2 new Cleis Press gay erotica anthologies have stories by me in them! "Muscle Memory," a weightlifting and BDSM story (with chess references, see below!) is in Hot Jocks: Gay Erotic Stories and "The Most Unexpected Places" is in Brief Encounters: 69 Hot Gay Shorts. I haven't seen either book yet (very overdue for a visit to my po box but might have to wait til after London). Only found out that my story was in it from this post. I love short shorts and this one I remember actually working on at the much-missed now-closed Village Tart. (Pichet Ong, please feed me!) Because in a week or month, let alone a year, so many words pass through my head, I sometimes forget what I've written. How I managed to work Glenlivet, which I barely know what it is, into "Muscle Memory," I have no clue. I'm always extra honored to have my gay male erotica published because I'm not a gay man. It feels like it's more of an accomplishment. Which should spur me on to write a story inspired by a little game my ex and I used to play, turned totally on its head, that I've only been working on for, oh, about four months. Time to whip my lazy fingers into shape. (That is just how I talk to myself. I've eked out a few things, but all the stuff I haven't done is what I remember, and what I will hopefully use to get me back on track with my writing. I'm fully aware that nobody else cares which anthologies I submit to or don't, but again, I maintain that for me, writing is always a selfish act, and I want to keep trying as hard as I can. When I don't, I feel like a loser.)
From "Muscle Memory"
With each bench press, Todd felt himself grow not just more powerful but more virile—which helped him fight back the tears that still threatened to tumble out, even as he hoisted the heavy weight over his head, when he let his mind wander back to Steve. Three months after their breakup, the memory of their relationship was still fresh—not to mention raw. Steve had accused him of being too young, immature and weak, hurling accusations and Todd’s clothes at him across the room he’d practically moved into. I’ll show him weak, he thought, as he grunted, pressing one-hundred-twenty pounds above his head, his teeth gritted, shoulders and arms straining. He sucked in a breath, then let it out as he lowered the weight and began again, until his set of twenty reps was done.
He lowered the bar and sat up, reaching for a towel to wipe the sweat from his brow. Todd wasn’t a natural bodybuilding type; the biggest muscle he liked to exercise was his brain, going over chess combinations endlessly, studying the great masters like Bobby Fischer, Alexander Alekhine and Mikhail Botvinnik. He’d read once that the serious players like Garry Kasparov could burn major calories when they played in a simul, moving around a circle to do battle in the ancient game with dozens of players at once; at first that idea appealed to Todd much more than weightlifting, but the latter had grown on him as he’d realized that it was as much about brainpower as biceps.
Chess was familiar, comforting, a welcome challenge. He loved getting so lost in studying an old game that he knew it by heart, investigating it over and over again like a detective would a particularly thorny clue in a crime. That was his favorite kind of muscle memory, where he knew the moves by heart so well that he could focus on fantasizing about new strategies to breathe life into what, on paper, was just a bunch of numbers and letters spelling out the moves. He could hold almost thirty moves in his head a once—a skill that had earned him the coveted grandmaster status—as he sat for hours at a time, silent, trying to outwit his opponent.
Steve had been drawn to him, as he’d always said, for the furrow in his brow, the way he could practically see Todd’s brain calculating, but that same trait had been what had ultimately driven Steve away. “You live in your head too much; you forget about the rest of us in the real world trying to enjoy our bodies too.” The words still stung, especially because Steve had never complained in the bedroom, where Todd had always submitted to whatever scenes Steve cooked up, kneeling at his feet or crawling around on a leash, sucking him off at a moment’s notice, taking a beating from his belt without a whimper. Remembering that last conversation made Todd want to punch someone. Instead, he took a sip from the water fountain, put down the weights and moved to another part of the gym to do the next best thing—strapping on gloves and beating the hell out of a punching bag.
From "The Most Unexpected Places"
It’s bad enough to run into an ex while on a tropical cruise, even worse to run into your ex’s ex, but that’s exactly what happened to me. Given the options of going to Minneapoils for Christmas and facing my family for the first time in four years solo, or having fun in the sun with as many gay boys as I could handle, I chose the obvious.
I figured all those strangers would help get my mind off Parker. But one of the first people I ran into was Carlos, Parker’s ex. I’d heard all about Carlos, had even met him once, but it’d been a long time until I could even hear his name without wincing. He’d come before me, and I knew he’d always resented the fact that I’d “stolen” Parker away, even though they’d been split up for three months.