I first saw him the night after the ferry left Manaus, steaming downriver towards Belém. There were no electric lights along the river, and the ferry sailed on black water beneath a blacker sky. Looking out at nothingness, I saw him on the deck below, staring up at me, his eyes dark and his desires clear.
The ferry had two decks, easily categorized as ‘first class’ and ‘steerage’. I was on the upper deck, with a cabin (and even a toilet) of my own. The lower deck was a single space. During the day the passengers sat on blankets, picnics floating downriver. At night the deck was solid with hammocks, people sleeping in alternating positions right up against one another, shoulder to leg to shoulder.
He was a handsome man, probably in his early 30’s, clearly with some native blood. His skin was darker than average, probably a 7 on the scale of skin tones that is Brasil. And his stare, his need, his clear hunger was making me hard.
I gestured for him to come up to the top deck, and stood outside my room until he appeared in the hallway. We went in, and I took him in my arms. I went to kiss him, and he turned away, reluctant. “Oh, god,” I thought, “is this a mistake?”
I started to talk to him, but quickly found out that he didn’t speak English and was completely confused by my Spanish. He moved past this by taking off his shirt, then his pants, and then the rest, laying on the bed naked and expectant. I slowly undressed, enjoying the sight of his growing cock, and enjoying the shade of his smile when I revealed mine.
I straddled him, and started to lick his chest, tonguing his nipples, traveling up to his neck. He tasted of cedar smoke and honeycomb. He tapped me on the shoulder, shook his head, then took my hands and put them on his arms, lifting his arms over his head. I pinned his arms to the bed, and he moaned and hardened against me. He shook his head, moaned “Não!”, and pushed his pelvis up, his neediness meeting mine. I went to kiss him again, and he turned his head. I grabbed his hair and twisted his head, forcing my mouth against his. He cried out, and my tongue entered his mouth. He sucked it in, welcoming and hungry.
I spread his legs and spit onto my fingers. Again, he shook his head, then took the pillow and put it into my hand. He guided the pillow until it was over his face. I pressed it there with one hand as I explored him with the other. He whimpered, and struggled as I slid into him. I held him down, pressing the pillow down to smother his cries.
He struggled when I pushed my cock into him, then suddenly went limp, one of his arms hanging off of the side of the bed. “Oh my god, are you okay?” I said, lifting the pillow. He was staring up, his eyes open, staring, carnal. He nodded impatiently, and pulled the pillow down onto his face, going limp again. But his legs tightened around my waist, holding me inside him, pulling me in further.
I let myself take him as an animal would, driving myself roughly into him. His body tightened and then released, white against beautiful brown skin, and I released within him. I collapsed, our bodies sticking together. I lifted the pillow. He looked into my eyes for a moment with sadness before lifting his head and kissing me gently. Then he left my bed, used my shower, and slipped away to the lower deck.
He came back to my cabin three times during the trip down the river. Each time he would insist on being held down, smothered beneath my pillow. Each time I forced myself into him, and each time we both came together, synchronized, explosive. Each time he kissed me before leaving with the same sadness in his eyes.
I watched from the upper deck as he left the ship in Belém. He walked onto the dock holding his wife’s hand and that of his young daughter. I hoped he would look up one more time.
This encounter happened in the year 2000 when I was traveling through South America in my VW bus. At the time I was not bold enough to write about these sorts of encounters. I dredged this up during a recent writing class with Linda Watanabe McFerrin, and I thought I would share it with my readers.