Market Value

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Market Value

A tall, pale man shuts the door of the little closet safe where his cellphone vibrates to unanswered calls, and moves away, smiling. The man gathers the clothes from yesterday’s big meeting – an oxford shirt and brown slacks, and dumps them over his safe. Deciding the heap looks unnatural; the man fetches a pair of fine leather shoes from the bathroom floor, and throws them on top for good measure.

            Now that’s a mess I can take pride in.

But this is a lie and he knows it. The rest of the closet, thanks to the nana who comes on Tuesdays and Fridays from the outskirts of Santiago, remains a harmony of pressed shirtsleeves, neat sweaters, and fancy leather shoes. Camouflaged within the closet rests an open blue box with a handsome man’s watch that glitters in the light like a patiently watching eye.

The man takes out different things to wear today: tee shirt, jeans, sneakers – a second cell phone. “Good clothes,” he says while remembering a day long ago when he had no money for fun clothes or any clothes – when he gave away his last pesos to an old friend who only laughed at his poverty, his rags. Now the friend is long gone, a vanished shadow of a buried past.

Never again.

The closet slides shut without a sound.

Moments later in the mirrored elevator, where burning lights give no chance for flaws to hide, the man takes the measure of himself with methodical honesty. He sees a balding man with some wrinkles who looks 32 or 33 but is in fact only 25. His body is lean, hard, and tall. The combination of age and fitness projects a calculated air of discipline, trustworthiness, and responsibility. This is helpful in Chile. Here in this new country he is always someone’s fantasy – a rich overseas gringo, an investor with white skin and a big smile. No one needs to know more.

In the private car park the man’s second cell phone rings once, then quiets. A number flashes on the screen. LLAMADA PERDIDA.

He texts back: “Me pinchai?”

A text: “Oye, como estay? vai a llegar?”

He responds: “Ya voy.”

$$$$$$$

On the toll highway, a midnight-black Renault reflects the light from streetlamps lit at twilight, scattering their light along the oily black surface of the road where colours form, then vanish. Night falls quickly, and soon the starless sky is completely black. Only the Renault’s broad yellow headlights provide evidence that the car is there at all – that it moves between dark spaces. Once arrived at the outskirts of Santiago between faceless warehouses and dingy concrete slaps thrown down like unwanted toys, the Renault rumbles and purrs alone over pock-marked asphalt and discarded newspapers. A cold wind blows from the mountains.

In the distance, three bums crowd a metal can with a fire, warming themselves. Getting closer the man sees the bums are just young men, teenagers. He rolls down the window.

“Hola, buenas.”

A skinny guy from the group looks over and moves towards the car door, long dark curls spilling over his face.

“Wenas.” He responds.

“Dónde está el Fáiser?”

The skinny man looks away. “No lo veo hace raato.”

There is a silence, but within seconds a shadow emerges from the side of the shapeless buildings and move towards the car.

Skinny speaks up: “Ah… Ahí está po, aquí viene el Fáiser.”

Fáiser gets into the car without a word and both of them take off as the moon rises and little pinprick stars begin to make themselves known, now unobscured by raggedy clouds.

Fáiser speaks first: “Evan, you look thin. Are you ok?”

“I’ve been busy, very busy… and stressed,”

“Maybe you should relax then,” says Faizer placing a hand between Evan’s thighs, “maybe you should call more.”

“I don’t always have the time,” Evan responds, looking away from the hand, “You’re quick. Is that why they call you Phyzer?”

Faizer laughed. “Yeah. They called me Viagra at first. But Faiser sounds better.”

“Sounds German,” they said at once.

Chile knows its fantasies.

            Then the pleasure took over, and Evan drove in circles, not trying to get anywhere but simply hoping not to crash. The big palms on Alameda swayed huge and out of order against the chill winds.

Evan placed his hand over back of Faizer’s head when he was almost done – his hair was black and sticky with gel, his mouth hot. Pulling him up gently his face was revealed in the faint glow of crude yellow streetlamps, open apartment windows, dingy neon signs, and the distant but insistent light of the stars and moon above, and he was beautiful – golden, pale, delicate, fine, spotless, thin, a piece of china, captivating. Evan kissed him even though Faizer’s mouth was still sloppy, and said, “Come home with me.”

“Sure.”

$$$$$$

In the apartment there was already an envelope with Faizer’s name on it written in red marker resting face up on the kitchenette table. Gringos could be strange like that.

“Here, take this,” said Evan, handing it over.

Silently, Faizer opened the envelope, and counted money as Evan asked a question: “do you always want to do this?”

No thought Faizer, but that is something he would never say to a client. He’d been asked rude questions like this a thousand times, but answering rude questions was better than being forced to listen to the typical problems of rich and closeted faggots. The distant wife, lazy sons, slutty daughters, and money problems – they always felt the need to tell everything.

But Evan was not like those. He always paid generous and he was never cruel or nasty. He was business-like. He never told stories about his life.

“I want to be a dancer some day.” Responded Faizer. It was the truth.

Why not tell the truth? Thought Faizer. Does this rich gringo with envelopes of cash want to make it happen?

Evan chuckled. “A dancer? Are there dancers in Chile?” He then abandoned the topic and started babbling about banking in Chile, businesses, and marriage.

Faizer wondered if there was anything so different about gringo Evan after all. He couldn’t see beyond his money and prestige any more than the fat old men with small cocks and tiny brains crawling all over Las Condes.

“Wanna fuck?” said Evan.

Still, there was something to like about his directness.

“Sure.” Faizer answered.

Let’s get to work.

$$$$$$$

Hours later, the vibrations from the closet safe grew bothersome, and looking over with a sigh, Evan declared in English he was going to shower. He lumbered to the bathroom and Faizer rolled over on the bed, tired, his eyes wandering the room, and daydreamed.

Observing Evan’s half-concealed pink shadow behind the frosted-glass shower door, he wondered if he could ever land a big rich guy who might also be kind and nice. In a fantasy spanning seconds Faizer – whose real name was Diego –imagined Evan was a lawyer who sold real estate to other rich foreigners, and that on days when Diego was not teaching dance at his school or performing in the theatres in Lastarria and in Providencia – they would take trips to the south – seeing farmhouses in Chiloé, vineyards in Curicó, and houses in Valparaiso. In Valpo they would travel the mad tangle of switchback roads to find multicolour homes dangling over huge cliffs between the sun and sea. Then Diego, who would no longer be called Faizer by anyone (not even himself), would decorate and beautify the houses with the talent for art lurking somewhere within him.

The shower steam filtered into the bedroom as Diego fantasised about different lives possible with sufficient money, love, or both. He did not want someone who would hit him or surround him with his muscled arm in the night, whispering threats – like that last one, the jealous one.

Those days are over.

From the mist where Evan’s hid somewhere in the haze, a voice came out: “you might need to go soon.”

Without a word Diego got up and started gathering his clothes, which had each fled to obscure and invisible corners of the room, like little mammals seeking warmth. First he searched out his underwear and pants, then his socks and shirt, and gathering them all into a little pile on the bed. Enjoying the feel of the air on his skin, he decided to stay naked and take a look around the apartment. In the hall near the door, he found a big mirror, and took a careful look at himself, observing his tight little naked body, clean clear skin, sharp defined muscles, and thick, small penis.

Time to go. He thought

As he dressed his belt clinked, the buckle cold against his skin. Diego’s clothes hugged him in all the right places, enhancing his necessary beauty.

Evan would call again.

A voice interrupted from the shower: “When you leave use the stairs to the garage. Not the front door.”

Diego felt anger. He’s ashamed of me. He doesn’t want the nosy old men at the door to see.

Diego quickly gathered all the belongings he considered his before leaving. Softly, the door clinked shut.

$$$$$$

Evan took his time washing Faizer off his body. When he left the shower the boy was long gone. One of Faizer’s best qualities was that he always knew when it was time for him to exit the stage, to disappear.

Laying down in bed, Evan questioned if he wanted Faizer to disappear. Unbidden, a fantasy came: coming home some day after a meeting, after working, after smiling and saying yes at the right times to the right people – Faizer – or whatever his real name was, was waiting for him – all 5ft 3 inches of him. Evan would pick him up and brutalize him with a kiss and learn each and every one of his many parts, including his mind, and begin a journey towards a growing life where both of them could share a soul – an honest life.

Evan was ashamed of himself and his faggoty dreams.

The safe soon interrupted. The phone inside had now vibrated itself against the metallic side of the safe and was emitting a constant:

KRRRRR KRRRRRR KRRRR KRRRRR

Annoyed, Evan moved over to the open door of the closet, and with a little shock, noticed that the men’s watch was now gone. Faizer made it to the fifth visit – a record.

We almost had something.

Less angry than sad, he grabbed and crushed the little blue box that once contained the watch and threw it in the trash.

Sweeping aside the pile of clothes from the safe and throwing them on the floor, he opened the safe and reached a hand in.

12 missed calls. Jesus Christ. And all from the same one.

Evan put on his smile and called the number back.

“Evelyn! Hooola! Si es que lo tenía apagado, si…. Tranquila! Tranquiiila! No no es así. No es imposible. Si, se me mandaron un paquete de trabajo bastante grueso, si parece que el mitín de ayer salió súper….”

And while talking to this woman interested in shared bank accounts, advantageous marriage, and children, Evan stuck his hand into the open mouth of the tiny cold safe, and still smiling, still nodding and repeating, “yes, yes,”– he took out an identical men’s watch from an identical blue box – and positioned it in just the same way, half hidden but wanting to be seen – in the recesses of his own personal closet.

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