Anthony Owens invited me to go trick-or-treating with him in Harlem. We headed just a few blocks East from our apartment on 121st Street to the Mt. Morris bathhouse. There was no need to put on costumes. Everyone is naked in a gay bath house.It was the year of the World Trade Center attacks. Just a few months prior, we watched on television what appeared to be the world coming to an end in our own backyard. We were depressed and wanted to celebrate the holiday.
“Girl, if you think the Rambles in Central Park has cock to die for; you need to come with me to Mt. Morris. They’ll go nuts over that big white bootie of yours there. Here, take one of these and we’ll leave in an hour.”
We waited at least forty-five minutes to be checked in. Mt. Morris Baths reminded me of the home of my neighbor, Cathy Smith on Halloween night. Kids lined up outside her door just to get one of her treats. She gave away money instead of candy to children who went trick-or-treating in Three Springs. Kids returned numerous times throughout the night to make more money, but Cathy was smart. She made the kids take off their masks so she could see their faces in order to avoid duplicate payments.
A Middle-Eastern clerk insisted that we turn in a form of identification and at least a $5 deposit which he sealed, airtight, inside a plastic bag. He asked us to initial the bag with a magic marker. Anthony assured me that we would get the deposit bag back when we checked-out and turned in our room keys. He advised me to keep my wallet at the front desk inside the sealed bag because “fags can be ruthless thieves”. The hairy clerk handed me several condoms and two tiny tubes of lubricant.
“Trick-or-treat,” I said to the man behind the counter as he buzzed me into the main floor of Harlem’s best kept secret. We could have entered the facility much sooner if we had settled for a ‘walk-in room’; a closet- like space at the back of the underground steam facility. I chose to wait. Walk-in rooms do not have beds. I reminded Anthony that I like to lay- out while having sex and doing it while standing up was primitive. “If I want to screw a dozen men standing up, I’ll go to Central Park. No thanks, Anthony. I want a room with a bed. You are a top. You could not possibly understand.”Anthony vanished into the crowds of men roaming the carpeted hallways before I could ask him his room number. The tiny pill that he had given me to take earlier in the evening was kicking in and taking hold of my sanity. I felt absolutely flawless. My skin was sparkling and my muscles were still pumped from working out at the gym earlier that morning.
The rooms of Mount Morris Baths are like hen houses. Chicken wire lines the ceiling and only a thin strip of plywood separates each room. It’s quite easy hearing what goes on next door. Above the wire is a dark empty space that seems to reach deep into the heavens. The ceiling area is filled with lots of cobwebs which obviously do not capture insects, but rather the moans of men. I shut the thin door to my room and crawled onto the bed which was not really for sleeping. It was a wooden box filled with a padded foam mattress that was more like a huge tampon than a Seely Posturepedic.I kept the door shut and was saving myself— for what exactly, I do not know. How did I let my roommate talk me into coming here? Oh it was the pill he gave me. It made me feel less self-conscious. I was feeling fuzzy and sexy. I looked out the door. I turned on the light in my room by pulling a chain of metal beads connected to a 40 watt light bulb. The men roaming outside could not get a good look at me. Tons of insatiable bottoms paced nervously up and down the carpeted hallway, cock blocking my territory. A stranger stood outside for at least 10 minutes. We were in Harlem and Black men are often embarrassed being seen slipping in and out of rooms occupied by white bottoms. Eventually he made the move inside my room and quickly shut the door so that he would not be seen with me. My legs were resting comfortably on a set of two-by-fours that ran down the plywood walls of the tiny room. The energy from the drug I was on was very intense. I could feel my heart pound under my tight pectoral muscles. I wetted my thumbs with saliva and rubbed my nipples while the stranger continued to seduce me at the foot of the bed.He was about six foot tall with a full head of dreadlocks that touched his broad shoulders. A Latino bottom in the room next door could hear me begin to seduce the stranger. I could hear him sucking his teeth on the other side of the thin wall.
The tall, dark stranger unwrapped a white towel, his only mask, revealing a monster. I could not believe it. In all of my days of roaming dark alleys, busy public parks, truck stops and public restrooms, I had never seen one so large. The circumference was like that of my wrist and the length was substantial; long enough to hang from the bottom of a pair of boxer shorts. I realized that he was deformed and although most men would appreciate having such a prized treasure, he rarely found anyone, man or woman, who could accommodate his needs.
“You scare me with that thing.” I said.
The Latin guy next door laughed at my lie.
The stranger looked at me with sad, sexy eyes and started to turn to leave. I thought of the Spanish bottom in the room next to us and knew I had to act fast.“Wait, I’m just pulling your leg.” I said before bending over. He spit in me after just five hard, deep thrusts.
His cries will never leave my mind. The way he moaned sent chills down my back. Years later, as I recall that Halloween night in Harlem, I wish he had fallen in love with me, but it was a bath house, and men go there to be someone they are not. What a perfect way to spend Halloween night.