|Changing of the Guard
Author: Guede Mazaka
El had said there was moonlight streaming in across the bed. When Sands stretched his hand out, he could almost feel it: cold and slippery and quiet. He wiggled his hand, imagining the silvery ripples, and closed his fist around the beams, curling his fingers tighter and tighter until they snapped. Beside him, the other, peacefully-sleeping man stirred once, then rolled so breath tickled Sands' thigh. Sands ignored El, studying the blackness. Somewhere in front of him, the first finger unbent.
Langley. Perfect scores with a single hovering shadow over them, an old-fashioned fountain pen with ink beading on the needle tip. A red pearl destined to fall and blot one trainee out of existence. The pen was jerked away, and the chair toppled to the floor. Heart attack. DOA.
Lips peeling slightly back from his teeth, Sands grinned, very small but no less confident. He straightened the next finger with a feeling of near fondness.
New York City. A brilliant triple-cross gone fatally wrong, tangling dealers and Mafia and CIA all into one incestuous bed. Gray tumbling in with black and white, nets closing about like an unfathomable labyrinth. Scissors dropped from the sky, shearing through rope until the sharp ends drove themselves deep into earth. Black suit beside a grave, consoling the partner's family.
Bruises puffed up the next finger, courtesy of the morning's brutal awakening. But Sands forced it straight anyway.
Paris. Papers falling carelessly from drunken hands, curious eyes widening. Fire scorching skin, shrapnel tearing the night to ribbons. Locked doors straining under frantic blows, groaning but not giving an inch. Innocent eyes glancing up from the street, then gazing from a bedside. Open blue eyes, blankly staring from the gutter as footsteps moved jauntily away.
He'd saved this finger, longest and proud and arrogant, especially for this memory. Momentarily flicking it out farther, letting it stand alone, Sands let satisfaction curve his mouth.
D. C. Dark-paneled room, enclosing grim old men who crouched vulture-like on the high benches. Questions and answers, half-truths and whole lies, they all fluttered high in the air before slowly, softly floating down to roost. One last gasp at freedom, one walk of desperation into the uncaring misty evening. And then a chance glimpse: young nubile flesh half-blanketed by old skin hanging wrinkled off the bones, barely held on by the glint of a gold ring. Photos in the mail, charges wiped clear.
Frowning, Sands flexed the four fingers. Four. The last, the thumb…did it count as a finger?
Culiacan. Arrangements set, dominos toppling one by one. One domino, stark black with no relief from pinpricks of white, substituted in at the last moment. And-and-
Blurring vision, clearing to vicious smiles and the unstoppable delicacy of thin metal. And then the world from color to nothing. Nothing. A final thrashing, graveside judgment and then blood trickling into invisible dust, heat touching inside the cold hidden core for the first time. Through the holes.
Lips suddenly grazed against Sands' leg, and his startled jolt made them sear a sly grin into the skin of his hip. He struggled against the inexorable hands that clutched at him, pulled him back down into scars and hate and passion and beneath it all, barren desert.
Thumb. Thumb playing over guitar strings, thumb steadying the coiled menace of a gun. Taking the first two letters and adding the most common letter, because after all, the legend sprang from the people. The. El. Blowing in, blowing through, erasing one chaos from the earth and bringing another.
Strangling the moans in his throat, Sands struggled on, despite his new contract with futility. Struggled and twisted till El tired of the game and simply looped leather around the stiff wrists, binding them to the snaking turns of the metal headboard. Turns Sands traced with numbing fingers, strips of metal he seized between his teeth as hot breath and hotter lips ghosted over his back, as hands lifted his hips and fingers stole inside him.
A new count. Someone else's list, thumb hooking around Sands' thumb, beginning once more.
Culiacan. A President snatched from the grave, a wanderer playing death for souls and winning again.
Knees falling limp under the onslaught, Sands tore his lips on the unsmoothed edges of the curlicues and twisted away, into El's waiting arms. His hands twisted in the leather, moving differently from before. But the rasp in his ass was too much, the strain and the pleasure smothering his voice. Smothering his plea.
Culiacan. Blind man staggering from still-warm corpses to the living dead. Drifting into sleep and waking to black vision, black humor, black-voiced companion.
Touch and taste and hearing were everything now. Hard strokes into him, copper and iron on his tongue, crooning Spanish impieties in his ear. Sands wanted to touch back, to hit and lick and whisper, but the bindings held firm. Rough calluses scraped his cock to life, sparkled lights in his brain.
Mexico. Unseen blood pooling around his feet, soaking his trouser cuffs. A stalking conflagration at his back, circling in every so often to draw lines of flame around his waist, his neck, his sockets.
El was pushing him higher and higher, taking no respite but in the drowning rest of constant effort, forcing Sands. Driving the screams, finally, out of him. Battering in him and around him until he lost himself, spasming mind and body.
Mexico. Music for breakfast, bullets for lunch. Clashing lust in place of dinner. And a melting, a reforging first at the edges and then spreading out.
Strips falling from his wrists. Sands fell as well, sliding back into the hard chest and the inquisitive mouth sucking the blood off his wrists and lips. And slowly, he surrendered to sleep. A way to pass the time, until dawn.
Here. Cheating death and then stumbling, being caught and then released. Ashes spiraling from the icy moonlight, flying in the face of the burning sun. Shambles of a life gathered together and pieced miraculously into resurrection.