glbtq: the online encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer culture

Toys : Matthew Loren Cohen
The music is pounding.

We're on a bed in a stranger's room. Where the music's coming from people are drinking and dancing. Where we are I'm giving him a blow job. His boyfriend's not here. His boyfriend's drunk. Perhaps dancing. Just outside.

I stop sucking his dick to take a drag off a joint I've put on the nightstand. I look at him. Skinny boys always have the biggest dicks. He's no exception. I get back to work. Play work. I also have a day job.


It goes like this:

Any toy in particular you're looking for? or

They come in three sizes, or

Thank you for shopping at Mary Wilkes Toys. Come again.


I'm as good at the day work as I am at the play work. You can understand why.


The music is pounding.

It's a party on Central Park West. Enormous apartment. Jackson Pollack and Jasper Johns on the walls. Jasper Johns and I were born on the same day. He's older. We're both gay. I'm not sure whose apartment this is or whose parents' apartment this is but it's impressive. Even for Central Park West. And the party's fine. Good enough drink and drugs. And sex with someone who has a boyfriend who's just outside.

Don't stop, he says.

I have to rest, I say as I take a drag off the dwindling joint.

He might come in, he says.

I laugh. What's his name? I say.

Carter, he says.

What's your name? I say.


Brent, I say, if Carter comes in, we'll play it off. I laugh. What the hell kind of name is Carter?

I climb on top of Brent. His shirt's off and his pants are pulled down around his ankles.

His legs are hanging off the bed. His penis is erect. I can see it in the light coming through the two large windows. He has full lips. I rest my fully clothed body on top of his. He holds me close to him. I kiss him. The kiss is long and passionate. Like he hasn't been kissed in awhile.


I'm in charge of the two windows at Mary Wilkes Toys. Before I worked there the windows, which face out onto Lexington Avenue, were filled with whatever Mary had ordered too much of. Things were mixed and matched, haphazardly placed. That didn't make them sell any faster. And it didn't get kids in the store. When I started I asked Mary to let me have a go at the windows. Thousands of kids with rich parents walked by every day. They needed to be stopped. They needed to be seduced.

It was easy. I put the most colorful toys in the windows. If the toy plays with the customer, I told Mary, the customer will play with the toy.

She was happily astonished when it worked. It was simple, really. And it surprised me that no one had thought of it sooner.


The music is pounding.

We enter the party. The apartment is filled with people and smoke and music. The lyric is It's so easy to love me / It's so simple to make you care, repeated over and over. The voice is partly computerized.

The ceiling is painted with a strange and mesmerizing mural of an angel delivering a baby to a beastly creature. It's frightening only if you think about it for too long.

People sway and bump into me. Another of the rooms has a blue light emanating from its open doorway. Inside people are dancing to the music. The floor has been cleared. The gaudy Rococo-esque furniture is lined up against one wall. Above the large fireplace is a portrait of an old woman who sort of resembles Eleanor Roosevelt. She is blue.

I spot a skinny boy dancing by himself in the corner. He is jumping to the music. He's quite attractive. Aquiline features. Full lips. Nice shoes. Maybe on cocaine. As skinny as he is. As jumpy as he is.

I quickly find the kitchen, get a cup of water and return. He's still there.

Hi, I say as I approach him.

What? he says.

Hi, I say, louder. With my unoccupied hand I pull a little blue pill out of my pocket. Try this, I say, handing him the pill. The music throbs.

I'm okay, he says. He's still dancing.

It's pretty, I say. It's blue. It's fun. Here's some water.

It's so easy to love me.

He smiles.

It's so simple to make you care.

I'm the only one here who's going to offer this to you, I say.

He takes the pill and swallows it with the water. He continues to dance.

Good job, I say. I take the empty cup from him. Stay here, I say. Don't go anywhere. I'll be back in a minute.

What? he says.

Stay here, I repeat. I'll be right


Back. Thirty minutes. Will I enjoy this party? Sure you will, says Deryn, a co-worker from the toy store. Who's throwing it? A friend of a friend, Deryn says. Will it be all straight? Fuck off, she says. Forty-five, she says, pulling me toward an old Deco building. The doorman opens the glass door. Good evening, he says. You want the eighth floor. The elevator's in the



Sure, he says. I'll be right here. My boyfriend's around here. Somewhere.

Great, I say. Which one is he?

Over there somewhere, he says with a wave of his arm. Blue hair, he says.

I turn to look. I search the crowd. Bingo. This guy could do better. I walk toward the guy with the blue hair. The object is to occupy him while the pill passes go.


Thank you for shopping at Mary Wilkes Toys. Come again.

Not if we can help it, the old woman with the blue hair says with a laugh. Her grandson is fondling the new toy she has bought for him. He can't wait to get it home.


The music is pounding.

I talk to Blue Hair for a bit. Intensely boring. Easy to amuse. Predictably, he's an artist. I ask him if he's seen the mural on the ceiling in the other room. He says no. He's too fucked up to care but I request that he go take a look. He'd enjoy it. He does. I spot the skinny boy dancing in the corner. He's smiling. I walk toward him.


I took some fiction classes in college. The professor told me you have to make the readers care about your characters. So how to make you care about me?

My parents divorced when I was ten.

I don't have insurance, medical or dental.

Sometimes my eye twitches uncontrollably.

I came to New York to write. I haven't written anything yet.

I work in a toy store in the city and can barely pay my bills.

No. I could go on forever with that stuff trying to make you care. Better to make you care by telling you nothing. That way we can keep it simple. That way it never fails.

The skinny boy in the corner starts to touch me. He dances close.

Do you want to play? I say.


Those blocks are one of our most popular items.

Oh? says the woman. Why?

Because no one else in the city carries them.

My son saw them in the window, she says.

Those blocks are hard to resist, I say. And we are the only store that has them.

Right, she says.

The secret is, and I don't say this, is getting the kid in here and getting the parent to buy the toy. The secret is saying the toy isn't available anywhere else. The only one on the block with the blocks. Is it true? Not usually. Does it matter? No one's ever called me a liar. Not to my face.


The music is pounding.

I close the door. He's at one of the windows. The city is beautiful, he says rocking back and forth. I've gotten myself a joint. I put it on a nightstand next to the bed. I walk up behind him and put my hand on his ass. He quickly turns around and I kiss him. He pulls me to him and runs his hands up and down my


Back. Two days. Put that doll in the window. There's an extra one in the


Back. Two years. I move to New York City to pursue some sort of dream. To write. I took some fiction classes in college and one of the professors said a good place to start was somewhere you can do a lot and where a lot can be done to you. I suggested New York. He said New York works but you have to watch your


Back. It feels good. He pulls his lips off mine. I'm thirsty, he says.

We'll get you some water in a minute, I say. I unbutton his pants. They fall around his ankle. I put my hand on his dick. He's not wearing any underwear. He's erect. I maneuver him to the bed. His legs drape over the end. I go to work.


At the toy store, a boy and his mom browse.

He's cute, I say to Deryn.

He's nine, she says.

Yeah, I say. True.


I go to work.

I have no real talent. This is what I do in New York. People whisper behind my back that I do it because I have no real talent and because I've never been loved. I've never been loved. People have said I love you to me but I don't think that's the same as really being loved. I suppose you feel something you've not felt before when you're really loved. But maybe people who say they're in love only mean that someone says I love you to them on a regular basis. Perhaps that is love and I'm just not fooled.


The music is pounding.

I stop and climb on top of Brent. I can feel his erect penis on my crotch. I have an erection, too. I kiss him and fondle one of his nipples.

Can I fuck you? he says as he slides his hands into my pants and feels my ass. The door to the room opens. The music is instantly louder. I freeze. His hands still move. The door slams.


I climb off him.

This is easy. Too easy. No, you can't fuck me, I say. I lie next to him. He reaches over and touches me. He gets on top of me. He licks my neck. Okay, I say. I think I'm done here. I push him off me. I get up.

Where you going? he says.

I'm being anti-social, I say.

I'd really like to come, he says.

Okay, I say. Get your clothes on and follow me. I laugh.

Come on, he says. I walk away. Come


Back. Yesterday. No, honey, not now. That doll will be here next week. Put her


Back. Thirty seconds. Can I fuck you? he says. Before I say no I marvel at how easy it is to get this. How simple it is to make this happen. But I don't want to be fucked by him. I do it for the game. This party's full of people. I'm not bored yet. I'll leave him. Maybe I'll come


Back, he says.

I walk out of the room.

I walk through the party. A girl is lying on the floor. I step over her. Hi! someone says to me. Hi! I say. The music is faster. Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! a female voice commands over a thumping beat. Thumping in my head. Thumping in my body. Through the party.

Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!

I see Deryn in the corner. She's talking to another girl. I wave. She calls my name but nothing seems to come out of her mouth.

Go! Go! Go!

I think I'll go.

Go! Go! Go!

I think I'll sit. Brent wanders into the room. At least he's got his clothes back on. He starts to touch another guy.

Deryn comes over. You look bored, she says. There's some good coke in that bathroom. She points. I think it's that one, she says.

No, thanks, I say.

You look bored, she says.

I think maybe I'll

Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!

What? she says.

I said I think maybe I'll just sit here for awhile.

There's food in the other room, she says. You probably could use a munchy.

Will you get me some? I say.

You have two legs, she says. You

Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!


I spot a cute boy in the corner. He's leaning into a girl and sloppily kissing her. He's drunk. Drunk boys'll do anything. You just have to play nice.


The mom spots the ball.

We're the only store in the city carrying that ball.

Really? she says. How much?


Give me two.

People will buy anything. You just have to play it right.


The music is pounding.

The drunk boy is passed out next to me on the bed. Some people are smoking pot in the corner of the room. City light comes in through the two windows. It's hazy.

I took some fiction classes in college and one of the professors said a good place to start was somewhere you can do a lot and where a lot can be done to you. Stories come from experience. Action inspires action. I chose New York. He told me that you have to make the reader care about your characters. But he never said what to do if there are too many characters.

I can hear millions of voices just outside the door. Voices mixing with an unrelenting soundtrack. All waiting for the right offer, asking for more.


buy books at Blithe House, in association with

4.3.01 : 4.3.02 : 4.3.03 : 4.3.04 : 4.3.05 : 4.3.06 : 4.3.07 : 4.3.08 : 4.3.09 : 4.3.10

:: Home : About The Authors : e-mail Blithe ::

©1997-2000 Blithe House Quarterly : All Rights Reserved