Beginning in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s a mysterious trans teenager named JT LeRoy from West Virginia began publishing raw but beautifully written stories in Nerve. The stories shed light on a world not seen by most urban Nerve readers and the honesty of the voice lead LeRoy to become an overnight literary celebrity. Over the course of the next half decade LeRoy became a cult figure who earned more and more legitimacy until 2005 when an expose revealed that LeRoy was in fact a pen name of Laura Albert. The person claiming to be LeRoy was a friend of Albert’s recruited to appear as the LeRoy in public. The following was one of those early stories published first in Nerve in 2000.
The come waits on his fingers in its gooey thick ropes. “Why does it have to string like that? I mean I really think it has some invisible ligament in it. Must be a designated molecular thing.”
“I dunno man . . . ” Mick strains his neck scanning the sparse room again. I admire how the worm-like muscles on his neck resemble the corded come draped over his fingers.
“I mean, don’t you think come would be less a bitch to swallow if it just, like, splat out, more like piss?”
“Don’t compare it to piss man.” He swivels his head in the other direction like a weather vane.
“I mean, it’s not like piss. It has texture, like snot . . . It shouldn’t, is what I’m saying.” I want to trace the cords on his neck, instead I reach for the cat’s cradle of come held out in his fingers.
“Don’t!” He pulls his hand away. “Just don’t. And don’t compare it to snot either.”
“I fucked up.” I look down at the linoleum so worn it has the translucence of protective paper inside an old book. “I shoulda just swallowed it man, I just . . . ”
“Whatever. I don’t care.” His eyes blink rapidly, as if a fist swooped too close to his face.
With his hand he makes a slow-motion movement as if he was going to fling the goo. “I’m just sort of fucked now.”
“Just put it in the garbage, just use the roll there . . . ” I point at the toilet paper on the three-legged table by the door.
“Look at the garbage, man. Remember what he said?” Mick points with his head to the small empty yellow plastic pail. In the dimness of the room I can see a few ants circling the rim, like sharks. “He made a point of saying throw nothing in there. I put this in there and the ants will be over it like Twinkies, man. I don’t want ants eating my fucking come anyway.”
From out in the hall, slamming doors, slurred Spanish cursing.
“I wanted to swallow. I wanted to.” I collapse on the floor. “I just suddenly pictured the invisible adhesive in the come.”
“You’re whacked man.” Mick looks up at the ceiling, the paint hanging down like shaved cheese.
I put my hand on the soft leather of his boot. “It’s not like I’m grossed out by it. Fuck, I’ve been eating that shit since I was like nine.” Under the leather I can feel the hard outline of the protective steel toe. “I just suddenly realized the message in it.”
“Now you’re fucking hearing voices in jizz, man?” He steps back so my hand falls away. “Whatever, I gotta get this shit off!” He moves to wipe it on his shirt. I jump up and grab his hand.
“Don’t! He’ll fuck you up. It’s silk.”
“Like I don’t know that.” He pulls his arm away, but doesn’t try to wipe it again.
“If Jamal comes back, sees come stains on the outfit he got you, he’s gonna think you pulled a trick with some other pimp who marked you and he’s gonna fuck you up.”
“We’re locked in here! How the fuck could we’ve let someone in?”
Mick pushes at me with his forearm, shakes his shoulders in a tough swagger, but his eyes are blinking too fast again.
“If he’s tweaking, he won’t think of that, man. You know he can fucking smell come a mile away and if he don’t, his Doberman will.” I hold on to Mick’s forearm.
“Bring me the toilet paper, man,” he motions. “I’ll just put it in my pocket.” With his elbow he pats the small slit at the top of his leather pants.
“He’ll find it when he searches us for scamming on his hidden stash, man.” On Mick’s arm, my finger tips Braille along the tight raised punctures. I’m the only one Mick ever lets tie off and shoot him. I’m the only one that can hit it just right. And I’m the only one that knows that when it does hit he always puts his head on my chest and cries for his home.
“When he gets back, I’ll just tell him I gotta piss and I’ll run to the hall bathroom.”
“He’ll think your running to shoot. He’ll search you first, you know that.”
Mick turns away from me, dropping my hands. “This is stupid. Fucking stupid.” He goes over to the unmade futon on the floor. “I’m just wiping it in these sheets.”
“Oh, like he won’t find it there later.”
Mick stares at me, his eyes narrowing and opening like a camera on automatic focus. “What do you want me to do, huh? You getting off on this or something?”
I let myself slide to the floor again. A sharp nail poking out of the linoleum digs into my legs. I don’t move to avoid it. “I gotta tell you something Mick.” I look up to see him staring at the locked door. “I gotta say something.”
“Say it.” He doesn’t look at me.
“I never charge more for a date . . . to let him not use a rubber.” Mick doesn’t say anything. “I can be sick and needing the money bad, but I don’t. No matter how much they offer.”
“Good for you.” He says and turns to look at the ants scaling the garbage.
“But I do it, sometimes, without . . . ” I move so the nail stabs into me more.
“He’s gonna be back soon.”
“It’s those threads in it, Mick. All those sperms, I know they string like that ’cause they’re looking to grow into something more. Inside somebody, something permanent.”
“You’re not a fucking girl. You don’t got eggs.” He looks down at me. “Try and remember that, right?” He squats down next to me, his hands out like a little boy stringing taffy. “Okay?”
“It doesn’t matter Mick. It still sticks.” I lean toward him. He stands quickly. “It holds inside me. At night when I sleep, I see them all . . . ” I want to tell him how the come moves, releases from the web it’s wrapped around my insides. A big toothpaste ringworm. “It threads through me, and I see them all. All my mom’s drunk boyfriends, tricks . . . “
“You’re the one that wanted to suck me off . . . ” I can see Mick’s lip crushing under the bite of his teeth.
“It’s the married ones, with their wallet fold-out pictures of their fucking kids . . . I always do it for them. They touch me like I’m their wife or their kid.”
“You are not their fucking wife. You’re not their kid.” He stomps his boot close to me.
“They don’t give a shit about you. And I can’t believe you don’t charge them more. You never give anything away for free, stupid . . . “
“See, I always thought it was enough. I mean just to have their come. Inside me, searching to create— “
“Fucking create what? You ain’t gonna get pregnant any time soon, idiot!”
I close my eyes and can sense the streams of come floating inside me like phantom jellyfish held up under an ultraviolet light. “But I realized, while I was sucking you, how I couldn’t, I just couldn’t . . . ” I feel the words choking.
“You can swallow some fucking pedophile’s come, but not mine. Not your best friend’s. Whatever man.” He moves away and walks to the barred window, his webbed hands held out like burnt limbs.
I roll my eyes deep up till all I see are bursts of bruised light. “I wanted it more than anything. You know that.” I whisper.
“Just shut up okay?” He turns to me. “I’m jonezing too hard to think clear. I gotta figure out what the fuck to do.”
Mick abruptly starts to reach through the bars to the windows, then stops and turns to me. “Open the window for me man, I’m just gonna fling this shit out, hit some lucky fucker in the face.” A bitter smile passes over his face. I watch his hands trembling like pages fluttering in a book. “Open it!” He stomps.
“It’s nailed shut.” I say calmly. I suddenly feel I could absorb his trembling into me, like a faith healer. “Can I hold your hands?”
“What? This is not the fucking Girl Scouts!” Mick moves around the sparse room like a haunted house ghost. “I don’t want him beating me. I knew we never should’ve gone with Jamal. This was a bad idea. I just want to go out tonight, make his money, get fucked up and sleep. I don’t want any shit.” Mick bangs his head against the black bars that look like an ornate monkey chain. “Why’d I listen to you. I knew not to let you, knew you’d get fucked on me.”
I feel the air pushed out of me as if all the come strands have suddenly decided to choke my lungs. “I’m sorry.” I push out.
Mick pushes off the bars and moves toward me, “Let me suck you off . . . ” Mick mimics me. “You won’t think about shooting . . . ” He shakes his hips as if I hula danced at him. “And when I’m getting my ass kicked by Jamal, I wont think about getting high either, was that the plan?”
“It can be like venom too,” I whisper.
“What? What are talking about?”
“If you get bit by a snake, you have to suck the poison out. Suck it, then spit, unless you want to take the venom in . . . you spit.”
“Okay, next time I’m in the woods, and a snake bites my ass I’ll know what to do. Thanks very much, you’ve been very helpful.”
“I’ll clean you off.” I whisper.
“With what? He’ll see or fucking radar the come on you too. With what?”
“My mouth . . . it’s okay, I want to now.'”
“It’s okay? Now, it’s okay? Fuck that! I’m gonna tell him the truth and if he thinks it was some other pimp Spidermanned in here, then let him whip me. I’ll kick his ass back!” Mick makes an exaggerated punt with his skinny leg and looks so much like a little boy kicking stones I almost laugh. Mick catches my face and squares his thin shoulders but the rapid blinks betray him. “I’m ready to quit his ass anyway. I can get my shit from that Mexican pimp. Fuck him! I don’t really . . . ” We both freeze hearing the familiar loud chirp-chirp of the car alarm being set from outside on the street.
“Fuck!” Mick shakes at the come on his hands.
I pull myself up, go over to him and grab his arms. “Let me.” I whisper. I bring his hands to my lips and before he can say anything I place his fingers in my mouth and suck them clean. He says nothing, just turns his fingers inside the wetness of my mouth like a child washing off finger-paint.
We can hear Jamal in the hall, the heavy spiked chain of his Doberman clanging against the walls.
I finish swallowing and give Mick his hands back.
“You shoulda just swallowed before.” He says under his breath. “I don’t know why you had to fuck with me.” Mick turns toward the door and starts fixing his hair.
We listen as Jamal puts his keys in and unbolts the door. I watch Mick stiffen.
And as the yellowed fluorescent light from the hallway starts to spread into the room, I roll my eyes up tight.
“Ahh! Glad my bitches is still here! Now ain’t you glad I kept you from getting all fucked up before you get your shit done.” Jamal says. I hear him moving over to Mick patting him down, the Doberman sniffing along him. “First date is waiting for you at the curb.” I hear Jamal slap Mick on the ass and push him toward the door.
As Jamal’s hands frisk me and the cold wet nose of his dog plies over me, the ache inside me hits. I fold over gripping myself.
“Naw, naw, don’t run that shit bitch. Your date is in the red Camry, get ya ass out.”
I open my eyes and force myself out into the hall. I catch a glimpse of Mick’s boots turning the corner and disappearing down the stairs. I hold on to the wall as I feel the floating ligament of Mick’s come drifting inside me, waiting to attach.
J.T. Leroy and Nerve.com