There are Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden

By Anel Viz

 

The white clapboard bungalow with the dark green trim had double doors at both the front and back entrance and each door had two deadbolt locks.  A six-foot-high, black, spiked iron fence separated the front yard from the sidewalk, the gate padlocked, as was the roll-away section in front of the driveway, and to get to the wooden fence that surrounded the rest of the property an intruder would have to scale the spiked fences that protected the houses next door.  If any window were broken, or any window or door opened before the security system had been disabled, the alarms would go off and the police would arrive in a matter of minutes.  All the locks and bolts and alarms made him feel safer, but not safe.  If he had felt safe he would not have needed to take all those precautions.  Only a fool would have felt safe in that neighborhood.

The man who lived in the house on the right, a corner lot, was seldom there.  He spent his weekends somewhere else, and during the week he left for work at about five in the morning and usually didn’t get back till after midnight.  No one knew what kind of job he had.  The windows on both sides of the house were boarded up, but it was not a crack house.  He kept the stucco clean and in repair, the security system was always armed, and there weren’t suspicious-looking people always coming and going.  No one came; no one went.  No one lived in the house on the left, but it looked well cared for.  Its one inhabitant was a large guard dog, the Rottweiler of the Baskervilles, who lived in the yard outside and made threatening noises oddly reminiscent of a smoker’s cough at anyone who passed by.  An unneutered male, he appeared never to have learned to bark or growl properly.  The owner of the house, and presumably of the dog as well, who was fixing it up to rent or sell, came by for an hour or two every afternoon to work on the place, make sure everything was secure, and feed and water the dog.  When he showed up the Rottie would not bother getting up to greet him, but just lie patiently waiting for him to fill his bowls.  The man took better care of his property than of his animal.

He too would have liked to have a dog for protection, for company, but he would not own a vicious dog, unpredictable and difficult to control, who might attack children if he got loose and who couldn’t relax if he had visitors (not that he had any that often), but would eye them the whole time, tense and ready to sink its teeth into a hand or leg at the slightest move it had not foreseen.  He knew dogs – they’d always had one when he was growing up – and could have trained one to be both a guard dog and a friendly pet, but for that he would need to stay home with it when it was a puppy, and he had to work.  Left alone all day to follow the example of the hostile neighborhood beasts and absorb the atmosphere of those mean streets, a scion of the most reliable blood lines would turn vicious.

He sometimes thought he was the only one in the neighborhood who didn’t live in the street in front of his house.  He was sure he was the only one who didn’t listen to rap all day long.  He carried a bully stick with him as a sign he was ready to defend himself when he had to walk anywhere, which meant the two blocks to catch the bus to work and the four blocks back.  He needed it less when he set out just before dawn, the one time of day when everyone was asleep and it was unlikely he would encounter anyone, and except in winter it was still light out when he got home.  His coworkers thought him eccentric and unnecessarily fearful.  They could not picture the conditions where he lived, however often he tried to describe them.  The street outside was littered with trash and broken bottles.  During the day, cars would drive down it at thirty or forty miles an hour in spite of the speed bumps, revving their motors and blasting their radios.  The people who lived in the neighborhood talked loud enough for you to hear their conversations from two blocks away.  Instead of hopscotch, the kids played dice on the sidewalk.  The only sounds that reminded one of the better neighborhoods not all that far away were the ice-cream trucks that came around several times a day playing their nursery rhyme jingles (Pop Goes the Weasel, Camptown Races, Edelweiss, Turkey in the Straw…).  One would often see derelicts walk by, swaying on unsteady legs and talking to themselves.  The drug dealers were always out, but the hookers didn’t start showing up till late afternoon.  It was not uncommon to hear gunshots at night, and hardly a night went by uninterrupted by police sirens.

The house had a large front porch which of course he never used.  None of the other houses on the block had a front porch, and none of the neighbors would have been foolish enough to sit out on them if they did.  After dark or when it was cold or rainy he stayed indoors and read, listened to music, puttered around straightening up, sent out e-mails.  But on sunny summer weekends and warm weekday evenings his place was in the garden in back.  With no one living on either side of him and not a single house with a second story within a six-block radius, the six-foot, solid wood fence and the fruit trees and flowering shrubs, pruned to make them grow as tall as trees, afforded him absolute privacy, an island haven surrounded by a shark-infested sea.  Unless it was chilly, he went about there as he did inside the house, reading, sunning, weeding and tending his flowers, or working in the vegetable patch tucked in behind the garage without a stitch of clothing on.  To him, being naked was both more comfortable and natural and a quiet manifesto of his total isolation.  He was, in short, a closet nudist.  He was less closeted about his homosexuality, though he would not risk a rainbow in front of his house, an open invitation to vandalism in that neighborhood.

He’d often thought about joining a naturist club.  He would have particularly enjoyed the outdoor activities – hiking, swimming, canoeing in the buff – but groups of more than five or six people made him uncomfortable, and he had no reason to believe he would feel any more at ease if they had no clothes on, so he never followed through.

*  *  *

After more than a year and half of slow repairs, the house next door was at last ready for someone to move in.  The tan stucco exterior had been smoothed to look like concrete and the ladders, hoses, paint cans and saw horses cleared away.  The owner left the Rottie to prowl the premises until he eventually sold the house or rented it out – he wasn’t sure which – before moving it to guard his next slum landlord project.  His new neighbors were three men several years younger than he (in their early to mid-twenties, he estimated), long-haired hippie types who wore tie-dyes and torn jeans, throwbacks to a bygone era.  They put up Buddhist symbols on their front door and kept to themselves.  He hardly ever ran into them; they introduced themselves (ordinary names like Bob Smith and Andy Peterson and Eddie Atkins – he didn’t pay much attention), and then more or less disappeared for the winter, though occasionally (they worked irregular hours) he would see the tallest of them, a very good-looking young man, sitting across from him on the bus on his way home from work.  They’d nod to each other, but not walk home together.  With his neighbor’s long legs and quick strides, by the time the man reached his house he was almost a full block behind him.

All in all, he could not have hoped for better neighbors.  They left him alone.  They kept the yard looking neat and even picked up the trash from the street in front of their house.  They played their music loud, but not too loud.  He heard it mostly when he went out in the garden and found it neither annoying nor offensive – Indian ragas and East Asian melodies played on exotic instruments.  They did not buy a vicious dog who snarled at him or kept him awake with its barking.  He suspected they had cats, because cats started appearing in his yard and kept coming back although he didn’t put out food for them.  They may not have all been theirs.  One of the cats was very friendly and when late April came around and he started working in his garden again (clothed; it was still too chilly out to take it all off) it would come and rub up against him.  When the weather  turned warm he went back to spending his garden time in the nude.  He saw no reason to change his outdoor habits for them.  The fence was high, and he imagined they were fairly tolerant and laid-back about everything and would not freak out over his lack of attire if they should catch sight of him.

The forecast had promised intermittent rain all week, clearing on Thursday, and sunny and hot all weekend, so he stayed an extra two hours at the office every day to be able to turn it into a three-day weekend.  He took the paper out into the garden, spread out a beach towel on the lawn, lay down on his stomach to do the crossword puzzle, then rolled over on his back to enjoy the feel of the sun on his crotch, resting the crook of his elbow over his eyes to shade them.  The sound of a raga came from the kitchen window next door, first just glissandos on the sitar, then a slow plaintive melody, gradually getting faster, then some kind of drum joined in and the rhythm turned frenetic.

“Howdy, neighbor.  You’re a lot cuter than I remembered you.”

He looked up and saw a head with shoulder-length light brown hair peering at him over the fence.  He was flustered, but he didn’t blush.  “Good morning.  Beautiful day, isn’t it?”

“What a nice garden you have, and your flowers are superb!  Stunning birds of paradise, and how thick the hydrangeas are!  And, oh! you have pansies too.  I admit to being very partial to pansies.  May I come over and have a closer look at them?”

The man hoisted himself up onto the lowest branch of the plum tree in his yard and swung himself over the fence without waiting to be invited.  “Chapati,” he introduced himself.  He was stark naked too.

“I thought your name was Andy.”

“No, that’s Broken Lashes, the short one, but we usually shorten it to Broken Lash or even just Lash sometimes.  I’m Bob to the uninitiated, but you’re dressed like an initiate.  Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“A fairy.”

“You mean gay?”

“Well you’d have to be to be in R.F., but not all gays are; in fact, most aren’t.  We’re a select bunch.”

The initials didn’t ring a bell at first, but then he realized they must stand for Radical Faeries.  He’d heard about them before, but didn’t know much.  “And your other friend?”

“He’s one too, of course.”

“I meant his name.”

“Purr.”

He offered his hand.  “Well, hello, Chapati, I’m pleased to meet the real you.  And welcome to my garden.  I’m…”

“No no no, we don’t shake hands.  We hug.  And I want to give you a fairy name, member or no.”  He gave him a warm hug.  “Any preferences?”

“For a name?  I hardly know what kind of names you have.  Yours are all so different.”

“All our names are different – very different.  They’re supposed to be.  I’ll think about one for you while I have a look at your flowers.  Oh, and you have veggies too, behind the garage.  Cool!”  And he skipped off toward the back of the garage.  “It doesn’t bother you if I skip, does it?  I like to skip when I’m happy.”

“No.  I haven’t skipped in years, but sometimes I feel like it, for no reason at all, walking down the street.  Not here, though.”

“Of course, certainly not in this neighborhood.  Even the totally stoned don’t skip around here.  It’s a total turn on when you’re stoned.  Skipping, that is.  Have you ever tried it?  No, you just told me you haven’t skipped in years.  Would you like me to hop back over the fence and get some weed so you can see what it’s like to get high and skip?”

“No thank you.”

But Chapati was already bending over the pea patch.  “Ooh!  Fines herbes too!  You must have a ton of basil here.  I suppose you make your own pesto?”

The intruder turned his head and saw his eyes fixed on his buttocks – very nice buttocks, and quite worthy an admiring stare, but what had captured his neighbor’s attention were the dancing Hindu gods tattooed on each buttock, one in blue, the other in gold.

“Krishna and who else?” he asked.

“Brahma,” (pointing to the gold) “and that’s Vishnu in blue.  My original idea was to have the god Ganesha tattooed on my front – you know, with my prick as his trunk – but then I remembered the dance of destruction and creation and decided to go for the whole trinity, with an enormous red Shiva running from just below my chest to my knees, but after being jabbed with needles for four days to complete these two I chickened out.”

“You’re better off without it.”  Chapati looked hurt, so he added, “The two on your butt are very nice, beautifully done, really they are.  I meant that I like you just the way you are in front.  Any extra, um… adornment would only hide your good looks.”

“You think I’m pretty then?  How sweet of you to say so!  You have no tattoos, I see.”

“No.”

“I hear they don’t hurt as much as they’re cracked up to if you get them in the right place.  I found out the hard way that your ass isn’t one of them.  May I share your towel?”

He was not sure exactly what sharing his towel would entail, but Chapati had already sat down before he could answer.  He was more than a little relieved that sharing his towel meant no more than that.

They sat face to face, knees up, his ankles between Chapati’s.  Chapati chattered on a while, which is to say he went on chattering uninterrupted, then flung himself backwards and stretched out half on the grass, his arms over his head and knees still up with his legs wide apart, giving the fullest view of his groin area he had till then.  He had a woolly chest, but except for a thick light brown bush, his belly and the upper half of his thighs were nearly hairless, though it was obvious he didn’t shave.  He had a nice cock too, mercifully unmarred by Ganesha’s trunk or Shiva’s whatever.

After about five minutes he sat up again and said, “But I don’t really know you yet,” and leaned forward and pressed their foreheads together, cupping his hand behind his skull.  “Shhhh,” he told him, which set his mind at rest since he had been desperately trying to think what he ought to say.  He couldn’t tell that close up if Chapati had his eyes closed or if he was staring down between his legs.  He held the position longer than he had remained lying on his back, then he pulled back and smiled at him, and went on smiling, saying nothing.  It seemed to go on forever.

The raga CD had come to an end quite a while ago.  Now he heard the voice of someone standing on the back steps next door: “No, he’s not out here either.  Chapati!”

“I’m visiting with River Sprite,” Chapati called back.  So he had remembered to give him a name after all.  Getting to know his forehead must have done the trick.

Another familiar-looking head popped up from behind the fence, one he’d seen on the bus any number of times over the past months.  “Is he one of us?” it asked.

“Not officially, not yet.  Only in his soul.  That’s good enough.”

“Good enough for you to name him already.”

“Not I.  He chose his own name.  His cortex told me.”

His cortex?  His cerebral cortex?  River Sprite?  Oh dear!  At least it was not quite so odd a name as Broken Lashes.

River Sprite was a little taken aback and very perplexed, nothing more, but the head must have thought he looked miffed or ill at ease because it went on: “Don’t let Chapati upset you.  He named you, all right.  But it’s a lovely name.  I’m Purr.”

Purr thereupon scaled the fence.  He was wearing only a tie-dye tank top and was followed by a much shorter man who must have been standing next to him all along, the aforementioned Broken Lash in the flesh, just the flesh, and nothing but the flesh except for a rainbow bead ankle bracelet.  The newly christened River Sprite was surprised at finding himself naked in his garden with three equally naked, uninvited, suddenly very friendly near-strangers, but did not feel at all uncomfortable.

If anything, Purr in just a tank top looked better than Purr dressed to ride the bus.  He had the shapely legs and tight buns of a dancer and smooth, almost hairless skin with no tattoos unless there was one under the tie-dye.  He wore his blond hair in a long ponytail.

“Doesn’t River Sprite have a terrific garden?” Chapati asked.  “Ours is nice too, but his is so much nicer.”

“And so much more private,” Purr added.

Then it struck him.  “Can’t the people in the next house see you from their window?”

“I suppose they can, but what of it?” said Broken Lash, a woolly-chested man with pierced nipples, no taller than five-foot five.  He had a squat, stocky build and his head was surrounded by a three-inch halo of dark, curly hair.  “We don’t do anything indecent.”

“But we could here,” Chapati chimed in.

Now River Sprite felt uncomfortable.

“Shame on you, Chapati,” Purr said.  “Look – now you’ve made him blush.”

*  *  *

River Sprite had acquired more than a new name; he became a new man.  He had friends now.  At least one of them was always out in back with him, drinking lemonade and chatting.  Broken Lash was very strong and helped him with the heavy work, and so did Purr, who also had a green thumb, and his vegetables thrived better than ever before, but Chapati mostly just babbled.  He enjoyed their company and did not miss his time alone since he still had his evenings.  When he ran into Purr on the bus they would sit together and talk if there was an empty seat, but then they’d use their real names, and Purr would slow down his pace and they’d walk home together.  It turned out that only two of the cats were theirs, and the friendly one wasn’t one of them.

The only thing that bothered him was that the neighbors might see naked men climbing over his fence every day, so at Chapati’s suggestion Purr and Broken Lash helped him saw through it and put on hinges to make a gate between their two yards towards the bottom of the garden.  Some inner voice warned them to put a latch hook on both sides, but they never used it.

The gate came in handy, because the Faeries had a brick grill in their yard and they started having a barbecue lunch of fish and vegetables together every Saturday and Sunday (the Faeries didn’t eat meat).  They brought the food into River Sprite’s yard and picnicked on a blanket on the grass because he didn’t want their other neighbors to see him in the raw, though with all the comings and goings between their two yards it couldn’t have surprised them that he too went around with it all hanging out.  On the other hand, he’d never felt self-conscious with Chapati and company, just somewhat nonplussed the first time they all came over in their birthday suits and saw him in his.  They were so nonchalant about nudity, as if it was the most natural thing in the world (which it is), and didn’t even scope him out, at least not obviously.  They never made sexual remarks, except for Chapati, and those he soon came to recognize as playful teasing.  He made them infrequently, and they were invariably ambiguous and never off color, like what he’d said on the first day they met.

That is not say that they didn’t talk about sexuality, though they mostly spoke about other things.  When they did, however, they didn’t discuss the subject in physiological terms; it was all about psychology and politics.  The subject usually arose in the context of the Radical Faeries, about whom River Sprite knew next to nothing, so as a rule he just listened.  He had no way of knowing if the three, or perhaps just two of them, were involved with each other sexually, and it seemed impolite to ask since they didn’t volunteer the information.  That he was curious goes without saying.

After lunch they would clear away the picnic things, fold up the blanket, and dance on the lawn to one of the Faeries’ East Asian or South American Indian CDs.  As far back as he could remember, River Sprite had never danced, and certainly not without clothes.  The first time he did they had to drag him into their circle, and he still felt a little silly doing it.  He couldn’t get used to the novel sensation of his penis flapping up and down between his legs.  But it was fun.  As far as he could tell, one just made up the steps as one went along, but maybe they were doing a real dance, or, more exactly, three real dances – no two of them ever did the same thing, except when they’d join hands in a line and try to follow the leader, with varying degrees of success.   River Sprite liked that kind of dance best.  Probably none of them were very good dancers, since the cats always left when they started.  He said something to that effect, but Purr just shrugged.  “When the dancing begins they know the picnic’s over.”

Chapati was the most enthusiastic dancer, which is to say the craziest and most inventive.  You wouldn’t call him the most uninhibited, since none of them had any inhibitions whatever, or none that River Sprite was aware of, and certainly none when it came to dancing.  Chapati, however, was always whirling and leaping and jiggling, and he was the only one who laughed while he danced.  Sometimes he hung a drum over his shoulder and beat time with the music, and he even sang along with the alien melodies that were so hard to follow, his peculiar slant on the tunes rendering them totally unrecognizable.

Broken Lashes, who had the least dancer-like body, was by far the most graceful of the three, perhaps because his penis was the only one that didn’t get in the way.  His cock was by no means small, but it nested in such a thick tangle of hair and rested on such a voluminous ball-sack that it seemed to be cautiously peeping out at the rest of the world while the other three dicks bounced around like cheerleaders at a high school football game.  Purr danced slowly, stepping flat then rising onto the ball of one foot with the free foot at nearly knee height before he stepped down flat on it and raised the other, and so on, over and over without variation, , and he timed his breathing to match each step.  He kept his arms extended to the side at shoulder height the whole time, a hand hanging limply at the end of each.  In this way he managed to display more of his handsome body than the others, though display was probably the furthest thing from his mind.

Early one Saturday morning his three naked friends came and knocked on River Sprite’s back door to call him out for a “color dance”.  Chapati had picked up several sheets of decals the evening before, rainbows and male and female fairies of the Walt Disney Tinkerbell variety.  Each man decorated one of the others.  Chapati applied decals to Purr, who applied some to River Sprite, who applied some to Broken Lash – a challenge because of all his body hair.  Chapati, who already had tattoos, settled for four rainbows, one over each ankle bone.

They didn’t get to dance that morning.  An explosion across the street and several houses down interrupted them before they ever got started.  River Sprite was concentrating on centering a large rainbow between Lash’s shoulder blades so he wouldn’t get hard while Purr held his warm hand over the little girl fairy he had placed about an inch or two from his groin, in the crease between his right leg and his pelvis.  What made it especially exciting (they had touched each other before when they danced) was that Purr’s penis was also stirring, no doubt because Chapati was pressing the biggest of the decals into the area right below his navel – a three-inch male fairy with enormous diaphanous pink wings and dressed only in a suggestively bulging, tan loincloth just a shade darker than the fairy’s skin.

The explosion put an end to both body art and incipient erections.  It wasn’t all that loud for an explosion, but the ground shook, and when they turned in the direction of the noise they saw a huge plume of smoke rising higher and higher into the clear sky.  It must have been visible for miles.

Chapati just about freaked out, but Broken Lash grabbed him by the wrist and held on tight.  “What the hell was that?” he asked.

“Sounds like another meth lab blowing up,” River Sprite told them.  “We had one of those a few blocks from here a year or two ago.  I’ll go see.”

“Is it worth watching?” Purr asked.

“Definitely, if you’ve never seen one before.”

He threw on a pair of slacks and a long-sleeve tee to cover the decals and went out onto his porch.  His friends joined him there soon afterwards, fully clothed.  By then the fire trucks were beginning to arrive.  They were a lot louder than the explosion.  Chapati was in constant motion, running up and down the porch making a cackling sound that expressed God only knows what.  Not excitement, certainly.  Perhaps it was overexcitement.  Finally River Sprite went into the house to get a chair for him and Broken Lash plunked him down in it and held him there.  It kept him still, but it didn’t shut him up.  He went right on cackling, “Lookit lookit lookit. Oh Jesus, lookit.  Lookit lookit.”

The blast had shattered all the windows and flames were shooting out of all of them.  The firemen kept pumping precious water into them and on the neighboring houses to keep the fire from spreading.  Two ambulances sat idly by at the curb.  River Sprite walked across the street to ask the neighbors, but was unable to ascertain if anyone had been inside the house when it blew.  If they had, they were probably incinerated.  It took almost two hours to put out the fire and another hour for the firemen to comb through the charred remains of the structure.  Then they cordoned it off and left one policemen to guard the site.  The smallest pump truck hung around for another half-hour or so, just in case.

Chapati had quieted down at long last.  The pills Broken Lash made him take must have had something to do with that, because he looked happy and totally out of it.  At Purr’s suggestion, his housemates took him home and put him to bed.  River Sprite went out back to lie naked in the sun.  He’d missed both breakfast and lunch, but he didn’t feel particularly hungry.

The police came back that night and raided a house down the street.  River Sprite had been expecting it; it was no secret they sold a lot of crack there.  Compared to the half-dozen or more police cars with their sirens going full blast and the officers screaming through their bullhorns, the morning’s fire trucks had sung lullabies.  They came close to drowning out the barking dogs, screaming women and shrieking getaway cars.  Then the helicopters showed up and drowned out everything else.  There’d been helicopters that afternoon too, from the TV stations, but these were infinitely louder.

River Sprite was standing at his back door to get some air.  It was stifling in the house with the front and side windows closed to block out some of the noise.  He gave up trying to imagine the scene Chapati must have been making, unless the pills were stronger than he thought and he was sleeping through the whole drama.  He saw a few shadows hurry furtively through his yard and up over the back fence.  He went back in the house and locked the door just to be safe.  There might be others.

Shortly after, he heard a knocking on the back door, scarcely audible over the racket in the street, so it might have been going on for a minute or so.  He peered out and saw Purr holding on to a very jumpy Chapati.

“Can we leave him with you for a couple of hours?  He’s freaking us out.”

“What makes you think he won’t freak me out?”

“He’s always calmer when he’s around you.”

“Is he?  I hadn’t noticed.”

“Besides, from what you’ve told us you must be used to scenes like this.  He’s picking up on our vibes too.”

“I’ll put on some Mozart.  Better yet, a Haydn string quartet.”

“Good idea.”

“Would it help to mix us up a couple of margaritas?  Or will that only make him worse?”

“Better, much better.  Make it a pitcher.  An extra large pitcher.”

By his third margarita Chapati had mellowed out considerably.  “Oh, these threads!” he muttered.  “I’ve never worn clothes around you before.  And it’s so fucking warm in here.”

“Keep them on.  The cops haven’t left yet.  Don’t you hear them?”

“Whatever you say, bro.  It’s your house.”

*  *  *

The damage was not irreparable – some bean stakes knocked over, one tomato plant broken, and the radishes trampled, but they were ready for digging up anyway.  River Sprite woke very late, babysitting Chapati having kept him up till the wee hours of the morning, long after the brouhaha in the streets had died down.  He made himself a light breakfast, then went outside and set things back in order as best he could, turned on the sprinkler, and went back into the house.  The Faeries stayed inside that day as well, or perhaps they had gone off somewhere.  It would not have surprised him to learn that the two calmer Faeries were too busy medicating Chapati to make an appearance, or else they had put a straitjacket on him and stuffed a sock in his mouth and were finally getting a bit of shut-eye.  He saw neither hide nor hair of them.  Except to turn off the sprinkler, he didn’t come back out till late afternoon to weed his vegetables.

While he was weeding, Purr opened the gate and hurried in carrying a large Ziploc bag.  Unexpectedly, he had bathing trunks on.  River Sprite noticed them immediately.  Would he have noticed as quickly if he’d been wearing shoes or a hat?

Purr turned and pulled himself up the gate and reached down to fasten the latch, then he fastened the one on River Sprite’s side of the fence.  “You’d better put something on,” he said.  “The cops have cordoned off the block and are going door to door looking for drugs.”

“Is that legal?”

“Of course not, but it’s not stopping them.  God only knows why.  If they find anything it won’t hold up in court.”

If they find anything?”

“Oh, they’ll find plenty, all right.  My guess is they have a warrant for a couple of houses and peek in through the door when they knock on the others to find some lame excuse to phone in for another warrant or else just barge right in.”

“The bastards.”

“They might not search our place, but you never know.  Maybe they’ll find some of our posters suspicious, or maybe they’ll see our collection of glass pipes.”

“Hide them somewhere.”

“Then they’ll see a big empty cabinet and wonder about that.  Would you mind digging up a potato plant and burying our stash underneath?  You dress much more respectably when you dress and you have short hair.  And you’re always so low key.  They probably won’t even ask to search your house, much less tramp around in back and ransack your garden.  You don’t have any of your own, do you?”

A pointless question.  River Sprite quickly buried the bag.  “You’re an angel,” Purr said, and gave him a kiss on the lips.  They held onto it and tightened their grip around each other; their mouths opened and their tongues touched.  Each could feel his own penis stir and swell, and the other’s penis stiffening against him.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for ages,” Purr said when they pulled apart.  “Have you?”

“I hadn’t thought about it, but yes, I think I have, unconsciously.  I must have, because I can tell my body did just now.”

They had all four spoken frankly about their bodies before, but not as a being with desires, nor had he and Purr ever discussed their bodies alone together.  Still, River Sprite wondered how he could have remained blind to his lust for so long.  Lust is not exactly a feeling that goes unnoticed.  Was it that he felt it only for Purr, not the others, and that his lack of interest in the others had masked his feelings for Purr, being new to being naked with other naked men.

Purr was in a rush, though.  “Quick.  Hurry up and make yourself respectable.  They’ll be here any minute.  I’ll wait for you out here.  Broken Lash is holding the fort; he knows how to deal with them.  Chapati is off gallivanting somewhere, thank God.  He’s been a nervous wreck since the explosion yesterday morning.  Anything that sounds like the squeal of tires, no matter how quiet, or the sound of an engine turning over and he goes all to pieces.”

The policemen were polite.  They took one look at the tidy living room with loads of books on the shelves, handmade pottery and Impressionist prints, and at his clean jeans and short-sleeve shirt and didn’t even ask to come in.

River Sprite went back out to the garden where Purr was waiting for him.

“Well?”

“They’re gone.”

“That was quick.”

River Sprite felt bolder than ever and took the initiative, something he’d never done before, but he had never wanted anyone this much before either.  He went up to Purr and kissed him again, his hand rubbing his cock and balls through his swim trunks.  “Should I get the beach towel and spread it out here or should we go inside?”

“Let’s go inside.  The cops could come back or go nosing over the fence on the other side.”

“They won’t see anything.  The garage is in the way.”

“And there’s no reason for Broken Lash to know… yet.”

So they went inside.

“I’ve seen you undressed,” Purr said, “but I’ve never undressed you.  I want to now.”

“Me too.  I want to undress you and I want to be undressed by you.  And more.”

They had indeed by now seen more of each other naked than with so much as a glove on and they’d often casually touched, probably kissed too, but this mutual exploration of one another’s body, no holds – or holes, for that matter – barred, touching to give pleasure and with more than just their hands, giving in to their suppressed desires, each entirely wrapped up in the other, was a revelation.

Their kisses till then – if they had kissed – had been little more than a peck on the lips.  A peck on the lips does not give one the taste of another person’s skin.  Just as we all have our own individual smell and if you know someone you recognize his or her presence in the darkest room, every person’s skin has a taste all its own, a taste that runs the gamut from sweet to sour to salt to spicy depending on what part of his body you put your mouth to – the folds of an ear, the neck just below the chin, armpits, navel, crotch, the bend of the knee, a toe – but the underlying taste undeniably belongs to that person; there is no mistaking it.  You recognize your lover’s individuality in everything his body secretes – in his sweat, his saliva, his tears, his blood, his semen.  Perhaps this is why when two people who have desired each other at long last come together, they seem to devour one another.  Each seeks to know his new lover at the most instinctive physical level, the way a baby discovers its world.

They feasted with their eyes too.  No part was too insignificant to examine minutely, and they saw things, beautiful things, that had gone unnoticed over the three or four months they had kept company with one another in casual, day-to-day nudity.  And since their nakedness was not new to them, they looked with loving interest on their whole bodies, not just that area which most men normally keep covered with boxers or a Speedo.  Except for the shape, size and hardness of their erections, they had seen it all before.  They just hadn’t looked, really looked, looked closely.

What they looked at and tasted they also felt with their hands – groped, squeezed, caressed – and the nerve endings that lay close to the surface of any patch of skin capable of recognizing contour, warmth or texture joined in to learn everything about this wonderful new man who had come their way, to discover how firm or yielding his every muscle, how soft or moist or dry every fold and crevice, how hard every bone.  For Purr, for River Sprite, the thrill of being touched by the other was incandescent, wherever he touched him and whatever he used for touching, but the joy of touching, tasting, looking at him surpassed it beyond measure.

They lay in each other’s arms, River Sprite so blissfully happy he could cry.  “I’m glad we got to do this,” Purr whispered.

River Sprite felt let down, cheated.  Was this Purr’s way of telling him that it was going to be a one-time fling?  “We’ll do it again, won’t we?” he asked.

“Lots and lots of times, I hope.  Many, many more times; not just ‘again’.  We still have about six months.”

River Sprite gave him a questioning look.  “Six months till when?”

“We’ll have to find another place when our lease runs out.  The past two days have left Chapati positively frazzled.  Living with Chapati is a saga full of surprises, most of them fairly agreeable, but living with a frazzled Chapati is impossible.”

“He’ll get over it.”

“I’ve never known Chapati to get over anything.  There’s no way we can stay here.”

“But you’ll still come visit, I hope.”

Purr kissed his index finger, laid it on River Sprite’s lips, and kept it there.  “Let’s keep this a secret, shall we?  Until we’re absolutely sure.  We won’t tell the others.”

“Is it necessary?”

“No, it’s not necessary.  I’d rather they didn’t know just yet, that’s all, for Chapati’s sake mostly.  He has a special thing for me.”

“A special thing?”

“Special in that Chapati has a thing for just about everybody.  For you too.  You must have noticed.”

“I thought he was just being Chapati.”

“He is just being Chapati.”

Chapati came and rapped on the door that evening.  River Sprite wondered if Purr had already let the cat out of the bag, but Chapati only said, “I need potatoes.”

*  *  *

They made love often, nearly every time Chapati and Broken Lashes were away from home.  There had been no anal penetration the first time.  Neither was prepared for it, and neither had broached the subject.  River Sprite stopped by a pharmacy on his way home from work the next day and bought a three-dozen pack of condoms, and Purr brought thirty-six more when he came over two days later.  From then on anal sex became a regular feature of their lovemaking, if not its defining feature.  Having Purr enter him was for River Sprite the culmination of their union, and Purr felt the same when his lover slid into him.  Whenever one of them was inside the other they clutched each other in wild desperation and their mouths sought each other out.

In the weeks that followed, when either of the others was present River Sprite did his best to look at Purr without giving anything away, but he found it hard to imagine that they hadn’t figured it out yet.  Hiding his feelings was one of the many talents he did not have.  Lying in bed with Purr after making love, he’d ask from time to time if they were still determined to move away, and Purr would kiss his finger and place it on River Sprite’s mouth just as he had the first time and say, “We’re looking for a place.  There’s no way we can stay here any longer than we have to.”

The four of them were sitting outside one afternoon during the second week of September when Chapati asked out of nowhere, “Is there anything going on between you two?”

“What do you think?” Purr answered.

Broken Lash gave them a knowing look.  “Chapati’s not as dumb as he makes out.  He just can’t deal with uncertainty.”

“I know,” said Purr.

“Well… ?” Chapati insisted.

By way of answer Purr turned to River Sprite and said, “The weekend after this coming one is the annual gathering of our chapter of the Radical Faeries.  Will you come with us?  I want you to share my tent.”

“But I’m not a member,” River Sprite protested.

“It doesn’t matter.  We can bring a guest.  Besides, with a name like yours everyone will think you’re a member of a different group, which in a sense you are.  Our sub-group.”

“What about Rainwater?” Broken Lash pointed out.  “We promised him a ride, remember?  His step-daughter needs to use his car that weekend.”

“Oh, we’ll all squeeze in somehow,” Purr assured him.  “C’mon, River Sprite.  Will you?  Will you?”

How could he refuse?  Purr was his sweetheart; he couldn’t deny him anything.

“It’ll be a tight squeeze,” sighed Chapati.

It was a very tight squeeze.  Rainwater was a chubby little man in his middle fifties, of the same height as Broken Lash, but much rounder, with a fresh-scrubbed pink face and completely bald except for a fringe of gray hair over his ears.

River Sprite had expected someone a lot younger, but there were a few other things about Rainwater he hadn’t expected.  “Mr. del Prado!” he gasped.

“Rainwater,” the little round man said firmly.  “So this is the famous River Sprite!  What a surprise!”

“Look at him!  He’s blushing again!” said Chapati, smiling wickedly.

Purr nuzzled his boyfriend’s neck.  “I love it when you blush,” he cooed.  “So you two know each other then?  Out with it!  Don’t keep me in suspense; it’s killing me.  Out with it, before I get jealous.”

“Go ahead, tell them,” Rainwater said.

“He’s my boss,” River Sprite stammered.

“In another venue,” Rainwater corrected him.  “We’re all brother fairies here.  Lucky Purr!  Lucky you!”

Ever since the day Purr had asked him to share his tent, Purr had continued to live with his official housemates by day but would come over at bedtime every night to sleep with him till River Sprite couldn’t imagine falling asleep without his lover’s arms around him.  Chapati had not protested the new arrangements and adjusted to them easily.  Now he sat between Rainwater and Broken Lash in back, coming on to both in gleeful innocence, while Purr drove and River Sprite sat in the passenger seat beside him.

More overt sexual activity went on at the Faerie Gathering than his neighbors’ chaste nudism had led River Sprite to expect.  Only the dancing – it seemed there was always some kind of dance going on – was one hundred percent non-sexual.  Rainwater danced the whole time he was there, and the sweat was always dripping from him when he danced.  It seemed unbelievable that he didn’t lose any weight that weekend, but when River Sprite went back to work on Monday Mr. del Prado’s business suits looked as tight as ever.

Wherever there was no dancing, there was sex, or at least a hint of it.  The morning and evening naked yoga sessions always included some partner work, with a modest (or immodest) amount of genital contact, though as far as River Sprite could tell, the vast majority of the organs stayed flaccid.  On the other hand, their daily massage class featured a goodly amount of penile stimulation, and erections shot up everywhere (so to speak – the ejaculations were few and far between).  There was no organized out-and-out sex per se.  Still, a lot went on, sometimes in groups (with Chapati inevitably in the thick of it), but mostly in couples, about half of whom were always made up of the same partners, like Purr and River Sprite.  The scheduled activities did have some influence on most people’s sex play, however, theirs included, as when everyone went his own way to “wash up” after a two-hour session with edible body paints.

River Sprite had assumed that everyone would spend the weekend naked, and most did, except when it got dark out and before the morning chill burned away.  Then about half got into street clothes and the other half into the most bizarre costumes he had ever seen.  The theme was either primitive or feminine.  Rainwater had brought a different costume for every morning and evening he’d be there.  The dozen or so who did not run around naked for the better part of the day also had costumes, so revealing that they might as well have been naked.

They camped out for three nights.  On their last night, Purr and River Sprite sat face to face in the little tent, their heads touching, as Chapati had sat with him to find his name.

“Have you found a place yet?” River Sprite asked.

“Not yet.  No.”

“But you’re still looking.”

“Yes.”

“It’ll be hard falling asleep without you next to me.”

Purr kissed his ear.  “It’s hard when you fall asleep and I am next to you.”

“I didn’t mean that ‘it’.”

River Sprite signed up, paid his dues, and became an official member of the Radical Faeries before they left.  In the car on the way home he told his boss that he was worried he’d call him Rainwater at work.

“Then don’t say anything to me for a week,” said the man who was soon to turn back into Mr. del Prado.  He thought about it a little more and added, “It may be easier than you think when you see me in a business suit.”

He was absolutely right about that.  Rainwater in a business suit simply wasn’t Rainwater, any more than River Sprite was River Sprite when he sat in his cubicle.  They didn’t exchange so much as a wink for all of October, and it was already late November before Mr. del Prado made any reference, however indirect, to the time they’d spent at the gathering.  He’d heard something through the Radical Faerie grapevine, and he was bursting to know if it was true, but he phrased his question so discreetly that at first River Sprite had no idea what he was talking about.

“Is it true, what I heard about Mr. Atkins?”

Who the hell was Mr. Atkins?  Then it hit him: Purr, the one he called Eddie when they were on the bus.

Purr had showed up at bedtime a couple of evenings before and said, “I have to speak to you.  Put something on and let’s sit down in the kitchen.”  (Purr got dressed to walk the few steps over to his house now that summer was over.)

He thought he knew what it was about.  His neighbors’ lease was due to expire at the end of the year.  “Why the kitchen?” he asked as he slipped on a pair of shorts.  “Can’t we talk in bed?  We always talk in bed.”

“This is serious.  You might be prejudiced talking about it in bed.”

“Okay, what is it?”

“We found a place, a good place…”

“Is it far?”

“Thirty miles from here at least.”  River Sprite’s face fell.  “But stop interrupting me.  That’s not what I wanted to talk about.  You see, it’s only big enough for two.  Chapati and Lash have put a hold on it, but first we had to be sure – I wanted to be sure – that you were okay with my moving in with you for keeps.  I’d only leave them to live with you.”

“I can’t begin to tell you how often I thought of suggesting that myself, but I didn’t dare.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Because you sounded so set on moving.  You made it sound inevitable.  And I didn’t want to break up your relationship with the others.  You’ve lived together for how long now?”

“Going on five years.  But you already have, in a sense.  Not broken us up so much as altered it, but you’ve altered it profoundly.  So what difference can it make?”

“I still think you had to take the first step.  Because of Chapati and Broken Lashes.  You’re sure they’re okay with this?”

“Okay or resigned.  Lash insisted we also look at two-man apartments from the beginning, and Chapati’s not so dumb he doesn’t know what that meant.”

“Chapati’s not dumb at all.  He’s just flighty.  I’ll miss them both.  And how long will we be together?”

“Forever, I hope.  So it’s agreed then?”

“You mean you couldn’t tell?  Shall I put the champagne on ice?”

“Do you have any?”

“Yes, the bottle I bought for our goodbye night.”

*  *  *

Purr moved in at the beginning of December.  Chapati and Broken Lashes had to be entirely moved out and have the place spic and span by the end of the month, and their new place wouldn’t be available till the first, so they gradually moved their stuff next door until it looked like River Sprite’s bungalow had turned into a warehouse full of crates and cartons.  They replaced the section of backyard fence where the gate had been and had to come around the front to visit, which required a few extra steps, punching in a code to open the grille, and clothing, but it was too cold for outdoor nudism anyway.  They stripped down as soon as they were in the house, which is quickly done when all you have on are shoes, your jeans and a jacket, and since only they knew the code River Sprite didn’t have to cover up to open the door.  They were so used to one another that if one of them was naked and the others were dressed, the three wearing clothes felt self-conscious and out of place.  As Chapati had said in reproach when Purr and River Sprite finally owned up to being a couple, “Being yourself is what being a Radical Faerie is all about.”

For the last three nights, Chapati and Lash made little nests for themselves in the living room while all four spent the day mopping and scouring, and that’s where they slept, and they got to listen to River Sprite’s and Purr’s sex noises for the first time.  They were discreet and said nothing about it until drink loosened Lash’s tongue on New Year’s Eve.

The U-Haul sat in the driveway, waiting to be loaded in the morning.  You’d have to be an idiot to leave a full van out overnight in that neighborhood.  The Faeries sat naked on the floor among the stacked boxes sipping flutes of champagne, River Spite ensconced between Purr’s legs and leaning back against him.  They’d made toast after toast and were all more than a little buzzed.  Broken Lash popped the third cork and stood up to pour for the others.  The popping of the cork must have suggested popping the question, because when Purr and River Sprite held out their glasses, he came out with it: “Chapati and I weren’t sure you two had made the right decision till we got to hear you at it.  Now we know.”

“You heard us?” said River Sprite.  It had been months since he’d blushed in front of his friends, but he did now.

“We tried not to listen,” Chapati said, “but how could we help it?  Both of you make more noise than that drug bust.  And two nights in a row, no less!”

“I bet you anything they’re going to make it three,” Lash said.

“I suppose it would be tacky to ask which of you was making all those lovely noises.”

Purr and River Sprite exchanged a meaningful look and a smile.  Lash answered for them.  “Both.  Couldn’t you tell?  That’s one of the things that makes them so right for each other.”

Chapati nodded gravely. “Those two were so involved with each other I bet they didn’t even hear me beating off.”

I heard you,” Broken Lash told him.

“You did?  And you pretended not to?  Why didn’t you come over and help out?”

“Need you ask?  It’s time to set boundaries.  We’re going to be living together from now on, just the two of us.”

“So are we,” cooed Purr, cupping his hands around his lover’s genitals.

“Naughty man!” Broken Lash chided.

“Who?  Me?”

“Now you want to get your lover hard to show him off and make us jealous.”

“That’s not why,” River Sprite explained.  “He just doesn’t want to be the only one with a stiffy.  I’ve been feeling it grow against my back ever since Chapati said something about beating off.  I’m not so sure I can trust this guy any more.”

“Not fair!” Chapati protested.

“No hidden assets!”  Lash agreed.

River Sprite stood up, already pretty hard himself, and let them see Purr’s full erection.  The other two dicks were also beginning to stir.

“Just the way I remembered it!  Don’t you agree, Lash?”

“What have you been keeping from me?” River Sprite asked his partner.

“Only very ancient history.”

“Can we make it a foursome in honor of our going away?” Chapati asked.

“On the night before their wedding?”  Lash did his best to sound scandalized.

“We could make it their stag party.”

“You, Chapati, are the last person I’d expect to find at a stag party.”

Purr and River Sprite laughed, and Purr said, “Can you imagine Chapati jumping out of a cake at a stag party?”

“The cake!” Broken Lash cried.  “I forgot all about it!  It’s on the front seat of the U-Haul.”  He hurriedly pulled on his jeans and ran to get it.  It was a traditional two-tiered wedding cake except for the two little naked men on top.  Chapati brought out a fourth bottle of champagne and got a knife, which the happy couple held in their joined right hands.

“Before you cut the cake, you two have to make a special toast to each other,” Lash told them, and he emptied the last of the third bottle into their flutes.

“What special things will you say to each other?” asked Chapati.  “Please make it romantic.  I could use a good cry.”

“We’ll make a silent toast,” said River Sprite, taking Purr’s penis and dipping it into his champagne.  Then Purr dipped River Sprite’s in his.  They were both just engorged enough for them to hang to the bottom of the flutes.  They exchanged the kind of kiss a couple does at their wedding, then lowered the flutes, lifted them to their mouths, and drained them.

“That’s so much more romantic than drinking from each other’s glass,” Chapati sniffled.

“But they haven’t swallowed the last drops,” Broken Lash said.

They’d gone too far already to be embarrassed.  Each in turn got on his knees and took his lover’s cock in his mouth to wash off the champagne that clung to it.

Chapati popped the fourth cork and said, “That was the loveliest, lovingest, most meaningful wedding toast ever,” his penis harder than those that had just come out of a mouth.  “Now we’ll all do it.”

“That was their toast,” remonstrated Broken Lash.

“But you’re up for it too.”

Lash certainly was, but he said, “It’s still their toast.”

“Then I get to suck off the figurines.”

So River Sprite and Purr cut the cake, and they all had more champagne, and Chapati licked the icing from the little naked men.  “No foursome?” he asked again.

The others shook their heads in unison.  Purr took River Sprite by the hand, and the two said good night and walked off toward the bedroom.

Chapati made one last attempt.  “Don’t we at least get a show?”

“It will have to be a radio show,” Purr said.

“Then we’ll stand outside your door and give you a shivaree when the noises start.”

“Don’t you dare distract us,” Purr said, closing the door behind them.

“Don’t they make a beautiful couple?” Chapati asked.  “I love them to pieces.”

“They’re the most beautiful couple I know.”

“Are you jealous?”

“How could I be jealous?  They’re my best friends.  It gives me hope that someday we’ll find someone to hook up with too.”

“But not each other.”

“No.  The sex was good when we fooled around,” Lash agreed, “but we were just playing.  It was a game, a fun game, but those two are for real.  Forever is for real.”

“Who would ever think I was for real?  I’m too flighty.”

“So why is it you always act flighty?  Are you afraid of getting serious with someone?”

Chapati thought about it and said, “No, I really am like that, and being a Radical Faerie is all about being yourself, isn’t it?”

# #

{Originally published in e-book form by Dreamspinner Press in April, 2010, as part of their Nap-Size Dreams series.)

© 2007 by Anel Viz. All rights reserved.

One Response to There are Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden

  1. Pingback: Fairies | wildeoats

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