Book: In Deep

In Deep

Simon Sheppard

In Deep

Utila's just a flyspeck on the map of the world. It lies right off the Honduran coast, one of the Bay Islands, a place settled by pirates who braved the seas for gold.

These days, the island's wealth arrives with young divers who come to explore the coral reef. These days, visitors don't arrive by frigate; they fly in from La Ceiba on small planes, planes with warning signs written in Russian, decommissioned junkers from Aeroflot or someplace. Every time the plane dips its wings toward the Caribbean 's blue, the passengers hold their breaths and pray. I know I did. Except for the praying part.

I'd been to Guatemala already, spent a full-moon night amongst the pyramids of Tikal, communing with ghosts, getting over a love affair I never should have allowed to drag me down. I'd submerged myself in Kate, her desires and her life and most of all her needs. And after two years of misery, I'd discovered it was a mistake. She was a mistake, my job was a mistake, my life was going nowhere. I decided to skip the worst of a Philadelphia winter and head to Central America to lick my wounds.

The flimsy little plane managed to touch down on Utila's grassy airstrip, just beside a crystal-blue harbor. It was only a short walk to the main street. Quaint as hell, wooden buildings, tropical paradise. Dive shops. Restaurants. Lots of small hotels. Hotels without a single room for rent.

Semi-exhausted from dragging my backpack up and down the street in a fruitless search for a place to stay, I collapsed into a tattered wicker chair in the lobby of Lucie's Hotel.

"Hey. You look exhausted."

I looked up. He was dark and slightly stocky, Greek background maybe, wearing shorts, flip-flops, and a raggedy T-shirt.

"I am. You know of anyplace to stay? I'll be damned if I can find a vacant room."

"You should have caught the earlier flight over."

"Now you tell me." I grimaced.

"Listen. There's a second bed in my room, if you don't snore. You'd be welcome to spend the night. I'll just have to check it out with the management."

"Lucie?" I asked.

"There is no Lucie. Never has been, I hear." He extended his hand. "My name's Aaron."

"Thom," I said. "Pleased to meet you. How long you been here?"

"A while. Great place to dive."

"So I hear."

"Water's so clear you can always see the bottom. All the way down."

* * *

I spent the afternoon settling in, exploring the little town. Half the families in town had the same surname, Harrison. And half the businesses were dive shops.

It was a great place for scuba, all right. Or at least a bargain; prepurchasing ten boat dives brought the price down to a third of what it would have cost Stateside. I found a likely looking dive shop, the Neptune, checked it out, and paid for ten dives, enough to keep me busy during my planned week on the island.

I was at the far end of the main street when the sky began dumping rain. Everything was getting that wet-tropics smell as I jogged back toward the hotel.

I made it back, soaked to the skin, and went to my new room and changed. I was sitting on the porch overlooking the harbor, listening to the rain hammering on the corrugated metal roof, when a blond woman came up the stairs. She wasn't bad looking-a little plump, maybe, but she had nice breasts, and her nipples showed through her rain-damp T-shirt.

"Hello," she said, her accent Scandinavian. "You just arrived?"

"Yeah, this morning." I was thinking about how one of those nipples would feel in my mouth. I hadn't had a woman since Kate had left me.

"You stay at this hotel?"

"Yes," I said, "I'm doubling up with a man named Aaron."

She made a strange face.

"Anything wrong?"

"No, it's just that I've heard…" Another mysterious look. "Never mind."

We chatted for a while about approximately nothing, the way that strangers on the road do. I kept glancing at her tits, I guess.

I finally decided to pop the question. "Are you doing anything tonight? Want to go for a drink?"

"I should tell you," she said, "that I am a lesbian."

And that was that.

* * *

That night I went for dinner at a restaurant down the road, the food tasty but served at a snail's pace. It was Saturday, so the town's two discos were cranking up their sound systems, blatting bad music into the balmy tropical night. I popped into one, and by the time I'd finished my first rum and Coke, had decided it really wasn't my scene.

I headed back to the hotel and curled up in bed. I'd had to get up early to make the trip from the mainland of Honduras, so I drifted off quick.

Something woke me up.

I looked around. In the dim blue moonlight, I could see that my roommate Aaron had returned. He was sprawled on his back in the other bed, a few feet away in the small room. The sheets were tangled around his feet. His hairy body was naked, and he was jerking off.

I hadn't watched guys jack off since Boy Scouts, and I was kind of curious. Careful not to draw his attention, I watched Aaron as he stroked and squeezed his dick. His technique, I noticed, was very different from mine; I tend to really pound away. He was more poetic, slow, like it was happening underwater.

I felt, to my surprise, my own cock getting hard. Not embarrassment, not shame, just surprise. I would have reached down to my crotch, but I was afraid he'd see me. So I lay there scarcely breathing for three, four, five minutes as he played with himself. Every once in a while he'd take his hand away to get more spit, and I could see his cock was very hard, not very big, and gleaming wet.

Eventually he started writhing and arching his back, moaning loudly enough to wake me up, if I'd been asleep. With a muffled groan, he oozed a big load of cum on his belly, then wiped it up with his hand and licked it off his palm. He pulled the covers up, rolled over with his back toward me, and seemed to go to sleep.

* * *

The next morning I woke up in a sticky little puddle. I never had jacked off the night before, but my cum had made an escape anyway.

Aaron was already gone. I was up early enough to go on a morning boat dive. I grabbed a cup of coffee and a slice of coconut bread at a nearby bakery. I thought about the night before, then tried not to. I figured it wouldn't happen again. I slurped down the last of the coffee and headed for the Neptune Diver Shop.

Even without reservations, I had no trouble getting a place on the morning boat. I pulled on the rented dive gear, the wetsuit tightly hugging my body, grabbed my two full tanks, and headed for the dock. There were four other customers on the boat: a Canadian married couple, and a dreadlocked blond surfer from Southern California with his purple-haired girlfriend. The dive-master, Berndt, briefed us as we headed southwest of the island to Stingray Point.

The Canadians had just been PADI certified, so we took it fairly easy on the first dive, only heading down to thirty feet or so. The water was glorious, the coral beautiful, the reef fish streaking colorfully around our group.

It had been months since I'd last been diving, and now I remembered why I loved it so: the astonishing peace of the liquid world, the feeling of being where people weren't meant to go, the cold isolation of breathing the air of life through a mouthpiece gripped between my teeth. The beauty of the reef system, which in Honduras is pretty damn overwhelming. Lettuce coral, brain coral, pillar coral, elkhorn, and star. And the schools of angelfish, parrot fish, chromis. The second dive, at Jack Neil Point, was just as nice, even nicer as big sea turtles swam amongst our little group. When Berndt led us back to the boat, I was sorry to leave the water. I was sorry to get back to life.

But it was time to head back to shore.

Two dives a day are usually plenty for me. I had a lunch of fried fish at a little place run by two sisters, then went back to sit on the hotel porch and read and catch up on writing postcards. People came and went, sometimes making small talk. I wondered where the Scandinavian lesbian was; I would have liked to ask her more about my roommate, but she never appeared.

It was late afternoon before I saw Aaron. He headed up the stairs and climbed into the hammock suspended from the porch.

"Having fun?" he asked.

"Yeah, went on a couple of dives this morning."

"Explored the island yet? Out by Pumpkin Hill?"

"Nah," I said. "I figure there'll be plenty of time for that. I'm feeling really lazy today."

"We should go out there sometime," Aaron said, "you and I."

"Uh, okay," I agreed.

"Thought about dinner yet?"

"It's early."

"Yeah, but the service is so slow. And sometimes if you don't get to a place early, they run out of whatever you want."

I looked out at the Caribbean, ripples glistening in sunlight. "That's the thing about coming to a place like this. You gotta remain flexible. How long you been here?"

"I'm going to go lie down in the room. Come get me when you're starting to get hungry. After dinner we can go get drunk at the Bucket of Blood."

* * *

Dinner was good, the conch soup excellent-though, as Aaron had warned me, the service was glacially slow, even worse than the night before. By the time we'd paid the check, it was well into the night. Over at the Bucket of Blood, we drank rum and Cokes till I had trouble seeing straight. The dreadlocked surfboy was there, looking glum. I wondered where his purple-haired girlfriend had gotten to. For someone who'd been on the island a while, Aaron didn't seem to know anyone there. Which was okay; he was friendly enough, friendlier as the night wore on and we grew drunker. I kind of liked him.

When I'd had enough of cheap rum, strangers, and endless replays of Bob Marley's Greatest Hits, I suggested we turn in.

We staggered down the street, along with a lot of other soused tourists and a few semi-sober locals, and stumbled up the stairs to our room. Aaron threw himself onto his bed.

"Oh man," he said. He pulled his T-shirt over his head. "I'm ready to pass out," he said. His torso was fleshy, generously covered with dark hair. He began to unzip his khaki shorts.

"Want me to turn out the light?" I asked. "So you can get some sleep?"

"No, leave it on." He was down to his briefs now. He began rubbing his crotch through the white cotton. I just lay there watching him as he peeled off his underwear and started stroking his cock. He'd thrown his near leg over the edge of the bed so I had a view of his balls and the hair between his legs.

"Oh man," he repeated. His dick was hard.

And so was mine.

I looked him in the face. He looked back with deep, dark eyes and nodded.

I reached down and unzipped my shorts. I wasn't wearing underwear; the flesh of my swelling cock was hot to the touch. I pulled my shorts down and my shirt up, grabbed my dick, and started playing with the foreskin.

We lay there side-by-side, a couple of feet apart, two almost-strangers, masturbating.

I kept glancing from his eyes to his cock, then back to his face again. As interesting as it was to see him jacking his dick, it was more intense to watch his face. I'd seen women get off, of course, but I'd never watched another man while he had sex. I submerged myself in his eyes as he slowly brought himself close to orgasm.

I wanted to touch him, to feel what another man's cock was like, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. And I was half-afraid and half-hoping he'd get up, come over to me, touch me. But he didn't. So we just lay there, hands working our own hard-ons, until he nodded and said, "Now?"

"Now," I said.

He looked so beautiful when he came. I wondered if I looked that way, too. I glanced down; the hair on his belly was strewn with ropes of cum.

"Goodnight," he said.

"I've… I'm… gonna go clean up, take a shower."

"Don't move," he said. He swiveled himself out of bed, knelt on the floor beside me. He leaned over my torso and gently lapped up my cum, his tongue moving over my belly and chest. I wanted to grab his head, part of me did, and guide him down to my dick. But I didn't.

When he was done, he wordlessly got into bed and curled up under the thin bedcover, his back toward me.

After a while he spoke. "You can turn out the light now," he said.

* * *

The first thing Aaron said to me when I woke up was, "Fuck the boat dives. Let's go snorkeling out by the airport."

"Sure," I heard myself saying. We slipped into Speedos and T-shirts and, grabbing our fins and masks, headed out.

It was a shortish way down the street to the landing field. As Aaron and I wordlessly walked side by side in the morning sun, I kept thinking back to the night before, the sight of his cock, the feeling of his mouth on my flesh. I looked over at his face, then down to his hairy legs. Despite myself, I felt myself getting hard. I shifted the fins to in front of my crotch, but Aaron caught on and chuckled.

"Don't worry about it," he said. "Happens to the best of us."

Beyond the rocky shoreline, the warm Caribbean stretched forever. Nobody else was around. We adjusted our masks and snorkels, pulled on our fins, and walked backward into the gently lapping waves.

Even in the shallows, the waters were alive with riotously colored fish. Careful not to cut ourselves on coral, we swam a little ways out, breathing through our little plastic tubes. The ocean bottom receded with every stroke. Sea anemones wavered in the currents, feeding on things too tiny to see.

I felt Aaron's hand stroking my side. For a second, I wanted to push it away. Instead I hung there, floating on the surface of another world, while his touch explored my flesh. His fingers moved down to the waistband of my Speedos, then over my ass. Kate had never touched me that way, no woman had. He slipped his fingers beneath the thin fabric, touched the flesh of my butt. His fingertips moved toward my ass crack. With a kick of my fins, I jetted myself away from him.

I wanted not to be feeling those things, I wanted my cock not to be throbbing in my bathing suit. I wanted to look at the pretty coral and the pretty fish and forget that I'd ever known Aaron. Instead, I floated in the crystal-clear embrace of the water until he caught up with me. I let him touch me again, touch my chest, my belly, run his hand across my crotch, my hard cock, peel down the front of my suit, grab me, my flesh, my dick. He tugged my suit down to around my thighs and dove down beneath me. He pulled at my feet till I was vertical in the water, then surfaced for a breath and dove down again. Looking down, I saw him spit out the mouthpiece of his snorkel. Exhaling a trail of bubbles, he wrapped his mouth around my dick, his tongue even wetter than the water. The vagaries of buoyancy dragged us upward till I was on my back, Aaron floating between my thighs, his face now above waterline, breathing through his nose, his mouth still in possession of my cock.

"Jesus, Aaron, somebody might see us," I said, and as if on cue, the drone of the morning plane came over the horizon.

He took his mouth from my hard-on, which flopped onto my belly, little waves lapping at my dickflesh.

"Let's go back to the hotel room, then. Unless you're afraid."

"Let's just go back. Go back and do nothing," I said. "Give me time. I've gotta think."

* * *

The walk back was awkward. When we got to the hotel, Aaron kept on walking down the street. I went up to our room, took a cold shower, then went out to stare at the sea.

As I sat on the porch, the Scandinavian girl came up to me.

"You've been spending time with him?"

"Aaron?" I asked.

"Ja," she said.

"Just what do you have against him, anyway?" I was sure she could see into me, my dirty secret. I was sure she knew.

"He's no good. Dangerous."

"How the hell would you know?"

"He used to be my boyfriend." Her voice was tired, resigned.

"But you're a lesbianl"

"Yes, mostly, but Aaron and I lived together in Chicago. We came here to Central America together, last month. He used to be my boyfriend."

"Until?" I asked.

"You'll see," she said.

* * *

I was lying on my bed, beneath an open window. There must have been a power failure. The electricity didn't work. The fan didn't move. Even with the window open, it was hot and stifling. I didn't care. I lay there, thinking about the shipwreck of my life.

Aaron still hadn't returned when the wind picked up, blowing dark clouds over the island. And then, with that suddenness of tropical rainstorms, it was pouring, coming down in sheets. I could have reached up and shut the window. I didn't.

The rain blew in, soaking me, my clothes, the bed. I didn't care, I didn't give a fuck about anything. I didn't have Kate, I hated my job, I hated my life. I was forced to admit it: the only thing that had given me real pleasure for a long while-well maybe not pleasure, but was interesting at least-was Aaron, being with Aaron.

"Enough time?"

Aaron was standing in the open doorway, sopping wet.

"Huh?" I said.

"You had enough time to think about things, to decide}" There was the slightest trace of a sneer.

I nodded. He walked over to my bed, stood in front of me, and pulled down his wet Speedos. His dick wasn't hard, not yet, and somehow that made it all the nicer. I could understand now how a woman could see a threat in a hard-on. I could understand how nothing matters, really. I reached for him.

Our wet bodies slid over each other. His dick was hard now, and mine was, too, and we kissed, the first time I'd ever kissed a man, our tongues like dolphins or something, our breaths inter-twined. When our faces parted, I asked a question. "Now what?"

Aaron slid down, over the rainsoaked sheets, as thunder drummed outside. I expected him to suck my cock. But he pushed my legs up and slid his face down to my ass. His tongue dove inside me. I was ashamed. But my penis was stiff.

Am I a faggot now? I wondered, as he licked my ass, kissing, tonguing, like some strange fish swimming where it didn't belong. I heard a moan, my own, above the thunder. And then lightning. And his mouth moved to my balls, licking, sucking till I began to ache.

"My cock, please. My cock," I begged him.

"Suck me," Aaron said.

"Me suck you?"

"Who else?"

"Yes," I said. "I will," I said, then was sorry I'd spoken. But he was already moving over me, twisting his body so his crotch was against my face. The head of his cock, a deep, angry pink, darker than mine, was inches from my mouth. What the hell. I opened wide.

It wasn't bad, sucking cock. A little strange, maybe, but then it got good. I was hungry for Aaron, for his small, hard cock jutting from a bush of curly black hair. I was hungry for him and I gulped him down, as far down my throat as I could without gagging. He pumped into me, rocking back and forth the smallest bit, never leaving the back of my mouth. Rain was hitting my face. I grabbed his ass, held on tight. Rain was hitting my face.

I couldn't breathe. I tried to, through my nose, but it wasn't enough. I wondered if anybody had ever choked to death sucking cock.

"Let me loose, Thom. Back off, you fuck," Aaron said.

And he pulled his dick out of my mouth and slid down till he was lying on top of me, two men's bodies, wet, face-to-face, dick to dick. He kissed me. Harder, longer than before. I felt his hands go around my neck. If lightning had crashed just then, it would have been too melodramatic. Lightning crashed.

His lips were still on mine as he squeezed down, gently on my windpipe, harder on the arteries on the sides of my neck. I should have been scared. He squeezed harder. I was all of twenty-eight years old, maybe about to die, and I didn't mind. I wanted him to keep squeezing. Harder. Harder. He did.

I was straining to breathe. Trapped blood was throbbing in my brain. I was still aware enough to feel our two hard cocks rubbing together, wet. I wanted him to fuck me. He wasn't going to; he was going to choke me. Things looked darkish red, little spots dancing before my eyes. I was out of air. I reached for his wrists, intending to pull his hands away. I grabbed them, all right, but I drew them inward instead. The thunder was close now, rattling everything. I was making little mewling noises, hoarse, tiny gasps. My mouth opened wide for his tongue. I wanted to unhinge my jaw for him, a boa constrictor swallowing poisoned prey.

Things became even darker, dark as night. It was nice. I could feel my eyes bulging out of my skull. I threw my head back, gave my throat to him.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "Oh man!"

I thought of the blond dyke with the big tits. I had been warned.

Everything went black.

* * *

When I came to, struggling to the surface of consciousness, Aaron was lying beside me on the wet bed. My belly was spattered with ropes of cum.

"I been unconscious for long?" I asked.

"No, not long."

"And whose cum is this? Yours? Mine?"

"Does it matter?" Aaron asked.

"To me it does, yeah." Though I'm not sure I could have put into words just why it was important.

"Both of ours," said Aaron. "You came while I was strangling you."


"Yeah, and so did I." He didn't quite smile.

/ wish he'd have fucked me, I was thinking. At least then I'd know for sure what it feels like.

"I guess we should close that window now, let the room dry off," I said.

But my bed was still damp when nighttime came around. When it came time to go to sleep, I crawled into Aaron's bed and lay there shivering beside him. He didn't say a word, just wrapped his arm around my neck and gave it a squeeze. My cock got hard.

It was still hard when I woke up.

* * *

The previous winter, Kate and I had gone cross-country skiing out West. I'd gotten hold of some cocaine, and we decided it would be fun to ski while we were buzzed. We skied five or six miles to the rim of a valley; the last few hundred yards to the overlook was an icy mess. On the way back, the coke started wearing off. We were in the middle of nowhere when a snowstorm hit. One of my gloves had started coming apart; the snow made its way through the unraveled fingertip, bringing a cold that led to numbness. The storm rose to near white-out conditions. I was exhausted and lost and all I wanted to do was give up. I started to whimper. I told Kate that all I wanted, all I could do was to sit down in the snowy field and wait to die, to freeze, to melt in the next spring's thaw. But she, unsympathetic, had skied on ahead and I had no choice but to follow. Somehow we made it back to the lodge.

I thought about that ski trip on the boat the next morning. Aaron had decided to come along and dive, and as I looked at him I remembered that snowy, helpless feeling.

The boat was heading to the north side of Utila, to the dive site near Blackish Point. The seas were a little rough, so to take my mind off the sway of the boat, I decided it was time to ask.

"I was talking to this blond girl, says she's your girlfriend. Is she?"

Aaron's handsome face battened down. "She's a bitch. A crazy cunt."

I kept quiet after that.

We reached the Point and the boat dropped anchor. The other divers on the boat weren't very experienced, so Aaron and I had talked the divemaster into letting us go off on our own. We double-checked each other's equipment, let some air into our BCD vests, held our hands over our masks, and launched ourselves backward over the side of the boat.

There's something about the shock of first hitting the water that never becomes routine. It's the feeling that your equipment, so heavy on land, has become effortlessly light. The sudden submersion, the bubbles rising from the regulator, the commitment to enter a whole other world for a while.

We made the "OK" sign to one another and let the air out of our vests, sinking down into blue space. Everything was beautiful down below. The choppiness of the surface subsided into a deep, wet calm. We swam side by side, Aaron and I. Schools of fish swam this way and that, reversing direction en masse. The reef was alive, all around us. There was nothing to break the silence but the bubbling sound of my own breath. Everything was beautiful. Everything.

I looked over at Aaron, made the "OK" sign again and got one in return. He gestured to go deeper down. With every exhalation I sank a little further, till we hovered over a patch of sandy bottom. The usual feelings of diving-being far beneath normal existence, somehow free of gravity, totally in my body yet really nowhere at all. I looked at my depth gauge: ninety feet.

He gestured me to sit on the bottom. I couldn't see a reason not to, so I knelt on the sea floor, stirring up a little sandstorm. He came over and knelt in front of me, so close that our knees were touching. He laid a hand on my shoulder and we stared at one another through our masks. I could feel my dick getting hard inside my wetsuit.

Then Aaron grabbed my air hose. I took a big gulp of air. He tugged at the mouthpiece. I let him. I let him pull it out of my mouth. I held my breath.

/ could die right now, I thought. // would take so little. Just allowing my mouth to open, letting the ocean rush in.

Why was I doing this, trusting him, letting myself believe he'd give the regulator back to me and let me suck in life again?

Letting go. Right here, right now, my last moment. The end.

My lungs began to ache for air.

Relief. The salty water, salty as my blood, bringing an end, a darkness, maybe peace.

I thought of the moment when he'd put his hands around my neck and squeezed. The girl with the big tits was right. Aaron was bad news.

His face would be the last thing I'd see. He would watch me shoot upward into blue shafts of sunlight, only to thrash, relax, and come to floating rest.

I looked upward. The surface was so far above. It might as well have been as far as the stars.

I should do it, I thought. It would be so easy.

My body was rebelling. I needed air. Fuck this shit, fuck Aaron and the places he took me and my hard dick and Kate and my life. Fuck it all. I needed air.

/ could die right now.

I grabbed for his hand. He let go of the regulator, which floated upward, out of reach. Through the glass of our faceplates, our eyes conveyed some primal, elemental message. Older than civilization: animal trust and betrayal. I made the "Out of Air" sign, fingers slashing across my windpipe. I was going to die. He would never let me breathe.

It would be so easy.

He blinked once and reached down for his spare mouthpiece, the "octopus." Gently, he held the back of my head with one hand and guided the octopus toward my mouth with the other. I opened my lips, he placed it between my teeth, I clamped down, greedy, breathing again.

He gestured to rise. I could have grabbed at my regulator hose, replaced my own mouthpiece. Instead, I remained breathing through his spare, the two of us sharing the same air as he put his arm around me and, locked in a wet embrace, we rose slowly toward the surface. When it came time for our decompression stop, he put both arms around me and hugged. Then he reached for his mouthpiece and his octopus, gently pulled the regulators from both our mouths, and kissed me, parting my lips with his tongue just enough for a trickle of salt water to rush in.

The he replaced his mouthpiece, I got my own regulator into my mouth, and we rose toward the surface, toward life.

* * *

I needed to go for a walk. I'd come to Utila to escape. To escape my life, but my life had followed me, hitched a ride with me on that Russian plane. If I'd come to Utila to simplify my existence, I'd come to the wrong place. Somewhere out in the middle of the sea, I was walking down the same small street again and again, wanting there to be somewhere to get lost.

I figured I'd finally hike out to Pumpkin Hill. I never got there. The Scandinavian girl was coming up the street, a bag of groceries in one hand, She placed herself in my path.

"The supply boat has come in, and the grocery store has now more food again. Look." She held the grocery bag toward me.

Jesus, I thought, is this woman everywhere? And then I realized it wasn't just her; since I got to Utila, I'd been seeing the same faces again and again. Only Aaron was hard to find, always disappearing.

"So what," the girl asked, "have you learned?"

What a fucking weird question. Or maybe she'd been reading my mind.

"Huh?" I asked.

"About Aaron. Have you found out?"

"Found out what?" I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to think about it, about Aaron, about me. I wanted to relax, let the currents carry me, watch my thoughts swim off like a school of bright, mindless fish.

"How do you think someone gets that way?" she asked, an odd look in her very blue eyes.

Fuck you, I wanted to say.

Instead I said, "Excuse me. I've got to go." And I turned around and headed back to the hotel, before she could catch up. Maybe Aaron would be there.

* * *

When he fucked me that afternoon, he didn't use a condom.

"I'm okay," he said.

"Trust me," he said.

I did.

It didn't feel quite like I expected. A little pain at first, which was to be expected, and then just a funny, full feeling. Once he got going, though, once I relaxed, once he was all the way in, it all changed to pleasure. Sweat was glistening on his chest, dripping off the hairs of his belly.

I wanted him to choke me again, but I didn't dare ask him. I lost my hard-on, from all the new sensations, but that didn't matter much. His pleasure was all that counted. I wanted to be nothing. When he shot off inside me, I hoped I could have been anyone. Even the girl from Scandinavia.

"Stay inside me," I gasped. "Please stay inside me." And I jacked off, getting hard fast, feeling an intense longing, a need to spew salty cum everywhere. It didn't take long for me to shoot. Jism arced all the way up to my face.

We showered. There wasn't much to say. I went off to find us a snack. In the heat of the late afternoon. Utila's main street was nearly empty. Walking felt strange; I could still feel him in my ass. It was as if my body was carrying some barely concealed secret, something about being looser, more open. I was glad there were so few people out; discovery would be less likely.

When I returned to the room, every trace of Aaron was gone. No note, nothing. I felt resigned, then curious. I ran from the hotel, heading for the airstrip. As I got there, the last plane of the day was warming up on the runway, pointed toward the mainland. As it taxied down the field, I thought I saw Aaron's face at a window, looking toward me, but I couldn't be sure. I stood there, stupidly, until the sputtering roar of the plane faded away over the deep blue sea.

* * *

When I got back to the hotel, there was a boy with a backpack at the front desk, kind of scrawny, but cute. His neck was thin.

"You look exhausted," I said to him.

"Know of anyplace to stay?" he asked. "Every hotel seems to be full up."

"There's a second bed in my room," I told him. "You'd be welcome to spend the night."

I looked down at his legs, fuzzy with brown hair, then back up at his face. It would be so easy. "You'd be welcome to spend the night," I repeated.

I caught a trace of motion from the corner of my eye; the Scandinavian girl with big tits was standing there, staring straight at me.

"Hey," the boy said, "that'd be great." So easy.

"This way," I said, and we headed up the stairs.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Hotter Than Hell and Other Stories, and is the coeditor, with M. Christian, of Rough Stuff: Tales of Gay Men, Sex, and Power, and the forthcoming Rough Stuff 2. His work has appeared in more than fifty anthologies, including two previous Best American Erotica volumes and nearly every edition of Best Gay Erotica. Currently he's hard at work on a nonfiction book, Kinkorama. He lives in San Francisco and is PADI certified.

"In Deep," by Simon Sheppard, © 2000 by Simon Sheppard, first appeared in Aqua Erotica: 18 Stories for a Steamy Bath, edited by Mary Anne Mohan-raj (Three Rivers Press/Melcher Media Inc., 2000). Reprinted by permission of the author and Melcher Media.

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