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TW: one of the characters in this story is a military veteran.

I used to think Los Angeles sunsets were amazing, until I noticed the ochre and saffron clouds were dark around the edges, as if brushed with India ink. Lonnie claims the murky borders are smog, but I know better. The blackness comes from the dead souls that haunt this fucking city. I should know.

I’m one of them.

People glare at me through the tinted windows of their Beemers and Jags, probably assuming I’m homeless. Like that old Missing Persons song says, “Only a nobody walks in L.A.” I’m sure the eye patch and prominent limp add to my overall conspicuousness, but I have ceased caring. Walking is part of my therapy, and, besides, there’s an honesty in using your two legs to get around, even if one of them is fake.

When I arrive at Lonnie’s Place, the sky is coated in charcoal. I push open the door and feel a sense of peace. This bar is my safe house. No strangers here who stare or feel the need to ask about the missing eye. They know my story, and I know theirs.

“I didn’t think you were going to show up tonight.”

I’m surprised to find the place empty. “Where is everybody?”

“It’s Sunday. I close at 11:00, remember?”

“Sorry, I was laboring over a new painting and lost track of time. You beat, or can I stay for a drink?”

“Like I’d kick you out.” Lonnie says. “Help me close first, okay?”

I lock the front door, turn on the closed sign and draw the shades. Lonnie puts the night’s earnings in the safe and secures the back. Once we’re finished, I climb aboard my usual bar stool, the only one that doesn’t wobble. Lonnie’s Place is a dive. Decorated with hideous 1970s cast offs, the worst is the decaying moose head that hangs over the bar like a glass eyed sentinel.

“You told me you were getting rid of that carcass.”

“Moosie? I can’t part with Moosie; he’s the bar mascot. Besides, he gives the place a bit of ambivalence.”

“I think you mean ambiance, Lon.”

The toothpick shifts to the other corner of his mouth. “You sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.” I pull the sliver of wood from his lips. “You need to quit gnawing on these damn things.”

“Can’t help myself, Jake, I miss my smokes. I think I have an oral vexation.”

“Fixation, Lonnie, oral fixation.”

He grins. “That means l like putting things in my mouth, right?”

If Lonnie knew what I wanted to put in his mouth right now, I’d get thrown out on my ass. He polishes a shot glass to a high sheen before placing it on the bar.

“What’s your poison?”

“Give me a shot of Knob, I’m in a top-shelf mood.”

He sets another shooter next to mine. “I’ll join you, can’t resist a good dose of Knob.”

His resplendent smile and seductive hazel eyes cause an ache in the pit of my stomach. Wanting someone who is beyond your grasp is pure and utter torture, especially when you’re forced to hold back words you are longing to express.

“I fell on that grenade on purpose, because when the government said ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’, I told.”

“I camouflage my adoration of you with sarcasm and disparagement.”

“The only time I feel alive is when we’re breathing the same air.”

Instead, I mumble “Cheers,” before clinking my glass against his. The whiskey leaves a burning trail that reminds me of Iraq, and I shudder.

“Feel like a game?” Lonnie asks.

“That depends, do you feel like being defeated, again?”

“I’ve been practicing, Jake, so you might be the one getting your ass whooped.”

His muscular chest ripples under his tight, long-sleeved shirt while he racks the billiard balls. Under the nicotine stained lights, his hair is flecked with auburn and the urge to run my fingers through it while I bob up and down on his cock is overwhelming.

Lonnie looks up at me. “We should have a bet.”

“What are the stakes?”

“Loser gives the winner head.” Lonnie takes the stick from my hand and tosses it aside. “And since you always beat me, anyway, I might as well get started.”

I’m frozen in place, afraid that if I move or speak, this breathtaking hallucination will shatter like fragile bones. I hold my breath when he pushes me back against the table and exhale a raspy whimper when he tugs down my jeans and boxer briefs.

“Damn, you’re hung. I can’t wait to get this big boy down my throat.” He licks my shaft from base to tip while gazing up at me with those eyes.

“Lon, I had no idea that—“

“That I’m gay? I’ve been flirting with you for six months, and you didn’t notice?”

“I would never assume you were coming on to me. You’re so goddamned beautiful, Lonnie, and I’m—“


The words come out in a whisper. “I’m broken.”

Lonnie whispers back. “In my eyes, you’re perfect.”

He silences my retort with his whiskey flavored lips and probing tongue. I become lost in his libidinous kiss. Consumed by carnal appetites, I wrap my legs around his waist and grind against him.

“I want to take you upstairs, strip you naked, and fuck all the pain and sadness out of you. Will you let me do that, Jake?”

“I won’t make it upstairs, Lonnie. Do it here, do it now.”

“You sure? You don’t look comfortable.”

“On the contrary, I’m in heaven and refuse to budge.”

“Gimme a sec.” He disappears behind the bar, and emerges with a bottle clutched in his hand. “Astroglide. I use it for the taps.”

I squeeze my eye shut while he undresses me, afraid to witness his reaction. Lonnie brushes his lips over every scar, even the stumps of my two missing fingers. He bites my nipples, sucks my balls and strokes my thighs. My body hums with pleasure, and I can’t wait any longer.

“I want you inside me.”

The moment of truth, he pulls his baggy shorts down to mid-thigh, and a firm erection springs forth. I bite my lip in anticipation of his thick crown splitting me open. He smiles at me while he slicks his shaft.

“Are you ready for me?”

“You have no idea how much I want this.”

He pours more lube on his fingers, and massages it into my opening while he sucks my cock. “Damn that’s tasty, next time I’ll bottom for you.”

I expect pain, since I haven’t been fucked in years, but Lonnie is so excruciatingly slow and gentle, all I feel is exquisite pleasure. Once his cock is firmly rooted, he begins to rock his hips with a lazy rhythm, elevating my spirit until I can’t feel the felt covered slate under my back.

This simple act of sweet sodomy rips open the hornet’s nest of torment I’ve been holding deep inside my gut. I can visualize the swarm bursting from every orifice, flying away on bitter wings, taking my agony far away.

Lonnie’s voice is breathless and raspy against my ear. “I love you, Jake, all of you.”

The words make me come. A deluge of pent-up lust shoots from my cock to my chin. I wrap my arms and legs tightly around him and urge him to go faster. I need to feel his orgasm, almost as much as I need oxygen.

“I’ve loved you since the first day I gimped into your bar. I felt like I was home.” He kisses me and I feel his entire body stiffen before he melts in ecstatic release. “You made me feel whole again, Lonnie.”

“You gave me a reason to stop.”

“Stop what? I don’t understand.”

He yanks off his shirt and points to six circular scars on his stomach. “My dad gave me these, with a lit cigar. The ones on my back are from his belt buckle. He broke my collarbone three times, and my ribs at least five times.” He shows me dozens of slender white scars that mar the inside of his forearms. “Fathers are supposed to love you, but mine hated me, and he made me hate myself.”

“So you started cutting, to be in control of the pain.”

“Yeah, but I quit, the moment we met. I was so in awe of you, Jake. You walked in like a bad ass with your head held high, like you just fought a battle and won. That inspired me.”

I kiss each scar, then whisper in his ear. “I want to take you upstairs to your apartment, strip you naked, and fuck away all your pain. Will you let me, Lonnie?”

“As long as you promise you’ll never let me go.”

I lean on him while we ascend the stairs, two dead souls, resurrected…

…and unbroken.

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