JackBear was the third man I slept with and the first man I ever loved. He was a Ukranian man and he lived in Washington D.C. He was fifty-five, he loved to do drugs, and he was the most intelligent person I had ever met. We spent weeks at his place doing cocaine and MDMA and having sex. We moved from bed to bed to floor to hidden balcony and then back to the beds. He had two bedrooms with two giant beds that he liked to use interchangeably because he liked the feeling of cold sheets. I was there for weeks and weeks and we were constantly and furiously at it. We must have painted the ceiling and walls with our come. About a month in, the apartment started to smell a bit like a locker room so we went out to brunch one day and he had the cleaners come in to get rid of the smell. They pretty much did, but it still lingered in the air when we returned. I remember thinking, “I wonder if it’s my come or his come.” That whole month, if we weren’t using our mouths to talk about God and death and love, then we were using them for something else. But when we talked, we talked like champion talkers. We enjoyed each other and we never turned on the television. Whenever we were in the apartment, he insisted I wear a robe. I abided, but I much prefer to hang around in my street clothes. The whole robe culture was still a little too gay for me. We smoked a million cigarettes and drank cases of grappa and the days passed like minutes. It felt like one long beautiful night that lasted a month and that into which the sun occasionally made an appearance, but mostly while we were sleeping. JackBear’s the one who taught me how to treat a cock. I really had no idea. “You have to suck it like you want the come to come out,” he told me. I already did want the come to come out, but his wording allowed me to connect my desire to the actions of my mouth and throat. Now I had it. “Christ, you’re a fast learner,” he said. He had no fucking idea how fast of a learner I was. One night out on the balcony I told him about RomaBear, how he had been my first.
“The first dick you ever had in your mouth?” he asked.
“Yep,” I answered, probably lighting another cigarette.
“Did you hear bells?” he asked me.
“What do you mean did I hear bells?” probably dropping a smoking match.
He said that’s how you know if you’re a real fag. You know you’re a real and true fag if you hear bells the first time you put a dick in your mouth.
I thought about this with an amazement as I remembered Rome and what was outside of that window. The Pantheon. That sound. How could he have known about those bells?
Then it came to me. I remembered so clearly. I was still here but I was still there.
“Of course I heard bells. I was in Rome. All Rome is is bells.”