Mood: Bored and hungry

Music: David Bowie - Starman

If you ever have a splinter stuck in the palm of your hand, whatever you do don't forget about it and wank.

The littlest cuts do indeed hurt the worst.

On another note, Marina from The Totally-Fucked Up Framing Place rang today to pass on a lead. Some Yank rang her earlier today to arrange an appointment, but Marina's too 'busy' to take on anymore work. In other words, she doesn't want to waste her time speaking to someone who'll probably decide things are better, cheaper, and easier to get from Mexico and won't end up buying anything. Hmph. Instead, I can waste my time speaking to someone who'll probably decide things are better, cheaper and easier to procure from Mexico.

Although if I actually do pick up any work, Marina will take 20 commission. Bitch. If she didn't send so much work my way, I'd totally tell her where to shove it. Totally.

Anyway, I rang this guy and arranged to show him my stuff. So now I must sift through my mess of a bedroom and find something to wear to the meeting. Something that will make me look like the sort of poof/metrosexual that I'd normally try and run over accidentally-on-purpose.

Kurt

The roads in Brisbane's central business district cross one another haphazardly, confusing the crap out of me with bus lanes, ten million merges and a fuckload of one way streets.

I'm more than unimpressed by the time I finally park in Macarthur Central and make my way to the Hilton. I have with me my portfolio and a handful of physical samples. Not that I expect anything to come of this, but still, it's good to be prepared. And it's hardly as though I had anything pressing to do this Wednesday morning.

My only 'proper' job is doing the Friday morning dawn shift at a bakery down the road. The remainder of my time is spent either designing frames, or designing and constructing furniture. I sell some - although not a lot - of my stuff directly to the public, but ninety percent of my work is commissions from a dozen or so store owners around Brisbane. It's not bad money, and it saves me from the nine to five, Monday to Friday, grind.

Besides, I love carpentry, and it's one of those careers where my lack of formal education hasn't hampered my efforts to earn more than minimum wage. I quit school at fourteen, being one of those people who somehow slipped through the cracks of the educational system, and struggled to read and write two years into my teens. It wasn't until after I quit school that my Nan discovered my shameful secret. Thankfully, instead of freaking out, she began to tutor me. A year later I started an apprenticeship, which I completed in a relatively quick three years. Had one of my colleagues not fallen forty feet to his death in a workplace accident, I'd probably have stuck with my original employers. I know it's chickenshit, but I've been unable to visit a construction site, let alone work on one, since Glen's death.

I finish chewing my Mintie and run my tongue over my teeth, feeling for the imperfections that I already know exist. I wonder to myself whether the fact that one of my front teeth slightly overlaps the other will disgust the American. Everyone knows - or thinks, at least - they're the leaders in dental care.

The concierge at the hotel directs me upstairs, and I find myself sitting in an armchair at the right place, at the right time, wondering where 'Travis' is. The Hilton isn't exactly the place where I'd consider myself most relaxed. Amidst businessmen and women in flawless black suits, I'm ill at ease, despite the fact that in my current outfit I look a lot more well off than I actually am. I feel like an imposter. I want to explain, 'look, this isn't me, this is just the stupid get-up I wear when I want money'.

'Kurt Willis?'

My gaze swivels to the left and settles on Travis, the man who may or may not contract my services. He's certainly not what I expected. For starters, he's younger than I imagined he would be; maybe twenty-three or twenty-four years old. Twenty-five, tops. And he's neither tall nor overweight; in fact, he's the exact opposite, short and slender of build. His brown hair has a slight wave to it and his bright green eyes fix on my grey ones with a mixture of curiosity, eagnerness and happiness.

I understand immediately that he's here not so much for business as he is for the love of art. He's too excited to be here for the sole sake of driving a bargain. Not that this means I'm stupid enough to assume I can rip him off. I wouldn't rip him off anyway, because in the long term, bad business etiquette is damaging, but even if I were inclined, it wouldn't be possible to fool Travis. He'd simply back out of any negotiations if he felt his future business partner wasn't as passionate about their art as he is.

'I'm sorry I'm late,' he apologises, flushing slightly. 'I went for a walk and ended up getting myself lost.'

'Even the natives have been known to do that,' I grin. 'Did you have any samples of the work you want framed? Any ideas or suggestions?'

'I've got photos and one picture, but I can't leave the picture with you,' he replies, flushing redder. 'And, uh, they're in my room. Do you mind waiting while I collect them?'

I shrug. 'I'll come with you. I hate these chairs.'

He hesitates, and I figure he's just another overly-uptight American who's worried about being robbed, raped, and left for dead.

'I'll wait,' I correct myself, thanking heavens that this isn't some uptight meeting. I can only imagine the reaction of an arrogant businessman had I offered to follow them to their room.

'No, no, that's not a problem,' Travis corrects me. 'I just wasn't aware that was business practice here.'

'It isn't. I'm just a wanker,' I grin, grabbing my stuff and following him to the lifts.

The expression on his face is priceless. 'Well, you don't look very dangerous,' he remarks diplomatically. 'And if you tried anything, I could always shoot you.'

'Or hit me with your handbag,' I offer sardonically.

He paused in front of the lift that has just arrived. 'Is it that obvious?'

'Takes one to know one.'

He half-smiles shyly, dark lashes falling over his bright eyes as he glances away. I wonder about his boyfriend. Travis looks the type to have a slightly older, more mature partner who is professionally employed and treats his partner like a prince. It isn't hard to visualise the two of them at a posh dinner party. Travis' partner would be talking business with other executives, in between periodically smiling fondly at his lover. Travis, meanwhile, would be holding a small crowd captive with passionate, funny, stories about his job.

'Isn't your boyfriend gonna be pissed when he finds out you let a stranger into your room?' I ask, half not wanting to cause a fight between Travis and his lover, and half-curious as to whether the boyfriend is, in fact, still in their room.

'I don't have a boyfriend.' He sounds surprised that I have made that assumption. 'And even if I did, it's my choice.'

'Everyone has a right to their own stupidity,' I agree, following him out of the lift and into the cream-carpeted hallway. No boyfriend? Why the fuck not? He's attractive, cultured, and he doesn't have a stick up his ass. Nor, it seems, did he have a cock up his ass. Well, if he was willing, I could always fix the latter.

'You're sounding less and less reputable,' Travis laughs. 'Dare I ask what you're planning?'

I can hardly say 'A good hard fuck with an art dealer who happens to have a sexy accent', even though that's kind of what I'm thinking. Instead, I settle for a smile and an eyebrow raised teasingly.

He smiles back as he pauses in front of a door and retrieves the security card from his pocket. Then he opens the door and gestures for me to come in. I walk into a one-bedroom apartment room and place my portfolio and samples on the coffee table. I can guess by the size of the room, whoever's paying his bills is more interested in his comfort than saving money. Travis is obviously important to his employer, which means that Marina is a complete twit for passing off the lead.

'Take a seat,' he gestures to the couch. 'I'll get the work.'

I sit and watch as he retrieves a larger, art folder from the top of a work desk. He places it on the coffee table, and we both re-arrange our respective portfolio's to 'make room' for one another. I catch sight of his profile as he carefully retrieves digital camera prints, polaroids, and a small painting, maybe ten by ten centimetres, from the protective plastic sheaths. He has a beautiful face, and he's concentrating intently on the work, no doubt visualising the frames he wants - or frames he thinks he wants - for the paintings. He pauses only to remove his dark suit jacket.

I, unthinkingly, remove my more casual, yet far more 'fashionable', jacket and throw it carelessly over the arm of the couch. Travis half-glances over and is about to return his attention to his artwork when he suddenly stops and stares at my right arm before abruptly looking away.

'Dog bite,' I explain. 'When I was thirteen.'

'I'm sorry.'

I shrug. 'It's fine. The dog's dead and I'm alive.'

Travis nods and returns to sorting the pictures, but I can tell he's a little uncomfortable now that he's been caught staring. I honestly don't give a damn either way. The only reason I normally keep my arm covered during business is because I don't like distracting potential clients. My arm isn't exactly the prettiest thing in the world; my mother was so furious with me at the time of the attack she didn't bother taking me to the doctor, and thus the scarring is pretty bad.

How it is I didn't bleed to death, or suffer any permanent damage is truly one of life's small miracles. When Nan - who is not really my 'Nan' at all, but a woman who babysat me two or three times before my mother dumped me on her doorstep the day after the attack, proclaiming that if she 'liked the damn bastard so much, she could keep him' - took me to the emergency room, the doctor was horrified.

Whilst at the hospital, Nan and the surgeon who checked for signs of permanent damage gently extracted from me the story of the attack. There wasn't much to tell; I was with my mother and her new partner, Craig, at one of Craig's mates' house. I was sent to the backyard to 'play'. In other words, not bother them whilst they got high. Nobody told me not to try and play with the dog that was chained up in the backyard. I screamed blue murder when the thing latched onto my arm after I tried to pat it.

'Well, uh, I'm ready when you are,' Travis remarks, keeping his eyes locked on mine.

'Okay,' I agree, opening my portfolio.

I show him the base varieties; woods, plastics, metals, you name it. I may be a carpenter, but even I won't say wood always works best. Travis slowly stops worrying about staring at my arm, and his face lights up as he tries to express what he's trying to achieve. I allow him to lead the way. All I need to do is listen to him talk, try and understand what he wants, give suggestions, and then create the frames.

'So you can do all this?' he asks excitedly as I finish taking notes.

'Sure. I'll need to go and buy some of the materials, but if you like, I can drop in on Friday afternoon with the samples. Will Friday be too late? When are you planning on leaving Australia?'

'Friday's fine,' he replies quickly. 'I won't be leaving for a while yet. I'm kind of...scouting around.'

'In Brisbane?'

'Is there a problem with Brisbane?'

'No, no,' I reply, not wanting to give an inch to those bastard Newsouthwelshmen. 'Brisbane's great. Have you been doing much sightseeing?'

He shakes his head. 'No. I have a lot of brochures, but no idea where to start.'

'I could show you around, if you want. No obligation, seriously. I don't need the money, so consider it a...friendly service.' Even as I speak, I'm wondering where the bloody hell my words are coming from. I'm not generally this friendly to strangers and here I am offering to be a tour guide.

'I, uh...I...'

'Don't want to risk getting lost?'

'Don't want you to feel you need to show me around,' he corrects.

'I just told you that's not the case,' I remind him. How can he not be worried about getting lost? I'm worried about him getting lost. Or in trouble. The only people Australians seem to murder are non-Australians, and Travis is blatantly non-Australian. Besides, what if he goes to the beach and gets caught in a rip? And will he know where to go if he needs medical help?

'Well...okay,' he agrees reluctantly. 'Thank-you.'

'Not a problem. I don't mind doing another tour of the theme parks and shit. How about we go to Surfers on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday, uh, maybe...what did you want to see?'

'I don't know. I don't mind. Where do you want to go?'

'I live here. Nothing's going to run away,' I tease. 'You pick.'

It takes twenty minutes of persuasion before we settle on leaving Saturday 'open'. I actually have to outright tell him that by arguing he's being more than of a pest than he would be by just giving me an idea of what he wants to do. Jesus. I thought Americans were supposed to be arrogant and pushy, but Travis is anything but. He's so worried that I don't really want to take him out it's almost funny. Almost.

'So I'll see you Friday at 2pm,' I confirm, picking up my portfolio, but leaving several samples and pictures with him. 'Should we meet at the same spot?'

He nods. 'That would be easiest. I'm not sure how the security works here and it might be easiest if we meet up and then I take you to my room.'

I nod in understanding before heading to the door. I catch the lift down to the ground floor, and politely shake my head to the doorman's query as to whether or not I need a taxi.

It isn't until I'm out in the bright sunlight, walking to my car, that I take stock of what I've just arranged. I've arranged to spend Friday afternoon and Saturday sightseeing with an American I don't know from a block of wood.

I can do my work - and I've got a fair bit of it to do - around the outing. This means I'm going to be flat out until Friday, preparing myself for the day and a half off, but the huge workload isn't what's really bothering me.

I'm concerned that maybe I misinterpreted Travis' desires. What if he doesn't want to be lugged around to run of the mill tourist spots in a '78 Kingswood? It's hardly the most exciting way to spend a weekend. Besides, he no doubt has a lot of work to do while in Brisbane. Christ. I honestly don't know what I've just done. I can only hope I haven't pissed him off.

I drive home, confused and worried.

Half an hour later I'm home. Nan and I live at the back of Archerfield, in a white, two story, besser block house set on five acres of mostly uncleared land. At the back of the house is my workshop, a corrugated iron affair that was built two years ago with the assistance of some of my mates and the husbands of Nan's friends. It's not a great part of town, but nor is it dangerous or unsafe. It isn't, however, anything to be shown off to a stranger. Nan and I are not people you show to a tourist.

Nan's at the factory where she works, and I have the house to myself for another four hours. I lug my portfolio inside, patting our two Boxers, Kostys and Evander, on the way in. They follow me upstairs to my bedroom, hoping to be let into my room. Both of them sleep at the foot of my King Size bed at night, but I don't let them into my room during the day. If I'm not in the bed with them, they'll lie on the pillows, and I don't appreciate lying in their drool come night.

'Don't even think about it,' I warn, pushing them out as I slip into my bedroom. Admittedly, my room's kind of a mess. There's stuff everywhere; tools, invoice books, clothes, books, carvings, and half empty water glasses. I prop my portfolio against a wall and, with a sigh, kick off my shoes and clothing, as well as my underwear. I realise that I've left my jacket in Travis' room, and I also realise that I don't give a damn. There was nothing important in it, just a few minties in one of the inside pockets.

Naked, I no longer feel like an imposter. I shucked away the facade and pretence of wealth when I shucked off my expensive, fashionable clothes and left them lying in the middle of the floor.

I sit on the edge of my unmade bed and inspect my body. I'm taller than Travis, by about six inches, and my build is slightly more solid. There's dark hair on my legs, and a thin trail on my stomach, leading downwards to a thicker, darker, patch. My stuff is stock standard; I've seen enough men naked to know what's 'normal', and there's nothing interesting about what I've got.

In the last few months, I've noticed the first few strands of chest hair and I'm still not quite sure what to do about it, whether to rip the hairs out, or leave them. I've been with both smooth and hairy men, and I wasn't fussed either way. I guess the decision will end up being dependent on the personal preferences of lovers.

My tattooes - and I have six of them - are distributed over my body. There's a dragon on my right calf, a Celtic pattern around my right bicep, the Superman symbol on my left, another dragon on my left shoulderblade, and a wizard on the right. The last - and my personal favourite - is the word 'Bottom' stamped on my butt. Not that I prefer bottoming in the sexual sense, but I found it amusing to have bottom written on my bottom and...well, I never lie and tell anyone I have a decent sense of humour. Stupid things amuse me.

I pierced my nipples, ears and belly-button at sixteen, but my tongue was professionally pierced two days after my eighteenth birthday. It did it at Erik, my boyfriend of the time's, request. He wanted better oral. Truthfully, for the first few months after it was done, I gave terrible oral. I kept snagging his foreskin, ripping my tongue, and having the stud fall out at inopportune moments. I was amused by the mishaps, but Erik wasn't, and left the relationship. I didn't particularly mind.

I absently stroke my now erect cock as I ponder what Travis looks like naked, and how great my chances of seducing him actually are. I would suggest 'slim to nil'. He certainly didn't giving me any lustful stares; I would have noticed that.

Nontheless, blood pulses through my groin as the mental image of naked Travis flits through my mind. I grip myself and slowly start to jerk off, before common sense gets the best of me and I reluctantly stop. If I wank then I'll get drowsy, and if I get drowsy, I'll sleep. If I sleep, I won't get any work done today, and if I don't finish at least two of my orders this afternoon, I'll fall behind. Plus, I still need to go and buy the materials I need for Travis' frames.

Resigned to the fact that orgasm won't be forthcoming, I dress myself, ignoring my erection. It's clearly noticeable through the denim of my jeans, but it'll be long gone before I come face to face with another person.

I'm about to walk out the door when I grab a condom and shove it in my jeans pocket. Fuck it, if I get through a big enough chunk of work, I'll jerk off in the workshop.

The thought of cumming in my workplace never fails to get my blood racing.