Mickey Cross part 2
I've noticed over the years that my dev feelings sort of go in cycles. Sometimes it fades into the background, but other times it's all I can think about. And then there are times when I'm so obsessed, it's like nothing else matters. I walk through my daily life like a zombie with a porno reel playing in my head 24/7, and the desire to make it real is a physical ache. It's like a mania that settles over me, waking me up in the middle of the night, keeping me up staring at the internet, trying to find something that will scratch that itch.
Right now I'm in the grips of a dev high that won't quit. I'm obsessed with thoughts of blind men. It's the only thing that keeps my interest. I conjure up images of blank rolling eyes, sensitive fingers feeling around, and it hits me like a punch to the gut. It's like I've figured out how to short-circuit the pleasure center of my brain and I just keep hitting that button over and over.
It's probably not surprising that this is hitting me right now. I've got Mickey Cross on the line, there's a new TV show called Blind Justice every week, new Daredevil comics every month, and I've been connecting with other devs online. In a burst of dev high inspired creativity, I write a short piece of Daredevil fan fiction and post it on a fan site. I'm in dev heaven. So why does it all feel so empty?
This TV show Blind Justice is fun but like I told Mickey, it's only about 75% satisfying. Ron Eldard is ok, I find him attractive but he has some annoying tics in his acting, mostly that he can't quite keep from looking people in the eye. Also the way he keep saying "Not a problem" all the time. So cheesy! Cop shows are not really my thing, and it strikes me as unrealistic that he would be allowed to carry a gun. On the other hand, there are so few positive portrayals of blind people as real, three dimensional characters with agency, not just as props or walking metaphors, so I feel obliged to defend the show. The weight of having to be a staunch supporter despite obvious flaws is faintly exhausting. When can we have a TV show with a blind protagonist that is actually an unqualifiedly good show?
In searching for more online content to scratch my dev itch, I stumble across a Blind Justice fan message board and become an active member. It's fun to pick apart each episode and obsess with others. But I don't really get along with many of the other fans, who are all women, of course. Some of them are not devs, and they think my interests are weird. Some of them are obviously closet devs and get very defensive when I'm open about being a dev. Just after I join the message board, the news hits that Blind Justice has been canceled, and the next few episodes will be the last. One woman talks about contacting the production company and getting a haul of free stuff, like props and embroidered jackets. It would never occur to me to do that. I realize even more how little I have in common with most of these other fans.
But I meet one woman who is also open about being a dev, and we quickly take our friendship off the board. She goes by the screen name Dot, because she's studying to be a Braille transcriber, which is so cool. She's also a Daredevil superfan. She shows me photos of her massive collection of toys and merchandise, basically every product ever licensed with the Daredevil property. It takes up whole rooms of her house. She has also met most of the Marvel writers, artists and editors who have worked on the title. I'm so jealous. I went to a convention here a few months back where Bendis was supposed to give a talk, but he canceled at the last minute.
I don't have anything nearly as cool to show her, but I rewatch my DVD of the 2003 Daredevil movie and take screenshots of Ben Affleck, the close-ups where you can see the opaque contacts clearly. In my opinion, that is what was really missing from Blind Justice. Most actors don't like to wear the opaque contacts because it really does make them nearly blind and they feel too nervous on the set. For all its flaws, the 2003 film is pretty amazing if only for the fact that Affleck really wore them in an action movie. I so wish other actors would take the same chance.
Anyway Dot likes to stay up late like I do, and pretty soon we're messaging each other until one or two AM several times a week. She's at least twenty years older than I am, has already been married and divorced, so our lives are very different. We really only have this one thing in common. But it doesn't matter. I'm so happy to have someone to talk to who is obsessed with the same things I am in the same way.
Dot repeatedly laments how silly it is that she is totally in love with a cartoon character, and I know exactly how she feels. I've spent so much of my life pining over fictional characters and wishing so hard they were real. The obsession is energizing, motivating, exciting, but the longing is hollow and draining, not to mention faintly embarrassing. As I sign off from another chat with Dot at nearly three in the morning, I feel like my life is slipping away.
At the same time, I don't have to only fantasize, because there is a real blind guy in my life, sort of. Mickey Cross invited me to call him for phone sex, so I do.
The first time is not quite what I was expecting. His voice is high and nasally, not exactly alluring, and he's so nervous that at first he's extremely flat and awkward. For nearly an hour we just make small talk--what we've each been doing, the weather, etc. etc. Over email, he's pushy and insistent about bringing up sex talk all the time. Even when I try to say something more serious, he's right there with a dirty comment. But on the phone it's the opposite; he can't bring himself to loosen up.
I realize I need to nudge things along.
"So you asked me to call you for phone sex, right?" I say, subtle as always.
He's stunned into silence for a moment, then all he can muster is a vague "Uhhh..."
"Well, I didn't call to talk about the weather."
"So come on, let's get to it. I don't have all night."
I have to coach him in what to say, but eventually he gets into it, narrating how he'll smack my ass and go down on me. I lie the wrong way on my bed, with my feet up against the headboard, and shove a vibrator down my jeans, the phone cradled against my ear. I think of the photo he sent me, his scarred over eyes, what he said about feeling around, and I'm done within minutes.
After the first time, he gets into a groove, and I don't have to coax him. At least once a week we're calling each other like this.
I don't feel great about it. The last person I did this with was Patrick the Fireman, and that didn't turn out so well. Like with Patrick, calling Mickey feels like a compulsion. Once again, I'm hitting that button over and over, the surefire thing I know will work every time. But after, when it's just me alone with the phone, it feels hollow.
While this is all going on, my parents inform me that they're taking a trip to Hub City to visit my uncle and aunt. This is my one chance to see Mickey Cross in person, and I'm not about to let it go. I immediately tell my parents that I want to come with them. They're a little surprised, but happy to include me in the trip. They even pay for my ticket.
Now these late night phone sex sessions with Mickey seem more purposeful. I'm not just jerking it with some random guy on the internet, but engaged in a kind of warm-up for the main event. As we're talking, Mickey admits very awkwardly that he's falling for me.
"If you want a pale, squishy computer programmer, you've got him," are his exact words.
"Ok." If I feel the slightest twinge of conscience at leading him on, I stifle it down. I like him, but given the long distance factor I'm not sure how serious this can be. I just want to have sex with him. Anything else can wait until after.
I arrive at my uncle and aunt's house without anything more than a vague idea of meeting Mickey but no concrete plan for how to pull it off. I realize once I get there that it's going to be more complicated that I realized. My uncle and aunt don't actually live in the city, but in a suburban hell of identical houses two hours from downtown. Mickey also lives in a far-flung suburb, but in the opposite direction. He can't drive, of course, but I don't have access to a car either, and it's too far to ask for a ride into town.
Also, my parents are there with me and there's no way in hell I'm telling them that I want to go meet a random guy from the internet, much less yet another blind guy. My mother totally lost her shit over K and Rollerboy, and those were long term relationships, not internet hookups. So yeah, this is going to have to be a covert operation.
I'm only there for a week, so on the first day I mention very casually that I'd like to meet up with a friend downtown. My mother sternly reminds me how far it is and that my uncle is not my personal taxi service, but my aunt steps in to explain that there is a bus every hour. The bus stop is still a fifteen minute drive from their house, but she's happy to drop me off. Done!
I'm staying in the childhood bedroom of my cousin who now lives in Paris. I lock myself in her room while everyone else is out in the backyard, and call Mickey to let him know the plan. He tells me he can also take the bus downtown. He's done it before so he feels confident going by himself. We'll both arrive at the same terminal, so we coordinate with the bus schedule to arrive around the same time. He'll wait at the terminal for me to find him.
My parents don't pry into the details of this mystery friend in Hub City they have never heard of before. I suppose they have learned from bitter experience that asking me about my relationships can lead to finding out information they regret hearing. However, my aunt has no such compunctions, not out of any malice, but because she's the sweetest, kindest person and is expressing her affection for me by showing an interest in my life. Unfortunately this leads to questions I don't want to answer.
"So who is this friend you're visiting?" she asks me over dinner, the implication being how do I know someone in this city I have never lived in or visited more than a few times.
"Oh, it's someone from grad school," I answer vaguely.
"In Raser City? So how did she end up all the way out here?"
"It's just someone I got to know back when I was working on my first degree, but they finished before I did, and they had family here, so it made sense to move back." I hate lying so blatantly, but I'm trying to be vague both about the gender of this imaginary person and also forestall any further questions about what his or her job is, which would involve making up a whole lot of details I just don't want to do. "It's been so long! It will be really great to see each other again. Thanks again for driving me to the bus!" I quickly change the subject, and she doesn't press me any further.
The bus into downtown Hub City is not a city bus, but more like a long distance coach, with rows of plush forward facing seats. It's a good thing too because the ride takes over two hours. I watch the nondescript suburbs give way to the denser city. Just before we head into downtown, the highway goes by a river, a surprisingly pretty stretch of greenery right outside the concrete and skyscrapers of the central business district.
I get off the bus at the terminal, and look around for Mickey Cross. And there he is, lurking stiffly by the double doors. I realize instantly that the photos he has sent me are egregiously out of date. He is about ten years older and thirty pounds fatter than in those pictures. He looks middle aged, with a paunchy belly, even though he's barely thirty. He's wearing a bulky jacket and holding a rigid white cane.
For the briefest second, I consider bolting, but then I'm ashamed that I would even think such a thing. I started it, now I have to finish it no matter what.
Ever since I started planning this trip, I've had this fantasy that when we first meet, I'll just sidle up next to him and not say anything, but he'll know it's me. I told him this on the phone, and he agreed it sounded sexy--the element of surprise, but also knowing that there's a sexy girl approaching him. He agrees to it.
But now, when we are actually facing each other, it feels different than I imagined. I stand there for a minute, not saying anything. He notices me standing close and starts to smile nervously, but I just feel really dumb and embarrassed.
"Uhhh....is this who I think it is?" he murmurs.
Now I really don't know what to do. I feel like when I'm role-playing as the Mistress but lose my nerve and don't want to continue on with the scene. Do I continue on in mysterious sexy stranger mode, or switch gears suddenly and introduce myself like a normal person?
In the end I kind of half-assedly split the difference, by squeezing his hand and whispering, "Yeah, it's me."
"Oh. Um. Ok..."
"I'm starving. Wanna go get lunch?" I finally drop the act altogether.
Mickey takes my elbow, and we head out of the bus terminal. I have not done any research on restaurants or anything else, but I figure there have to be a ton of places to eat nearby.
As we're wandering down the street and I'm looking around for someplace to get lunch, a yuppie looking dude coming up from the opposite direction accosts us.
"Hey, Mickey!" he calls out, waving. "You're Mickey Cross, right?"
"Yes." We stop to say hello.
"It's Ted, from high school, remember?"
"Yes, I remember you," Mickey replies, shifting nervously from foot to foot.
They exchange small talk for a few minutes, catching up on what each has been doing. Ted seems friendly and genuinely happy to see him. Mickey doesn't introduce me.
"Ok, we've got to go now. Later," Mickey says abruptly.
"Good to see you, man! Keep in touch." Ted gives him a manly pat on the shoulder, then takes off.
"That's so weird. I haven't seen him since high school graduation," Mickey says as we continue on down the street.
"He seems nice enough."
"No, he's a huge asshole. He used to make fun of me in high school. I mean, everyone made fun of the blind kid, but he did too."
"Oh, that sucks."
It does suck, but Mickey is clearly not over it. He goes on a long, angry tirade about the kids in his school and how awful they all were. Ugh, I'm getting flashbacks to Seymour the Cyborg. I was bullied too, but at some point you have to put it behind you if you want to live an adult life. But I don't say that.
"Oh look, here's a diner with all day breakfast," I say instead. "How does that sound?"
He agrees, so we go in and sit down in a booth. I offer to read him the menu, but he just asks if they have burgers and goes with that. K always used to insist that I read him the entire menu, every item, even things I knew he didn't like, just so he knew what was on offer. It was really irritating, so I'm glad Mickey goes with a more efficient method, although it does suggest a certain lack of curiosity on his part.
I'm really trying hard not to compare Mickey to K, but it's impossible not to. Where K was charming and outgoing, Mickey is painfully shy and awkward, and where K was supremely confident, and to be honest, kind of an egomaniac, Mickey is nervous and defensive. Also I can't help but notice that Mickey's O&M skills are not nearly as good. He seems much less aware of his body language and of his surroundings. He's clumsy and walks kind of slowly and hesitantly. K had taught himself echolocation. Is that really such a rare skill among people who have been blind from birth?
As we eat our burgers and fries, we rehash many of the same conversations we've had online. He goes on an angry rant about people with BIID and how they should just fall on a pair of scissors. Then he moves on to the lame, stupid blind people he has known, including a couple who tried to have sex in a restaurant.
"No way! Really?"
"Yeah, it's like they forgot that just because they can't see anyone else, other people can still see them. They were asked to leave." He laughs bitterly.
I recall a story K told be about the time he was required to spend a week at a life skills training center for blind people, in order to get a college scholarship. He said none of the other blind people there had any social skills but they all spent the week trying to have sex with each other. He avoided all of them. I don't share this story either, and try to banish thoughts of K from my mind.
The conversation moves on to devotees. I repeat my theory that I was just born this way but he's less interested in speculating about causes than complaining about how all devotees want to talk about is Daredevil. This has become a sore point for me because I don't want to deny or have to defend my love for all things Daredevil but I also don't want him to think that means I'm only interested in the fantasy and can't deal with the reality of a disability. In the end I let him ramble on but don't really say anything.
As he talks, I watch him eat his french fries. There are still quite a few on his plate, but he can't seem to find them. He keeps reaching out with his fork but coming up empty. Eventually he starts feeling around with his fingers. My eyes glaze over as I'm consumed with desire, just watching him.
We reach the end of the meal. The server comes by and we pay the bill.
"Ok, now what?" he asks nervously.
"Now we are going to go to a hotel and have sex."
He turns red and squirms around in the booth. I can see shyness battling it out with horniness.
"Is that ok? Do you want to?" I ask.
Horniness wins out. "Ok, let's go."
We walk out into the street again, him on my arm. Together we wander about in search of a hotel. Again, I have not made any plan or even researched this neighborhood in advance, but we're in a downtown business area so I assume there will be plenty of hotels around.
This is making me nostalgic for the love hotels of East Asia. For a moderate fee, you can rent a room by the hour in a discreet, clean hotel room. Why can't we have that here? It would make life so much easier.
But I do have a plan for how to pull this off. I spent a summer in college working as a maid in the cheapest motel in College Town, and I learned all the tricks. Hotels really don't like it if you ask to rent a room by the hour, and they will throw you right out. But as long as you pay for the whole night and don't create a public nuisance, they don't care what you use the room for. My plan is to book a room for one night using my credit card, then call the next morning and say I left early in the morning and forgot to check out, making sure I've been charged for the one night. The maids can tell when a room has not been slept in overnight, but they really don't care, and at that point we will be long gone.
We walk along and I spot a high rise hotel a block off the main street.
"Ok, just stay cool and follow my lead," I instruct Mickey as I guide him through the automatic doors and into the lobby.
The hotel is not a chain, but it appears mid-range--not too fancy, not at all sleazy. There are several other people in the lobby, checking in and out. Perfect.
I waltz up to the desk and ask for a room for one night, doing my best to exude an aura of confidence and casualness. The clerk is happy to help us. It's all going fine, but next to me Mickey is literally shaking in his shoes. As I fill out the guest information, he puts both hands up on the black slate countertop, and his hands are sweating so badly, he leaves enormous wet prints behind.
"Calm down," I hiss at him when the clerk walks away to process my credit card.
The clerk comes back and hands me the receipt and the room keys. "So do you need a parking voucher?" she asks, "or help with your bags?"
Shit! I forgot that our total lack of luggage is a giveaway.
"No thanks," I say, smiling and maintaining eye contact. "We, uh, left our bags in the car. We'll just go up to the room now and come back down for them later."
"Ok, no problem." If she thinks anything is amiss, she doesn't give any indication.
We go up to the room, and Mickey kind of collapses on the bed. "Oh my god, I thought I was going to have a heart attack."
I laugh. "What for? Come on, I told you it would be fine."
The room is small but nice and clean, with a white bedspread and a view of the city. Mickey is still seeming super nervous, so I sit down next to him on the bed and encourage him to take off his jacket and shoes. He's wearing a blue and green jersey and black jeans. He has a long thin face, and his eyes are kind of scarred over. He doesn't always open them fully, but they sometimes roll and twitch. I like that he doesn't wear sunglasses. He shouldn't have to hide what he looks like.
"Uh...now what?" He rubs his sweaty hands on his legs, sitting stiffly at the edge of the bed, because there isn't anywhere else to sit in the room.
"Now we take some photos," I say, pulling out my digital camera. I take a few shots of him looking uncomfortable, then lean into the frame and take a few selfies together. I'm grinning like an idiot but he can barely manage a tight smile. He really doesn't ever smile that I notice. Or show any kind of emotion on his face. Again, that lack of awareness that body language is a thing.
After I've taken a few photos, I put my camera away, but stay sitting up close to him, with my arm over his shoulder. We start kissing, and he is...not good. Even his mouth is tense and nervous, his lips taut. What I really want more than anything is for him to touch my face with his sensitive fingers, but he's already made his thoughts on that abundantly clear, so I don't even ask.
As if he could read my mind, he repeats that he is not going to touch my face, faces are boring, they are all the same, there's no point, etc etc.
"Ok, ok, let's get to it then," I say, trying to keep the tone light and fun. I strip off his shirt and push him playfully down onto the bed, where he collapses in a heap.
He had described himself as pale and squishy, which I had taken as a self-deprecating exaggeration, but no, he is one of the palest guys I have ever seen. I can see his blue veins under the skin. He looks like he has never gone outside or exercised in his life. I am the least athletic person ever, but even I have made an attempt to stay fit with occasional swimming, weight lifting, and yoga. I feel muscle-bound compared to him. I have never seen such flaccid arms on an adult, or at least on an adult without a spinal cord injury.
But it doesn't matter, because I am still super turned on just being with him. I've come prepared with condoms and lube in my purse. Once we're finally lying naked in the bed together, I was hoping his nervousness would dissipate and we could both go at it like the freaks we are. But he's obviously inexperienced and unsure. I have to keep guiding him along.
At one point, I glance out the window and notice that it's raining. Not just raining, but a Noah's Ark level downpour. I can't even see the buildings across the street because it's coming down so hard. I comment that it's a good thing we're not still walking around outside.
I enjoy the sex while we're doing it, but the moment after I come, it's like a switch flips in my brain and all of a sudden all I want to do is bolt out the door. I feel like every asshole guy I have ever hooked up with, who pretended to like me then never called. I hate myself for feeling this way, but it's like the spell has been broken. I have to admit I find Mickey really irritating. It's all I can do not to run away.
But of course I can't just leave him in a hotel room with no means to find his way back to the bus on his own. Again I remind myself, I started this, now I have to see it through to the end.
We loll around in bed for a little while longer, but it's getting close to dinner time, so eventually we get up and leave. Mickey is nervous again about going through the hotel lobby, but I reassure him that no one is going to notice us leave or care. Thankfully the rain has stopped.
Once again we wander the streets until I find a promising looking restaurant for dinner, this time an Irish pub that serves an early dinner. Mickey talks again about the random high school acquaintance we ran into earlier, and how much he hates him. I try to keep up my end of the conversation as we eat, but I am so over him. I'm getting the impression more and more that he doesn't have any actual social life, apart from a few other blind people he hangs out with but doesn't really like that much. He jokes about how his mother has said he needs to work out because he's getting fat, and all I can think is that she is right.
After dinner, we walk back to the bus terminal. By now it's starting to get dark. As I'm taking him to his platform, Mickey suddenly announces that he wants to pay me back for his half of the hotel room, but he doesn't have the cash. Is there an ATM around?
I scan the terminal, but all I see are people hurrying about. There is no sign of any ATM. But he insists, so we walk around trying to find one, me dragging him up and down stairs, him stumbling along behind me. It's driving me crazy how slowly he walks. His bus is coming in just a few minutes and I'm afraid he's going to miss it with this pointless hunt.
Finally I tell him there is no ATM and take him to the platform. He continues to insist that he wants to repay me, but honestly I don't care. The money is really no big deal. I heave a huge sigh of relief as I usher him onto his bus, then dash off to another platform for my own bus, headed in the opposite direction.
I settle into my seat and call my aunt to let her know what time I'll be arriving at the bus stop. As the bus pulls out of the station and onto the highway, I recline my seat, put on my headphones, and zone out. I try not to think about what just happened with Mickey, or what I'm going to tell my family when I get home.
I'm so spaced out that it takes me about thirty minutes to realize that the bus has stopped moving. What the hell? We appear to be in gridlock traffic on the highway, but the opposite side is completely empty. The other passengers are straining into the aisle to try to see through the front windshield and figure out what's going on. After forty-five minutes of idling at a complete stand-still, the bus driver finally informs us of what is going on: the earlier rainstorm flooded a section of highway just ahead of us. It's too deep for cars to drive through, in fact some have gotten stranded already. But there is no off ramp between us and the flooded section, so we and all the cars ahead of us are trapped.
I realize that we are on the part of the highway right next to the river that I had noticed on the way in. It's like the highway dips down to pass right along the river. What kind of design is that, I ask you? I think back to the short but intense rainfall when we were in the hotel. I thought I was lucky to avoid getting stuck outside while it was raining. I had no idea I would be caught up in the aftermath hours later.
I call my aunt again to let her know what's going on and that I'm going to be delayed, then sit back to wait. It takes over an hour for the police to arrive and start directing traffic, and even longer for the bus driver to call dispatch and get instructions on what to do. The police close off oncoming traffic on the nearest on ramp, and have all the cars drive the wrong way up the on ramp to clear them out of the area. It takes forever for each car to turn around and get clear.
Eventually the entire freeway clears out and we drive up to the edge of the flooded section, which looks like a small pond at the lowest point in the highway. The bus driver seems to be going back and forth with the cops and with dispatch over whether to go back to the terminal or try to drive through. Well, if we end up back at the terminal, at least I have a hotel room already booked. I have to laugh at how ironic it would be if I ended up staying overnight in that room after all.
But three big rig trucks make it through the flooded area ahead of us, and so the decision is made that the bus is also big enough and high enough off the ground that we should be ok. The sight of a half submerged minivan in the opposite lane does not inspire confidence.
The cops give the driver the go-ahead. He backs up a bit, then guns the engine. As we hit the water, the resistance slows the bus, actually moving us backward slightly, which creates an enormous wave that comes straight at us, big enough to completely cover the windshield. That's it, I'm going to drown here, I think as I watch the brown water flow over the glass up to the roof of the bus. I'm going to die on a highway next to a flooded river in Hub City, and my last act in life will have been a random hookup I immediately regretted.
But luckily, the water does not get in the exhaust pipe. The driver floors it and we lurch forward out of the pond. The passengers all cheer as we make it back onto dry land.
"Now you have a story to tell your grandkids!" the driver laughs.
Somehow I don't think I will be telling my grandkids this particular story.
Once we make it to the other side, I can see that the gridlock in the opposite direction is even worse. We drive by stranded cars for miles and miles. People are sitting on the roofs of their cars and milling about in the road, waving to us as we go by.
It's nearly midnight by the time I finally get back. As I recount the story of the bus ride home to my family, I realize that this ordeal is actually a blessing in disguise, because by the time I'm finished, everyone has forgotten about the reason I was downtown in the first place. No one asks about my "friend" which is a good thing because I can't even remember if the person I invented is male or female. The next morning I call the hotel to make sure I'm checked out and the bill is paid. And that's it. I don't mention anything about it for the rest of my visit with my family.
Figuring out what to do about Mickey Cross is not as easy. When I get home, I chat online about him with Dot, but she doesn't really have any advice for me. I want to let him down easy, but I don't know how. The truth is I find him immature and angry, but after I came on so strong, to tell him now that I don't like him seems cruel. I liked him while we were having phone sex, but after meeting in person, he really put me off. The uglier truth is that I used him for sex, but telling him that seems even more cruel. I feel horribly guilty about leading him on then ghosting him, but any explanation I can think of for why I don't want to talk to him anymore seems even worse. I didn't go into this intending to use him, but that's what I did anyway.
In the end, I don't say anything. I guess he gets it, because he doesn't contact me either.
Mickey, I'm sorry.