Author: Guede Mazaka
Daytime they all hate him. He knows the answers without having to open a book—he knows the answers when there is no book, when there is a book but it’s wrong and outdated and the instructors are just trying to fuck with them again. Supposedly this is boot camp and everyone’s got to take their turn bent over grabbing at their ankles, but not him. He fucks back.
And not just when the sun’s up, either. At night some of those sneers turn to grimaces twisting between lust and anger, and some of those cool shoulders are slippery and hot beneath his nails. They don’t scream for him, usually—they grit their teeth and they hold it back because they think that that way, they’re not totally cocking out. Bullshit. Pretty, pretty bullshit that he can see clinging to their eyes like the last scales of innocence. He could knock them off if he wanted, lean forward and gut their heads the way his prick guts their bodies, but he doesn’t because he knows real victory doesn’t lie in the bullies’ way. And real victory is a lot sweeter than the temporary satisfaction of feeling a body give way, of slamming it back up and snapping at the fag to ride it out. He knows, and it shows, and they know then. That’s when he wins.
Nights he goes out. He parties till dawn and he doesn’t bother sleeping, but just goes straight from the bars to the classroom with only a quick sidestep to shave. The quintessential genius breezing through classes with hangover beating him where the knives of his fellow trainees haven’t already stabbed. Unkempt brilliance. Yeah, yeah, professionalism—its time will come and he’ll usher it in without a protest when it does, but for now he’s going to take his fucking turn strangling the hell out of life. He’s seen the jealousy in his colleagues’ eyes, the bitterness in those of his teachers. He’s felt the chill of the morgue. He’s felt the edge of his own mind honed sharper and sharper on the pitfalls and cracks and granite stropping-stones of the world outside, the practical humdrum hateful world that had him for twenty years and that’s going to have him for the rest of his life save these three or four spent at the academy. It’s drawn blood and the taste of that echoes in the taste of every mouth he’s ever mashed into shutting up, into helplessly adoring him for fifteen seconds.
Paul doesn’t stop to let it catch up with him, much less overtake him. He knows it all and he keeps going, sauntering ahead to the inevitable. There’s no time or room for regret in what little he’s got. It’s a blade he pussy-foots into holding him high without cutting him, and it’s not going to last long but by God it’s not going to be his fault when he gets slashed. When he goes down, it’ll be something else, some irresistible force like out of a myth. Because yeah, he’s fucking young and he subscribes to the idea of immortality. But he’s a genius, a Tiresias, and he can see the shadow of the day when he no longer will.
He doesn’t look in the mirror when he shaves. Everyone thinks it’s him showing off again, perfecting a technique that enables his work-hard-play-harder lifestyle to float without junkie-crashing.
It’s not. One dawn he came back, stale sex in the rumpled seams of his clothes, hickey on his shoulder and whiskey-reek rising from his pants, and he raised his razor and he met his own eyes in the mirror. He knows he’s not pretty like that, he’s not Adonis but more skin papered over skull like one of the Mesoamerican gods, but nevertheless he recoiled from the old withered man rising relentlessly towards him.
One day the two of them will meet for real, and they’ll fight and Paul knows who’s going to win. So he doesn’t have to look for it. He shaves without the mirror, standing in the hallway silently checking off who he’ll cut down today. He goes out and grabs for the tightest ass and sticks his tongue in ears and throats and around cocks without the slightest pang of caution. He smiles cleverly at his instructors’ floundering and he boots the asses of the classmates who come crawling to him for help.
He doesn’t look ahead. Not yet.