Adam clicked off his phone, decisively, finally determined to break the all-powerful Grindr Industrial Complex Pleasure Feedback Loop that had taken and held him prisoner for most of the evening.
Grindr conversations always go the same, anyway. If they can even be called conversations. Scripts comes closer. Semi-lucid wet dreams, maybe?
Those strange islands of the internet are all body-body-body—but so very rarely face-face-face. Adam had basically given up on finding personality, or humor, or god forbid, intelligence-intelligence-intelligence. Punctuation and accurate spelling had been the first to go, in the long series of compromises comprising his dating life, and hardly even seemed worth noticing anymore.
Sure, he could arrange a hookup—had, in fact, perfected the coded yet superficial shorthand that passed as dialogue in the various online location-based social fuckworking communities the gays had so eagerly adopted in place of nuance or subtlety—but he hated stupid, he hated brain dead, he hated when vapidity and physicality superseded content, not only in his sex life, but in pop culture, too. Major awards shows and Kelly Clarkson follow-up albums, and well, you just name it, it pissed him off and bored him to no end.
But now he was semi-hard and horned as fuck, and what was he supposed to do? Masturbate, like some kind of nun? He tugged at his swollen cock, readjusted his balls in his jockeys, and decided to give it one last go.
This time, he did the approaching.
He chose, almost at random, one of the many, many headless torsos clogging up the application like some kind of holding pen for transient mannequins, sorted, not by intelligence quotient or religious preference or ethnic affiliation, but by distance alone. Pure and simple and perfectly egalitarian, such a system as this. For, “where?” will forever be a question more eagerly and accurately answered by a dyed-in-the-wool faggot than “who?”
In fact, he’d long-since come to the conclusion that the question “Who are you?” is perhaps the most terrifying thing to ask a homosexual on the prowl. “Who are you?” comes pre-loaded with too many associations with the perpetual bar raids and subsequent public humiliations of the 50’s and 60’s, the cheesily-styled self-help movement of the 70’s and 80’s, the psychoanalysts’ couches and Christian reprogramming centers of the 90’s and early 2000’s. Worst of all, “Who are you?” inherently and unapologetically shatters altogether the implied anonymity of the current internet age.
After a few moments of breathless anticipation, the torso wrote back.
Ooh, a perfectionist. With a sense of humor, to boot. Adam decided to jump at this one.
The most elegant Grindr inquiry ever. For, in response, exactly zero words are needed. A map, bright red pinpoint and all, popped onto his chat screen.
He was nearby, this torso, but in an odd location. A part of town adjacent to Adam’s own neighborhood, though filled with warehouses, artists’ spaces, and tiny, failing boutiques that closed up by six or seven, at the latest.
Every thing ha ha
He thought he’d at least make one last effort to see the cow, before buying the fuck out of its milk for free. After three minutes of waiting and, with no reply, Adam decided to go for it, sight unseen. Or at least, face unseen.
Fuck it, he thought.
Another long minute of suspense, and then:
Adam clicked off the phone again, shoved a hand down the front of his pants to reshape his bulge, pulled it out, performed a simple smell check, and determined that his crotch was the perfect level of rank for a quick and drrrty hookup. He took only a few bucks and his driver’s license with him, in case anything other than his trick ended up going down, and hurried out the door.
Outside, Adam made his way past the usual pedestrians and homeless types, and ducked down a side street, easily following the walking map with which the Google Corporation had so generously provided him. Back here, off the beaten path, the sidewalks were emptier, though no less busy, with their wavering nighttime shadows and the occasional young hustler, looking at him with a dead-eyed stare, suggestive of both longing and murderous intentions.
Thank god we’ve come so far since those days, he thought to himself, feeling sorry for his homosexual forefathers, who had had to slink about in the dark prison of secrecy and shade, sacrificing so much of themselves, and risking their lives just to have an orgasm the way they wanted. At least his generation didn’t have to make use of prostitutes and video arcades and cover of night to get off. Not if they didn’t want to, anyway. Thank god we’ve been liberated, he thought, and looked down at his phone, wishing he had more sex-apps to check or update or check again for the hundredth time.
He arrived at the address indicated by the torso’s message, and looked around. It was, in fact, a kind of commercial warehouse space. Strange. Adam couldn’t think of a single friend or acquaintance who lived in one of these buildings, and thought it an odd place to arrange a rendez-vous. Guy must be a live-work studio artist or something, he considered, imagining a dingy mattress on a paint-spattered concrete floor, in the corner of some cavernous, high-ceilinged room filled with canvases and dirty brushes, and the evocative, overpowering scent of mineral spirits and alizarin crimsons.
He started to get hard just thinking about it, but knew from experience that these hookups were never as romantic or operatically-charged as one might hope. The talented and truly interesting boys were in short supply on Grindr, whereas there seemed to be no end of flavorless businessmen with expensive furniture and zero personality. The sex act Adam anticipated for the night was more likely to occur on a back loading dock or behind a dumpster somewhere, with a shivering married guy who kept saying shush and looking over his shoulder in fear of discovery.
Grindr joke #49.
Oh well, Adam shrugged and looked for the door, having already clicked over into the single-minded, instinctive headspace of a man seeking to fuck. As long as I get off.
Neither of them had discussed, during their brief exchange, what they were “into,” or how exactly each of them was interested in getting off that night. There had been no time to jockey for preferred positions or acts, and so Adam wasn’t sure what form the encounter might ultimately take. As usual, he was ready for just about anything, or nothing at all if the circumstances proved too sketchy.
Finding no entrance at the front of the building, he slipped down a little alley alongside it, carefully navigating around a lumpy pile of trash bags heaped up against the wall. He moved farther and farther, until he reached the back, and found a heavy metal door interrupting the meticulous pattern of cinderblocks that composed the building’s back half.
Approaching, he saw a little metallic callbox, pushed the single button on the thing, and waited for a reply. When the speaker buzzed to life after a few long moments, he heard nothing but a kind of static, and what sounded like a high-pitched whimper.
Grindr joke #216: dude with an annoying little dog that proceeds to spend the next thirty-five minutes going absolutely bonkers and jumping up and down, on and off the bed.
Oh well, he figured, already past the point of turning back, and pulled at the door handle when he heard the magnetic, unlocking buzz.
The place was cavernous, indeed, and very dark. While Adam’s eyes adjusted, he tried out a few well-worn salutations.
“Hey man,” he ventured. “Hi.” No response. “Sup.”
As he plotted his next course of action, he finally heard something to his right. Footsteps. Shuffling, stumbling, plodding their way across the echoing expanse of the space.
Grindr joke #338: dude’s drunker than shit, and barely recalls his own name, much less having orchestrated a hook-up.
Oh well, oh well, oh well, Adam tried to convince no one in particular this time. At least this way, he’d be in control of the ordeal, and could decide which way he wanted it and, more importantly, when to go home.
“Hey, can you turn on a light?” Adam asked.
He heard the guy flip a stiff, industrial light switch, and the overhead fluorescents hummed into life, dimly at first, as they powered up. Adam covered his eyes against the sudden brightness, and braced himself for the inevitable and final, cruel punchline of the Grindr comedian-gods—a squat, overweight little man (hence, no profile stats regarding size or shape), with an ugly, unforgiving mug (hence, no face pic available), and nothing much to say in the first place (hence, no prefatory chit-chat).
What he saw instead, once his eyes had adjusted and he felt secure enough to peek between his fingers, filled him with a horror he’d never experienced in all his thirty-four years. One he would never experience again.
There, before him, teetering on two perfectly-formed legs, stood the torso with whom he had earlier communicated. Its waist, narrow and sculpted. Its rock-hard abs, practically ripped from a cover of Men’s Health. Its pecs, a picture of hairless perfection. Its wide, swimmer’s shoulders, leading to two stumps. Its thick, muscular neck, giving way to nothing at all, other than a hollow, veiny place where once a head might have sat.
Adam tried to cry out, but was overtaken by flashing, throbbing patterns of fear in his field of vision, which quickly assembled themselves into an urgent image of the sculpture of Winged Victory he’s seen once at the Louvre, similarly lacking in arms and countenance, but taking flight, lifting off, escaping, as if to a place of safety and immortal leisure. Adam wanted nothing more than to do the same, to flee, to rise above. But his heavy, human legs wanted nothing of the sort.
The torso lurched forward, flipped another switch. While angels flashed across Adam’s mind, he felt a sharp piercing between his shoulderblades, as a heavy meat hook took him from behind, snatching him up into the air. He sailed across the room on a jerky conveyer, dangling helplessly, clumsily flapping his arms and legs, hoping to break free somehow.
When he saw the automatic blades snap into position and assume a terrifying chopping motion just ahead, he gave in, relaxing into his fate like a naughty kitten being carried away by the Scruff (another fine smartphone application). He smashed his eyes shut, and prayed for a quick death, as this disassembly line sliced through his extremities like a side of beef.
His arms and legs thudded into a giant metal collection container, dirty like a dumpster, below. He looked down, while he still could, and saw the pile of arms and legs, already waiting in the big machine. Another flip of another switch, and it too roared to life, beginning to chew up the parts, which spewed out onto the naked, greasy floor below.
The sudden loss of blood and utter shock of it all created a kind of thought-storm in his head, where gods and goddesses came and went, where artistic ideals swirled and converged as if attending an orgy, and then came out the other side like so much ground meat.
Ahead, he saw the final blade, this one running parallel to the ground. He understood its purpose implicitly, and allowed himself to succumb to the darkening silence inside his mind.
He was armless now, and legless and headless and thoughtless, like all the other perfect specimens of Grindr. His torso was hosed down, and released from the hook, from whence it fell onto a perfectly art-directed set of expensive sheets, and perfunctorily photographed in such a way as to reveal none of the horror bits, the new edges of his body perfectly aligning with the edges of the pic being snapped.
Coming to, Adam found himself hovering at the disembodied edges of existence, in a kind of transitory space. From within his freshly-updated profile, he cried out for attention, for help, for rescue from the hell that had become his life, like so many others on these kinds of apps.