BY KEVIN ESSER
Midsummer Sorcery is a short story by American novelist Kevin Esser which appeared in Nambla Journal Seven, printed by Garrett Press, San Francisco in 1986, pp. 24-26.
KIM LIFTED HIS EYES from the chess board. “I wish I could spend the night.” He rubbed his foot against my crotch, hopeful perhaps of influencing my decision with a bit of pedi-genital diplomacy.
I took hold of his ankle. “I don’t know, Kim.” My hand stroked his bare calf, slid back down, lifted his foot. I touched my lips to his freshly scrubbed toes. “I’ve got a million things to do tonight.”
“I’ll be quiet.”
“I know, I know.” Smiling, I again kissed his toes.
Kim tensed slightly. “It hurts a little.”
Holding him by the ankle, I examined the nail puncture in the bottom of his foot. “Let’s put some ointment on it.”
Earlier in the afternoon, responding to his frantic puppy-dog pleading, I had driven Kim out to the country with a batch of cheap fireworks smuggled in from Missouri. He kept them stashed in a small case dubbed his “assassination box,” in which he also carried a fearsome assortment of Chinese stars and throwing knives, boot daggers and nunchuks — all the necessary hardware of an aspiring young ninja.
Above our car, a lone hawk wheeled and swooped in languid search for prey. Dust rose in hot swirls around us as we raced along a maze of dirt roads toward our destination: Kim’s old home in the deep timber, where he’d lived until he was eight years old. Four years had passed since then, and nothing was left now of the house; the plot of land was overgrown with weeds and saplings, littered with old rakes and broken lamps and a moldy, rain-soaked sofa that had oozed its stuffing like a disemboweled warrior. Nearly hidden by trees and tall grass, the skeletal remains of an old garage served as home to squirrels and birds and a skittish colony of garter snakes.
“So this is where you grew up.” I lit a bottle rocket and shot it into the garage, routing a flock of blackbirds in a noisy panic of fluttering wings. “Where was your house?”
Tying together the fuses of five black and-white striped firecrackers, Kim paused, swatted a mosquito on his bare leg, then pointed to a nearby patch of brier and sunflowers. “Right over there.” He stared for a moment, squinting into the sun from beneath the bill of his Oakland Raiders cap. Not sure why, I felt like crying, but smiled instead... because Kim looked so small and sad and funny kneeling in the weeds. Pale and freckled, with ears too big and a nose too sharp, he reminded me suddenly of a mouse transformed by fickle sorcery into a boy.
We spent an hour shooting rockets and exploding firecrackers, plugging our ears against the wicked booms and thuds and cracks, ducking as an occasional stray missile whizzed hissing past our heads. Kim dashed about like a lad possessed, grinning in devilish rapture, his whoops and giggles mingling joyfully with the havoc of bursting fireworks.
“Now for the big finale!” he shouted, smiling at me through the smoky sulphurous haze. He stepped toward his assassination box, then yelped and jerked his foot with a startled kick. I rushed to him through the high scratchy weeds, afraid that he’d been bitten by a snake. His face was tense with pain and fear. “I think I stepped on a nail.” He walked in a slow circle, testing his foot, limping like a lame colt.
“Take your shoe off.”
He nodded and pulled off his navy-blue sneaker, leaning against my arm for balance. The bottom of his foot was smeared with blood. I folded my handkerchief and pressed it against the wound; Kim whimpered and dug his fingers into my forearm.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “it’ll be OK. You had your tetanus shot, right?”
“Yeah, before school started last year.” He slipped his shoe back on over the handkerchief, then walked gimpily to the box of fireworks. “It feels OK,” he concluded, plucky as ever, a tough little fighter. “Let’s still do the finale, all right?”
“Yeah, of course.”
I had known Kim for nearly a year; now, though, after a period of intense sexual involvement, he was more son than lover; our passions seldom carried us these days beyond a bit of kissing and cuddling and casual fondling. But here, today, watching him crouched over his fireworks in yellow gym shorts an sleeveless white T-shirt emblazoned with red-and-black Japanese calligraphy... hmmm, well, maybe it was the sun, the heat, the sight of blood all stirring the primal juices into a bubbling broth of good old fashioned lust, but I definitely felt an erection rearing its shameless head. Strangely unpredictable, these things.
As if feeling the caress of my gaze on his sweaty back, Kim looked around at me and grinned. “This is gonna be awesome!” He finished laying out the array of fireworks — six small Sunflowers and one large Happine — then quickly lit the fuses and sprang back to my side. I wrapped my arm around his shoulders; he stiffened with delight and excitement as the fireworks erupted in a hissing and whistling frenzy of smoke and sparks and showers of rainbow flame. The Sunflowers whirled and fizzed around the flaring geyser of Happiness... then all went suddenly dead and silent. Gunpowder smoke drifted around us; we stood like two survivors of Waterloo surveying the carnage.
Kim shook his head. “That was baaad, man!”
“Excellent,” I agreed.
We returned home after that to our chess game and Kim’s refrain of “I wish I could spend the night.” But no: Before this I pulled off his shoes, tossed aside the bloodied handkerchief and sat him on the side of the bathtub to wash his feet. I worked the lather between his toes and around the little puncture in the bottom of his foot; bravely, he bit his lip against the soap’s sting. Later, in the bedroom, I dabbed some smelly antiseptic salve onto his wound and covered it with a band-aid. “You’ll be OK now, don’t worry.” I brushed the feathery strands of brown hair away from his face, kissed his cheek.
“It feels better.”
“Good. Now roll over and I’ll give you a backrub.’’
I knelt beside him on the bed. Shirtless and shoeless now, he rolled onto his belly and moaned softly as I began massaging his shoulders. “Don’t forget to do my butt, too,’’ he murmured, speaking as if from a dream. “OK?”
“Whatever you say, little prince.”
“You can take my pants off, too.”
This was Kim’s customary way of telling me that he wanted a blowjob. I nodded, peeled off his gym shorts and underpants and tossed them onto the floor. His bare ass, set off by deeply sun-browned legs and torso, was snow-pearl white, smooth and unblemished and perfect. I worked my hands down his back and onto the plump white cheeks which tensed, then relaxed, beneath my kneading fingers. The song playing on the radio near the bed was a breakin’ anthem, a lively pedo-hosanna: “Let’s Hear It For The Boy.” Too perfectly appropriate to be contrived. Smiling I slid one hand down between Kim’s thighs and let my fingertips play gently against the satin warmth of his scrotum. He sighed and settled himself more comfortably, spreading his legs slightly as I continued to pet his balls.
“You’re getting fuzzy down there,” I told him. “More than last time.”
“I know.” His voice was nearly a whisper. “I’m startin’ to grow hair on my dick, too.”
“You didn’t have any last month.” But this was pressing too far; Kim and I, due to his diffidence, never discussed our bedroom activities; he was twelve now, increasingly self-conscious about his body and its various puzzling changes, and heavily into a cocky macho self-image that abided no sissy queer stuff like being sucked off... until the lights went out, when he slipped into a cozy and liberating anonymity. Then, nestled in the night-womb of darkness and music and blissful half-sleep, he became an eager little harem boy of mews and purrs and silken kisses, reveling in my caresses, his soft arms and legs and hips all squirming slowly in ripples of moonlit sinew and flesh.
But this evening, for the first time, he hadn’t waited for the lights to go out, or for the sweet aphrodisiac of drowsiness to loosen his libido. His coded request for sex had come with sunlight still bright in the bedroom, one golden shaft teasing warm across his back. Why this sudden boldness?... and why, after several weeks of very tame kissing and petting, did he suddenly want more? I had no explanations; and Kim, I knew, could provide none. But his eagerness was enough; the warmth of him beneath my hand was sufficient answer.
Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, his hips started sliding against the mattress, his buttocks flexing slightly with each gentle thrust. Still playing with his testicles, I watched as he spread his legs frog-like and pumped harder; I slid my finger up between the cheeks of his ass and tickled it into the warm, moist hole. At once his hips bucked faster, almost out of control; he pushed his face into the pillow and let out a long, trembling breath... whimpering in a delirium of pleasure like a newborn pup at its mother’s teat.
“Roll over, Kim,” I whispered. “Let me do it.” I bent down and kissed his neck, nuzzling against the fragrant silk of his hair. “Please, honey, turn over.”
Sweaty and pink-cheeked, he rolled quickly onto his back and pressed his fists against the sides of his head like a sleepy child. Of course he was already hard. Kim had always had a hair-trigger erection; just being naked aroused him; even lounging in his underwear was sometimes enough to make him stiff.
“Hey, you are growing a little hair.” I ran my fingers across his pale soft lower belly, where a golden fuzz had lately sprouted. Kim nodded. His balls looked larger and plumper than I remembered; even his hard-on, a perfectly straight stalk of white gristle that tapered gracefully to a small pink head, appeared a bit thicker, more potent and mature. I gave it two or three easy strokes with my hand, then leaned down and took it in my mouth. It tasted the same — slightly tart, slightly sweaty — like sucking on a sweet young scallion sprinkled with salt. I wondered if any little trickle of boy-semen might be coaxed up from those newly plumpened testicles. But not tonight. As always, a few minutes of sucking and licking brought Kim to an intense, but dry, orgasm: He stiffened his back and whined softly, clutching his skull as if it ached, then pumped his hips rapidly and flexed his penis in cumless spasms. I could feel it throbbing, jerking against the roof of my mouth.
I waited until he finally relaxed, then let his cock slide with a juicy slurp from between my lips. It was already nearly limp. Quickly, he swung himself off the bed and pulled on his underpants, then hurried silently from the room. I felt a sudden lump of fear in my stomach. Something, somehow, had gone wrong.
Trying to control my breath, I rushed out to the kitchen. Kim was pouring himself a glass of orange juice. I patted the back of his head. “You all right?”
He looked around, startling me with a bright-eyed gleeful grin. “Sure... why?”
I couldn’t help kissing him, full and wet on the mouth. He giggled, wiped his lips playfully. “No reason,” I said. “Just being crazy.”
“So can I spend the night?”
“You still want to?”
“Sure, of course.”
I felt vaguely unsure of my footing, oddly unbalanced. “Well, yeah, you can stay. Of course you can stay. Just call your mom and let her know.”
“And tomorrow night, too?” He watched me with his quick dark eyes, took a sip of juice, licked his lips,
“I don’t know, Kim.” Straying so far into the future seemed dangerously frivolous. Better to deal with one day, and one night, at a time. “We’ll just wait and see.’
“OK... but maybe I can stay tomorrow night?”
Where was this boy leading me now?... and how would our journey finally end? I shrugged, smiling, and took Kim in my arms; he rested his head against my chest. “Maybe,” I said, petting his shaggy hair, “Maybe.”
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