Realistically speaking he wasn't that good looking. "Average at best," one of his Air Force mates had said when recommending Jacobi to another bloke, "but sucks good dick." He had ended up with them both.
Back then he did it because it was fun. Now he did it because... why? He needed money? He’d tried to get a regular job, but nobody wanted to hire a man who had killed two other men, not even for flipping burgers. But that wasn’t the entire reason, and by the time he gave up his half-hearted attempts he’d gotten lucrative enough at this other job.
He’d found out young that taking an insult and turning it around was something he was good at. It set you free.
His teachers had hated him, saw him for what he was, called him a failure and weren’t shy about it. So at age 13 he decided he was going to be their failure. His father, not knowing where to direct his rage, threatened to sue the teachers and gave Jacobi a beating for good measure. He ended up proving the teachers and his father wrong with near perfect grades at a different school. He wasn’t a fool. Not completely, at least.
Years later his father had called him a faggot, so he was going to be the best faggot out there.
His Air Force mates had called him a slut. So why not be professional about it?
Especially when being a faggot, a slut, is what got you fired. He was the best at his job, he knew it and so did everyone else. The mistake hadn’t been his, not originally, or at least so he thought, but two good men died, he was devastated, and they pinned it on him. They weren’t shy about discharging gay men who refused to be discrete (and were sarcastic assholes about it), but firing him would be a blow to his division so they made damn sure everyone had a good reason to support that move.
Afterwards, he had questioned himself, his work, for a long time.
And now he was here, in this bar, not his usual bar. He wasn’t sure what had gotten into him, leaving his regular spot. But tonight he had kept walking and here he was.
No, he knew exactly what had gotten into him and why he was here.
“Give me another one of these.”
His mind strayed to a year ago, to men dying, to getting fired, no, dishonourably discharged. Afterwards he hadn’t left his house for a week. He rarely spoke to his father, but everyone in the Air Force knew exactly who his father was and it took precisely 72 minutes for the old man to start calling and leaving threats to his voice mail that Jacobi had no doubt he would follow up on (where had he gotten his phone number?).
Jacobi had turned his phone off, taken out the sim card, destroyed that first and then the phone after for good measure (that hadn’t been necessary but he needed to break something).
(He was glad he hadn’t run into his father since, and felt like a coward.)
After a week he started wandering around the city, hopping from bar to bar until he found a large crowded one, an impersonal one where no one cared. Right after he downed his second drink (at that bar, definitely not his second drink of the day) a man had sat down next to him and bought him a third drink.
Jacobi eyed him. He wasn’t one for subtlety, wasn’t going to pretend the man wasn’t there and hadn’t been ogling him and hadn’t bought him a drink and hadn’t also just shoved a bill of yet indeterminate value in the back pocket of his skinny jeans. He downed his third drink and stood up.
They had ended up in a back alley with Jacobi sucking the man off (and inwardly he had smiled – if only his father could see him now). He hadn’t bothered to take out the bill from his back pocket to check the amount (it had been 20 dollars) because on this night, it didn’t matter. The night ended with him bend over a garbage container, the man pounding into him impersonally.
He hadn’t been careful that night but later found out he had been lucky.
He had no memory of what the man looked like, or his age, or even what had triggered Jacobi to follow him outside.
He’d kept visiting the same bar, only rarely seeing the same face twice, never talking to the bartender and getting practically ignored in return, but always getting picked up by someone or other. He knew choosing the same bar was a risk, that eventually his luck would run out, but aside from a few nights of abuse, some rough beatings and no pay he was still alive now, two years later.
He wasn’t sure why he deserved to be.
He didn’t question how all these strange men in this bar that wasn’t a gay bar managed to pick him out of the crowd. He had been called a faggot and a whore and when you embrace the insult and wear it with pride, apparently it shows. At least enough to make good money and temporarily scratch the itch that’s always there and never goes away.
Most of the men had been normal. Closeted or not, they too had an itch that needed to be scratched and Jacobi, average as he was, did just fine. This was business as usual.
Some of the men had been awful.
There was the night he was taken to a luxury apartment by a middle-aged man in an expensive suit driving an expensive car. Jacobi should have been suspicious – rich men can get young beautiful expensive whores that they definitely don’t pick up at a cheap bar. There was no need to pick up Jacobi, who wasn’t that young and who wasn’t that beautiful (and who, frankly, looked cheap). When they got to the apartment, the man immediately locked the door and Jacobi was greeted by five more middle-aged men in expensive suits. He got kicked out clutching 100 bucks and no cab fare after a long night at the other side of town because it turns out rich men are cheap.
There was that time he had felt a hand on his shoulder and had turned around to see one of his old Air Force mates (were they mates? Had any of them ever been?). The man’s face, which used to be perpetually smiling, was now cold. Jacobi wasn’t sure the man recognised him (but it had only been a month). “50 ok?” the man, who had always been friendly to Jacobi although they hadn’t been close, had asked. Jacobi shrugged and got up.
That night had been the roughest and most painful, vengeful sex Jacobi had ever had and would have in a while (sex, because he couldn't think of it as rape, he couldn't think of what that would imply, that it hadn't been his choice, that he hadn't been in control, this time and maybe all the other times, he couldn't deal with that). The man, who turns out had definitely recognized him and was also definitely not so friendly after all, had driven him home from the cheap hotel. And there in his own home, to add insult to injury, he had beaten him up and left him without even the promised 50 bucks.
Jacobi had narrowly avoided a hospital visit (good – health care as an illegal self-employed prostitute sucked) and hadn’t been able to go back to, was this now his work? for two weeks, not until he could walk relatively normally again and the bruises in his face had faded.
There was the time, 2 months in, when a man had asked him if he could tie him up (Jacobi was surprised it had taken that long to get this specific request). He had agreed, the man had seemed harmless enough. He had ended up regretting it when he was left there, tied up and naked, for 6 hours until the man’s roommate found him (his dignity was long gone). At least the man had had the decency to pay well in advance.
After that he had to repress the urge to refuse this type of request (even though he liked it). There were a thousand other things that could (and did) go wrong and this paid well.
There were the men that beat him up when he couldn’t resist a sarcastic comment. There were the men who saw an easy target and refused to pay. And then there were men that magically made the condom disappear. Jacobi had raged at the first one, but by the tenth time it happened he only felt mild regret.
Some of the men, however, Jacobi was inclined to call good.
There had been the occasional repeat offender, men who would seek him out again and again. Some of them would talk about their lives, their joys but especially their sorrows, and expected Jacobi to listen, or worse, to talk about his own woes (he usually tried to shut them up with an extra round, or, if the stamina wasn’t there, by leaving as fast as he could).
One of the men, an older gentleman who never requested much but was kind and paid well, had eventually begged Jacobi to stop. He would pay him to stop, he insisted, and was convinced Jacobi could make something of his life yet. He hated these stupid men and their stupid saviour complexes the most of all.
But now he was in a different bar. He’d been here before. Once. He wasn’t sure what had taken him here that time, to this specific bar. It was smaller than his usual place, and while it didn’t look particularly cosy (but then, neither did his usual place) and the bartender was tired and distant, the faded rainbow flag at the window had given him some inexplicable comfort he didn’t know he was seeking.
But it didn’t get rid of the urge to get well and completely hammered, and it didn’t solve a thing. Jacobi was, after all, good at breaking things – not at fixing them.
And here he was again, a year later, now, two years after the fact, and he ordered his 6th icy booze (and it was only 2 in the afternoon).
“Don't you think you've had enough for –“, the bartender raised an eyebrow and tried to dissuade him in a tired voice that told Jacobi his heart wasn’t in it.
“Just trying to save you money, pal,” the bartender signed as he refilled the empty glass in front of him.
“That's the spirit. Don't let that wuss say you can't hold your liquor.”
Jacobi hadn’t noticed the man come in. He sat down and smiled in a way that told Jacobi this man wasn’t going to let him drink his booze in peace.
He knew instantly the man wasn’t here to buy him, not exactly. And after having accepted hundreds of transactions in the past years, Jacobi also knew instantly he should refuse whatever this man was offering.
And he knew he wouldn’t.