Monday, October 12, 2009
GUILTY BY ADMISSION text & photos by walt Cessna
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Guilty by Admission
Text & photographs By Walter Cessna
7-94 - 10-09
Originally published in Paper Magazine 1994
The light at the corner of 67th and Second seems to take forever. Levi scratches the corner of his mouth and brushes away a few crumbs from the powdered donut he just devoured for breakfast. It’s 6pm, and as the sun sits stubbornly in the thick August sky, he stares at the passing traffic, wincing slightly as a bus cuts directly in front of him and the light finally fades from red to green.
“Would ya fuckin’ move, mister?” a voice creaks from behind. Levi pays no mind and slowly, insecurely, makes his way across the crowded thoroughfare. Standing 5 feet 7 inches, Levi weighs in at 120 pounds on a good donut day. His acne-covered face is given to oozing pus from freshly picked-at pimples that quickly transform into permanent pockmarks. His neck is covered with innumerable hickeys bearing testament to last night’s twisted lovemaking session with his half-brother, Lee. Although the temperature hovers near 99, Levi is dressed in a fuzzy, almost threadbare plaid peacoat and filthy gray corduroys that drag fashionably about six inches below his shoes, giving him the appearance of a raver on the dole. His underwear is a thermal union suit that Levi wears with the top half pulled down and left hanging over his belted 22 inch waist.
A blast of hot summer wind sends a severe shiver spiraling down Levi’s spine. Groping himself in a fit of fear and pain, he shrugs away the suddenly all-too-piercing pins penetrating his body. As the world passing him by seemingly finds a way to cope with any sudden intrusion, Levi never does. Levi is 17 years old. Levi lives in a fucked-up room at the Kenmore Hotel with Lee. Levi sucks dick for a living. Levi has AIDS. Levi doesn’t care.
Everyday at exactly 6:30pm Levi has a standing appointment with his favorite “friend” at a midtown pickup joint. It’s only ten after six by the time Levi makes his way into the club’s sea of suits just off work and eager to relax any way they can. To say this is a shallow social scene is almost too obvious, but Levi views it strictly as income. Pleasure is something that rarely, if ever, occurs. Life is about getting money to buy junk food, score drugs, take taxis, get cigarettes and sometimes crash in a real bed. He doesn’t know how to do anything except things he really likes. It isn’t that he really likes giving blowjobs to old farts; he likes giving blowjobs, period—and old farts just happen to like to pay money for it. Quite a fair exchange, in Levi’s eyes.
Levi pushes his way through the crowd and heads toward the back room. No sign of the “friend.” Levi walks over to the bathroom and softly pushes open the door. There are four stalls with floor-to-ceiling doors insuring complete privacy. Levi knocks on the last one first.
“What took you so long?” a voice answers as the door opens to reveal a tall, fray-haired gentleman with his pants down around his ankles, straddling the face of an extremely hung but deathly thin young man who is hunched over the toilet in quite an uncomfortable-looking position.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Lee?” screams Levi. But before he can protest, the old man pulls him into the pit and locks the door behind them.
“Today we play things a little differently,” the old guy says as he pulls out his false teeth and lunges toward the lifeless penis hanging between Lee’s legs. Levi struggles to break free of his hold but is forced down on his knees by the much stronger man who hungrily devours both boys at once. Levi closes his eyes and thinks about roller coasters, double-scoop ice cream cones and gooey, caramel-filled chocolate-topped donuts. He thinks about that new CD he wants but doesn’t even have a CD player to play it on. As the cum splashes against the back of his throat he thinks only about two more things—the 50 bucks he’s about to get and the travel-size bottle of Listerine hidden deep in his pocket that he prays will make him forget the taste of this troll forever…
Lily sits on the curb outside the Chelsea Hotel, peeling the back off of a tattoo that she just finished out of her Cracker Jack box. As she sticks it smack in the center of her forehead, she simultaneously pours a handful of peanut M&M’s down her throat without actually chewing them. Her fingers are stained melted Hershey’s brown, her lips permanently tinted the color of a million Lifesavers. A thin layer of onion and garlic-flavored potato chip grease covers her skin. As Levi walks up to her she breaks into a wide smile, revealing a dark and cavernous mouth, empty save for two fang-like teeth precariously perched from her upper bridge, giving her the appearance of Dracula on speed.
“Hi Mom,” Levi says as he kisses her on the lips.
“Hey, honey. What made you decide to come home”
“Oh, I thought it might be interesting to actually spend some quality time with my favorite mother!”
“Why, do you have more than one?”
“You know what I mean, Mom!”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Now how much do you need?”
“I don’t want any of your fuckin’ money!”
“Good, ‘cause I don’t have any!”
“Do you have some speed?”
“What the fuck do you think?”
“Well, from the way your hands are shaking, the look in your eyes, I would have to say yes.”
“Why don’t you go and score your own shit?”
“Cause I don’t have any money left.”
“Whadja do with it all, then?” Lily stands up and starts frisking Levi for whatever he’s holding out on her. “C’mon, Levi. I know you’ve turned at least one trick today! Now where’s the fuckin’ money?”
Lily shakes Levi furiously, practically turning him upside down. What comes crashing out of his pockets is neither dollars nor cents. On the sidewalk lie five unwrapped CDs: Live Through This by Hole, Billie Holiday’s Greatest Hits, Saturation by Urge Overkill, the “Sweet Potato Pie” single by Domino, and last but certainly far from least, ABBA’s Greatest Hits.
“You spent your fuckin’ money on CDs? And now you want me to front you drugs? Are you gonna pay me back with a fuckin’ ABBA record? You don’t even own a CD player! And even if you did, you don’t live in a room with electricity. You don’t even know how to fucking read, you stupid piece of shit. You can’t do anything but get high and suck dick, but you wanna listen to music! Ha! How can you be my son?”
Levi stoops down and picks up the CDs. “That’s easy, Mom…I’m just like you. I can’t fucking stand the sight of myself. I wish I were dead. My punishment is to live in this stinking pile of shit forever, and I can thank you for all of it. Thanks Mom!”
Lily turns beet red and releases Levi from her vicelike grip. Forcing a wad of phlegm into her throat, she spits it smack in her son’s unsurprised and slightly bemused face. As he wipes her mucus from his eye, Levi bends down to pick up the last CD, but his mother’s spike-heeled purple Candies pump crashes down on it first, shattering the case into jagged pieces. Lily then drags her fingernails across Levi's face, leaving a trail of pus, blood and popped pimple ooze in its wake.
“I love you, too,” Levi snickers as he wipes his face partially clean with his sleeve. Stuffing the remaining CDs backs into his jacket, he starts down the street as Lily plops herself down on the curb, picking at her belly button with one hand and swatting away an imaginary fly with the other. She’s smiling, big and super toothy, looking content and feeling strangely uncontaminated, severed from all situations, be they simple or surreal.
Levi walks until he finds himself in front of Penn Station. He sits on the steps and closes his eyes for the briefest second. When he was 14, he would have done anything just to have a sexual experience. Anything. It sounds corny, but Levi had started hustling because he wanted to find somebody who would fall in love with him. He was smaller than the other boys were, so the girls often made fun of him. The boys, whom he was in love with, called him a faggot and beat the hell out of him on a regular basis. Levi stopped going to school, but nobody seemed to care. His mother was never home long enough to notice what the fuck he was doing, and the school seemed to be relieved not to have to deal with a blooming sissy in its midst.
He met his first john on his 14th birthday. It was the first time he had run away from home and he was riding the Long Island Rail Toad into Penn Station. He sat in the seat directly across from him and was conservative looking, to say the least. They made eye contact, but nothing seemed probable. When the train pulled into Penn Station, Levi fell a few steps behind as he followed him to the men’s room and stood next to him at the piss-stained urinals. The man unzipped his fly and pulled out his cock. As he held it with his right hand, his left grabbed Levi by the back of his head and forced the boy down on it. The guy came almost instantly, leaving his salty deposit half in Levi’s mouth, half smeared on his chin. He pulled the kid onto his feet and shoved his dripping dick back into his pants. Levi smiled at him and reached forward to kiss his lips, but the guy pushed him away.
Out came a ten-dollar bill, which he planted into Levi’s hand. Levi didn’t understand why the guy had just given him money, but he had a hunch he was onto something. Without even thinking, he walked into an empty stall and jacked off until he came with a slow, sad fury all over the tips of his size 10 black Converse All-Stars. When he got busted for solicitation an hour after getting off the bus in Hollywood, his mother, in a rare fit of motherly love, splurged for a bus ticket home for her son. There was about $100 left over that Levi spent on crystal meth, which he snorted steadily the entire four day trip, not sleeping once. When he got to Port Authority he collapsed in a stall in the men’s room after suffering his first grand mal seizure. Upon waking, he realized that someone had not only stolen all of his money and luggage, but his pants and shoes as well. When he showed up at the Chelsea Hotel in his underwear and a smile, Lily just laughed and loaned him a pair of one of her boyfriend’s jeans.
Levi lived with his mother for a while, but after he racked up a $600 phone sex bill, Lily kicked him out and gave him 50 bucks to get a room down the street at the Kenmore. Levi kept listening to the phone sex lives. This was difficult since he didn’t have access to a phone at the hotel, so he got the idea to break into an apartment in the building across the street. He scoped out a young bookworm who type who left her building each morning at 8:45 and promptly returned at 6p.m. As he spied on her one night undressing in front of the window, he noticed a fire escape that stood all to temptingly right outside. For almost a month, Levi broke in and spent each day talking on the phone and jacking off, addicted not only to the sexual release each verbal encounter provided, but also to the fantasy character he concocted to attract his tele-partners.
His alias was Mike, and unlike Levi, Mike was a fierce ruling uberstud. His physical dimensions defied description, and his phone demeanor exuded a richly exaggerated swagger extremely unlike him. Levi usually just jerked off with his newfound phone friends, but one day a new guy on the line introduced him to a whole other world. His name Rudolfo, and he lived all the way out in Stamford. He didn’t come across with a butch pickup line or boasts of an immaculate penis. Instead, Rudolfo lured victims into his web by being honest: If you were willing to suck dick at $150 a pop without the benefit of a rubber, Rudolofo could offer you an easy life of quick cash, little feeling and a lot of regret. Levi fell into the trap almost instantly.
The only problem was that Rudolfo insisted on fucking each new recruit royally up the ass, and as he proceeded to rip Levi’s anal passage to nasty sheds, he infected the boy with the HIV virus. Levi worked for Rudolfo for about a year and a half before Rudolfo got pneumonia and checked into the St. Vincent’s. Permanently. On his deathbed he confessed to Levi that he was dying from AIDS and that there was a good chance that Levi might be infected. Levi was shocked, but not surprised. Several of the other boys had gotten sick and one had recently died. When Levi started getting night sweats and one horrible “flu” after another, he knew it was time to stop the denial and get his ass tested.
When his first test came back negative, something told Levi to get tested again. Yep, just as he thought. He was HIV positive. The lesions on his face weren’t his imagination. The hacking cough and the chunky buts of greenish-blue phlegm actually meant something. The clinic doctor said that if he started taking AZT, he might be able to prolong the inevitable. Only problem was, Levi had no money, his mother was a speed freak, his half-brother was his lover and, to make matters even more interesting, he was self-destructive enough to not only do himself in, but those around him as well. It wasn’t a moral judgement. It was strictly financial: You got 50 bucks more if you went without a rubber, and Levi needed every last cent he could get. Since then he has scored with hundreds of johns commuting in and out of Penn Station, Port Authority and East 53rd Street, possibly infecting each and every one of them.
When the Acura Legend pulls up to the curb, first thing Levi notices is that all the windows are rolled up, even thought the temperature is close to 100. It immediately juts him to the reality of the present and his next $150. Staring hard through the dirty glass, Levi makes out the figure of a man. He stands up just as the driver removes his sunglasses and stares knowingly into his eyes. He unlocks the door as Levi makes his way to the car and gets in. Once he’s seated the driver revs up the engine and quickly pulls out into the tangled traffic on Seventh Avenue. Just as he starts to settle into his seat, the doors are automatically locked. Instead of proceeding down Seventh, the driver takes a sharp turn west on 29th Street and heads toward the West Side piers.
Maybe this isn’t going to be as easy as Levi thinks. The possibility that something might get out of hand suddenly occurs to him, but it’s too late. The doors are locked and his destination is unknown – yet somehow known. As the driver’s hand dives down to his crotch and eagerly unzips his fly, Levi knows this is no angel. He closes his eyes at the exact moment he feels the hand on the back of his head. A slow, quick smile forms on his lips as the car accelerates down 11th Avenue. Time and space cease to exist, and for the present, Levi loses himself in a surreal train of thought, strangely unsoiled, slightly serene.