If you haven't read part 14, do so here. Or you can start from the beginning.Rebuilding a relationship after a stumbling block like the one placed in Brandon's and my path (my mind rejects everything but cryptic phrases such as "what happened," or "the incident") is, I find, a slow process. I want to go back to our old camaraderie immediately, to be able to laugh without caution or the need for a quick glance to ensure Brandon's shared mirth.
Going home to Mr. Hale helps nothing. Not only am I thinking of the hurt Brandon attempts to hide when I have to clock off and go home, but also I have lost the will to enjoy sex, as mind-blowing as other men my age would find it. Mr. Hale attempts to make me orgasm when he is feeling particularly frisky, and occasionally can do so through knowledge of sensitive areas and honed technique. I wonder if he suspects that my devotion to him, the respect, and desire have all waned and paled into a dull reflection of earlier naïveté. I cannot help caring about him a little, like the seaman must have taken great care of his albatross necklace, or how Sisyphus must have known every inch of his boulder. That Mr. Hale cares for me is an uncomfortable kernel of knowledge, now that he must believe I have chosen (as much as I have the power to chose) to stay with him. He cares enough to lay a stamp of possession on, to provide for, and to bestow on me his peculiar and intense form of affection.
Sometimes my mood is particularly dark and cynical, such as while I feel my legs going to sleep as I kneel beside Mr. Hale's chair. Then I believe that I must be going through a transformation similar to that of a prostitute. I imagine one who entered believing the rise from sex worker to star of an exclusive burlesque show would be swift and facile, then who became too jaded to contemplate anything other than how he could have been so stupid to be suckered into the job in the first place.
A friend of Mr. Hale's once hired a prostitute for a party, a young man barely out of boyhood, but with old eyes and a well-practiced sneer. The objective was to cause the young man to ejaculate without ever touching his penis. After the attempts of four other men, Mr. Hale succeeded in doing so. The young man looked at him with something akin to terror, humiliated at the power wielded by the cold-eyed Viking who held him down and plowed him like a fertile field. I wonder if Mr. Hale remembers the prostitute, or thinks about him as I do whenever he manipulates me.
Life seems to be divided in two. One part of my life has not changed at all. The other is rapidly moving toward something that, when I am feeling generous or dangerously optimistic, I think of as independence. At these times I reflect on a slowly growing bank account, budding relationships with my coworkers, the small steps taken on a road back to friendship with Brandon, and I am exceedingly proud. How far you've come, I think. The rest of the time I wonder if I am deluding myself, usually when my knees have been thrown over my shoulders, my legs spread, and Mr. Hale is sweating above me, godlike in his power and hypnotic in stature. I will never get away from him , I think then. I ponder running away, packing my meager belongings and leaving, then upon remembering the vacation incident I stay put.