Pairing: Simon & Garfunkel
Summary: The history of a different kind of love between two boys/men.
Review: This series has not been Beta’d…yet…
Disclaimer: Any similaritiesin events and persons are caused through fanciful thinking and fantasizing, but don’t really have anything to do with the real events and real life people bearing the same names. I’m FAKING IT! It’s ALL FICTION!
This is a series of short stories all about their relationship and how they work and don’t work. Some pieces are rather short, others are fairly long. I also skip around in time, so you’re not going to get it in the right order.
I hope you enjoy.
CHAPTER I: SOMEONE ELSES RIDE
This was exactly the opposite of what Art needed. He didn’t want to be a downer, or a spoil sport, so he put on his bravest face and sweetest smile, but on the inside he was crying and screaming. Paul acted as if nothing had happened.
While the casual niceties around him continued, he contemplated why he kept saying “Yes” to anything Paul put in front of him or suggested to him. There was no good reason he should be there, on this trip that was “Paul’s and Carrie’s honeymoon”. Certainly not after everything that happened and after all the nonsense, shout contests and nasty fighting. Not after Paul erased all his work and made it a “Paul Simon” album, instead of a “Simon & Garfunkel” album after months of working on it, fighting over it and after months of promoting it together on a tour around the world.. Yet, there he was, playing nice, Paul’s best, yet battered, friend..
They’ve come a long time. From quiet and shy explorations in sexuality to grown men in serious relationships with women. They’ve done most of the early explorations together. How was it possible that at age 41, Art was still there for Paul’s ride? Too many reasons not to be there. This was nothing less than awkward. This was nothing less than painful. Art felt misused and mislead. Art felt like he was Paul’s personal playing ball to be batted around till he was so dizzy he couldn’t tell left from right anymore. Of course there were two sides to the story; Paul using him and Art letting himself being used. Truth was, Art would still lay himself down for Paul.
Paul wasn’t exactly sure why he had invited Artie and Penny on his honeymoon. Maybe he was afraid. He was afraid of a number of things; he was afraid he would screw up again and Artie and Penny were their safe keepers for the first few weeks. He was afraid he would lose Artie’s friendship; they’ve not been very close and they fought a lot the last couple of months. Maybe there were other reasons he invited Art to come over with Penny; Penny and Carrie were after all good friends. In Paul’s head it all made perfect sense and Artie’s present was something familiar and safe.
Both men would look for those moments and remember them fondly.
CHAPTER II: WHEN FRIENDS JUST CANT BE FOUND
Art wanted to appreciate Paul’s present, but the happenings from the last couple of months overwhelmed his ability to feel anything close to something positive. Laurie’s suicide had picked him up off of solid ground and threw him into a bottomless well. He was drowning, falling and suffocating in a confusing mess of bewilderment, guilt, hopelessness and frustration. It felt like a heavy blanket of depression and he didn’t know how to escape it, nor did he really want to escape it. He wanted to feel miserable over his loss of Laurie. He vowed he would never forget and he didn’t want to betray her in any way. So he sat there, gloomy, sad and unapproachable.
Paul had never been very good at dealing with people’s personal problems. What could he say? What could he do? The best thing he could think of was making sure Artie was at least eating and breathing. He received Art’s visitors, and helped answering his mail and the phone. Other than that, he would tip-toe around Art doing whatever he was doing, or he sat quietly with him while he was writing. He did not ask Art how he was feeling, that was quite obvious and it seemed to irritate him. He did not try to make Art talk, or at least come out of his lonely musings. He was just simply there and though Art did not thank him for it or show any sign of appreciation, Paul knew that was all Art needed from him now.
In the evening Paul put a plate of hot food in front of Art: “You have to eat something.”
Art looked uninterested at the plate, but took it off the table anyway. He only managed a few bites before he put it back on the table and returned his attention to Laurie’s diary. Paul watched quietly while he chewed his food. Once Paul was finished and was about to take his dirty plate to the kitchen he nudged Art indicating at the still half full plate.
“You want me to warm it up?”
Art stared at the plate and replied in a monotonous flat voice: “Sure…”
It didn’t matter, Art’s hunger never came and he only managed a few more bites before pushing the plate away again.
During the rest of the evening Paul played a bit of guitar trying not to get too cheerful and loud. Art never reacted, his eyes going over the same pages of the diary over and over. Paul played till he was too tired and he just wanted to sleep. He put his guitar back in its cover and set it aside. Art was still reading Laurie’s diary having said not one word to Paul since the meal.
“C’mon Artie, let’s go to sleep.”
Art snapped out of his isolation: “You’re not staying!”
“I’ll sleep on the couch; you can do in there whatever you want, I won’t disturb you,” Paul pointed at the bedroom trying to put his mind at ease.
Art thought for a few moments before resigning to the situation and went into the bedroom with Laurie’s diary and a barely audible ‘Good night’.
Paul went to brush his teeth wondering when was the last time Art had brushed his teeth and that he should try to persuade him to take a bath and get clean. He took a spare blanket from a closet and settled on the couch falling asleep almost immediately.
In the middle of the night he was woken by Art gently yet urgently nudging his arm. Paul blinked at him trying to rub the sleep from his eyes: “You’re ok?”
Art looked annoyed and Paul tried again: “I mean, why you’re up?”
Art squatting in front of him was visibly uncomfortable: “I just need…I mean….Could you…”.
He sighed before confessing: “I just wish my mother was here. Everything was always right and safe with her.”
Art had not asked for what he needed, but he didn’t need to.
Paul got up: “All right, let’s go to bed.”
Art was relieved he didn’t need to ask it out loud.
The two men settled in bed, Paul first with Art nestling in his arms, Art’s head on Paul’s chest. Art could hear the familiar and comforting beat of Paul’s heart; it calmed him down and made him feel safe. It cast both of them back to one of their most intimate memories.
CHAPTER III: INNOCENCE AND CONFIDENCES
Rumours went around the school about Paul’s and Art’s relationship. They did everything together, from walking to school to making homework to playing baseball after school. They even did their detentions together and then of course, they spent hours and hours practicing their harmonies and the new songs they wrote together. They seemed to be together all the time, even spending nights at each others house from time to time. People came to expect to see them together. People were wondering about it. Children in their neighbourhoods made up their minds.
Art pondered the things they said about him and Paul. He also pondered what Paul had to say about that. Paul always said no-one knew anything about them, they didn’t understand, they couldn’t. Then there were Art’s feelings and emotions. He often got too excited to his own liking about seeing Paul. There were those warm butterflies fluttering about and he found almost anything Paul did great. He was not sure if that was, because he found it genuinely great, or because it was Paul doing it. Possibly it was a bit of both.
There was no question Art admired Paul’s apparent ease at writing and making music and Artie was willing to sing any melody Paul would come up with. They were still thinking in the same vein, they were still listening to the same music and nurturing the same dreams. They still had the same heroes and would go miles to get their records and then, when back home, spend the rest of the day listening to it deciphering the melodies and harmonies and then trying it themselves. It was an exciting time for both of them. Art wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else.
The evenings on their own were sparse; family members were always intruding. So Paul and Art kept to practising their music. Paul was writing almost constantly and coming up with new songs nearly every week, something Paul would later think back to with envy. Quite a few of them were throw-away-songs, but Art received every single one with the same enthusiasm. Sometimes they would write together, but Paul moved faster than Art, ideas spilling from his young mind like flowers out of the ground. Art the early perfectionist, was already insistently working on getting the harmonies for every song as good as they could and he would force Paul to put down the pen and rehearse those harmonies. In one week they would usually practise on about three songs almost none stop driving parents and siblings mad by sheer repetition y which point Paul would present Art with new songs Art could work on while he was writing new songs. Their early partnership was taking shape and showing early versions of how they would work professionally.
When family members were not present to disturb, other ideas were nestling in those teenage boys’ heads. Just like any other young teenagers, they were travellers on a sexual discovery. Their young minds wandering as they would and wondering because of the situation they found themselves in and everybody else seemed to be obsessed with. You would think, venturing out to try same-sex experiences, would be a nerve racking, uncomfortable task, but Paul and Art were most comfortable with each other. They trusted each other, they understood each other without having to spill a word or even look at each other. The sum of their age, the rumours and their closeness could only lead to one result. So, when they were the only ones in the house…
They spent the afternoon playing ball first and working on their music later. There was excitement in the air, because it would be the first time they were truly alone in the house. Not just the brothers out of the way, but also no parent s present to suddenly walk into the room. The ball game was just foreplay and the music further warming up. Food was a bit of interruption, mainly because Paul made a real mess of it and the food ended up inedible. They giggled their way through the cooking and eating leaving most of it uneaten in the thrash.
Eventually they sat side by side watching television. Art sitting up his legs lazily off the couch. Paul lay on his side, his head resting on his right hand and his elbow resting on the armrest. Art could feel Paul’s foot touching his thigh. He put his hand gingerly on Paul’s lower leg and peeked to see if Paul reacted. Paul had turned his head and looked at him with those dark unreadable eyes. Art slowly moved his hand from Paul’s ankle up onto his shin all the while watching Paul’s face. Paul’s face was turned to the television again, but Art wasn’t sure Paul was really watching TV. Art shifted from one end of the couch to the middle of the couch pulling Paul’s leg up over his lap. Then he let his hand travel over Paul’s knee toward Paul’s shorts. Just before he pushed his hand into the short, he glanced trying to determine how Paul was going to react. When he couldn’t detect any objections he moved his hand into the short up Paul’s inner thigh. Now he was getting a bit nervous, a trembling finger moving along the outline of Paul’s private parts. Art heard Paul’s breathing changing, if only slightly. His hand moved carefully over the bulge squeezing gently. Paul took a sharp breath in. Art kept his hand moving and pressing at a steady pace, listening to Paul’s breathing getting faster and more irregular till Paul put his hand over Art’s stopping him.
He gets up, Art watching him wondering what’s going on. Paul gestures to him to stay put while he runs out of the room. For a while Art sits alone, wondering if Paul had just left him there. That would be weird. He wondered if he should follow Paul. No need, Paul walked into the lounge holding a few towels.
“Mom will kill me if we get stains on the couch.”
Art nodded: “Oh, I see.” He got up to help Paul spread some towels over the couch, two were set aside for later use. Sitting back down next to each other, Art looked at Paul who sat looking at him. Strange how a small break like that could create an awkward situation. Art had no clue how to pick up where they left off; should he start over? Paul started to take his shirt off while Art watched in awe. Paul was small and skinny yet nicely tanned and even a bit muscled. Paul turned his head expectantly at Art. Art stroke a finger over Paul’s bare arm. His skin felt warm and soft. There was nothing Art wanted to do more than taking Paul’s small frame into his arms to feel him close, breathing, moving, and alive. So much live, so alive, there was nothing more beautiful on earth. The rest of his hand followed his finger moving up Paul’s arm over his elbow towards his shoulder blades. He pulled Paul into his embrace nuzzling his nose in Paul’s hair.
Art felt a hand under his shirt and another tugging at his jeans. Art trembled at the realization he was hugging his best friend. Could it be true? Was he gay? What did his parents think? Art’s stream of thoughts were interrupted when Paul’s hand slipped into his jeans and cupped one of his buttocks. Art pulled Paul closer to him feeling muscles under Paul’s skin move, tense and stretch. Art loved to feel the workings and movement. His mouth kissed the side of Paul’s face, his tongue licked at Paul’s ear and his lips nipped at Paul’s earlobe. Paul breathed into Art’s ear while a finger tried to reach down between Art’s buttocks. Faces, hands, lips, touches, tastes, hearts pounding. The world around them didn’t matter anymore.
Art found Paul’s mouth and put his lips over Paul’s sucking and licking. All he wanted was to taste him, to kiss him all over. All thoughts of sex had strangely abandoned his mind. He wanted to make love. No, he wanted to love and be loved. He wanted to wrap himself in and around Paul. He wanted to hold him, keep him close, safe and comfortable. He wanted to know, to be assured, they would always be together. Art didn’t care in what capacity, any would be fine, as long Paul was near. The only way he could think of and the only way he dared to express his love for Paul was holding him close, his hands in intimate places, his lips kissing and his tongue stroking the inside of Paul’s mouth. Art didn’t care that people might think they were a gay couple. Paul was right, nobody knew what they were or how their relationship worked. It was none of their business anyway.
Paul’s hands moved up Art’s back grabbing him tightly as Paul moved them into a horizontal position, Paul on the bottom, Art on top. Art enjoyed the pressure he was putting onto Paul. He stared deep into Paul’s eyes, trying to see into his thoughts and his desires, but Paul’s eyes were so dark, there was nothing to read. Somehow Paul always seemed to be waiting for him, even when he was not waiting. Art had no idea, but he always followed Paul.
Art could feel Paul breathing beneath him, his chest rising and falling. Art could even feel his heart beating, comfortably yet excited. He wanted to really feel Paul, skin to skin, so he took off his t-shirt. Paul helped him get the shirt over his head and arms and tossed it on the floor. Art felt Paul’s skin burning against his. He put his hands around Paul’s neck cupping his face and stroking down his shoulders to his arms. Paul just stared up at him letting him do whatever he wanted. Art moved his hands back up to Paul’s face stroking his jaw. Gingerly he put his lips to Paul and kissed him. His left hand slid under Paul’s head pulling him into the kiss. Paul’s hands were stroking his back, a finger trailed over his spine causing Goosebumps.
In the quiet of the lounge they made love to each other. There was no-one there to stop them, there were no distractions. The arousal between them grew steadily as their tongues circled around, their lips nipped and hands dared to feel more intimate places. Art’s jeans was getting very uncomfortable and sweaty. Paul had already opened the fly and his hand was feeling around gently squeezing the bulge in Art’s pants. Art clumsily pulled at his jeans trying to lower it. Not wanting to break away from Paul’s lips and his other hand still behind Paul’s head, made the task hard. He didn’t need to worry, Paul’s hands joined pulling the jeans down till he couldn’t reach any further. Art used his feet to get his jeans completely off as he shimmied and kicked at his jeans rubbing against Paul in the process. Paul’s hands were in his pants kneading and massaging his butt. Art groaned at the friction of skin against jeans. Paul’s jeans had to come off as well. Art fumbled with the zipper taking his attention away from what his mouth was doing. He could feel Paul smirk and when he focused on Paul’s face he saw the dark eyes sparkle, something he hardly ever saw.
Paul’s hands joined Art’s undoing the zip and getting rid of the jeans. Then Paul took Art’s underwear and pulled it down till Art took over and kicked the boxers to join the jeans. Paul meanwhile got rid of his underwear as well and Art became very aware of the increased intimacy. He couldn’t help but blush when he lowered himself down onto Paul. Paul’s hand ghosted down his thighs and then between them to further Art’s arousal. Art lay on top of Paul just staring into his eyes as the pressure build. His fingers were digging into Paul’s shoulders as his hips started to move back and forth pulling and pushing in Paul’s hand.
Paul seemed to enjoy the power he had over Art and what he could do to him. Art’s mouth was hanging open as he gasped in pleasure. His eyes glaced over and his cheeks flushed a bright red. Paul loved how innocent and angelic Artie looked. He loved it best set off against Artie’s character; because it turned out, Artie had his own mind, ideas and ways of dealing with things; not always agreeable. He wasn’t mean spirited, he was just not as angelic as his appearance. Art also knew how to turn his appearance to his advantage and many times to their advantage. He was also loyal, like a dog and he admired Paul. Artie was the most faithful, most supportive and encouraging person Paul knew. And he was delightfully weird; he never ceased to surprise and fascinate Paul. He admired Artie for staying true to himself without paying any attention to public opinion. He loved and admired Artie for being so wonderfully weird. He simply loved Artie.
Paul watched Artie’s face closely as the sexual tension was visibly building in him. Paul took great pleasure in knowing how to manipulate Artie. Artie always seemed a willing victim. Paul didn’t mean to hurt him, it was just nice to know there was someone who had complete faith and confidence in him. It was comforting to know there was someone so loyal, he would always be there for Paul, no matter what crap he had to deal with. Maybe it was a bit unfair and from time to time Paul would make a big gesture.
Just when Art was about to come, Paul stopped. It took a little while for Art to catch up, when he did he looked down at Paul in a mix of disappointment, surprise and confusion.
“What’s the matter?”
Paul shook his head: “Nothing.” He pushed himself up on his arms in a half sitting position.
“Why did you stop?”
Paul stared at Art for a little while not responding. Art pushed himself up onto his knees still sitting over Paul’s legs.
Eventually Paul broke the silence: “Do me.”
More confusion took hold of Art going: “Huh!?”
Paul pulled his legs from under Art and leaned them over Art’s shoulder: “Penetrate me.”
Art looked uncertain: “You’re sure about this?”
“Yes,” Paul nodded emphasizing it by lying down.
His legs were hanging over Artie’s shoulders lifting his hips of the couch. He stared expectantly at Artie.
Art moved closer to Paul’s entrance. They had never done this before and Art was nervous about it. What if he hurt Paul? What if it was no good at all? Paul was insistent though, so Art went ahead. Carefully he got hold of Paul’s hips and pushed the head of his erect penis between Paul’s cheeks. Paul’s mouth opened in anticipation, his eyes still fixed on Artie’s face. Art pushed till he met resistance and paused before really pushing in. Paul’s look was encouraging. Art took a deep breath and then slowly forced his hard on in the entrance. Paul took a sharp breath as Art slid in. He looked up at Paul to check if he was all right. Paul’s eyes closed for a few moments then returned to the fixed stare at Art. In a breathy voice Paul urged Art to go on. Art’s hands supporting Paul’s hips pulled him up while he pushed in further slowly opening the ring of muscle and filling him up. Paul winced slightly at the friction, his face contorted into a painful grimace.
Art immediately stopped and was about to pull out when Paul gasped: “It’s okay. Just give me a moment.”
Art was ready to immediately abandon the mission and to catch Paul in his arms. Paul was determined and after a few deep breaths, he told Art to keep going. Art held on to Paul’s hips keeping him steady and controlling the movement as he slowly moved out and then moved back in. Paul was wincing again, but encouraged Artie to keep going. With every sway back and forth the movement became smoother and Paul relaxed in Artie’s hands. Art could feel the pleasure growing again and he dared to move freely when he saw the calm look on Paul’s face. He even almost looked blissful.
The feeling of Paul’s insides hugging Art’s most intimate parts were incredible. It felt so good to feel Paul all around him. This was the closest, the most intimate and the most personal they could get and it felt so good. After a little while of thrusting in and out of Paul, Art paused to reposition himself in Paul. He wiggled a bit to find the right position to finish the ride. He had no idea what happened or what he did, but one moment he felt himself fall into a position and a split second later Paul gasped, his eyes and mouth wide open while his fingers grabbed the towels and dug into the couch.
“Oh, Artie,” he moaned.
Art felt a wave of excitement hit him urging him to move, to pull out and jerk back in hard causing Paul to gasp again. Art’s hips automatically repeated the movement sending pleasure and adrenaline throughout his whole body. Soon enough his hips lost all rhythm as pounded in and out of Paul. Paul’s breathing was fast and uneven. His hips were jerking in Art’s hands. Then Paul came with a series of short quick breaths matching the short quick thrusts of his hips, covering his own stomach in sperm. As he came his muscles contracted sweetly around Art sending Art into orgasm as well. Their bodies shuddered and spasmed as they released themselves. Slowly, as the orgasm wore off, calmed down and exhaustion took hold of them. Art’s grip on Paul’s hips lost their power letting Paul drop back onto the couch. Art dropped back out of Paul leaving him sitting on his knees leaning sideways against the couch. He was still catching his breath when Paul sat up, wrapped his arms around Art and fell back onto his back pulling Artie on top of him once more. His arms held Art in a tight embrace as Art rested his head on Paul’s chest. He enjoyed listening to Paul’s steady heartbeat. The calm of the beat and the warmth of the arms made him feel comfortable. This was the best moment yet. The orgasm had been wonderful, mind blowing even, but this embrace was more than Artie could wish for.
CHAPTER IV: A BRIDGE TOO FAR
How do two people know each other for so long? How do they not fall apart?
There was no question, not in Paul’s mind, not in Art’s mind, that solo projects should be pursued. So neither was surprised they weren’t always on the same path anymore. What did surprise Art though, was that he found himself on a path with no immediate opportunity to get back on the same path as Paul. Paul had not only chosen a new direction, but had also cut off any connections between his and Art’s paths. Art was even more shocked to find out through strangers; Paul had never said that after Bridge, that was it. Suddenly, Art had no Simon & Garfunkel to return to after filming “Carnal knowledge”. He had nothing else to fall back on and he had no planned projects ahead.
Art felt a little betrayed. It was as if Paul had taken away his most precious and prided possession. It tainted the success of the album “Bridge over troubled water” and all the singles off of it. Art had indented to fully enjoy that success, but now he couldn’t, because his relationship with Paul was in the way. He hated anyway when they were like this. It was as if he thought he knew Paul, but didn’t. It was as if their relationship was nothing more than a convenience, or a means to achieve goals. It was as if their relationship had become nothing more than a commodity for everybody to see, judge and criticize. It made Art fell deeply uncomfortable; he didn’t want to explain it to anyone. He couldn’t really explain any of his relationship with Paul to anyone, and it was nobody’s business but his and Paul’s. Yet, there it was, for all to see,
He never wanted to quite Simon & Garfunkel; he just wanted to be on a more equal footing with Paul in terms of activities he busied himself with. He couldn’t do the writing or guitar playing, he tried that and wasn’t happy with what he produced. Besides, compared to Paul’s songs and guitar playing, there was no way Art would find that equal footing, Art saw no situation in which one of his songs would end up on an album, nor did he see any situation in which he would play the guitar instead of Paul. He had to find something else that could balance them out properly and acting seemed the way to Art. Unfortunately, Paul thought differently.
It was an awkward event for both Paul and Art. Neither men were into faking their feelings or being overly social when they didn’t feel like it.The success of their album and single deserved them with several Grammy’s which they received in awkwardness without even acknowledging each other. As much was out there, their very public split, there was much left unsaid. Not just unsaid to the public, but also between them. Neither man felt like having to deal with each other or each other’s opinions and emotions. Things tended to get too heated between them. They both realized the irony; had they not been that close, had they not loved each other the way they did, it would have been much easier to deal with it and then move on. Had they not found the success they had worked for together so hard, they might have not fallen out and apart. Their success had not only brought them recognition, money and fame, it had also closed them on each other where everybody seemed to constantly look over their shoulders. It had forced them together closer and longer than they cared for. It was too much on top of them not liking to be forced by outside influences, their relationship snapped like a twig under stress.
Both Paul and Art went through the motions; receiving the awards, posing with their awards for the obligatory photo-shoots and conversing politely with colleagues and press. They didn’t waste any words or actions on each other, which made all the proceedings awkward and strange. Nobody dared to say or do anything about it. The sooner it was done, the better.
CHAPTER V: BURNING BRIDGES OVER TROUBLD WATERS
They sat quietly in Art’s temporal flat. He had moved there, because he was doing major renovations on his home which had made living there close to impossible. The flat Art was now in was small and cramped; they had to sit in the kitchen to watch television in the living room. Paul had pulled faces and wrinkled his nose in disgust at the flat when he first came in and he wondered why Art moved into this stinking place. Art pointed out it was only temporarily and for now, it was fine.
It had been years since they had a quiet weekend together. After their splitting up when Bridge had been released, they both had been glad to not have to spend any time together, so they didn’t. They concentrated on their careers separate from each other. They both got married, Paul even had a child. They just didn’t feel much like looking each other up. It was as if they overloaded on each other when they were Simon & Garfunkel. The sight of other people, working with other people, had been a breath of fresh air. The regained freedom to do things exactly the way they wanted, without another person criticizing it or giving it another spin into a different direction, had freed them up to develop into different directions. It had been nice and yet…
They had both settled for family life and a solo career and both had failed to get the balance right. Wife’s had gotten frustrated with the lack of attention from their husbands and with the overzealous attention from the rest of the world. The husbands, too focused on their work, realized too late their marriages were falling apart. The husbands had then failed to take the right actions and in 1975 both couples filed for divorce. A strange coincidence or were they still connected in some unexplainable fashion, going through the same situations and dealing with it in the same way at the same time. Whatever the case, it brought them back together.
Paul begrudgingly accepted a bottle of beer, but declined the pot Art planned to smoke. While Paul slowly lurked from his bottle of beer, Art stared at his joint not really wanting to get stoned on his own. They hadn’t spoken much, only the mandatory niceties. This weekend, planned, for whatever purposes, would run from Friday evening to Monday morning. Art was sure Paul’s intentions probably were different to his; he was not actually sure why Paul accepted his invitation. Or was this simply a natural get-together? Art had a few things on his mind he needed to say to Paul. He needed to get the bad taste of the Bridge aftermath out of his system. Something had gone wrong. Art had just wanted a month break, not a breakup. The breakup had been a slap in his face, but it was not what left the knot in his stomach; it was Paul failing to tell him he didn’t want to do anymore Simon & Garfunkel albums. It was Paul working on an album without him, behind his back. It was high school all over again.
Paul could tell Art was brooding and he could guess what about. Paul was not willing to bring that subject up, because he thought it was all very silly and immature. Paul never questioned the bond he had with Art; it was quite clear to Paul. Art seemed to have a different take on what their relationship was and Paul had trouble matching Art’s way of seeing it to his own. Besides, he had said what he had to say about why he wanted to move on and what had bothered him about recording Bridge. Of course they disagreed. Paul just wanted to spend a nice weekend with Art as a friend, nothing else. No drama,
They sat on the floor, drinks, snacks and other consumables scattered on the floor around them. Art moved them around in a fit of boredom. Paul sat next to him fiddling with his beer and moving back and forth changing channels on the TV. They didn’t talk much, there was a pregnant sound of silence between them. After failing to start a conversation and having moved several objects around for minutes, Art gave up with a sigh and “Ah, screw it,” and he lit the joint taking a long drag from it. Paul watched him with a small disgusted grimace on his face.
“What about us?” Art started and Paul repeated the question: “What about us?” shifting the emphases from the word ‘us’ to the word ‘about’.
Art clarified: “Where do we stand?”
“Christ, Artie!” Paul sighed, the grimace now changing into a prominent expression on his face.
Art was not about to let it go: “No, really. Where do we stand?”
“We’re sitting in your grotty little flat,” Paul tried to avoid answering the question.
Art rolled his eyes and put out a next question: “Does this still mean anything to you?”
Paul pulled faces at a none-present audience as if to mock Art.
Art ignored it and dropped another question: “What about all those times we had sex together?”
This time he got a reaction: “I don’t know why I let you do that!!!”
“Didn’t it mean anything to you?” Art spat out irritated and disappointed. Then he realized something: “No, wait, it was not as if I was molesting you.”
Paul avoided Art’s gaze. Still not looking at Art he said: “I never said you were…”
Art let the silence take hold again as he studied Paul’s face and taking another long drag from the joint. He still tried to to figure out where they stood. After a little while of contemplation he put one question out yet again: “So, what does that mean to us now?”
Paul shrugged and shook his head: “I don’t know.”
The only way Art knew how to test it was by putting his desires into action so he leaned in kissing Paul half on his lips.
Paul turned away from Art: “Art! Don’t!”
Not listening he grabbed Paul’s chin trying to turn Paul’s face towards him so he could kiss him properly on the lips. Paul pulled away violently creating some distance between them, but Art was not going to accept no. Not this weekend. He moved back into Paul’s personal space and grabbed Paul’s face with both hands roughly conquering Paul’s lips and invading Paul’s mouth with his tongue. Paul placed his hands against Art’s chest and pushed him away with quite a bit of force sending Art falling backwards onto the floor. The speed with which Art pushed himself up and was at him again made clear to Paul how determined Art was to make this happen.
Paul moved backwards trying to avoid Art’s grabbing arms: “Knock it off, Art!”
Art managed to grab Paul’s arm and pulled him aggressively into his embrace. Quickly he turned Paul around and whispered in Paul’s ear: “Not a chance.”
Then he pushed Paul up and against a coffee table pinning him to it restricting Paul’s room of movement. Paul only just in time caught himself on his fore arms as Art pushed him down. Art was using his momentum to pull down Paul’s jeans and underwear and unceremoniously forced his hard on into Paul. Paul was surprised by the speed of Art’s actions and then the rough penetration without any preparation. He couldn’t help but cry out in pain as Art’s dry skin against Paul’s just as dry inside caused a heated friction. Art gasped at the tightness and lack of smoothness of Paul’s anus. Instead of getting worried about it, Art felt a dark pleasure and power descent on him exciting him and driving him on. Without listening to Paul’s whimpers, cries and pleads his movements soon became erratic, uncontrolled and violent. With every thrust he pushed Paul hard into the coffee table, hitting him inside far beyond comfort. After a few minutes Paul was exhausted and couldn’t find a way to draw a proper breath, let alone scream as Art knocked air out of Paul’s lungs with every thrust. Paul gritted his teeth as he rested his head on the coffee table, now simply waiting till Artie was finished. After what seemed hours to Paul, Art finally came filling him up with sperm.
As quickly it had started, it ended with Art letting go of Paul’s thighs and retreating. No longer kept in place, Paul slipped off the coffee table onto the carpet. He lay there catching his breath, his mind still racing and his body still aching. He could barely comprehend what just happened; they’ve never been like this. They were always passive aggressive, hitting each other with words, it had never been physical before. Something had changed so drastically between them, and Paul never even noticed. Now Art’s question echoed in Paul’s mind: “Where do we stand now?” Paul only realized Art had disappeared when he got cold. The room seemed even smaller than before and the darkness and cold made breathing hard. Paul stirred trying to locate Art. Muscles all over his body screamed in pain; he didn’t realize how tense he was. With a pain contorted face Paul pushed himself up into a sitting position. He winced as he tried to sit on his knees slowly forcing himself into a standing position. When he finally managed it, he stood there feeling wobbly. He looked around the room concluding Art could only be in the bathroom. Crookedly walked to feel the bathroom’s door was locked. He tapped it three times.
“Art?” He waited for a reply, but didn’t get one: “Art, unlock the door.” A click announced Art following up the order.
Paul pushed the bathroom door open and peeked inside to see Art sitting on the side of the bath, elbows pressing into his knees as he leaned his head in his hands.
Art mumbled: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what got over me.”
Paul walked to Art putting an arm around his shoulders and pulling him into a hug. Art didn’t expect that and maybe he was afraid Paul was about to strangle him; after all, he had all the right to. Art pulled away from Paul. There was no resistance, just a hand on his shoulder. Art looked up at Paul, not knowing what he expected to see in Paul’s eyes, maybe just the familiar eternal darkness.
Finally Paul spoke: “That’s all right. You were right all along.”
Art looked confused: “Right about what?”
Art carefully put a cloth filled with ice against nasty bruised skin. A hand brushed over his and took over the ice pack. Art sighed, feeling so guilty and bad about what happened? He was also confused about Paul’s reaction; he was not angry, not even really hurt. Now he came to think about it, he never really understood Paul. While several like these thoughts went through his mind, he prepared another ice pack. Only after surveying the damage, Art realized how rough and violent he had been with Paul. He had several bruises on his hips where Art had grabbed him and held him pushed down and against the coffee table. He had some bruises along his ribcage where bone met hard wood and some bruises on his arms from catching himself from being pushed down and from sliding off the coffee table. Paul took the ice pack from Art’s fingers pushing it gently against hot blue skin.
Art watched, his eyes going from one ice pack to the other and to Paul’s face. Paul ignored Art’s pained gazes for the greatest part, only once in a while returning the gaze, his eyes an unusual soft brown. He had told Artie it was all right, that he shouldn’t worry about it. He even told Artie he probably asked for it anyway, but there seemed no things he could say to take away the guild. Art seemed to suffer the aftermath much worse than Paul.
“Artie,” Paul said in a quiet voice. “Stop looking so miserable; it doesn’t suit you.”
Their eyes met and again, Art felt like averting his eyes. He heard Paul move next to him, but only when he felt an arm around his shoulders, he realized Paul had slid off the couch and sat very close to him. Paul reached out and stroke his face the way only Paul could.
“You were right, Artie. I knew things had changed, but I thought it was just the situation, not us. I thought we were still the same.”
“I think I’m still the same…I know you didn’t change.”
“Then maybe, you weren’t right after all, and I was.”
“Why do you always have to make a competition out of everything?”
“Don’t change the subject..”
“By the way, I never said that we changed, I just asked were we stood.”
“No, you definitely suggested something had changed.”
“Maybe, but I never said we changed”.
Another thick silence. Paul lost all confidence in that he knew what was going on. “No,” he sighed exasperated. “You definitely changed; you would never have done back then what you did this evening.”
Art felt like crying; how could he explain this evening was the sum of his frustrations over the years? He hadn’t changed, neither had Paul; something had just snapped inside of him. He just no longer could handle Paul not understanding what he looked for in him, why Paul’s betrayals hit him hard every single time. He didn’t cry, he avoided Paul’s eyes. He avoided thinking of the mental pains he felt with every back stab. That was how Art felt it, like a knife in his back, twisting and turning, cutting off all nerves. There was so much Art would give in this relationship, all things Paul wasn’t looking for. There were so many things Art wanted from this relationship, all things Paul didn’t or couldn’t give. Art knew he was locked into this bond. Sometimes he wanted it, in the good times. Increasingly, he didn’t want any of it; he didn’t want any of this crazy love.