Rooster

“yo, Weasel! I’m drunk, Fool!” Rooster still knocks but doesn’t bother waiting for acknowledgement anymore; he just blows on in and takes a seat at the desk. His shaved head reveals a new tattoo: a mournful, half-nude female being swallowed by the open arms of a horned, devil figure. The quality is lame even by prison standards. The strokes outlining the devil’s face are crudely drawn, and the female’s bare arms are contorted by the Pekingese-like wrinkles that line the back of Rooster’s head.

I sat up in my bunk writing a letter hoping that if I stared down at my legal pad intently enough, he’s get the hint and leave.

Not the case.

“Yo, Weasel, you ever funk a girl in the ass?”

Before I had the chance to formulate a response–one that would solidify my heterosexual guise while still allowing me to maintain some dignity–he plowed on ahead.

“So I was fucking this girl in the ass one night, and she’s all moaning and shit, right?” Rooster rolled his eyes up into his head and pouted his lips imitating the girl’s plunder.

“And as I’m pulling out, this bitch shits all over my dick!”

I stared down at Rooster, stolid-faced, not saying a word.

I’m well aware that there are inmates here who see me as a prize to be had, a naive white boy ripe for breeding. Duke had tried and failed to win my affections, but where his method had been direct, Rooster’s is much more subtle. Each conversation he instigates is a litmus test designed to gauge my receptiveness to gay experimentation. After broaching the topic of sodomy–and having received no reaction–Rooster moved on to oral sex.

“So, Weasel, guess what happened to me today in the library.” He raised his invisible eyebrows and glanced back at the door as if on the lookout for ear hustlers (prison slang for eavesdroppers). “This shit’s for real, Homes. I walked into the bathroom, and I see Sweet Pea down on his knees blowing this dude in one of the stalls!”

I noticed Sweet Pea my first week here out on the track field. It’s hard not to notice him. He’s the only six-foot four black queer on the compound. It mystifies me how he gets away with it, how he’s able to strut around, limp-wristed, hair pulled back in a ponytail with his young, black boyfriend in tow as if there were nothing to fear or hide. Meanwhile, I’m over here reading Hot Rod magazine and telling everybody that my fake girlfriend, Lindsey, just got accepted into nursing school.

Sweet Pea and I have neither spoke nor have ever exchanged glances, and yet each of us is aware of the other. It’s an awareness that all gay men have.

“You believe that shit?” Rooster nudged waiting for a reaction. I quickly flipped through my mental Rolodex of prison-suitable responses and decided to go with cool disdain.

“That’s sick,” I said, “but it doesn’t surprise me. I never go in there if I can help it. Everybody knows what goes on in there.” And this is true. The bathroom in Education Services is the only one on the compound with enclosed stalls making it a hot spot for sexual encounters.

I went back to writing my letter, and Rooster got quiet. I thought he’d have left by then. The 10 o’clock count was about to begin, and outside I heard the jangle of the guard’s keys as he got up from his desk to make the final rounds.

“I had this black cellmate once,” Rooster began, quieter this time. Christ, I thought. Why won’t he go away?

“He was big and had breasts.”

This, admittedly, piqued my interest.

“He sucked my dick a few times, but I ain’t no fag, I was just horny and shit. You know what I mean, Weasel?

Rooster looked up at me still drunk from the hooch. This strange test had turned into a confession, and now that his guard was down, he sat there looking vulnerable, his eyes pleading for sympathy and some kind of assurance, but I gave him nothing.

He asked if I’d move in with him, but I declined.

Finally, drunk and humiliated, Rooster said goodnight and left.

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