by Lynne Franklin

originally published in THE BIG B7 ZINE (1993)

"Gleefully written for Cami on her birthday"

        As the large vidscreen crackled to life with a pop and the hiss of static, a ghostly image slowly built and solidified until it became clear. The image was that of a human foot. It was a man's foot, that much was readily apparent. Though there was nothing else in the shot to be used for perspective, one got the impression that the foot was fairly large. It was definitely slender, and the arch was high and graceful. The toes, also elongated and thin, were well-shaped with the middle toe being slightly longer than those on either side. A few dark hairs were scattered across the top of the foot, and the toe nails were neatly groomed.

        Slowly, the camera widened its focus and began to pan up the leg. The fine-boned ankle flowed smoothly into a muscular calf, lightly dusted with dark hair. As the owner of the foot and leg pivoted and turned, the pale skin glowed, highlighting the bunching and relaxing of the calf muscles. The muscles, though obviously strong, were not bulky. Rather they were long and sinewy, more the muscles of a runner or swimmer than those of a weight lifter. As the leg pivoted again, the front of the calf became visible. The tibia, long and straight, pressed prominently against the pale flesh. Watching the interplay of bone and muscle, one knew that the rest of the man would be like the bit we'd seen so far. He would be tall, with a lanky, loose- limbed build. The anticipation of knowing for sure was almost enough to wish the vid camera would hurry its leisurely exploration. Almost.

        Continuing its upward journey, the vid camera moved on to the knee. Here it met the only jarring chord in what so far had been a melodious orchestration of symmetry, form, and function. The knee was knobby; there was really no other way to describe it. The kneecap, rather too prominent for good taste, demanded attention as it broke the smooth line from lower leg to thigh. As if sensing the disharmony created by this aberration, the vid camera quickly changed views, swinging around until it focused on the back of the knee. Here balance and beauty were restored. The back of the knee was hairless and the skin was baby-fine and incredibly white. The tracing of strong blue arteries could be clearly seen beneath the translucent flesh. The strength of the leg and the vulnerability of the back of the knee created a paradox that was at once fascinating and frightening. Everything about this limb screamed healthy, strong, virile man, but the back of the knee whispered of a long-ago little boy, of baby powder and lullabies. As if appreciating the dichotomy, the camera lingered on this fragile flesh, caressing it with its lens.

        At last, slowly, almost reluctantly, the vid camera moved on. With the thigh, all faint memories of long distant childhood were wiped away. The well-developed quads flexed and rippled as the leg moved, drawing attention to the grace and perfection of the lines. Moving up the thigh, the dark hair that lightly dusted pale skin began to thicken and darken as the camera moved toward the joining of the groin. Then, as if sensing the building anticipation and striving to prolong it, the vid camera swung to the back of the leg and repeated the pan from knee to upper thigh.

        Seeming almost to arch and purr under the visual caress of the vid camera, the muscles that molded the back of the thigh stretched in lissome elongation as the owner of said leg bent from the waist. Finally, realizing that the teasing had gone on long enough, the camera fulfilled its unspoken promise and panned up to focus on the tightly muscled buttocks. The bent-over position thrust the rump into the camera and showed off each firm cheek to advantage. Not even the fact that the bottom in question was covered by a layer of thin white cotton could detract from its appeal. The fabric, clingy and very thin, faithfully traced the supple lines of the ass and hinted at the valley between the cheeks. As the owner flexed and reached for something out of view, the light-weight covering showed to good advantage the dimples that came and went in the thrusting gluteals with the motions.

        At last, as the figure slowly returned to an upright position, the camera pulled back, widening its focus to include the entire man. On the rapid journey up and around to spotlight the man's face, the vid camera treated you to a far too rapid and tantalizing glimpse of the man's groin. Also encased in thin white fabric, the mound of flesh so lovingly and faithfully outlined erased any lingering daydreams about delicate little boys. This was definitely the body of an adult male, poised and comfortable with his masculinity...and slightly aroused by this voyeuristic video survey.

        Once there, the vid camera lingered on the face, a face well- suited to the body. It too was long, lean, and youthful. The hair crowning the face was a mass of brown curls, full of energy and just barely under control. The glowing eyes, peeping out from under over-long bangs, appeared a changeable blue; one minute as clear as a summer sky, the next as deep and turbulent as a storm-tossed sea. The nose, slightly upturned on the end and almost too cute for a man, was saved from prettiness by the slight bump on the bridge. And the scattering of freckles that covered the whole face resurrected the little boy fantasies that the groin had just laid to rest. The mouth, thin lipped and serious, sounded the only incongruous note in the entire picture.

        Then the man allowed a small smile to break free, flashing dimples and prefect white teeth, and the picture was harmoniously restored. The young man continued to stare into the vid camera for long seconds. The quirky grin and sparkling eyes hinted at a shared secret, something that just you and he were privy to. Even if you didn't know the secret, knew, in fact, nothing but the frustration of not knowing the secret, you couldn't help but smile back. The man, the grin, the whole mood was just too infectious.

        At last the young man spoke. In one way the sound was jarring, the shattering of an illusion as a work of art assumed life and voice. In another, it was the completion of a dream, the fitting of the final piece into the puzzle. If one had thought about it, had mentally chosen the perfect sound to issue from this vision, one would have chosen the sound now heard. The voice was rich, elegant, and slightly husky, and it lingered on the ear like a costly ruby Port on the palate. It was a voice that was a rare treat now, but would mellow and mature, deepening to a magnificence one could only dream of.

        "A pair of Space Jockies is the only thing that gets between me and my flight suit."

        Turning profile to the vid camera, the young man began to step into a standard issue flight suit of midnight blue. As he wiggled the snug garment up his legs and over trim hips, the scene faded to grey. An instant later an artfully tumbled pair of Space Jockies could be seen lying in a heap on the floor. The vid camera zoomed in until the logo on the tag at the waist of the shorts filled the screen. At that, the music that had been unobtrusively playing in the background swelled to a crescendo, then the screen cut to black.

        With a snap that sounded abnormally loud in the silence of the room, Tarrant shut off the vidscreen. Slowly, the bright glow of the screen faded away, leaving the room lit only by a small table lamp. Anxiously studying the man who sat beside him on the couch, he waited. Turning sideways on the cushion to better see his companion, he worried the ragged edge of a finger nail...and waited. Finally, unable to bear the pregnant quiet a moment longer, he spoke. "I warned you it was a bit suggestive."

        This came out in a defensive tone, a posture he'd promised himself he'd not assume.

        The response was spoken in a dazed, almost stunned, tone, the speaker still staring at the blank vidscreen. "Yes. Yes, you did warn me, but somehow..." The words died away as the man began to shake his head.

        Righteous anger coming to his aid, Tarrant leapt to his feet and planted himself firmly in front of the seated man, blocking his fascinated study of the lifeless terminal. "Look, Vila, we needed the money. You know as well as I that we were down to our last few credits. Even if you were well enough to steal - which you aren't - we agreed that we'd like to stay on this planet a while. Stealing is a good way to have to leave in a hurry. We don't have very many marketable skills between the two of us. There isn't much call for thieves, rebels, and mercenaries any more. Any piloting job that paid worth a damn would have taken me away from you for weeks at a time; neither of us wanted or were ready for that." When there continued to be no response from his companion, Tarrant's voice rose in exasperation.

        "Damn it, Vila, we talked this all out when I first started going to auditions. And when I got offered this job I explained to you that the only asset I had that they were interested in buying was my body. I explained the sort of thing they were likely to produce before I made that vid ad and you agreed it was the right thing to do. It paid really well and if this ad's a success, there's talk of doing more." Running an agitated hand through his over-long curls, Tarrant began to pace before the couch. "Damn it, Vila, I won't have you angry at me for finding a way to keep us alive and together. I won't have you blaming me for something we both agreed had to be done."

        At last Vila raised hazel eyes to the man who paced before him. "Tarrant, love, I'm not angry and I'm not blaming you. You did explain everything and I thought I understood what was involved. It's just that you were There wasn't a whole lot left to the imagination, and everyone who saw that vid ad, male and female, are fantasizing about you right now. They're imagining what it would be like to follow the trail that camera took with their hands...or with their lips. Beings all over Kindron are having hot sexual fantasies about my lover. I'm the only one who's supposed to see you like that, to think of you that way..."

        Finally understanding the older man's reaction, Tarrant smiled. It was like the smile in the vid ad, but if that smile had been a glowing candle, this one was a supernova. "Aaahhh," he sighed, "but you've arrived at the most important point all on your own. I am your lover. Let their imaginations run wild. Let them dream of touching and caressing, because that's all they'll ever do...dream. You're the only one who gets to have the real thing, Vila. You're the only one I want touching me, kissing me," the voice dropped an octave to a suggestive whisper, "fucking me."

        Pulling the shorter man into a tight embrace, Tarrant whispered into a captive ear. "You silly Delta. I only want you, don't you know that by now?" It was just as well it was a rhetorical question because the sensations Tarrant's wandering hands were setting up were rapidly moving Vila past the point of coherent response. Drawing his lover into a passionate kiss, Tarrant set about soothing his fears and feeding his fantasies.

the end