’s promise. I had been so long since he’d had a good fuck that he was actually considering saying yes to a man he did not even know the name of.
Frat Boy seemed to read Patrick’s mind. “My name is Jason. Most people call me Jas.”
“Nice to meet you Jas, I’m Phoenix.”
“God you’re hot.” The inebriated condition of Patrick’s new friend became more and more apparent the longer the conversation went on, and he found himself hoping that Jas was still sober enough to fuck him good and hard that night. He felt like he needed it so badly.
“Hey Phoenix.” Babe called out from the other side of the room.
Patrick looked over and gave his friend the ‘okay’ nod, indicating that he was alright and didn’t require rescuing. He thought for a moment before sighing, “I get off in five minutes; meet me out back, okay? We’re going to my place. I’m driving.”
Jason looked like the cat that got the cream; pleased as punch and giddy as a school girl. He wordlessly left the club, leaving Patrick to himself for the last five minutes of his shift. But most of the club members had gone; it was nearly three am after all. He decided to turn in his earnings and tips, making sure to record everything exactly the way Gregor insisted on. He wondered why he always pictured himself with Gregor; in all practicality, the Russian’s OCD would drive him nuts within a week.
Before he forgot, Patrick called his roommate, only to be met with the voicemail.
“Hey, Charlie. I just wanted to let you know I’ll be using the living room tonight. I have a friend coming over. Please stay out. Thanks.” As he hung up Patrick crossed his fingers that his roommate would get the message before he got home with his “friend.”
Soon Patrick walked out of the building, freshly showered and in his street clothes once again.
“What car’s yours?” Jason drawled out, somehow looking even more inebriated than ever.
“It’s the white Focus over there.” Patrick felt his Phoenix persona slipping away piece by piece; it was hard for him to be a stripper when he was fully clothed. Now he just felt like his Plain Jane self; nothing special about him, other than his fiery red hair and generally stoic personality.
“You’re really short you know that?” Jason grinned sloppily, becoming giggly.
“Yeah, that’s genetics for you.” Patrick rolled his eyes, not amused at just how drunk his one-night-stand was. He began to have second thoughts, but by that time he was already driving out of the parking lot with his temporary companion.
“Wipe your feet, we just cleaned the carpet.” Patrick ushered the slab of marble named Jason into the tidy, small, yet spacious apartment and flicked on the lights.
“We? You live with someone here?”
“Just my roommate, I already told him I’d have company. We’re fine.”
“Him? You live with a dude? Ooh should I be jealous?” Jas, who was slowly revealing the fact that he had not just the body, but also the intelligence of a brick wall, unconsciously raised his voice a notch too high for Patrick’s liking.
“He’s practically my brother, so no,” Patrick buzz-killed efficiently. “And keep your voice down; I have neighbors who actually sleep.”
“So, are we like, gonna do it on the couch?” Jason offered passively, completely devoid of chivalry of any kind. And Patrick didn’t think he needed chivalry or romance, but all of a sudden he didn’t feel in the mood to have sex.
Instead of responding, Patrick sighed and plopped himself down onto the middle of the comfy cushions. Jason immediately followed, still grinning like he just won the lottery; and in his own mind, he really had. Phoenix was the hottest piece of tail he’d ever gotten to go home with.
“So, is it okay if I kiss you?” Jason fished hopefully.
“I don’t do kissing. Sorry.” Patrick stated with an empty apology.
“Oh.” The smile disappeared. Half a minute of silence passed when Jason impulsively reached for the tv remote and flicked it on. He scanned through a couple of channels quickly before exclaiming, “Oh cool, the Godzilla remake is on!”
“Oh joy.” Patrick rolled his eyes in growing exasperation.
“Have you seen this?” Jason sounded dumbfounded that someone could have such a non-thrilled reaction to his all-time favorite movie.
“No, I haven’t gotten the chance.” Sarcasm dripped from Patrick’s response; he’d actually avoided watching the movie multiple times. “There’s a reason they show this movie at three-thirty in the morning, you know.”
“Oh nonsense, you’re gonna love it.” Jason promised enthusiastically, the offer for sex seemingly forgotten. “Hey, do you have any popcorn?”
Disbelief struck Patrick like a tidal wave. He could not believe just how much the night seemed to have done a complete turnaround in a matter of seconds. First he was bringing a guy home to get screwed, and before he knows it, he’s having a slumber party movie marathon with a Godzilla fan boy.
He stared wide-eyed, still in shock when he mumbled, “Yeah, I’ll get some popcorn.”
“Thanks.” Jason called after him.
Patrick begrudgingly stomped into the kitchen in frustration. How did he lose control of the situation that quickly? Sure, for a moment he was not really in the mood, but he would have gotten into it once it started. Was it the ‘no kissing’ rule? Patrick replayed the scenario in his mind while he tossed a bag of popcorn into the microwave. He mulled over the possibility that the only way to get Jason to fuck him was to make out with him first. After all, the guy seemed to be the bisexual type; he’d no doubt been with girls primarily. And girls seemed to have much less inhibitions about kissing. But Patrick had barely ever kissed anyone. He first kissed a boy at school in the sixth grade just to ‘make sure’ he was gay, and he had a secret boyfriend for a short time in high school who he kissed once or twice. Other than that, Patrick’s list of men he’d slept with was at least ten times longer than how many times he’d been kissed. He quickly decided against making out with Jason; the lack of experience hurtled him far out of his comfort zone.
A shrill beeping pulled him out of his deep thought and he retrieved the finished popcorn bag. A familiar burst of laughter floated from the living room, bringing an indignant anger to rise in the redhead’s freckled cheeks. He stomped back into the carpeted room much louder than he’d left, only to find not one, but two guys sitting on the couch watching the movie.
“Charlie.” Patrick tried not to seethe.
“Oh hey, he brought the popcorn.” Jason commented, oblivious to the other’s boiling rage.
Charlie, the infamous roommate smiled in faux innocence. “Hey, Phoenix,” He practically winked upon using Patrick’s stripper name. “I was just getting acquainted with your ‘friend’ here.”
“You were supposed to stay out!” Patrick hissed. “I left a message on your phone.”
“Hmmm.” Charlie pretended to think long and hard. “I must have missed it; I had no idea you were bringing such a hot and sexy friend home with you.”
Patrick was on the verge of exploding at this point, but he wisely decided to give up. “I’m going to Ben’s house. Have fun with your new friend. Don’t let him throw up on the couch.” With his jaw clenched painfully tight, Patrick pitched the bag of popcorn in the direction of his roommate while practically running to the front door to leave.
As if he’d missed the entire conversation, the drowsy, drunk frat boy spoke up, “Hey, you’re leaving?”
“I’m just popping out for a smoke.” Patrick lied easily while slipping his sandals on. “You have a good time with Charlie, huh? Be right back.” And with that, the redhead was gone. He didn’t even bother to take his keys.
“God damn it.” Patrick kicked a rock while he stewed over his situation. He sure hoped Ben would be home; if not, he was screwed. While he walked he tried not to think about the fight with Charlie the previous evening, or what the fight was about.
His entire life all he ever wished for was a life where he could get away with having no moral obligations; no emotions; no one to hurt him. But every twist and turn in his life always brought him closer to what he foresaw as a problem: feelings. He hated them. He wished to the God he didn’t believe in that his emotions and feelings could just be taken away; gone forever.
But no matter how hard he tried to alienate himself from his emotions, they never completely left him. He still felt; and that hurt.
A few minutes into his walk, the skies broke open into a nearly spontaneous downpour. It was raining; in the desert. Patrick’s skateboard shoes instantly filled with water and began squishing and sloshing as he walked. He looked up to the sky, muttering curses at all the circumstances that brought him into this mess. He just had to get to Ben’s house; take it one step at a time.
His rhythmic, slightly duck-footed walk turned into an automated, robotic action; he was in his zoned thinking again. Soon the awareness of his own body and environment melted around him like candle wax until all that remained were his thoughts.
Patrick was all alone in his own mind. He felt nothing; he thought of nothing. In the darkness of the night, through the sheets of cool desert rain, all that existed was himself: Patrick and his empty heart.