by Tom Cardamone
The Casket Fantastic Double Feature show is winding down. Every Halloween, until midnight, the local Avondale television station shows two classic horror movies back-to-back. The perennial host: the beleaguered evening news weatherman disguised in clown white and a cloud of talcum powder, dark circles under his eyes. Playing the ghoul, he delivers some truly awful puns between commercial breaks. On the couch Brad groans and nudges Lee with his knee, hoping that the connection will last longer. When they were younger, up in Brad’s tree house, while sharing a Heavy Metal magazine Brad had shoplifted from the 7-11 on Shell Road –the one right before the turn off to the beach, their knees touched the entire time: Lee shirtless and golden brown as always, a silent eternity Brad had forever wanted to recapture.
Now, senior year, they were left to watch the house and manage the trick-or-treaters while his parents were out of town. It had been hours since the last coterie of kids had rang the doorbell -Brad had lurched in his makeshift mummy costume, loosely wrapped around his skinny frame, extenuated ace bandages now sagging at night’s end. Lee gave his best Frankenstein, lumbering to the door, stiff-legged, green body-paint smeared across his thick chest, a borrowed blazer from his dad about to come off the shoulder. Every time Brad sees one of Lee’s wide nipples, he thinks about that afternoon in the tree house, the electricity between them unspent. Would it evaporate when they both left for college after the soon-to-come summer?
Lee yawns, the empty Budweiser bottle between his legs drops onto the shag carpet. Finally old enough to buy beer but still carded each and every time, they had shared a six pack and smoked a joint in the backyard, the sky a neon dark blue blurry with clouds and a nuisance of mosquitoes. Brad intuits that Lee is pretending to be more drunk then he is: legs spread wide, chest exposed: an invitation –but to what? On the giant Magnavox the black and white credits roll. The last film was Bride of Frankenstein. The host cracks several bad jokes in quick succession and suddenly the television is a crackle of electric snow and then goes dark. Usually at midnight they play the national anthem. Brad openly sighs. Another wasted evening of unspent longing and misdirected desire. He stands, thinking to give the television a whack for good measure, and surveys Lee’s jock-ish form: arm across his eyes, bare chest exposed, black hair greasy and matted, full lips parted as if he were about to snore. The television flickers and brightens.
The midnight room fills with light.
Brad blinks and reaches for the remote control. He struggles to turn the television off as Bride of Frankenstein comes to life again. It is the scene where the Bride screams, repelled by the Monster. Except this time she stares at him and he looks back. Brad drops the remote. Lee sits up, the sizzle of static and blinding light envelopes him. The Bride unwinds her bandages, and in unison, as if possessed, so does Brad. When they had put on their costumes earlier, Lee had stood before the bathroom mirror in his white distended briefs while he applied his emerald make-up; the black flash of his underarm hair seemed like a precursor to all that was below –where Brad’s imagination had spent many a night tossing and turning. Now Lee disrobes slowly while the twin creatures glitter on TV. Frankenstein’s Monster reaches for his Bride. More bandages drop as Brad steps into Lee’s arms and feels the heat from his chest, the bulge in the young man’s unbuttoned jeans hard against his thigh. On the television Bride kisses Monster. Brad and Lee kiss, wide-eyed, open-mouthed, hands up and down one another’s ribs, breathing heavy beery breaths of attenuated wonderment.
The television goes dark.
The tiny little white dot of light in the center of the screen collapses in on itself and the spell is broken. Mouths unclasped. Hands on each other’s hips, they knew what came next: Brad had watched his best friend undress for years when they had stayed the night at each other’s houses. Lee took his time after a shower, Black Sabbath trudging on the cassette player in either of their bedrooms –they both listened to the same bands and were constantly trading tapes in the hall: Krokus, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden. He usually paused when putting on a fresh pair of underwear to finish whatever story he was telling, less to exclaim and more to allow Brad time to examine his body, which had developed sooner than the other boys in his class. Brad was fascinated by the black tangle of pubic hair that converged over his friend’s tumescent cock and each time had tried not to stare.
Tonight, Halloween, he let his fingers undo Lee’s jeans to reach in and free his hot erection. Lee knew to stand back and let his friend discover what had previously been just out of reach –hands grasp and pull at his jeans and soon he is naked save white tube socks and a smear of remaining green body paint. The Florida air is unusually humid for October. Brad on his knees, bandages a ‘tatter, his sallow chest panting, filled with fear and longing -knowing that the engorged cock before him belongs in his mouth. Lee deliberately grunts like the Frankenstein Monster and breaks the tension: Brad smiles up at him, they always crack each other up –he sticks out his tongue. With his wide thumb, Lee pushes his thick, sweaty dick between his best friend’s parted lips. Brad buys himself some time by kissing the flanged ridge of Lee’s pulsing cock –wondering if taking it in his mouth would give them both one night of pleasure while ending years of friendship. The hand gripping the back of his head was one of reassurance, not pressure, and he knows that his service will be rewarded with a deeper, naked friendship of discovery and joy. He takes the considerable cock to the root and sucks slowly, to signal that his is a knowing surrender: not one of lust but trust. Brad pulls his underwear down and rubs the pre-come previously coating the head of his cock up and down his shaft while Lee’s eyes roll back in his head. Brad steadies himself on Lee’s boney feet and keeps as much flesh in his mouth as possible, gulping his sex, dazed by the salty effluence easily issuing forth. They both shake with ecstasy. Neither can contain themselves –this force has been building for years. Both explode. Lee’s searing come fills Brad’s mouth as his own pent-up fluid leaks onto the carpet between his red, now-chafed knees. The young men exhale. Brad collapses onto the floor, spent, dazed. Lee pulls off his socks, knowing that they are far from done.
The television blooms back to life. The face of Frankenstein’s Monster fills the flashing ocher screen in its entirety, his mouth open, about to either exclaim a command or express some suppressed craving, but no sound comes forth: he is alive with lightning on a night without end.
Bio: Tom Cardamone is the editor of Crashing Cathedrals: Edmund White by the Book, and is the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning speculative novella Green Thumb as well as the Lambda-finalist erotic fantasy The Lurid Sea, plus other works of fiction, including two short story collections. You can read more about him and his writings at pumpkinteeth.net