Donald leaned out the third floor window and watched as I watered the garden. I squeezed the trigger on the hose gun and squirted a thick stream of water to the back of the yard and managed to reach the tomato plants without getting out of the lawn chair.
The staked plants were at least five feet tall and had started to produce an abundance of little green fruits. I aimed for the tops of the plants covered with yellow blossoms and knew that eventually some of the water would work its way down the plush green leaves and be absorbed through the roots.
I leaned my head back and looked up at Donald, a native American Indian, standing in his bathroom window with a towel wrapped around his lean body adorned with stomach muscles as perfect as kernels on an ear of corn.
“Hi Donald,” I replied pretending not to be lusting for him. I kept my head resting on the back of the chair as long as he was willing to hang over me like fish being smoked.
“Do you mind if I use your grill? I caught a bass yesterday and want to cook it over flames,” he explained.
“Where did you catch a bass?”
“The East River. I have a lifetime fishing license for the rivers of
New York City. I am an American Indian.”
“I know you are an Indian, Donald. I hear you up there dancing and beating those drums every night. Do you think it’s safe to eat a fish out of those waters?”
“Probably not but I’m going to eat this one.”
“Sure, no problem. Help yourself to the grill. Anthony and I are having guests over this evening. Do you remember Michael and Sunil? Well, they are coming over for dinner. You are welcome to join us.”
“I’m having company tonight too. She’s a school teacher. She’s not coming over until around 10:00, so maybe I’ll come down and hang out with you guys for a while.”
I lifted my head and readjusted the aim of the water and smiled. Donald was practically our roommate he spent more time in our apartment and backyard than his own place. All our friends adored him. He was, after all, as beautiful as a buffalo on the plains and thanks to his culture, he accepted homosexuals as civilized people, worthy of eating dinner with almost every night.
I heard a splat and looked behind me. Donald dropped the fish wrapped in newspapers from his third floor window and disappeared into the steam of his bathroom.“I’ll be down in a minute,” he shouted from behind his shower curtain.
I picked up the fish, lit the gas grill by pushing a red button and adjusted the nozzle on my hose.
Our dinner guests, Michael and Sunil were two flamboyantly gay bottoms who somehow found happiness under the sheets despite the fact that both fought for the right to be the one who got done each evening. Sunil, a member of Sri Lanka’s royal family, or so he claims, smelled like curry even when he didn’t drag one of his rice dishes to my back yard picnics. His lover Michael was a North Carolina native and gave the Dixie Chicks their idea to become a cross-over band. Michael honestly believed that he would one day become queen of Sri Lanka.They were fun to have over on weekends to share bottles of wine in the back yard. There were not many twenty year old couples in New York City who were in committed same-sex relationships in the mid ‘90s. It seemed like the rest of the town was busy buffing their bodies at gyms.The American Indian, Donald was really the reason why we all got together religiously on Saturday nights in Sunset Park,Brooklyn.
Even our straight friends, John and Linda, a Jew and a Muslim couple, were mesmerized by the man who was likely the last real American Indian in America. They all came to my cook- outs as if the vegetable garden were the Holy Land stuck in the middle of the Great Plains.
Donald entertained us all with his stories of American Indian culture.
“He’s cute but he’d have to take a bath before I played around with him,” Michael explained with a cigarette hanging loosely from his pointer and middle fingers. We sat around a plastic picnic table waiting for the Indian man with thick black hair and perfect white teeth to join us.
“You’re boyfriend smells like curry,” Anthony rebuffed jokingly. “How dare you dis’ Donald like that! I know you suck Sunil’s stinky goat meat every night. Donald is fine and you know it!”
Linda, the only female at our parties would giggle hysterically and try to change the topic from Donald to her plans to re-enter college and obtain her master’s degree in communications.
“Linda, it’s not about you tonight,” I would explain to the woman who claimed her Jewish boyfriend had a cock bigger than Donald’s.
“Can we all be gay here for a moment? You two have the rest of the world to run freely in. This is my home. Let’s talk about Donald!”
Donald was a tease. He did not come downstairs until he saw the food was being served and when all the lustful gossip among the queens and educated Linda had ended.He certainly was breathtaking. Even Linda stood up as he entered the back yard. We knew that royalty was in our presence and we fought over the right to be the one to pour his first glass of wine.
Despite the fact that I had a lover, Donald flirted shamelessly with me over dinner in the back yard. I couldn’t help but blush and flirt back when he told me how tasty my cooking was. It seemed as if he envied my homosexual relationship with Anthony and although he was straight, wished I lived with him and cooked all his meals.
My kitchen skills and seductive frying over a hot flame have always been my secret to finding the path through the intestines into the stomach of handsome men. Women, like my friend Linda never cease to baffle me with their insecurities relating to losing their guys.
“Linda, come spend a weekend with me– just you and I alone in the house and the kitchen. Let the guys go fishing. I’ll show you how to cook for a Jewish man and keep him monogamous,” I offered. She never accepted my offer.
Donald laughed hysterically as I offered to teach Linda how to cook for her man.
They all craved my food. They came back almost every Saturday, especially Donald who was downstairs at our place almost every night for a free hot meal. I never grew tired of cooking for them. And my garden, my beautiful garden in Sunset Park with the bird bath surrounded by egg plants– it truly was paradise back then when the world was at peace.Anthony, my partner of nine years and the soldier I fell in love with in
Ansbach, West Germany was the social butterfly during our notorious dinner parties. He did all the talking and I did all the broiling. It was a marriage made in heaven until the night I cooked Donald’s Stripped Bass– the one he caught in the East River.
Anthony often teased Donald and his mysterious sexuality. My lover was just as turned on as I was– constantly flirting with him and suggesting that he cross the line and let us ‘touch it’. Donald didn’t resist the gay passes. I dreamed of being done by both of them.
“I’m totally comfortable in my sexuality,” he said. “In my culture, gays had a purpose, a very important purpose,” he suggested. Sunil noted that he had read somewhere that in American Indian culture, just as in Sri Lanka and among Far East Indian cultures, effeminate men often served as the liaisons between the females and heterosexual males—they were the mediators, the ones who kept the peace in a world dominated by our reproductive instincts.
There was something about the stripped bass I cooked for Donald that was the last straw and the end of my nine year relationship with Anthony.
The recipe just came to me, as if I had cooked it in a past lifetime, as a squaw on the prairies of Nebraska.
I took one of the fresh green tomatoes from my garden and made a stuffing for the bass Donald caught. I fried the savory fish right next to the T-bone stakes on the outdoor grill. I swear, and so does Linda, that there was something about the fish we ate that night that changed our outlook on the world.
After melting a stick of butter in a cast- iron skillet, I threw in a chopped onion. With the flavoring of three mushrooms, I waited until the batch wilted. My last few remaining sprigs of parsley from the garden were also minced and added in as well as a few handfuls of bread crumbs.
After the salt and pepper were ground, I blanched the tomato and squeezed out the seeds and added it to my stuffing mix.
Donald hadn’t cleaned the fish he caught and asked me to cook so I used a knife to scrape the scales off by moving the blade from the tail towards the head. The guts came out easy. With one little poke in the pee hole and a delicate slice of the knife, I caused the uneatable portions of the fish to spill onto my cutting board.
I added a little Chardonnay to my tomato stuffing and squeezed in a lemon to take out the taste of the sea.
I stuffed the belly of the fish, sewed it shut with tooth picks, wrapped it in aluminum foil and threw it over the flame.
Donald never stopped looking at me that night as he ate the fish he caught. I’ll never forget those brown eyes undressing me under the moonlight– right in front of my lover, in my vegetable garden right next to purple egg plants.
The other guests loved the food too. Sunil suggested that the next time, I flavor the fish with a little more curry. Michael disagreed, told him to shut his trap and take him home and ‘do him’.
John looked at Linda and told her to take a few lessons. She burped and asked when he was going to ask her to marry him.
My lover Anthony asked everyone, including Donald to leave because he had the urge to fuck me up the ass until I screamed his name. “He’s my bitch you gluttons. Get out of my house now! We’ve had you,” he said as he made them paper plates filled with leftovers and sent them on their way.
Donald thanked me and headed upstairs.As he was leaving he told me he was making a vest from porcupine quills and he wanted to give it to me as a gift.
That evening as Anthony plowed me, all I could hear and think about was Donald dancing in circles above our heads while he pounded on his drums. He danced for hours, even after the love making with my partner had ended. His chants were mysterious and he sang them in a tone much lower than his speaking voice.I sensed him channeling to me from the apartment above us.
Anthony was already sleeping, sedated with at least five glasses of wine. Despite the fact that we had just made love, I was erect yet again thinking about what Donald may look like in his head dress and porcupine quills.
His drumming stopped and I could hear him walking around on his floor above us. I crawled out of the bed and went into the spare bedroom. There was a door in that bedroom which we never opened. It led to the stairway to Donald’s place.
Donald’s date with the school teacher must not have worked out. It was already Midnight and I knew she was supposed to arrive at least two hours ago. I would have heard her walking up the stairs if she decided not to keep her date with him.I decided to open the door to look into the hallway, perhaps just to be a nosey neighbor, or maybe I was just so hot I had to do something to ease my nerves.
“Why do you look away when I smile at you,” asked my Native American neighbor standing in the doorway.
“I feel guilty I suppose. Honestly, I’m hot for you,” I whispered.
“That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Did you know that you have a gift? My people say men like you have been granted two spirits in this life. Want to come up to my place and talk? Both of you?”
Sweat was pouring down his body from the dancing and he still had his feathers on. A small leather bikini covered his torso but it was not enough to disguise his tomahawk which fell way below the leather skirt.I thought of my lover sleeping and tempted him to come downstairs in my house for a just cup of coffee.He reached out and grabbed my hand and told me to let go of what I did not understand and that he would show me the way of his people.
I had never been inside the apartment on the top floor. All the walls were removed from the original structure of the brownstone and the only privacy offered was a door to the bathroom. Donald had candles lit throughout the place and all the windows were open. Despite the subtle August breeze the place smelled like stagnant smoke and his armpits.
A dainty woman with black hair tied in a bun sat on a futon in the middle of what was his living room.I was confused.“Cheyenne, this is Charles from downstairs—the excellent cook I was telling you about.”
The school teacher stood up and walked slowly across the room with her head held low. I reached out to shake her hand but she feel on her knees before me.I turned to my friend and neighbor not knowing how to properly introduce myself to her.Donald began circling us while lifting his legs high and once again moaned his chant. He slapped his thigh hard and spun in circles while moving around us.I reached both of my hands out to her and she took them and I helped her to her feet while the alpha male of our trio put on his head dress.
“We ask that you give it to us,” Cheyenne requested while holding her stomach. She was obviously pregnant. I remembered Donald’s remarks regarding the extra spirit my soul had been blessed with and concluded that I was somehow supposed to hand it over to the child in her womb.
I started to laugh realizing that the entire situation had spun of control and I was in the home of a mad man and his crazy pregnant girlfriend.
“Sure, it’s yours, take it,” I said sarcastically.
He took us both by the hand and led us to the futon and lit a long pipe and handed it to me.
My spirit was pure. I had never smoked a peace pipe in my life. Even after serving in the United States Army during peacetime, I was not a heavy drinker or a substance abuser. I hated the feeling I got after having more than two glasses of wine at dinner. I didn’t feel pretty when booze opened my third eye, so I avoided the disease of too much drinking that many of my friends and family had suffered from.
The substance in the pipe was obviously an illegal one. Anthony never wanted to smoke pot– too much drama in his family too. We tried it one time with our friends John and Linda. The taste was horrifying. I immediately ran to the bathroom and brushed my teeth and gargled with three capfuls of Scope.
It felt as if I were sitting in the field at Woodstock the first time I got high with John the Jew, Linda the Lady from Lebanon.
John and Linda were a cute couple. His hair was as blonde as a white boy from Kansas and she looked as much Muslim as I did. John’s theory on the reason why the Holocaust happened made sense as did Linda’s hypotheses on the future of the Middle East, its peace and a world where we will all live as one.
Their mouths ran more than usual when the four of us got stoned together and the night I first lost my substance abuse virginity.My high with my upstairs neighbor and his girlfriend was a totally new and gratifying experience.
I couldn’t resist Donald’s authentic Sioux peace pipe. I just had to try it as he started to perform what he called the “friendship dance” in front of his pregnant girlfriend and me.
After the first puff I started to laugh hysterically as he lifted his leg high just like actors did in old Hollywood films from the wild, wild, west.
The school teacher didn’t take part in the sharing of the pipe.
“It’s so cool you don’t smoke while you’re pregnant,” my high, hypocritical ass said to Donald’s girlfriend.
“I want my son to have two souls too,” she said while smiling at me and offering more of the peace pipe.
Donald untied the peace of leather deer hide wrapped around his mid-section and started dancing nude in front of us.She clapped her hands and shouted “Yeh, Yah, Yah Yeh. Yeh, Yah, Yah Yeh!”
“Are you a Shaman, my friend? I remember you, do you remember me?” She asked
“Shaman?”“A prophet, a healer, a visionary,” Donald explained.
I looked away, embarrassed by his nude body and huge brown cock swinging to the beat.
He lifted my head by the chin and smiled at me delicately and started to dance his friendship dance again.
“In most native American Indian tribes, the men, the hunters often developed relationships with other men. Their lives were spent away from the women and children on hunting expeditions. People like you served as the mediators between the males and females.”
My head spun in confusion as the school teacher lifted my white tank top and rubbed my chest.“This dance was used to express the love that two hunters had for each other. It was called the friendship dance.”
Suddenly, a hot flash overcame me. I felt as though a part of my soul had been stolen from me. I quickly ran to my lover and our bed and pretended, until this day, that the entire incident never took place.