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DTF / Benjamin Drevlow


A man named Jordan Benjamin keeps saying hey big boy, hey bubba, until I turn around.

He points at his name tag: Hello my name is JORDAN BENJAMIN.

Then points at mine: Hello my name is BENJAMIN DREVLOW.

He licks his lips. Crazy world, eh bub?

This is our meet-cute.

He rolls his tongue inside his cheek:

I seen you everywhere, big boy.

All of you.

Your asscrack on up to your cookie pouch.

He pauses and eyes me up and down as if he’s seen more but is gonna keep that to himself.

For the time being.

He licks the pencil mustache on his upper lip.

Don’t take it personal, he says.

I can’t help but take it personal.

I feel like he might be coming on to me.

In my book that’s personal.

I’m not gay but I’m not picky if anyone’s into me for my body.

I am dtf.

Down to flirt.

I’m full of body dysmorphia and mixed messages.

He segues into his memoirs.

He calls them mem-wahs.

I’ve seen some dark shit, he says.

He says it again whispering up close: Dark. Shit.

He’s a veteran.

A wounded soldier.

Some ribbons, some awards.

I don’t remember specifics.

He almost died in a car accident.

The car accident having nothing to do with his being a veteran.

He tells me: Yo I write so I don’t dream, you dig?

You know anything about that, big boy?

It’s kind of a narrative jump from how we got to his car crash from his time in the military.

He shows me photos even though I’m more than happy to take him at his word.

He wasn’t supposed to survive.

Wasn’t supposed to walk again.

He had brain damage.

He was partially paralyzed.

He gives me a pelvic thrust. Slaps his thighs.

Taught himself to walk again. He slaps his head. He taught himself to talk again, to think again, yadda yadda.

He licks his lips and wrinkles up his little mustache. Does the subtlest of pelvic thrusts when he says he’s seen all of me everywhere.

He is short and curvaceous and black and has long straightened hair down his back.

I am large and white and have a mowhawk.

I’m like Whitman, I tell him. Mere clothes cannot contain my multitudes.

I lean in. I wink.

I can’t help how much love I exude. I’m always in danger of exploding.

I don’t say any of that.

I say I’m sorry and tug at the bottom of my shirt.

Don’t apologize, big boy, he says. I told you, bub: Don’t take this shit personal. I’m here for it.

His breath smells like spearmint. He isn’t chewing gum. I see no mints in there.

I’m not going to tell you the flavor of cologne he’s wearing, but it’s off-putting in a disarming kind of way.

But just for a moment imagine he isn’t wearing cologne.

Imagine I’m not wearing deodorant.

Imagine it’s nothing but our man musk, our animal magnetism.

Imagine he isn’t black and I’m not white and we aren’t talking at a writing conference. We’re

making sweet tender love in a hot tub full of turkey gravy

And now all this is a true story and we’re consuming each other’s trauma.

And we’re crying and giggling with each delicious mouthful.

Imagine we’re anything other than: one forward black man and one shy white dude.

Too shy to take things in any other way than personal.

Too insecure not to pull my shirt down and pants up as I turn my back on love.

Anyway, I just thought you should know, he tells me and turns away, never to be seen or heard from again.

Or maybe not.

Again can be a lifetime

Again can be tomorrow.

It all depends.

Some of us get what we deserve in this life.

Some of us get what we deserve in this life.



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BENJAMIN DREVLOW is the author of Bend With the Knees and Other Love Advice from My Father, which won the 2006 Many Voices Project from New Rivers Press, and the author of Ina-Baby: A Love Story in Reverse, which was released by Cowboy Jamboree Books in 2019. His latest story collection is A Good Ram Is Hard to Find, released in 2021 by Cowboy Jamboree Books. His novel The Book of Rusty was released in October 2022, also by CJB.

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