Oswaldo was staring intently at his muscular chest before draping his soccer jersey over it. He was analyzing a reddish-purple bruise that was developing above his right brown nipple. Ozzy, as most of his teammates referred to him, played full back in the summer installment of the West Hollywood Varsity Gay League. Although it was sponsored by the Gay community, it was open to all. The league featured teams named after double entendres, such as Stranger Queens, Gayvengers, and Man Chest Hair United. Ozzy was part of the Messi Bottoms.
As a defensive player, Ozzy saw a large portion of the game’s action and aggression, often coming home with bruised ribs or foot insteps. It was safe to say that he had bruised most surfaces of his body, and unlike his masculine mother, Maria Rosario, once told him not to worry, because gay men played like sissies, the gay men he played against were anything but.
“Osito,” Mrs. Sampedro said, still calling her son Ozzy by his childhood nickname, meaning “bear cub.” “Those faggies you play with wouldn’t be able to make a monkey come by spanking it.”
“Ozzy, hurry the hell up, man,” Nestor said. “Damn, kid. You take longer than a fucking chick to get ready.” Nestor Bonavita was the team captain, 22-years-old and acted as an older brother to Ozzy. “We’re all waiting for you to start.”
“Sorry, man,” Ozzy replied. “I was just checking out this gnarly bruise I got in the last game.”
Ozzy lifted his shirt to show Nestor the wound he was referring to. Nestor looked at it with squinted eyes, hummed a few times in various affirmative pitches, and began to poke the discoloration. At first with his index and middle fingers, then with all five of them, and finally rubbing it with the whole warmth of his hand. Nestor had big, strong yet gentle hands. The kind of strength that could make the bruise worse or better. Ozzy’s flexed pectoral muscle fit perfectly under Nestor’s healing hand.
“How does that feel, man?” Nestor asked as he rubbed his palm in a circular motion, at times, accidentally grazing the corner of Ozzy’s petrified nipple.
“Hmmm,” Ozzy cleared his throat, not expecting to speak in the middle of this soothing process, having allowed himself to enjoy the therapeutic procedure his friend, brother and captain was using to make him feel better. “Sorry, I meant to say that it felt good. I mean, better.” They locked eyes. “Yeah, it feels better.” Nestor continued to rub deeply. Ozzy didn’t want Nestor to think that the first sound that came out of him was a moan or that he was deriving the wrong kind of pleasure from it.
This whole experience reminded Ozzy of the time when he was 6-years-old, playing at his dad’s friend Heriberto’s swimming pool. Of how much joy he derived from the way Heriberto threw him up in the air and caught him in his big, burly hands, and how Ozzy himself would grab onto his hairy, corpulent shoulder, wet and slick from the chlorinated water. He felt a warmth unlike the times his own dad played the same game with him a few moments later. There was something about Heriberto’s eyes and smile that made Ozzy feel good, a goodness that he felt he couldn’t share with anybody. A goodness that felt wrong to feel, but at the same time, felt so right.
A goodness Nestor’s touch was pressuring his chest to feel.
“Man, your heart is pumping really fast,” Nestor said, his eyes bulged in amazement. “You must be fucking pumped for the game.” Ozzy smiled nervously. Nestor placed Ozzy’s flaccid hand on his own chest. “Look.” Nestor’s heart was beating like raucous Brazilian drums amidst a capoeira bout. Ozzy not only felt the pumping of blood in Nestor’s warm chest, he felt just how firm and developed his pecs were. Ozzy had always admired them, but had resigned himself to never be able to touch them. “I’m fucking psyched too, huh?” Ozzy swallowed saliva in order to buy himself time and not to moan again by accident.
“Yeah, you’re really ready,” Ozzy said, punctuating his fake statement with a false laugh in order to diffuse the awkwardness he had created in his own head.
“Alright, kid,” Nestor said, tearing off his hand from Ozzy’s chest and readjusting his crotch. “Let’s go.”
Nestor ran ahead of Ozzy who was lowering his jersey, continuing to rub his right pec, not out of hurt, but because it felt so good to retrace the rub work his friend had given him, running his hands through it as you would through wet, salty sand.
On the field, Nestor wasn’t only captain, he was the coach. He yelled throughout the game, alerting his teammates of incoming danger and possible goal scoring opportunities. Nestor breathed and lived soccer. Having been born to an Italian father and a Brazilian mother, Nestor’s veins coursed with soccer. His cerulean irises would light up like two Olympic torches whenever an attacker approached him, placing his goalkeeper in scoring danger. Nestor was fearless. He was strong. He was a bully to the opponent. He was a fucking nightmare.
“Man up,” Nestor yelled at his defensive line as three attackers approached his team’s goal. Nestor’s statement had a double meaning; it meant, mark your man as well as be as manly as you can be, because shit’s about to hit the fan if you didn’t. Nestor hated getting scored on. He used to say that it felt like being bent over and taking it up the ass from a guy who didn’t buy you dinner first. He would have a maniacal fit if Ozzy or one of the other defenders allowed or contributed to allowing a goal to go through.
Nestor led by example, taking balls to the face, stomach and to his own balls.
“I’ve got balls of fucking steel,” Nestor would yell whenever the ball landed between his legs, doubling over most guys, but not Nestor. He was rock solid.
“Go, take it all the way,” Nestor said as he recovered the ball and passed it to Ozzy, who was the fastest runner in the team. Ozzy was part of the track and field team during the school year, running mainly the 100 and 200 meters. His chest may have been lean, but from the waist down, Ozzy could have competed for Mr. Olympia. His quadricep muscles were robust and well-defined, streaked with thick blue veins and shrink-wrapped with his tanned, deep brown skin. His calves were wide, like Hermes’s wings, and allowed him to fly up and down the field, past defenders, with ease.
“Good run, kid,” Nestor said. As the captain, it was Nestor’s responsibility to also be the team’s cheerleader and often displayed his affection toward his teammates by spanking their butts, picking them up as he hugged them— from the front and from behind— but Ozzy noticed that Nestor really liked the way he ran, in particular, and the musculature on his legs. “You’ve got an exceptional pair of legs, kid.”
After most games, the guys would hit the community showers. Since they could only accommodate one team, the winners also won the right to post-battle cleanliness. Ozzy never took advantage of this perk due to the fact that he was only 17-years-old and the rest of the guys were at least five years older. He preferred to jog home and take a shower then.
“Hey man, don’t be a pussy and take a damned shower with your boys,” Nestor said after he saw Ozzy exiting the gym. He soon realized that Ozzy had never taken a shower with the team. “Come on man, even the gay dudes think you’re fucking weird.” Nestor wrapped his muscular arm around Ozzy’s neck and that’s all it took to convince him to stay. “Don’t think of it as fourteen naked dudes taking a shower.” Ozzy echoed Nestor’s boisterous laugh. “Think of it as a legion of Roman soldiers washing off the mud and enemy blood after coming out of battle victorious.” The thought brought a genuine smile to Ozzy’s face.
“Okay, cool,” Ozzy said.
As both boys walked into the showers, the other twelve immediately stopped their loud cacophonous conversations, cavernous laughter and distuned singing. It was as if an outsider had walked in, blinding them with the piercing, cold light of a camera, trying to document with an intent to display their privacy. Ozzy was stunned by the starkness in the room, having never seen that many men naked at once. The variety in body types, skin tones, sizes, and hairiness mixed together reminded him of abstract expressionism and the way their limbs interlaced as the men washed their soiled bodies, like cubism. Ozzy was taking it all in at once, not focusing on the two-bead flesh rosaries dangling freely between their legs.
“Hey fellas, stop staring and get back to washing your stinking asses already,” Nestor yelled, half kidding, half commanding.
The group of men picked up their conversation as well as their soap right where they had left them before Ozzy’s presence had disturbed their mirth and merriment.
“They’re a bunch of fags, even the ones that aren’t gay,” Nestor joked. “Go on, take off your towel.” Even outside of the field, Ozzy heeded Nestor’s instructions. Doing so made him feel pleasantly safe.
Ozzy hesitated for a moment, looking left, then right, then left again. He took a quick peek down at his towel, then at the men, then at his towel again. When he looked at the twelve again, he noticed a thirteenth body, Nestor’s, had joined the Last Supper of asses and cocks.
“Come on, kid,” Nestor yelled, gargling and huffing shower water cascading on his face. He waved Ozzy over to an empty shower next to his. “The water’s real nice.” Nestor’s shivering smile was warm an inviting like that of his younger brother back when their mom used to bathe them together when they were 3 and 4. It was also like that of Heriberto, the warm teddy-bear-man that made him feel so happy.
Ozzy undid the terrycloth knot that was keeping his towel up, one flap at a time. As the first flap moved away from his goosebump-covered torso, the gay constituency of the thirteen transfixed their fiery eyes on the denuding as if it were the unveiling of a new night club.
The second towel wing seemed to take a decade to flap itself to full-frontal freedom, but when it finally ended, Ozzy’s penis placed another wave of muteness over Nestor’s twelve Apostles.
“Damn, this dude is hung,” an haggard voice with a forced effeminate twinge broke the silence of water dropping and draining. Everything in Ozzy’s head was playing in slow motion. The ‘u’ in “hung” seemed to be ringing like a nail bouncing on the hard tile, whose rate of clinging accelerated faster and faster. Ozzy’s heartbeat mirrored this bouncing as twenty four individual eyeballs analyzed and fantasized with every inch of him.
“It looks like a fucking elephant trunk,” a huskier, raspy voice yelled, starting a wave of laughter that drowned the whole room. Ozzy felt the tiled walls closing in on him, the steam boiling his blood, and the humidity sweating him into a piece of wrinkled jerky.
As he was about to bolt out of the room, he felt a strong grip take hold of his forearm. It was Nestor.
“Guys, just shut up, and let the kid take a damned shower,” Nestor said. “God knows he’s a damned good player, and the size of his dick shouldn’t matter.”
Nestor led Ozzy to the shower next to his, weaving and wading through a sea of nudity and whispered bickering, silent snickering and a little bit of dickering.
“Most of y’all look like you have clits between your legs, that sometimes I wonder,” Nestor said as he and Ozzy arrived at the showers. “Don’t listen to them. Fuck, I wish I had a dick as big as yours, kid. You’re lucky. What are you packing down there? 8? 9 inches?”
Ozzy’s face flushed red, maybe due to the steam, but most likely to Nestor’s compliment.
“I don’t know,” Ozzy replied in a small voice that didn’t even sound like his own. “I’ve never measured it before.” He lied. The truth was that he was too embarrassed to tell Nestor that his penis was, in fact, about 10 inches long the last time he measured it, which was earlier that day.
Nestor’s smiled at Ozzy’s disingenuous ingenue. Ozzy giggled and smiled back.
“Besides, they’re just teasing you,” Nestor added. “Check this out: Hey everybody.” Nestor grabbed his penis, hunched over, and began to scratch the top of his head with the other hand, the way a monkey would. The other guys broke out into a fit of laughter, holding their stomachs and pointing at Nestor’s primate gestures, his gibbers and grunts, and the manner by which he was swinging and choke-holding his flaccid jungle vine of a penis.
“See? It doesn’t matter,” Nestor said laughing, slightly out of breath. “We’re all just dudes.”
Seeing Nestor’s simian-samba sent an invisible jolt through Ozzy’s body, especially when Nestor began gyrating his torso left and right, over and over, and the tip of his penis grazed Ozzy’s upper thigh. In the midst of the hooting and hollering, he didn’t think much of it, other than a mere accident. A happy accident, according to the smile plastered on his face.
After getting dressed with the same clothes he wore during the game, not having planned for this impromptu shower, Ozzy exited the gym and began to walk home. It was nearing 10:45 p.m. and as he momentarily thought that it was perhaps a bad idea to walk home alone, Nestor steered his black Nissan Sentra by Ozzy, driving on the opposite side of the road.
“Hey,” Nestor said, “Wanna ride?”
“Nah, I’m good,” Ozzy said, immediately regretting having rejected his offer. “Thanks, though.”
A car blared its deafening horn, flashing its lights at Nestor’s illegally, idling car.
“You know that I don’t like to take no for an answer,” Nestor said, accompanied by The Beatles’ “Come Together” playing in the background, smiling that charming smile of his. “Besides, I’m breaking the law for yo–”
Another car horn cut off the last part of Nestor’s plea. Both boys closing their eyes during the duration of the painful loud sound.
“So, what do you say?” Nestor asked.
“Sure,” Ozzy gave in, annoyed by Nestor’s unwavering cockiness, but pleased by his interest in him.
“So, where am I dropping you off?” Nestor asked as Ozzy closed the passenger side door. The smell in the car was a combination of wet Old Spice, pine car scent and Nestor’s chocolate protein shake breath. The delicate guitars of “Hotel California” by The Eagles began to play softly in the background.
“I guess on the corner of Fountain and Martel,” Ozzy said, still unable to believe that Nestor was giving him a ride home. Nestor merged onto the correct lane and sung out, “But you can never leave,” right before the song went into the passionate guitar solo.
“You’re Mexican, right?” Nestor asked. The question struck Ozzy as strange, but it also showed a deeper level of interest.
“Yeah, my dad is Mexican and my mom is Filipino,” Ozzy replied.
“Cool, that’s a nice mix.” Ozzy could feel Nestor’s fiery eyes looking him up and down. “As you already know, I’m half Italiano and half Brasileiro.” The Italian and Portuguese accents used to pronounce the respective nationalities send a warm shiver up and down Ozzy’s back. It allowed him to relax into the back of his seat.
“So, do you speak Italian or Portuguese?”
“Nah. My dad bailed on my mom and me, and remarried another lady.” Ozzy noticed that the joviality in Nestor’s voice had vacated as soon as he began to speak about his dad. “My mom speaks very little Portuguese and she never really taught it to me.” Ozzy kept looking over to Nestor’s animated hand gestures, often lifting both hands off the steering wheel. It was a feeling of thrill, to see Nestor so excited and that at any second they could both swerve off into another car and die. “I did learn a few things from my grandparents back in Brazil, though. That’s where I spent most of my summers growing up.”
Nestor told Ozzy all about how these trips had awoken in him his deep love for soccer. A love that he pursued in high school and college. A love that came to a bone-crushing and heart-breaking end when he went for a soft tackle and the player he was running against went for a hard one. Nestor was carried off the field on a gurney, never to play again, professionally or at all.
“The doctors told me that I’d be lucky if I could walk again,” Nestor said.
“Wait. How are you able to play now?” Ozzy asked, amazed at how good of a player Nestor was.
“It’s all heart and soul, man. I refused to let that be my future. My reality.”
Ozzy thought about his own disability, his inability to cope with the things that he often felt within his own body. To cope with his crippling shame.
“That’s the only way to be truly happy, kid,” Nestor said. “You just gotta grab life by the balls, and just take it and do what you want with it.”
Nestor’s words boggled around in Ozzy’s head, and rang true in his heart, resonating deep in his soul. If there was anybody in the world that he could trust with his truth, it was Nestor. Ozzy closed his eyes. The car suddenly stopped. He took a deep breath. The Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” stopped playing, allowing the silence of the streetlight lit night to fill the car.
When Ozzy opened his eyes, he turned his head to face Nestor, who was already looking at him with his azure eyes, as blue as Italy’s national soccer team jersey. Ozzy saw Nestor’s hand traverse the distant canyon between the driver and passenger seats, from Nestor’s right thigh to Ozzy’s left. Although his eyes told him that Nestor’s hand was in the wrong, his inner most being told him it was right. It was the rightest thing he had felt. Ozzy began to feel lightheaded, the blood rushing to the lower half of his body. Nestor’s hand gripped his thigh hard, borderlining an unbearable pain that soon morphed into an unbearable pleasure.
Nestor reached his left hand toward Ozzy’s face, twisting his lean torso and leaning his face closer to Ozzy’s. Nestor’s touch filled Ozzy with a warmness he had never felt before. At first, Ozzy pulled back, inching away from Nestor’s approaching pillowy lips. But Nestor’s forceful hand pulled him back in for a warm, wet, hard kiss. There was a tenderness to Nestor’s roughness. In the context of this intimate moment, his assertiveness made the moment unpredictable, as if anything could happen. As their lips met, Nestor let out a moan that Ozzy had associated with feral beasts. It was low and deep. This was Ozzy’s first real kiss, having given up on the cause after a number of girls had rejected him throughout high school.
Ozzy opened his eyes to see what Nestor’s busy hands were up to and noticed that the bulge in Nestor’s tight shorts, the same one that he had seen bouncing up and down as Nestor hustled up and down the soccer pitch, was now bigger and sharper, concealing a third knee.
As the temperature rose in the car, Nestor’s kissing became more animalistic, with the introduction of soft nibbling of the chin and neck, licking of lips and tongues, and hard biting of Ozzy’s lower lip and shoulders. Ozzy wanted Nestor to consume every bit of him. Nestor’s hand slid up Ozzy’s muscled thigh, slowly, steadily.
“What are you doing?” Ozzy exclaimed, more out of reflex than concern.
“Shhh…shut up,” Nestor breathed warmly onto Ozzy’s lips. “Let me take care of you, kid.”
His words made Ozzy feel comfortable, safe. Nestor was, after all, looking after him, on and off the field. Before they had even locked lips, Ozzy was going to confide in him that he thought he may be gay. However, Nestor had read his mind, his body language. As their lips magnetized themselves together again, the ascent of Nestor’s hand up his thigh resumed. It ate away at Ozzy’s fear and inhibitions. Never in his short life had something felt so right.
When Nestor reached his ever engorging penis, Ozzy’s buttocks jumped off his seat for a moment, as nobody had ever touched it in such a firm yet delicate way. It reminded Ozzy of the time Nestor was rubbing his chest, of how he did so out of concern for his friend. He wanted to heal him. Now, Nestor wanted to heal a different organ, an organ that needed the most healing, one that needed more than healing, it needed deliverance. Nestor began to stroke the shaft more lovingly than he himself had ever. When it came to masturbation, Ozzy would beat off to beat the clock. To beat his parents from finding out, he would do so without making a sound, or releasing a drop of semen, regardless of how hard he was. The pleasure he had derived from his deprived experiences had only been a fraction of what Nestor was making him feel now.
Ozzy felt conflicted, feeling good and bad, innocent to respond to the pleasures of his body and guilty to enjoy them all at once. Just as Ozzy began to get even harder, Nestor stopped. Why did you stop? Ozzy thought. Ozzy started to look outside making sure nobody he knew or didn’t know was walking by the car. But they were alone. Nothing but blacked out apartment windows and the stars above. Before he knew it, Nestor began to pull Ozzy’s shorts down, releasing faint notes of bittersweet sweat, the head of his penis getting partially stuck to the waistband.
“Damn, kid,” Nestor said, “you are big.” Nestor began to stroke up and down in a slow, rhythmic spiral. “I didn’t realize you were uncut.”
After Nestor licked his lips, he descended towards Ozzy’s ticking time bomb erection and wrapped them snugly around it. The moist sensation of Nestor’s mouth enveloping his virginal organ was foreign and intoxicating to Ozzy and flinched upon contact, like emerging into a warm pool of water, scalding at first but so comforting that even as the temperature falls, is so difficult to vacate.
“Relax, man,” Nestor coached. “Just relax. I’ve got you.”
Ozzy was afraid of what may happen if he did relax, if he truly allowed himself to feel good about what he had been taught to repress and feel bad about. Ashamed. The deeper Nestor plunged, the stiffer Ozzy’s body became and harder Nestor stroked in order to make him release.
“Let go, motherfucker,” Nestor yelled, as he did when he wanted Ozzy to run as fast as he could, down the field, leaving everything behind, including the belief that he couldn’t defeat his opponent. “I know you’re ready to come.”
Ozzy let out an ear-piercing cry that made way for a warm wave of pleasure, consuming him from within, like the fires of hell his mother would surely say he would fry in for doing this with Nestor and feeling this way. Ozzy felt his heart pounding loud as audible clouds of steam were releasing from his and Nestor’s mouths. The stiffness that had inhabited his body had left. All Ozzy could feel was a radiating heartbeat, pulsating from his legs to the crown of his head.
“That’s it, man,” Nestor said, “Give it to me. Just let it flow.”
Ozzy felt his inhibitions flow violently through and out of him like rivers of living water, one spurt at a time. His closed eyes suddenly flipped open when he felt a hot moisture wrapping around his still erect penis. A feeling that he had experienced before when he almost drowned as a child. Ozzy looked down at his lap and saw the back of Nestor’s light brown hair bobbing earnestly up and down, consuming his penis little by little, deeper and deeper like a river, a torrential Amazon that devours everything in its wake.
“I can’t believe you’re still hard, kid,” Nestor exclaimed in laughing astonishment. “After I come, I’m done.” Nestor kept jerking. “I need at least 5 minutes.”
Ozzy was feeling good, a happiness interlaced with guilt and a feeling of “what-will-they-think,” looking out all of the car windows to see if anybody was out there. Anybody who could identify him. Out of nowhere a heavenly blindness overtook his eyes, so unbearably pleasurable that all he could do was close his eyes and lean his head back onto the headrest. He felt the entirety of his penis inside of Nestor’s Italo-Portuguese mouth, the tongue that had spoken a snippet of both languages so seductively was now doing to his penis what it had done to those words, twirling in circular motions around it, like pressing an orange onto a citrus juicer, wringing out the savory nectar.
He felt the exquisite pain of a second coming in the pit of his stomach, and felt an undeniable need to release the contents of his body. To give up the ghost. As he did, he heard a choking, gurgling noise coming from Nestor and then a silent swallowing that Ozzy was only aware of because of the sensation on the tip of his penis.
As Nestor emerged from below, he began to inhale and exhale in the same way he did after having chased down ferociously after a fast attacker. It’s the hard plays that make you better, Nestor used to say. Ozzy felt he had just become a better person. A complete human being. Maybe not by having done something great for someone, but for the contrary. For allowing himself to be done something to and for having placed himself in this difficult situation with Nestor. A situation he had entombed, preventing it from happening or ever coming out in any way.
“Man, kid, you’re fucking wide,” Nestor said, choking and chuckling. “That was a huge load, by the way. Good job.”
Ozzy looked down to Nestor, who was now resting his sweaty head on his chest. He pulled his chin up and kissed him long and tenderly. It was Ozzy’s way of thanking him for helping him reach this new place in life, that of becoming a true man. He held his redeemer close and tight, enjoying him forever in that instant. Their interlaced bodies, Ozzy’s dark skin wrapped around Nestor’s light tone, were like swirls of milk and coffee dancing in an infinite spiral, slowly becoming one. Neither of them knew what would happen after that night. Things would go back to the normal that people used to hide a little bit of themselves. Sometimes a lot of themselves. Ozzy had dropped a load off his shoulders that night, but even in the midst of sexual and spiritual paradise, somewhere in his head was looming the load he would have to carry in the future. The battles he would have to fight against his loved ones and against ones who would never love him. People that would hate him for choosing to love another man.
At that moment, as Nestor’s agitated breathing became gentler and gentler, he realized why this fearless leader and ravenous lover had never told him that he was indeed gay. All of that machoness that Nestor displayed was his defense mechanism against a queer world that wants all boys to be the same, to feel the same, and grow up to be manly men.
The sweat oozing from every one of their naked pores was tied to their secret, their shared truth, a truth that set them free. Ozzy and Nestor exuded confidence in the sexual act they had performed before no one, before the stars, before God Himself; not caring about sin, original or otherwise. Ozzy was reborn, resurrected, expelling guilt’s poison, and the toxins that had welled up deep inside of him. Nestor helped him purify his soul.
But for that moment, Ozzy only wanted to focus on love. All of him was full of love. He simply wanted to love the man who had loved him. The one who had shown him how wonderful love could be.
“Fighting for the ball.” Www.lapl.org, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, 1943, jpg2.lapl.org/pics34/00051698.jpg .