These Days You Need A Passport
by Steve Bays
He decided that since it was such a nice day he would walk home from work. It was a perfect afternoon, not too warm, the sun setting over Manhattan, and the buildings glowing in the twilight. The route he chose took him through Greenwich Village and he was enjoying himself. The streets were crowded with people and the girls were no longer wearing their heavy coats. They were showing off bodies that were hidden all winter. He walked past a jazz club when his eye caught sight of a cute blond haired girl coming out of a brownstone. (He had a weakness for blonds. He would say ‘you can really see a girl’s pussy when she has blond hair.’)
Their eyes met for a brief second and he could swear that he saw a slight smile on her face. She turned just in front of him and walked in the direction he was headed. He watched her butt sashay back and forth and couldn’t resist, saying,
“Got any fries to go with that shake?” He knew it was the corniest line around but he loved. He laughed out loud, almost doubled over he thought it was so funny.
She stopped suddenly and turned around, looked at him and started walking away. She stopped again and turned, saying,
“That’s the stupidest pick up line I ever heard. Too bad ‘cause you’re cute.”
She turned her back to him and walked away. He didn’t quiet know what to say but he followed her. He felt insulted by what she said but at the same time he was encouraged. She did say she thought he was cute. He walked up next to her and leaned over slightly so that their eyes met. He smiled.
“It isn’t funny you know.” She smiled back at him. She looked like she was almost pleased that he followed her.
“Don’t you have a better line you use to pick up girls?”
She may be putting him down, he thought but she was doing it in a cute way and just the fact that she was talking to him was a good sign.
“Well I thought it was good at getting attention. It
soit - an - lee got yours. My name’s Gene. What’s your’s? Can I walk with you?”
“Ok Gene. My name’s Jeanette.”
“Where you headed?”
“To get some coffee.”
They talked some more as she walked to a small fast food restaurant where she ordered six cups of coffee to go, and asked for them in two bags.
“Whoa, that’s a lot of caffeine you have there!”
“Lots of ladies to wake up.”
“Do you need help carrying that back?” He walked off the line and stepped aside, letting the next person place their order.
She looked him over. Her eyes fluttering like she was saying I don’t need your help but her smile gave her away.
Gene took the two bags and started walking with her.
“Who you waking up?”
“People at work.”
“At this time of day?”
“Some people work all sorts of shifts.”
“Where do you work?”
“Back at the brownstone you saw me come out of.”
“That looked like someone’s house.”
“Well no, it’s not. My Mom runs her business out of there.”
“What kind of business? What do you do?”
“I’m a receptionist, and secretary. And you ask too many questions. You’re lousy at picking up girls. Or you’re out of practice.”
They walked back to the brownstone and Gene’s conversing improved. It could be because he relaxed a little. He turned on the charm. She laughed at some of his remarks and even opened up a little about herself. They got back to the building and Jeannette stopped and reached to take the bags from Gene.
“I can carry them in for you.”
“No. This is as far as you go. I told you, this is a business. I can’t bring just anyone inside. My mother wouldn’t like it.”
“Well can I see you again soon? Can I call you?”
“Mmm.” She thought to herself for a second. “Better yet. Meet me tomorrow night. I get off work at six.”
Gene wanted a phone number but he guessed she wanted to check him out further first. At least he knew where to find her.
“But in case something happens and I can’t make it, why don’t you give me your number? You’ll think I stood you up.”
“Well then you’ll just be outta luck. I got a great idea, be here, tomorrow at six o’clock. See ya!”
She ran inside. Gene watched her go in, then turned and headed for home, feeling disappointed but elated at the same time. She was cute and he thought she liked him. He started planning where to take her for their first date. He could hardly wait to get into her pants.
Gene showed up on time the next dayand they went out and at the end of the night, she gave him her phone number. They ended up dating several times over the course of the next few weeks. They had fun and liked each other. Gene confided to her how he was a pot head. He also admitted that he sold it to make some extra money. It also gave him all the weed he could smoke and it didn’t cost him anything. She liked smoking pot too but not to the extent he did.
He tried several times to find out more about her and what went on in the brownstone but she wouldn’t open up. Instead she turned the questions around to pry into his personal life.
He told her how he left home at sixteen. He and his step father didn’t get along and the final straw was when he made him drink a bottle of Tabasco sauce as punishment.
“How did he get you to do that?” She asked.
“He gave me a choice. It was that or get a beating from him. My old man was a big dude. Me I’m 135 pounds and five six and a half. Not much of a choice to me.”
“Didn’t you get sick?”
“Yeah, sure did. Puked my brains out. Gave me the runs too. That was it for me. I left home a few weeks later.”
Gene told her how he dropped out of school, not that he cared for it anyway. He worked odd jobs and stayed with friends or people he met until he got his own place.
After hearing his story, Jeannette finally let her guard down and told him about her mothers business. It was a house of fantasy she said.
“You mean a whore house?”
“No it’s not a whore house. We have girls who act out men’s fantasies. That’s all. Most guys who come to us just want to be dominated in some way. We oblige and then we usually just jerk them off.
“Holy shit,” exclaimed Gene.
“And your mother runs the place? You must have some mother!”
She went on to tell him how this all came about, why her mother started it up and about her own involvement.
“You turn tricks?”
“I don’t fuck anyone for money.” She exclaimed. She was annoyed with him.
“If the occasion comes up and someone wants a young blond girl in their fantasy, I can be persuaded. For the right price anyway.”
“Holy shit,” Gene said again. He had a vision of a fantasy of his with her in it.
“You could make some extra money too if you want.”
“Are you kidding? Me?”
“Yeah, I know some guys who’d pay for you to act out a fantasy for them.”
“No thanks. I ain’t gay.”
She explained to him that there were things they could do together and someone would watch, for a price. Gene wasn’t interested.
“What about us?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“When can we have sex? You know just you and me, no one watching. Just regular red blooded all American sex.”
“You’re so romantic Gene,” she said sarcastically.
“I mean it. I like you, I think you like me.”
“Yeah,” she hesitated, trying to tease him by making him wait. “I do.”
“So let’s plan a date.”
“Gene, I’m okay with the idea of sex with you, but it’s supposed to just happen. People don’t plan sex unless you’re married or you’re doing it for money.”
Gene went on about his concerns for disease. There was the dreaded AIDS he was afraid of. Other diseases were curable but not AIDS. He was HIV free and wanted to stay that way.
“I carry with me my test results that prove me AIDS free.” He pulled out a folded piece of paper from his wallet.
“Every time I meet someone new, we both go get tested. That’s the only way I’ll have sex with someone.”
“What’s wrong with rubbers? She asked.
“Don’t trust them. Besides, I hate ‘em. Don’t feel the same. I want natural skin on skin contact they way the lord intended it.”
“I’m on the pill.”
“That’s good but you gotta get tested.”
“I was tested once. It was negative,” she said.
“I need a recent test. No offense, but I ain’t fucking around with my life. No test, sayonara. Nice knowing you. And I want to see the test results, in writing.”
He went on trying to convince her.
“Think of it this way. When you wanna travel to a foreign country, you gotta have a passport. These days, you need a passport to have sex. Your test result is your passport.”
“So you’re saying I gotta get tested before we can have sex? You’re crazy,’ she said. She smiled and gave him a playful pat on the shoulder.
“Look he said. The city has free clinics all over the place. They have this ‘rapid’ test. You get the results in half an hour now. We can go together and as soon as we get the results, wham! Your house or mine? I got a room mate but I can get rid of him.” He smiled mischievously.
“I hate needles.”
“It ain’t a needle. It’s a swab you use inside your mouth.”
“I don’t care. I really don’t want to know anyway. If you’re HIV positive, it’s like a death sentence. There isn’t anything they can do for you”
“Not true . You could live for years with the right treatment, but you gotta get diagnosed early.”
Jeanette said she would think about it. A few days later, Gene was about ready to give up on her. Whenever he brought up the subject of the test, she would be evasive and non committal. Finally he stopped calling her. Then she called, admitted she liked him a lot and wanted to have a real relationship with him but was scared. What if she was positive? He reassured her that everything would be all right but in his own mind, he wondered, what if she was? Did he like her enough to still have sex with her if she was positive?
Did he even want to have to make that decision?
Jeanette finally agreed to be tested but insisted on going alone. She also wanted to go to a clinic that wasn’t in her neighborhood. Gene knew where to call and found her a place uptown, on the east side. It would be perfect for her. Jeanette could be as snobby as she wanted to be and she would fit in perfectly. They also discussed when to go for the test and agreed that next Friday would work best. This way, they would have all weekend.
The following Friday they were at opposite ends of Manhattan. Gene was in the East Village, while Jeanette was on the Upper East Side. Gene felt right at home with all the alcoholics who roamed the streets. It reminded him of the time he first left home and lived amongst them. At the clinic, an Asian gentleman gave him a swab. Having done this before, he knew exactly what to do and for how long. When he was finished, he was asked him to take a seat. He grabbed some flyers about drugs to read to pass the time. He watched as others who were tested before him were called into an office. Those who came out quickly looked relieved while others who were in there a long time came out looking depressed. Gene knew that if you were positive, they didn’t just tell you. That would be cold. They built up to it and then counseled you on what your options were. Finally Gene’s turn came. As he expected, he was told he was negative. He asked for a printout of his test, carefully folded it, put it in his pocket and took a cab back to work. He could hardly wait to see Jeannette that night. They were supposed to meet at eight and he wanted everything to be perfect.
When he got off work, he raced home. His roommate, Eddie was already there. Gene had shared apartments with several guys over the years but he had lived with Eddie longer than any other. The two of them just got along real well. They could be like an old married couple. They were the best of friends and watched out for each other. Eddie, like Gene came from a broken home and ran away after he stabbed his step father during a violent argument. It was only a superficial wound but he was a cop and used his connections to try and find him. When word got to Eddie that the police were looking for him, it only made things worse. It scared him and drove him further underground. It also made him do things to survive that he otherwise wouldn’t do. Gene met him through a mutual drug connection. Eddie needed a place to stay, Gene was between roommates and so let Eddie move in. He felt sorry for him. Eddie’s step father eventually dropped the charges but Eddie never moved back home. He stayed with Gene, got a job, and eventually got tested. Let’s just say that Eddie doesn’t need to be tested anymore.
“How’d it go Gene?” Eddie knew where he had been.
“Negative wha’d you think? I don’t dip this just anywhere you know.” Gene was sorry for his choice of words as soon as he spoke them. “I wanna call Jeanette.”
Gene grabbed the phone and dialed her number but there was no answer. She could be running errands he thought. Maybe she wanted to get something special for tonight. Something sexy. He himself was planning on bringing some primo weed, some Viagra so he could go all night, and some cocaine to keep him awake. He had also made sure not to masturbate for the last few days so he could be at his best. He ordered a pizza for the two of them to eat and then tried Jeanette again. No answer still.
“Were the fuck is she?
“Don’t worry dude, she’s probably getting ready. You should do the same thing, then just go over. You’ll have all night, like you’re gonna do a lot of talking anyway.”
Gene rolled a joint and grabbed a beer. He sat down in front of the T.V. lit the joint, took a deep drag and handed it to Eddie.
“I might be gone all weekend Eddie.”
“Aren’t you supposed to see your parents Sunday?”
“You mean my mother.”
“Ok aren’t you supposed to see your mother this weekend?”
“Yeah. What of it?”
“Sounds like you might not make it”
“I’ll see how it goes.”
“Isn’t it your birthday Sunday?”
“Actually it’s Monday. She’s working so were getting together Sunday.”
“When exactly were you born?
“June 5th 1981.”
“Your brother coming?”
“Yeah and my sisters.”
“You better show up. You can always bring Jeanette.”
“I didn’t think of that.”
“Whatever happened to your step father?”
“My mother kicked his ass out. She should ‘of done it a lot sooner.”
Gene went and did the three s’s, shit, shower and shave, in that order. The pizza showed up just as he was finishing up. He came and sat in the kitchen wearing nothing but a towel, smidgens of shaving cream still on his face. They devoured it. He went back into his room and watched T.V. for a while. Then he rummaged through his clothes trying to decide what to wear. Everything had to be color coordinated, right down to his underwear. He dressed, gathered his drugs, all the paraphernalia that went with the drugs and put it all into a paper bag. A change of clothes, his razor, shaving cream, and the paper bag with its contents were all thrown into a small travel bag. He went into the kitchen and took a 25 milligram tab of Viagra and downed it with another beer. He knew he shouldn’t mix the two but it was only a beer and Viagra took a while to work on a full stomach. He wanted to be the real stud tonight, not that he didn’t think he was anyway. Gene tried the phone once again. Still no answer.
“Do you believe it? She’s still not answering. I’m gonna go,” he told Eddie.
“You got everything you need?”
“Yeap,” replied Gene.
“Got your rubbers?” He said sarcastically.
“You know I don’t like them. Don’t trust them. Besides, she’s on the pill.”
“You don’t trust rubbers but you trust her? I mean how do you know she’s really on the pill? Lets see, you make her take a test ‘cause you want her to prove that she’s HIV negative but on the other hand you trust her when she says she’s on the pill.”
“That’s a chance I’m willing to take. Besides, I told you, I shoot blanks”
“Get out a here. There’s gonna be a little Eugene runnin around someday. And what about them other diseases? Ever think of that?”
“Nothing a little penicillin can’t cure. See ya.”
“Wait, do you have your lab results?”
“Holy shit no! I would have gone for nothing.” He ran back into the bedroom and grabbed his test results.
“Ok now I’m ready. Bye”
The streets were crowded with people heading out for their Friday night escapades. It was starting to get dark and headlights glowed in the twilight. You could feel the excitement in the air as people walked every which way, turning slightly to avoid bumping into each other, never making eye contact which is one of the secrets to walking thru Manhattans crowded streets. Always look down, or straight ahead past the approaching crowd. Gene was a real New Yorker and knew all the tricks. Even when it came to hailing a cab, he pretended like he wasn’t really looking for one until he saw one that was free. He put his fingers to his lips and let out a loud shrill whistle. The cab pulled over and he jumped in. Once he gave the driver the address he settled back and looked out the window at all the girls. He shouted out to one,
“Got some fries to go with that shake?”
He was feeling a little anxious, but was looking forward to having a good time. Outside Jeanette’s building, he looked up at her window and could see that her lights were on. His anxiety went away now that he knew she was home. It quickly
came back because there was no response when he rang her doorbell. He walked back out into the street and looked up again at her window. Sure enough, the lights were on. Maybe she’s in the bathroom he thought.
After waiting a minute, he rang her bell again. He felt himself getting annoyed ‘cause she still didn’t buzz him in. Gene started pressing all the bells. In a second, several different voices came over the intercom asking who was there, while others didn’t bother asking and just buzzed whoever it was in. He threw the front door open, ran in past the elevator and up the stairs to her apartment. In a minute he was in front of her door banging on it.
“Jeanette, its Eugene. Let me in.”
There was no answer. He banged on it again.
“Jeanette what’s the matter? Open the door.” No response. He banged on it again, this time harder.
“Open the fucking door!”
He was furious by now. A neighboring door opened a crack. Someone was staring at him, a man, who asked if everything was all right.
“Go back inside,” Gene told him.
“Maybe I should call the police,” the man said.
“C’mon Jeanette, your neighbors are gonna call the cops on me. Open up already.”
He knocked on the door with a little more restraint. There was some shuffling inside the apartment and the door finally opened. Jeanette turned her back, walked past the sofa and threw a sheet of paper on the couch. She went over to a recliner and sat down, her knees pulled up to her chest. She was crying. She looked terrible. Gene sat down on the couch and picked up the paper. It was from the clinic. From the look on her face, and the tears on her check, Gene didn’t have to read it to know what the results were.