when i walked by the empty racquet ball court it was raining outside and a weird day (like a wednesday blanketed by long weekends) and the lights were off throughout the gym and i thought maybe it would be a good place to have sex. it was very dark but the walls of the court, you could tell, were white like old air force ones.

the floors were slick hardwood, parquet, with divots of front-toe imprint; hotspots where the nimble had been and would be stationed; launching pads from which lunges for these blue (and sometime green) balls (successful and flailing) began.

the ceilings, which i quite liked, were religiously high, distant enough to be abstract, to provide airspace for careening racquet balls but room too for gods and fairies to hover and for high-pitched squeals and grunts to float up and dissipate.

later — it was maybe a week or so after, specific days seemed that summer to be weak constructs — when we were there on that court having sex, rather awkward and more ambitious than excited, i remeber feeling so very small.

the lights were again off, we had made sure of this, and we humped frantically as if we both were hoping to be ‘done’ soon. we were lying, sides on floor, in the middle of the court, where old jewish men with headbands so often sweated through competition and we too were drenched.

while we had sex i made a point, i think, of looking around and digesting details with the hope of retaining the moment for later. i made note of the way the lights above looked like they were beckoning airplanes toward landing and how there were clusters of bruises on the walls, as if each surface was a scatterpoint graph and there was data to be processed and that someone smarter than i was working on a thesis about the whys and hows and implications of all this information.

i saw also that there was far too much distance between us (having sex, lazily but also anxiously) and any surrounding wall. so much distance that i felt like a dog whose owner (maybe represented by the wall furthest from us) was impatiently waiting for us to do ‘our business.’

if there was a spotlight on us i think the setting would have maybe been more appropriate, the whole environment more fitting to what was going on as we writhed and also kind of herked and jerked. with a spotlight maybe we could have been like toys on sid’s desk, transforming slowly, but not deliberately, into something grotesque and also new and maybe profound and in that maybe into something beautiful. maybe then we could also have been more explicitly aware that something or someone else was controlling and manipulating us. or maybe i just hoped for a disconnect of responsibility or something, who knows.

as my knees slowly acquired hot pink burns (as if i was an athlete) i thought about asking you if you were as uncomfortable as i was. or maybe if i was as disappointing for you as the sex was for me; which it wasn’t ubiquitously but sometimes when i get in my head i get consumed, you know.

i also considered asking you if ‘thrill’ was something — a deity or notion — you still believed in or strove towards but felt this to be far too intimate or maybe i already knew the answer and very much did not want to hear you speak it.

i strained to stop thinking and ‘focus’ on the matter at hand and so i dove back in like i was too hot and baking in the sun next to a river or a lake or a saltwater pool in the backyard of a very rich woman. you, i think (i hope) responded very favorably to this and we were then really having sex in a public place, were assuming characters we had dreamed of.

suddenly, maybe propelled by oncoming doom, we began moving rather fast. malaise melted away. you were responding to my thrusts and i to your flails. not in rhythm but in anxious dialogue like we were doing cocaine and trying to maintain a bender as the sun rose and the drugs dwindled. as if we were hiking the last leg of a very long camping trip and very much were looking forward to first showers. as if there was a hot meal to be earned through good sex.

you said something like ‘fuck me faster’ and i thought it was maybe an attempt to elevate our performance toward a place of meaning, to transform something dull and scripted into an immediacy, into a drowning experience. so i did as instructed and began to move with emphasis. i flailed and was sweating and you were sweating and also flailing back at me and the rhythm was still off, very disjointed (very disjointed) but this became less a product of disinterest but something quietly transcendent like we didn’t care for the porn rhythm we had been so long instructed to chase. like we were the kid dancing at the concert (maybe on lots of acid or maybe just ego-free) who spins like a top and later gets turned into a meme and laughed at, but for a moment, before derision and infamy, that kid is bliss; we were that kid but we had privacy: a racquetball court all to ourselves.

this is how we fucked, for maybe thirty, or forty seconds or maybe longer (it was, very briefly, infinite). it was very intense and i heard you make a noise i had never heard before and so then i also felt like making a noise you had never heard and i began, i think, to catalogue all of the sex-noises i had made to you before and in this quick exercise i was brought back into awareness, back into the awkwardness of general, dull humanity.

but then, disrupting our mechanicality like a bad prank, there was a flicker above, a blinding sensation that wasn’t orgasmic (or from within) but oppressed over and onto us.

the dark and swallowing court became suddenly very bright and well-lit.

the distressed white walls were no longer curtains but windows.

my shorts were around my ankles (as they say) and your shorts were also around your ankles. we were a chaingang, prisoners of a very shortsighted decision (that we had deliberated over and had made with glaring foresight).

an overweight man with bulging eyes and a gym-logo polo knocked furiously on the fiberglass window-wall. he ducked his head down and through the small square door (which shuts securely to preserve the sanctity of both the court and sport).

he said: what the fuck are you two doing? and i felt very young as if he was my p.e. teacher and i had snuck off during the mile to smoke cigarettes.

red hues painted your face and i think you might’ve started crying or maybe had been crying all along and this made me feel very bad, even worse than i did during the bad parts of the sex and i said to the man who must have been a maintenance man or maybe a physical therapist or even a fitness trainer: nothing, nothing, just stretching!

as i said this we both pulled up our shorts and began dwindling and were not so bold, were shrinking into ourselves, folding in to smaller and smaller creases until we were nothing — there was nothing — only a very quiet void to be passed by without second thought.

we exited the cube, and were now standing outside of its confines (sort of looking back at it like one does passing an old home).

he said: stretching my ass, let me see your membership cards. (i very briefly wanted to make a joke about stretching his ass but quickly figured this to be unproductive).

so i slowly, deliberately plucked my lime-green laminated gym card out of my pocket and as i was extending and prepping for the hand off (and as he was leaning, lunging toward my card, ready to inspect), i pulled what they might call a fast one and grabbed your hand and together we ducked and darted very quickly under the outstretched arm of the very angry man (he had become pig-like in his pink cheeks and quick breaths). he yelled stop, motherfuckers! as we dashed, expertly, away.

maybe this angry man was jealous of our sex and our exhibitionism and i sort of wanted to stop and explain to him that the sex was sort of disappointing and stressful and that he shouldn’t be angry or jealous but maybe empathetic. i wanted to describe to him the frustration of public sex, esp. when in the dark on hardwood floors. to tell him that i hadn’t really been happy with any sex in a long while. to ask him if he had any friends with whom to share this little snafu. but instead, of course, my feet kept moving.

we sprinted through the gym, through the darkened hallways, past the near-empty weight room (where one woman was riding a stationary bike and flapping her arms as if midair and plummeting quickly), past the equipment desk where the teenager who flirts was sitting, where we said: bye, thank you, see you next time.

we ran past the front desk where parents drop off forgotten lunches to summer-camping kids (our sexual exhibition was far removed, it’s important to note, from the summer-camping kids) and we stumbled out into the blinding daylight.

we sat in silence (maybe what they call “stunned silence”) as you drove quickly through slinking tree-tunnel streets. when we pulled up to your house we saw that your front door was open as if waiting for us to return (maybe tapping its feet or fingers with the bitterness of a sleep-deprived parent). you giggled. i giggled too.

i said: that was fucked up.

you said: i kind of enjoyed it.

i said: it was sort of funny.

you said: it was kind of hot too.

i said: you were into it?

you said: you weren’t?

i said: well i just sort of got the vibe that you weren’t so, maybe, i wasn’t that into it but now that you say that, maybe i was into it too.

you said: that doesn’t make sense.

i said: it was sort of terrifying.

you said: i had goosebumps all over.

i then strained quietly to remember the ‘scene of the crime’ and in my memory the cube of white walls were not slick or smooth but textured, maybe goosebumped like you; the floor, though, was very slick and i tried to remember what ‘position’ we had sex in but in memory you sort of slipped into the parquet floor as if it were quicksand or lake water and in my mind i was then alone having sex in a racquetball court at my local jewish community center.

you said: you couldn’t talk.

i said: there were big lumps of sand in my throat.

you said: i thought it was because you were turned on.

i said: maybe that was it.

you said: do you want to come in?

i didn’t really have a choice so i followed you up your steps and in the open door and also grabbed your waist once or twice as we moved because that is what you wanted, i hope.

we tried to have sex in your bed. on your white sheets and under your tall ceilings that struck me as small and concave and unfortunately claustrophobic.

i kissed your neck and i felt very alone. isolated but very close to you. something, it seemed, was missing or absent. like we needed a condom, not a slimey latex condom, but something (anything really) to protect or maybe separate us.

you grabbed the backs of my thighs with your sharp nails and it really hurt quite bad in a way that for a very brief moment i did not like you or anything you, as they say, ‘stood for.’ you dug harder and i then forgot about disliking you and stopped thinking altogether.

maybe my thighs spurted bits of blood, i’m not totally sure, who could be, and then you were on top of me and whispering into my ear: fuck me like someone’s watching.

this was very hot and enticing but maybe distracting because suddenly i wasn’t just having sex with you but also imagining who might be watching . certainly not the balding custodian (there is no way he was a fitness trainer, what with his potbelly and short breath) who had rendered me a child.

i said: who is watching us?

you said: my ex.

you said: your ex.

you said: the drunk at the bar who asked for your number.

i said: the kid in your photo class who comments on all your pictures.

you laughed at this but also sort of digested it like a fast car does gasoline.

i said: the kid in your photo class who keeps wanting to do ‘projects’ with you. i leaned back and did the finger-quotation thing to emphasize the innuendo and you fucked me even quicker and with more ambition as if you were proving to me something indisputable.

you said: xx is watching us.

i pictured xx: very slim and attractive in a way that made everyone fall in love with them but also not blame them for the misgivings of distant (and obsessive) infatuation. they would probably be laughing or giggling as they watched. maybe they would give pointers but in a very constructive manner, like in a workshop, always pairing two compliments with every course of criticism.

i said: can xx join.

you said: if that’s what you want, baby.

now we were on your blue-wood floor, skin sticking and unsticking to the cool surface. i did not remember falling or tumbling from your bed but we must have because the ceiling was now comfortably distant.

you bit my ear and then i also bit your ear. i tugged with my fingers at your very long hair. you grabbed my temple and then held onto my hair tightly as if we were on or near a cliff. we traded ‘jabs’ sort of like boxers but less violently but also maybe with similar aggression.

you said: i want you to come when i do; i want to come together.

i wanted to come alone sort of or maybe who knows what i wanted — the walls were caving in on us and the sun was slinking away and maybe it was never going to come back because it sure seemed that the clouds in which it nested were conniving and up to no good.

you said: don’t stop,

i did as ordered and my knees began to tremble quietly like they were full of lighter fluid or sparkling water.

you said:

i pictured a dark cube and tall walls and a blue rubber ball bouncing from surface to surface; its momentum infinite.

you said:

i wondered why everything came in threes. i then pictured three blue rubber balls hopping in disjointed rhythm across a parquet floor.

you said:

i waited for a third fuck and the part of my legs where back of thigh meets round of ass pinched as if something small and vicious were biting my tendons.

you twitched and spasmed. your eyes rolled back (unsightly so) like maybe you were in pain or alone but aesthetics were not of concern for either you or i because of what was at hand.

later we cooked dinner in your kitchen and you made an undercutting comment that the chicken might still be pink in the center.

i placed the food in front of you and said: trust me, please.