“Lean muscle,” the man with the beard says at the bar, grabbing A’s arm. “You’re all lean muscle.” The hand of the man with the beard’s lingers on A’s round ass before squeezing it. B watches. B pulls down his shirt in the back. A small roll slightly spills over his skinny jeans.
A smiles in that way that makes it look like his entire face is winking. “I’m gonna go,” A whispers to B. “He’s my type and I’m horny. Is that okay?”
“Don’t tell me that,” B laughs, staring down at the bar. “You don’t have to tell me everything. You can do whatever you want.” B smiles in a way that looks like a full facial blink and pats A’s arms. He nods toward the man with the beard. “I’ll figure out my night.” B winks. “You have fun with him.”
A bounces back to B and kisses him under the eye. “I love you,” A says. “I’ll see you in the morning.” A squeezes B’s upper arm. It’s soft.
B nods and holds up a tall glass of beer as A walks away. Cheers, he mouths.
A returns to the man with the beard. The man’s hand slips inside the back of A’s pants, a sly tucking in between flesh and fabric, revealing what looks like a little stream of flesh flowing into the man with the beard’s palm, like he is catching the cascading skin. A’s back seems to wick inward to the spine.
“You kind of look like them,” the bartender says.
B looks at the bartender and puts his beer down. He wipes foam from his upper lip and points to himself.
“Yeah,” he says. “Them two with the beards. You could be twins or something.”
“I actually have a twin,” B says, tracing his finger around the wet ring left by a glass. “Neither of them is my twin though. I guess we just look the same.”
B walks the twenty minutes to his and A’s apartment. He walks in and opens what he calls a “Goodnight Beer.” He takes off his clothes, does not look at himself, and gets into bed with his Goodnight Beer. He looks at his phone. He scrolls through men. He sips the Goodnight Beer. He scrolls. He sips. He saves a photo. He scrolls. He screenshots. He sips. He scrolls. He saves. He scrolls. He scrolls. He scrolls.
B doesn’t initiate anything with these men. The men sometimes engage him and he, sometimes, engages back. He looks. When he’s had enough, when he’s dozed off, or when he’s spilled enough of the Goodnight Beer in bed, he starts to categorize the photos into two folders.
In the You folder, B puts photos of men he thinks are attractive. Sexy, appealing hunks: men B wants to fuck.
In the Me folder, B puts photos of men he thinks are attractive. Sexy, appealing hunks: men B wants to be.
Most men end up in separate folders but sometimes B places the same man in both the You and the Me folders. He rarely notices because he never looks at these folders at the same time. It’s one after the other or one or the other. There is no need to look at them simultaneously.
The You men are for the end-end of a night, when B’s hand is between his legs. He stares at them and squeezes himself. He thinks about the You he can be with. He imagines himself on the You. He touches himself and imagines that the You is touching his body. He imagines his own hand is another hand. He feels himself become someone else, as if he is watching himself and the You enjoying each other.
Then there are the Me pictures. He looks at them before the You pictures. He looks at the Me pictures to imagine who he is, who he can be, who he wants himself to be with the You. He imagines himself as a Me with soft white skin. He imagines himself as a Me with defined abdominal muscles. He imagines himself as a Me with stylish vitiligo. He always imagines himself as a Me who is at least three inches taller. He imagines himself as A.
His night ends when he has run out of Goodnight Beer, when he has fallen asleep, or when he rubs his sticky hand rubs across the hair of his lower stomach.
A knocks on the bedroom door in the morning and pokes his head in. B looks over his shoulder, at A’s glowing face.
“Good late morning,” A says. “So. I had a great time last night.” A points a long, toned arm in the room. “You really need to stop drinking beers at 3AM.”
B shrugs and turns over, away from him. The bed depresses just a few feet away. There’s a hand on his shoulder.
“Drinking after midnight will go to–” A slaps the blanketed midsection of B. “–your tummy.”
B hates the word “tummy.” It’s so feminine. It’s so fat.
A whispers in B’s ear, “You know I don’t like tummies.”
B can feel the sharp pokes of A’s bony body behind his own, spooning him through the sheets, an organization of elbows and kneecaps.
“I’m glad you had a good time,” B grunts.
“I had a great time.”
“Did you guys…” B holds up two hands, extending index fingers, bouncing their tips into each other.
“More like –” A makes an O-shape with a hand and slides one of B’s index fingers into the hole. “– that sort of thing.”
B withdraws his hand. “Ew,” he laughs. “You can be such a slut.”
“It was great though,” A whispers, extending an arm over B. “It was like being with a real man. He could, like, cradle me and hold me in his arms. I felt, like, legitimately tiny compared to him. It couldn’t not go there, you know?”
B doesn’t say anything. B closes his eyes.
“You know how much I like that,” A says. “When you have a man that makes you feel like you’re, like, a dainty little thing?” A makes this noise – a deep, guttural something, like his prostate was grunting from deep within him – that makes the bed shake. “You gotta see what he’ll feel like from the inside, right?”
B’s face is all scrunched up. “You were drunk, weren’t you?”
A doesn’t say anything.
“You can’t be doing that,” B says. “You’re gonna get us hurt.”
“I wasn’t drunk!”
“I’m surprised you didn’t pass the fuck out.”
“I told you: I wasn’t drunk.”
“Okay. Then what were you?”
A’s shrug is felt through the sheets before he slides his hand under B’s blankets and pinches him up and down, distinctly stopping over the mid-section to squeeze a bit of softness. “Get up so we can go to brunch!”
B kicks and punches back at A who turns the pinching into tickling and the two are poking each other and slapping each other under the sheets. Sun shines through the thin fabric filter as if they are in a little tent. B closes his eyes as A’s bony body bends around him, rubbing knee against the hairs on his back, a forearm over his spotted shoulder, a cheek under his chin. B imagines he is playing with the man with the beard. B imagines the hardened stuff on the man with the beard’s belly was why they were laughing. B imagines his little lips on the man with the beard’s fat late morning wood. B imagines and imagines and imagines until there is a squeeze down there.
“You got a fucking boner didn’t you?” A screeches. A grabs B’s penis again, pulses his hand around B once again, and let’s go, before thrusting his hand over B’s face. A’s hand smells like an almond cheese garnished with wet quarters. B opens his eyes and grabs A’s hand as the two continue their wrestle and wrestle and wrestle until they fall off the bed and into the day.
They sit outside at brunch, on a corner, at a restaurant whose food is just memorable enough that A and B feel compelled to eat there despite never remembering the name of the place. There are only men at this restaurant. There are only men on this corner. There are a lot of tank tops.
A makes a visor out of his hand, over his sunglasses. “Shut up,” he says. “Shut up.” He slaps B’s arm as he forks through a pile of dry scrambled eggs. “There, with the bag.” A runs across the street.
B looks up and over and to A. He shrugs. “What?”
A drops his head and slaps the table very gently, with each word. “From last night,” he whispers.
“Do you think he’s cute?”
B laughs. “He’s your type.”
A smacks his lips. “Yours too.”
“More your type,” B says with a smile.
“Should I wave to him?”
“Do you even know his name?”
“I’m going to wave to him.” A waves and whistles and waves and whistles.
The man with the beard looks up, squints, slides his phone away as teeth poke through his facial hair, and waves back. He looks both ways and runs across the street, hulking forearms first.
“How are you, babe?” the man with the beard asks, leaning into A, kissing him on the cheek. “Didn’t think I’d see you so soon.”
“I mean–” A swats his hand at nothing, accidentally-intentionally swiping the thick hair of the man with the beard’s arm. “– it was – What? – hours ago?”
The man with the beard’s teeth poke through his facial hair again. “You mind?” he motions to an empty chair at their table. He looks to A, then B, and back to A. “Don’t want to interrupt you and your friend.”
A smiles. “He’s my brother from another mother.”
B pokes his dry eggs.
A rubs B’s shoulder before grabbing his dappled cheek. “My widdle waby Buddha.” A kisses B on the cheek.
“Meeting the family already,” the man with the beard says. “You move fast.”
A tosses his head around on bobbing shoulders. “Kinda?” he laughs. “You know the type of family affairs I like to have.”
The man with the beard grabs B’s hands and presses a kiss just above the fingers. “The pleasure is all mine, bro,” the man with the beard says.
The man with the beard comes home with them. It’s already early evening. The three of them watch television, a cooking show featuring a Rubenesque woman who always has a cocktail within arm’s reach. A and the man with the beard sit on the couch, intertwined. B sits on the floor, legs crossed, hunched over himself.
“She’s always drunk,” A giggles.
“That’s what I love about her,” the man with the beard says.
A pushes B’s back. “Want to make us some cocktails?”
B looks toward a clock. “It’s not even 6PM.”
“Then it’s five o’clock somewhere,” the man with the beard says. “I’ll make us something if you point me to it.” The man with the beard picks himself up off the couch and out of A, leaning on B for support, pressing into his shoulder, causing him to buckle.
“Ow, damn,” B says. He rotates his shoulder a few times. “That kind of hurt.”
The man with the beard stoops down and massages B’s shoulders. “My bad. Didn’t mean to, bro.” The man with the beard kisses B on the cheek, stands, and shuffles into the kitchen. He tosses a few things around before returning with three tall glasses of cocktails. The three drinks are a cloudy something considering clear.
“I wanted to use different glasses to make each drink special–” The man with the beard hands B a glass. “–but I guess the same will do.”
“Our decor leaves a little something to be desired,” A says. “But…” He makes a sucking sound toward B. “…at least we’re cute.”
“Is that so?” The man with the beard puts the glass down on a little table and straddles A. He asks his question again, super tightly, as if the words are boxing on his tongue. The two start tickling each other. The woman on the television is laughing at something.
B sips whatever it is the man with the beard made. It’s salty and sour. “I’m gonna –” B picks himself up. “– I’m gonna–” He grabs the drink, from the ground. “–I’m gonna go–” There is a lot of smooching coming from the couch. “–hang out in the bedroom–” B swallows the rest of what he was going to say as he closes the door.
The sun sets and B is drinking in bed. Music blasts through the walls, a dance song of some sort, a club adjacent jam that is locked up in the guest room. B sips the drink. Something hits the wall, like someone is banging against it. B sips the drink. The banging continues. B pulls out his phone and scrolls and scrolls and scrolls and sips and scrolls and sips and scrolls and the banging, banging, banging continues. Why didn’t they join him in the bedroom? There is a photo of a man wearing sunglasses and a fur coat with nothing underneath. He is holding a glass with ice. He has a beard. His arm is up, out of the photo’s frame. He looks like he might be saying something or leaning in to tell someone something. The banging and banging and banging. Why doesn’t he join them in the guest room? The opening of the coat is in a straight line but the man’s body leans slightly, the line between his abs tucking into the coat. His member and pubic hair are just hidden, just so slightly out of sight. The banging softens. They must be having fun. He saves the photo to Me. He scrolls and scrolls and scrolls. A man wearing a blue jacket, unzipped. He is moist. Drops of sweat glisten from his tight beard. His pecs are pronounced but another man’s legs are near his face, one pushing into his chin, the other against the side of his face. Banging, banging, banging. But louder. The man’s arms are out of frame. His face is tilted toward the camera and he has this way of looking that suggests you did something wrong but he likes it. He saves the photo to You. B adjusts himself in the bed, squeezing his thighs together, trying to flatten something down there. The man with the fur coat, the man with the blue jacket. B closes his eyes. Where is his confidence? The man with the fur coat, the man with the blue jacket, the man with the beard. B bangs his head against the wall. Bang, bang, bang, the wall bangs back. His lips feel curly. More banging and more banging and more banging.
A knock at the bedroom door, before it cracks open. “We’re going to go out,” A says. It’s night now. “You should come with us.”
B wakes up, sits up, looks up from bed. “What’s that?”
A opens the door wider and slides himself in. “You were sleeping, weren’t you?” A sits toward the top of the bed, next to B. He smiles and tilts his head. A rubs the blanket and B’s thigh underneath it. “You should have played with us–or come out with us tonight. It’s the least you can do.”
B sighs and looks down at himself. “I dunno,” he mumbles. “I don’t feel like being a third wheel tonight.”
A purses his lips and kisses B on the cheek. “You wouldn’t be–”
The man with the beard knocks slightly and walks in. “–you wouldn’t be a third wheel.” He sits at the end of the bed and squeezes B’s toes. “It’ll be fun. We talked about this. It’ll be fun.”
“I’m always the third wheel.”
“We talked about this.” A pats the blanketed thigh. “I promise you won’t be.”
B crosses his arms and arches an eyebrow. “Really?”
The man with the beard lays forward, parallel to B, inches from A. “We promise.”
It’s not quite prime time at the club but the lull between the night rush and the late-night rush. There are men and men and men there. A, B, and the man with the beard are three of them.
“What do you want to drink?”
There is a hand around B’s waist. Strong fingers press into his hip, pressing toward bone. He straightens his back until it arches. He tightens his lips.
“Whatever you’re having,” B says.
The man with a beard leans over the bar and orders in a yell to the bartender. The hand is still on his hip albeit looser, still claiming a space.
“What would he want?”
B shakes his head. “A beer? Or whatever you ordered us.”
The man with a beard nods and leans back into the bar. His hand is still there.
“I love this place,” the man with the beard says. He squeezes B. Another hand rubs his stomach. “I love you.”
B squints and grabs his hand. “Do you know who I am?”
The man with a beard squints. “Yes,” he says. “Don’t be silly.”
“I’m not him.”
“I know you’re not. That’s why I like you.”
B stands there, the man with the beard still touching. The man with the beard nuzzles his neck, nibbling downward, giving him the littlest kiss on the clavicle that he revealed by chinning back the collar of B’s shirt. B shudders, shaking his shoulder slightly.
Three drinks slide forward from the bartender. The man with the beard lets go, pulls out his wallet, and settles a bill.
“Nightmare bathroom,” A says. “What’d I miss?” A wraps his arms around B’s waist and squeezes. “I love you, bro,” A whispers into B’s ear. “Thanks for coming.”
B nods and leans his head onto A’s. It’s warm, like a small dog was sat on him.
“Something more interesting than beer,” the man with the beard says, passing out glasses of something pale brown. The man with the beard holds up a drink. “To new love and new friends.”
“New love and family,” A says.
B sniffs toward the drink. “Sure.”
The three over-poured glasses clink, splashing into each other, flowing over fingers, dripping onto feet and floor.
“What do you want to do?”
The man with the beard wraps his arms around A’s waist. “What do you want to do?” He kisses A on the cheek. Their beards rub against each other in a way that suggests static or sparks or scratchiness.
A rolls his eyes and looks to B. “I dragged you out here,” he says. “What’ll it be?”
B slowly bounces his head from shoulder to shoulder. “I don’t really care.”
The man with the beard moves between A and B and slides an arm around B’s waist. “You gotta want to do something,” he says. “Why don’t we find you a man?”
“We could dance?” A says.
“I don’t really feel like dancing–”
The man with the beard lets go of A and pulls B to him, positioning the two of them face-to-face, although B is just below eye level. Always below eye level. “Then dancing is definitely what we’re going to do.” The man with the beard smiles and kisses B on the cheek. “Anything for my man’s man,” he whispers in B’s ear.
The dance floor has few spaces for more men but, as dance floors do, they accommodate. A holds the man with the beard’s hand who holds B’s hand, chaining them through drinkers, through dancers, to the thick center of the club. There is a small triangle of space between the three men as they rock in place, shoulder-to-shoulder. They hold their drinks awkwardly, trying to sip and move and sip and move. A shimmies himself up and down, looking at the man with the beard. The man with the beard licks his lips. B bobs his head and looks away. A thrusts his hips into B’s. The man with the beard lifts up his shirt. B looks up into the fast-moving fuzzy lights. A and the man with the beard grab each other.
“You guys look a lot alike,” a man on the dance floor whisper-yells to B.
A hand makes a circle just within B’s field of vision. “You guys.”
“Me and him?”
The hand pat, pat, pats him on the cheek. “The three of you.”
“Oh,” B laughs, pointing his chin to the voice. “We’re not twins”
“Are you sure? The three of you?”
“No, no–me and him.” B lifts his drink toward himself and then toward A, whose face is pressed into the man with the beard. “Not the one with the beard.”
“They both have beards.”
“Not the one with the beard-beard.”
“They both have beards. You have a beard.”
“But we’re different.”
The hand grips B’s shoulder. “But you really, really aren’t.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” A laughs, walking back to the apartment. “You’re not going home alone. Guys love you. I love you, bro!”
“Besides,” the man with the beard picks up. “Sex with strangers is boring. Relationships are complicated and are never just-one-thing.”
“And we’re not boring gay men,” A says.
“We look the same though,” B says.
“Does that make us boring?”
“I don’t think so. What do you think?”
“I think that makes us exciting.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because we’re ‘twins.’”
“Actually,” he says. “Some guy I was kind of dancing with thought that all three of us looked the same–”
“Wait: should we get pizza?”
“We should totally get pizza.”
“It’s 3AM. Nowhere is open.”
“The corner pizza place on 3rd is open until 5AM.”
“How do you know that?”
“…I’ve been drunk in Boystown before?”
“You’re so cute.”
“Don’t you guys think it’s weird that we look so much alike?”
The kissing stops.
“We don’t look anything alike.”
He touches his beard. “Just because we have beards doesn’t mean shit.”
“Besides,” he says. “We’re not twins.”
They continue kissing.
The kissing stops.
“Yes! Pizza. Please. It’s technically Sunday and Sunday is cheat day.”
The three of them melt into the couch, legs piled atop of legs, facing the television. Cartoon teenagers stare at each other in a cafeteria. The pizza sits on the table in front of them, untouched.
“Is he asleep?”
The man with the beard leans forward and nods. “I think so.”
“He’s so cute when he sleeps.”
“You both are cute when you sleep.”
B pushes into the man with the beard. “He was right. You are funny.”
“Yeah?” The man with the beard laughs, kissing B on the cheek. “Do people assume you are brothers? Or do they understand that you two are dating?”
“People always think we’re brothers because no one ever want to think two men can actually fuck or love each other. They imagine we’re ultra platonic, a la: yes, everyone thinks we’re brothers.” B laughs. “The ‘bro’ thing doesn’t help.”
“Does anyone ever confuse the two of you?”
“You know what? Yes. Which I think is funny because we look nothing alike.”
The man with the beard laughs. “Bullshit. You two are identical.”
“We’re not the same height. I’m shorter.”
The man with the beard laughs again. “…as if anyone is keeping track of height.”
“Do you know which one of us is taller?”
The man with the beard shrugs. “I don’t really care. We’re all kinda the same.”
“Please don’t tell me you have a twin thing,” he laughs.
“Why would I have a twin thing?”
B chins toward A. “He has a twin thing and he’s dating a twin and we’re all going out together…You know where this is going.”
“That doesn’t mean I have a twin thing.”
“We all look the same,” B says. “And, technically, I have a twin. It’s a thing.”
“But he’s not your twin.”
“Hooking up with guys who look like you kind of means you have a twin thing.”
“…then you have a twin thing too.”
B shrugs. “The difference –” He clears his throat. “–is that none of us are fucking an actual blood relative.”
The man with the beard laughs and nuzzles into B’s neck. “You’re cute, even if you’re a mindfuck.” He kisses B’s neck with tiny kisses, little pink forget-me-not kisses. “And, technically, we’ve all been together for three days. Friday night into Saturday into Sunday. We’ve basically spent a weekend together.”
“…you two spent the weekend together. Not us.”
“I guess so – but we still have more time to be alone together.” The man with the beard continues pressing in little kisses. “Why don’t we go to the bedroom?” The man with the beard grabs B’s thigh and tiptoes his fingers upward. “I’m sleepy,” he whispers.
B wakes up. He paws around for his phone.
“Good morning,” the man with the beard says.
“Fuck!” B jumps, just slightly. “You scared the shit out of me.” He laughs. “I’m sorry: I forgot we went to bed together.”
There is a knock on the door and a singsong. “Good late morning,” A says. He sits at the end of the bed. “How did you two sleep?”
“Great,” the man with the beard says and looks to B. “How about you, bro?”
B rolls his eyes. “Good. I think.”
“Love it, love it.” A nods. “So…what are we doing today? Are we going to get brunch or what?”
The three of them laugh.
“Yes,” B says. “Let’s get brunch.”
“I want to be clear,” the man with the beard says. “I don’t think this is weird. Some people have three people in a relationship and some people don’t. We’re a progressive people and this comes with the territory.”
“I think this is too early to think about,” B says, shifting in his seat.
“But we talked about this,” A whispers toward B. He puts his fork down and places his hand over B’s, leaning in. “We talked about this and we’re taking it slow. We’re being safe. No one will get hurt here as long as everyone involved is honest and open. As easy as that.” A kisses B on the cheek. Their faces linger next to each other. “Hey,” A whispers. “We don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.”
“We’re already ‘doing this,’” B says. He kisses A back on the cheek.
“As long as we put us first, we’re good. You got that? OK?”
“Yes,” B says. He kisses A again, under the eye. “I love you, bro.”
A snickers. “I thought you hated it when I call you that.”
B nods. “It’s kinda filthy.”
The two pull away from each other. “Do you think that’s gross?”
The man with the beard bobs his head. “I’ve heard weirder,” he says. “As long as you two aren’t actually related, it’s not actually weird.”