Cruising in Japan - The Dark Side of the Truth
Erotic (non-porn) fiction by Outsfguy
The Man was lost in his own world. Outside, the summer cicadas of 1954 clung tenaciously to the trees of Hibiya Park, while inside the public men's room, the mosaic blue and while tiles on both the floor and walls looked overtly grimy. The Man was here for a purpose, as were most of the other men who drifted in and out: always alone when entering, usually accompanied in exiting.
The Man was twenty-years old, still a boy himself really, but the realities of the pressures that befall any Japanese man entering legal majority at this age fell upon his shoulders with special weight. That is why he was here, to forget. To forget his upcoming marriage, arranged and neatly tied up for him by the professional matchmaker and the unwanted intercession of the two meddlesome families involved. As a developing adolescent, he knew that he had no attraction for the female of the species, while his classmates, and the athletes he'd watch on the soccer field, told his budding sense of self that he should pursue bachelor ways.
As a grown man, he was darkly alluring, perhaps because of his conflicted nature, and whenever he ventured into this place, Japan's oldest Western-style cruising spot, or visited one of the many indigenous assignation grounds – usually in the precincts of shrines dedicate to the Samurai god of archery and manly love, Hachiman – he was not long in waiting for positive responses.
But this evening, as his handsome features lingered past several men whom he did not even let himself acknowledge, he was lost.
The humidity made his underarms sweat lightly into the crystal white armpits of his polo shirt. He could faintly smell the residue of bleach rise from the fibers, and it made him feel slightly refreshed, for the public restroom was dirty. Grime crawled up the tile walls and a nicotine-yellow pall caked the ceiling overhead. Around his neck loosely hung a knitted green tie. He had loosened it the moment he was on the train, for this afternoon had been torture. As he sat for uncomfortable hours on his heels, and bobbed his head when appropriate, the matchmaker had gone over every contractual obligation and gently requested that the girl and he acknowledge each point. Next to him, his parents beamed, and every time he glanced, it was all he could do not to scream a bl**d-curdling "NO" at them and walk out. That was why he was here tonight. A break, a reaffirming of what was natural to him; as it was born into him at birth.
For some men come here, or go to its kindred places, to excite and extradite their lusts – like a man reaching a hard-fought for spot on his back to scratch – and others come here to meet, and for, if at least a little while, to forget what drove them to this resort from the world outside these grotty walls.
An athlete himself, he drew much attention as he stood and leaned the back half of a shoulder blade against a wall near the door. He preferred this spot for practical reasons. One, he could see any nosy blue-uniformed patrolman the instant he entered the door, and two, he had a clear profile view of the urinals and the sly glances of men, with heads cocked towards his vicinity, showing off their assets. If a policeman appeared, he could quickly turn and busy himself at the sink. If anything else he saw interested him, he could gesture with his head towards the door, kick himself off the wall, and leave - or if the room was empty – he would walk to a stall and wait for the invited to join him. The danger of it, or at least the perceived thrill obtained from thinking about the jeopardy to his future he was putting himself in should he ever be brought up on loitering charges, usually accomplished the work of getting him hard and ready for the encounter itself. This evening though, he was unable to keep himself in the moment, and his libido was pushed to hinterland insignificance. Yes, tonight his mind wondered back to his problems like a pigeon to the soft familiarity of its home roost.
He remembered a recent altercation. The screaming, his parents threatening everything that mattered to him: withdrawing him from university, and cutting him off. "Why?" he demanded to know. "You won’t take care of your f****y obligations!" his mother growled. Later his father quietly advised: "Marry, boy. Make a home, make a couple of babies – then what you do, discreetly, is none of anyone's business, and that especially applies to your wife." As the Man blinked towards his inscrutable and emotionally blank wall of a pater, he had the nausea sink into his gut that he and this older man were alike; somehow one miserable generation stood before his youth and recommended the unhealthy propagation of the very misery that had crushed his progenitor's soul. But, his father had continued with serious warning: "Be discrete boy. Do nothing that lets you or your f****y lose face. Scandal, boy, ends in only two ways – social death for the innocents, or honorable self-murder by you to right your wrong." Although not inclined to hurt himself, maybe this advice was the reason he had to come here tonight. Maybe that was the very impulse that led him here – a well-placed disgrace could enact vengeance on those who willfully sought his destruction, and could also save him from a lifetime of miserable 'honor.'
His young mind had already set up the options, as if bowling pins – but one by one – joining the army, running away to sea on a commercial vessel – they were knocked down. Now, confounded by too many options, the inevitable loomed larger and larger and his distaste cut a sharper and sharper bile in the back of his throat.
After the confrontation by his parents, the omiai, or matchmaker, was hired and had found a girl. She and her dowry had been vetted by his folks and uncles and aunts with greedy precision, and found to be more than agreeable. Today's meeting was the final one, and though he had met her for only the second time, they were affianced, and the matchmaker expected her substantial fee to be reckoned by the end of the day, which it was. Thinking of the pretty girl sitting across from him this afternoon, so close yet growing more distant as the seconds ticked, made his gut wrench and fall to a position lower than his knees.
The Man's unseeing eyes suddenly snapped him out of his languor. At the urinal, a young man in slick serge trousers and a stylish light-colored sports jacket was eying him with tender interest. The well-built k** was a few years younger than the Man, perhaps s*******n or eighteen, and his jacket barely hid the chest and arms of a pole-vaulter or gymnast.
The shy smile the Boy offered him slipped off the Man's face and down the front of his pleated chinos.
The Man kicked himself off the wall and made a pretence of washing his hands. He glanced up at the Boy in the mirror above the sink, and a barely perceptible wink caused the Boy, in the act of scanning the Man's backside, to blush violently and look away.
The Man shut off the tap, and as he extracted his handkerchief from his rear pocket, he rotated to face the young man and athlete. The Boy's hair was slicked back slightly at the sides, but a long front section flopped most attractively to just above his eyes. His face was compact, generally round but squared off into muscular jaws that will, in a few years, make the man this boy grows into a formidable beauty. For now, his boyish bashfulness contrasted with the natural maturity of body that moved with gracile ease below his spotless clothes.
The Boy cracked a faint smirk, and glanced to a stall.
The Man watched the Boy's head wader towards it, and as he pocketed his now moist handkerchief, his eyes trailed the young man's wordless quarry.
The Boy zipped himself, and walked to the stall.
For the Man, a stride or two, and they will be together; contact in one or two fractions of a minute. He followed the Boy, but the queasiness in his midsection weighed down his steps.
The Man quickly latched the stall door behind him. He turned and pushed the Boy against the wall. He groped the young man's crotch, and through the slickness of the athlete's trousers, felt the Boy's straining reply to the Man's roughness. Usually this darkness, this willful abstraction of physical contact to a set of acts – pushing, pinning, forcing and restraining – caused an instant springing of his own member to full attention. To his horror, he could foretell the next few moments. They played out like a flickering strip of film slowing down and then being melted by the burning glow of the projector's lamp – the lad would reach, a probing and gentle set of fingers would land somewhere in the folds of his trouser pleats, below the belt, above the crotch, and then explore until they found his stiff member pressed tightly against his thigh, aching for release by those same fingers working the zipper. But, the Boy would in a few terrible seconds find only a flaccid, and unmoved example of the Boy's waste of time.
This had never happened before. The whole point of his being here was caught up in that moment of contact, right? One without the other was ludicrous.
To buy time, the Man f***ed his hands onto the Boy's shoulders, holding back his arms to the wall, and he pressed his mouth tightly to that of his cruising partner. The Boy responded with increasingly heavy breaths, and the Man's lower section against the lad told him better than anything else how excited his touch was driving the k**. But it made no difference. His partner's growing passion only seemed to humiliate his lack of a physical rejoinder into deeper and deeper recesses.
Despite his restraint, the young man's hand landed on the Man's chinos, and now his predictions of the scene to follow developed. He could see the way the Boy's face would first grow round with astonishment as he felt nothing in his lover's creases that pertained to the act of love. Then he will push the Man back, his upper lip will curl in distain, and a peeling laugh will ring out in the Man's face; his boyish shrill reverberating yet as he pushed past the Man and out of the stall.
Despite his usual dark charm, which excited himself as finitely as any of his assignation partners, he was flat and vulnerable to the ridicule of the whole world through the narrow harangs of a single boy. He had failed to excite himself in the 'danger' of the encounter, and now, there was no safe place for him to be, either within or outside of his own dark mind.
As foreseen, the Boy's hand reached the spot below which this man's ignominy laid, but then the Boy did something utterly unexpected: his youthful hand reached up and touched the Man on the side of his head. The lad's moist palm lingered there a moment, then he kissed the Man's cheek in tender commiseration.
Stunned, and still half pinning him against the wall, all tension left the Man, and contracted like a deflating balloon – letting the Boy glide back to rest all his weigh on his own two feet. The Man sank farther than before – his knees weakening – for under the Boy's warm touch, the darkness within him began to melt like snow stroked by sunlight.
He blinked as a waking baby might. The Man really hadn’t 'looked' at the lad until now – he had been an abstraction, a means to fulfill the desires he was told to only relegate to the status of lusts. But now, what was it he was seeing, if not a real person?
This was someone real; someone who had just offered him a genuine bit of encouragement. It made him sick. A true bit of affection permutated seemingly out of the very grime on the walls mixed with the dust of his former lust, and someone had breathed life into it. Yes, the boy had with his gentle breath, his kiss, and his touch. It was as unexpected as anything could be.
The Man backed off the Boy, and whished down to the stymied bit of coal he had relegated to the status of his soul that the Boy would scowl at his impotence. Instead, the bright and guileless face before him, smiled.
Instantly, all the stench and disgust of their setting slammed the Man's senses. He took the Boy's hand, dragged him out of the stall, over the piss-soaked tile floor before the urinals and out into the night air before the restroom. The Boy did not resist, but by the time they got to the stone and bronze-capped lighting fixture forming the entrance to the park – near the corner of the restroom – the Boy thought he should.
The moment the street light hit his face, he halted. The Boy didn't care to be dragged out of the park, and potentially into the busy street.
The Man stopped and swung the k** and athlete to face him.
"I…I know a place," he said with quiet desperation "where we can talk."
Near Hibiya Park was an entertainment district. Yurakucho nightlife was mostly 'under the tracks;' for the large brick vaults built to carry the weight of the train lines going to, and departing from Tokyo Station just to the north, created ideal ratskeller conditions – secluded, out-of-the-way nooks, that for the most, and certainly for a certain kind of clientele – kept prying eyes far away.
Ruby's was an ordinary-looking establishment, which if anything, was on the plain side. The sign on the door said it was a 'teahouse,' but after 6:00 P.M., the teapots were clanked out of sight, and beer and highball glasses were pulled furtively one-by-one from below the counter and filled as ordered. During the day, when dim sunlight managed to make it to the farthest corners of the vaulting, ladies with petchulant brats chatted and snacked on teacakes and crustless sandwiches. But by dusk they would be gone, replaced seemingly by a large crew of handsome waiters. At this odd moment of transition, a sensitive observer could witness a sexual shift. First the arrival of the pack of waiters, two or three times as many as the day swing, and then the exit of every last bit of female customer, climaxed by the steady influx of men. In pairs or trios, the young came in the latest sportswear, and were immediately 'served' by the servers as if old pals. Then, older men, usually alone, and always overdressed, drifted in and the waiters acted with reserve and suggestive winks as they seated them with various groups of their raucous 'pals.' Then the transition was complete, and the laughter began to flow as smoothly as the beer and cocktails.
Yes, Ruby's the teahouse during the day, was at night an exclusive club of sorts, one where any party of wandering females were told the ratskeller crowd they saw was a private function, and that they would have to leave at once.
"Right this way!" The owner greeted the Man with professional warmth.
The Boy, standing right at his side – the front door still swinging closed – scanned the interior of this 'teahouse,' and thought that his companion must be a regular.
As the white tuxedo-clad host led the way to a private table for two in the back, the Boy's eyes scaled the heights of the environment, drinking in color and texture; his ears intaking the balanced sounds of merrymaking and solicitude; of joy and lovers' plight.
A wide barrel vault of exposed bricks formed the ceiling, and suspended like rows of sparkling chains, small-scale crystal chandeliers dropped from the masonry herringbone to hover above each table. All the waiters were young men a year or two older than the Boy, and all were dressed as twins – black slacks, white shirts and bowties, and long blue and white striped aprons, cinched narrow at the youthfully trim waists. As he passed, all made eye-contact with him, several winked, and one he thought particularly 'cute,' turned to follow the path his backside took through the crowd of tables, the Boy glancing just in time to catch him in the act.
Seated at their table, the Boy heard the Man order two Old Fashions, and watched the white tux move away to the bar. His sight coalesced to see the front windows were all covered by thick black curtains of the type he remembered as a boy in the war.
"Well," he told the Man with all-out boyish enthusiasm "so this place does exist! I heard about it from a couple of…others – but this is the first time I've been taken here."
"Yes. It's nice." the Man said plainly "After ten, they clear the tables from back here, and roll out a record player so the fellows can dance."
"Yes." he laughed "You like dancing?"
The Boy went slack jaw: "I don't know. I've only ever danced with girls – and that I don't like."
The Man's pinging laugh ricocheted off the vault above the Boy's back shoulder. His hand slapped the Boy's arm. "Well, here’s your chance to find out."
Inside, the young man was incensed that this stranger had just laughed at his honesty, but then again, a flood of unexpected tenderness drowned that immature fit of ill-nature with a flush of heat rising from the thought of the Man's naked arms grasping him on the dance floor. "Yeah…" he stumbled, a helpless smirk cracking his features wide open "…I guess I can."
The beauty and openness of the Boy's smile for him, made the Man question himself again. He hadn't felt queasy since he pulled the lad away from the park, yet, now he wondered why. Nothing in his life had changed, certainly not his problems.
"What kind of young man are you?" The Man's features relaxed; he wanted to know. "You are a sportsman, I can tell that," his hand squeezed a bicep "but, are you a good student; do you like school; do you have – a special someone?"
"A girlfriend, you mean?"
"No. I have nothing against them, but I'd never – " there was a pained look.
The Boy's barely visible Adam's apple rose up and down with a gulping sound. "Never, want to hurt one."
The Man had it confirmed; this athlete, this manly angel who was still a boy, was as gentle as he thought him to be. He laughed in hushed admiration as the waiter – the especially 'cute' waiter – set a glass before the Boy with a glancing grin. As the server turned with a second glass, the Man said: "Well then, a special someone, like a boyfriend!" He winked at the waiter, and the Boy blushed.
"No." he said as soon as the 'cute' one was out of hearing range.
"But seriously – you are a high school student I suppose – tell me what it's like in your world, your one ideal day."
The Boy took a sip. The bourbon was strong for him, so he frowned and set it down again. As he fished for the candy-red cherry, he said: "My perfect day? Well – " he popped the maraschino in his mouth and pulled it off the stem. Chewing, he spat the pit into his hand. "Well, most of my day at school is spent only half listening to the lectures – the important part is spent in daydreams." The cherry pit found its way down to the cocktail napkin the waiter had left. "I either look out the window, watch the passing clouds and wish I was out beneath them with my buddies and a soccer ball, or, I'll wish I were far away from everything – like in a movie." The Boy leaned in, and grew adamant; his eyes flashed. "Maybe I'd be an elephant wrangler, thigh-deep in some Indian rain forest; or I'd be a fighter pilot in America, learning how to break the sound barrier in the newest jets; or back in time, a crusader capturing and forcing a handsome Saracen youth to remove my armor, and then – well…" again that mischievous leer that the Man had seen in the restroom spread across the Boy's countenance "…he'd be required to service me until we both collapsed in exhaustion. But, why am I telling you that..?"
"No – go on. I want to know more."
"Well – I'm a decent student, but most of my classroom time, I'm just thinking about track and field, or dreaming about going to the movies –especially science fiction – but, I dream about going with a certain boy. He wants to sit up in the back row, and as we watch, his hand slips into mine, and stays there. I dream that our fingers explore our hands – loosen and tighten – with each thrill from the screen. At some point, the boy will pull me over to him, and our lips will meet in that quiet and unseen darkness. And then in that public place – sort of like this – we can never be more alone; more together. Then, after the lights come up, we'll still be holding hands, and we'll walk out together like that. That's the kind of student I am.." and he laughed half in sorrow, half in joy.
"So, you’re in love with one of your classmates?"
"Me!" he sounded incredulous "No – they're all too young. No, for me, I'd need a boy a few years older; like a big b*****r, who I know will look after me – love me like that."
The lump in the Man's throat caught him off guard. Was this k** playing with him? But, no, fate or the dark night – one or both – had conspired to match him to this lad, and the Boy to him.
"What about you?" The young man suddenly sounded loud. He sheepishly glanced around, grabbed his ice-cold glass, and caught the eye of the particularly handsome waiter. He toned it down: "What type of boy do you…" he searched for the right-sounding word "…fancy?"
The man had a choice: prop up his usual obfus**tions through bluster – say what he effortlessly calculated would impart the most effect for good or ill – or be frank, and think of the truth as an absolute, regardless of its effect. Into the Boy's apert and unaffected eyes, he had to face his choice – stay on the dark side of the truth, where he had lived and operated from the time he first became aware of his own nature, or walk on the side where beauty was leading him.
He said: "You."
At first, the Man thought he had reverted to overt deception, but in an unfaltering moment, he knew it was his heart that had said the word.
The Boy turned beet-red. "So – " he ventured "you do like me. I couldn’t tell, because of, earlier."
The Man was cut to the core: "I…I never had that problem before. Please don't think it had anything to do with you."
As the words left his mouth, the Man doubted them. It seemed possible, maybe entirely reasonable to assume, that it was the Boy's fault. For once in the Man's sexual maturity, he was faced with the prospect that he was 'too' attracted to someone, and his heart's passion was the one guilty of splashing cold water on his libido's fire.
The square jaws of the lad before him set in a kindly regard for the Man's problems, even though the Boy could not know what they were.
"You see," the Man started to explain "I've got a lot on my mind." He sighed and laid his hand and forearm on the table as if laying down a round of cards. "I – I just got engaged today. It's an arranged marriage, and, I pity the girl. I really just – I – feel like shit. I don’t want to do it; not to her, not to me, not to any c***dren we might have."
"I thought I could go to the park tonight, and just forget, but – you see – that's why I couldn't... I like you. I'm being honest to you as well as to myself – I really like you. When you said 'a big b*****r;' when you seemed to want to dance your first time with me – you can't know what it does to me. It makes me mad. It makes me desperate." He latched onto the Boy's hand. "I don’t want to live a dishonest life – not within myself, or with a person I have zero chance of ever loving."
"I know," said the Boy, and held on harder "that same pressure is coming down the road for me in a couple of years. I can sympathize."
The Man chuckled. "I was even thinking about ways out. Like, join the Army, or sign up for the crew of a cargo ship – I don’t know – run away to Europe, or Argentina – just don’t make a mistake that will hurt others, and which in the meantime will drive every last bit of hope out of me. Can you relate?"
"So, you would rather go into the Self-Defense f***e, or sail around the world than cause another pain, just because your f****y f***ed you? Yes – I can relate." The Boy laughed. "And, maybe I should join you – but, one thing you have to consider is bigotry – hate out in the big world for Japanese because of the war. And there is much more hate outside of Japan for Gays than in it. In other places, they put us in jail, or mental wards, just because we exist. Here, society doesn't care – we are basically free to do as we want, although there is plenty of name-calling."
"Yeah – but in Japan, they don’t need prison cells for us. Here they don't care, because they know society has the strongest jail of all reserved for us – f***ed marriages; and instead of bricks and mortar and iron bars, they keep us in check with wives and c***dren and in-laws."
"But," the Boy sighed "still, there is hope for a better time – better for us, here where we live, and where we love one another, right?"
"You think so?"
"Yes – someday. I have to believe it's coming. Yes."
The Man and Boy were walking side by side. The dark and wooded lush of Hibiya Park pressed from their right side. The cicadas droned, but more softly than earlier, while a hundred feet ahead of them loomed the structure that first brought them together. The cool summer air buoyed them and made it seem the hands of the two had been shoved into pants pockets to bolster warmth.
In the Man's mind, he could conjure no excuse to prolong the evening. He agreed to walk the Boy back to this place; though he silently had vowed to never come here again.
"I enjoyed our talk." the Boy said, the tenderness of his voice proving his sentiment.
"I enjoyed our dance."
The Boy was silent.
"Maybe we can go to the movies sometime."
The Boy's reticence looked to be on the verge of tears.
The Man was suddenly angry at the structure looming ahead of them. The thing that had joined them, waited to ultimately separate them. "Why did you want to come back here?" The Man knew why. He wanted to test just how heartbroken he'd be to hear the Boy say it.
The Boy only cracked half a mischievous smile, and shrugged his tweed-clad shoulders.
The Man was surprised. What he felt was something akin to concern. He wanted to march the young man away for his own sake, as well as for the Man's selfish motivations, and down below, the lad's grin reawakened his venial drive. Outwardly, his anger gone, he matched the young man's grin. Inwardly, he felt his member grow solid against his inner thigh.
"I…" the Man faltered, his conventional tone failing "I want you to call me after 10 P.M. – then we can talk."
They neared the pair of fancy lights marking the perimeter of the restroom. The Boy stopped. He turned and patted the hidden piece of paper within the handkerchief pocket of his blazer. "I will." Then he joked: "We have to plan our escape! Which will it be? Sherpas on Everest; fishermen in Alaska; roughnecks in Texas – if you choose one, I will follow, and be there." By the end, all evidence of jest was gone from his tone.
The Man halted his steps, and remained motionless inside and out. It didn’t matter ultimately what he did, but the one thing he could not do solidified into crystal-sharp clarity. And, there was another thing too. It was an innocent one; an absolved form whose pitch-perfect notion rang in his ear as pure as a chanted benison. And both impulses the Man would act upon – he'd not marry that woman, nor any his f****y would ever pick, for he'd never love any of them – and he'd also not let this Boy go, not just yet.
As the young man grew concerned, and stepped close to the Man's side, he felt his hand be taken up.
The Man slowly sank to his knees before the lad, forever renouncing the dark side of the truth, and all the impotent fury it brought. Now he too could dream of a time to come.
He lifted the front shirttails of the Boy, and kissed the hard abdomen muscles that involuntarily flexed at the approach of his lips. Lingering there, his companion relaxed, and the Boy's hands landed in soft strokes on the top of his head. Below, he savored the feel of the lad's palms, while his own touch gripped and explored the curve of the young man's back. Slowly he roved the yielding flesh of his partner's belly with renewed kisses, as if right beneath the giving flesh was the crucible of their future; as if behind his bussing laid the womb where their love could gestate.
He rose within his boy's slowly tightening embrace, and as his lips drifted over the boy's, he again felt the reassuring hands, but this time on the back of his neck and at the base of his skull - the boy driving home his own kisses onto the man he knew he could love, as he loved himself.