Call me Peacock.
It’s the only name
I’ve known, though not my real one. I’ve ransacked my earliest memories to
listen for my parents’ voices speaking my true name, but the sounds come out
befogged no matter how I strain. The nickname came from a favorite sweater when
I was three. Too young for angora, I nevertheless demanded the turtleneck with
dozens of blue-green eyes faking iridescence. I wore it every day one Fall,
until a bully tossed me in a puddle and my parents sat me down and explained dry
cleaning. They taught me about fabric care, including permanent press and
delicates, and where silks and yarns come from. But they never told me my real
I liked the name
Peacock but not the teasing that came with it. Nicknames piled on my nickname: peepee
and peabrain when I was younger; then variations involving the word cock
when I was older. Try registering to vote, to drive, or for the draft with a
My parents moved
around a lot when I was little, so I don’t know which state I was born in or
even which country. And my parents both disappeared when I turned seventeen. My
last memory of them involves a graduation ceremony. My father had received his
MBA, with which he hoped to take the natural fiber insulation business my
parents had started in a Vermont commune to the “next level.” I’d ineptly
satirized the hippie with his new diploma in free market economics, until my
mother gave me a look that told me to shut up if I valued my vocal chords. She
and my father had been fighting constantly since he started the course. He’d
bounced home every weeknight on the balls of his feet, full of ideas for
transforming the way they did everything.
Now they weren’t
fighting, just looking at each other. We’d all gone to an all-you-can eat
couscous restaurant to celebrate after the ceremony. I’d listened to the oud
player to distract me from my parents’ silence. When my mom visited the
women’s room, my dad leaned across the table and said, “Peacock, it’s bad.
It’s come to our business or our marriage. And I know which of those comes
first. I’m handing things over to George. We’re going to split for a while.
You take care of yourself, okay?” Then they’d gone away together. I was
still a year shy of awareness of how important it is to know your real name, so
I hadn’t even thought to ask.
None of which
exactly explains that guy, and his penis down my throat. It was the first cock I
ever sucked, and it tasted very faintly of persimmons. It twitched epileptically
as I got it as far down as possible, smacking my lips and nuzzling it with my
tongue the way I’d seen a woman porn star do. Then I sucked for all I was
worth, feeling a tremor start in my balls and work its way up to my lungs, so
every outward breath through my nostrils felt hot. I can describe that guy’s
penis in great detail: Circumcised, it had a really thick head. I felt that
velveteen quality I associate with dicks, but bumpier than my own cock, I think.
I smelled sweat. He had dark glasses and long red hair. That’s all I remember.
I hadn’t planned
to give a blow job in the men’s room. I’d gone in to wash some beer foam off
my hands, because the Lucky Dog always overpours its beers. Then this guy walked
up to me at the sink and said casually, “I know your real name.”
splashed water all over myself.
leaned over and whispered something in my ear. It had an S sound,
that’s all I remember. Then he said aloud, “Now suck my cock. And make it
I sank to my knees,
suddenly eager to do whatever he told me. It seemed the most important thing
I’d ever done. I soon had an erection of my own, but I barely noticed. When I
was done, he told me to thank him. And I did. He decided that wasn’t thanks
enough— I should kiss his boots. And I did. Then he laughed and brandished a
quill. “I’ve written your name on the bathroom wall. Have fun.”
I knelt on the floor
of the bathroom for a long time, watching the water slosh from the tap I’d
left running. My immobility wasn’t just due to the shock of my two
discoveries—my real name and my uncontrollable desire to obey. I felt I was
awaiting orders, on the off chance that he might come back. My mind wanted to
buzz, but I felt too emptied by expectation. When I regained the presence of
mind to stand, I rushed to the bathroom and scanned the walls. I searched
through political graffiti and poems without finding my name. I must have
searched every inch twice. Finally, I heard a knocking at the front door of the
men’s room. My girlfriend Stef.
“Are you OK, PC?
I’m going to send the fire department in there.” I came out, apologizing for
I sat out in the bar
with my back to the big-screen TV for an hour, while Stef made going-home
noises. I stared at the bathroom, unable to believe my biggest secret waited on
one of its walls, seemingly so attainable. Finally, I excused myself again and
headed back in. I rushed up to the stall with such urgency that I didn’t see
the man standing behind the open door until I almost collided with him. He
stopped reading the walls and turned, grinning as if in recognition. Shorter
than me and chubby, he sported a big mustache. No hair showed under his
big beret. “You must be Peacock. Or should I say...” He said the name again.
It definitely had an S sound. That’s all I can dredge up. He hadn’t
even finished it before I was on my knees, awaiting instructions.
The big man sat on
the toilet. He gestured for me to get off my knees and lay face down across his
lap. My head nuzzled the side of the stall. The man reached around my waist and
undid my fly and belt. I lay motionless, waiting for the word. Then he brought
his fleshy hand down onto my ass, just below the delta of my crack. The tomblike
men’s room lent each swat an echo like a racquetball game. Whatever pain I
felt boosted my excitement, along with my own involuntary flops. “I can’t
stand the language of penitence that goes along with corporal punishment,” the
man said through a layer of phlegm. “So after each spank, you say ‘I’m a
good boy,’ as loud as you can.” After that, the blows got harder.
“I’m a good
boy.” Smack. “I’m a good boy!”
good—” Smack. “—boy I’m a good boy!”
The pain crept up on
me. By the end, I was proclaiming my goodness not just loudly but in strained
yelps. I knew the spanking was done when his palm rubbed gently across both
“There. You are a
good boy, aren’t you?”
He reached for the
toilet brush and coated it with canola oil from a small bottle in his pocket. In
Europe, they call canola oil rapeseed oil. It actually comes from a plant called
rape, did you know that? Supermarkets changed the name to placate American
My anus had way more
nerve endings than I’d realized, for both pleasure and discomfort. I heard
myself gasp as the handle of the brush worked in and out. I came all over the
big man’s lap, but hardly noticed until he pushed me off. Then I knelt once
again, peering up like the HMV dog.
“First you can
lick your sperm off my lap,” he grunted. I couldn’t really taste much on his
jeans, but the denim scoured my tongue. The bundle behind his zipper started
dormant, but stirred as I licked slowly up and down. When the cock prodded
against the seam, the man reached down and released it with a flick of his
zipper. No underwear stopped the uncoiling. Then I wrapped my lips around it and
began running them along the shaft as fast as I could. He chose to pull out at
the last moment, spattering my face.
“That’s for my
jeans. Good boy.”
Then he left me
kneeling, this time with a messy face that I barely remembered to wash before I
left the bathroom. The water on my face seemed to wake me up, and I ran out of
the bathroom, heaving sperm-flavored breaths.
“I want to stay as
far away from that bathroom as possible,” I told Stef on my way out the door
of the Lucky Dog.
seemed to like it in there a lot.”
explain.” I didn’t talk the whole drive home. I sat in the passenger seat of
our tiny hatchback and tried to picture myself as the sort of person whose heart
skipped at the thought of kneeling before strangers. It felt as though I’d
awakened from a vivid dream to find I’d killed Stef in my sleep.
“What’s up with
you, PC?” She glanced away from the road, her concerned eyes tinged dashboard
green. “What were you doing in there? I heard weird noises. Is there something
I should know?”
I couldn’t answer
For a day, my usual
Peacock persona hibernated. I spent Sunday sitting around the apartment, staring
at the walls and watching golf on television, despite loathing golf. Stef tried
to draw me out a few times. She was obviously frustrated by my silence but
didn’t blow up at me. She ended up going out with her friends in the afternoon
and didn’t get home until late. I sat where she’d left me, on the bean bag
facing the tiny black and white TV she balked at replacing. She pulled up a lawn
chair and sat blocking my view of the set.
“Peacock, I hate
to pressure you when you’re obviously having a hard time with something. But
this secrecy is driving me nuts. Marshmallow and two of the other cats have
complained of receiving cold pricklies from you. I’ve felt like a ghost. So I
guess if you can’t talk to me, you’ll have to get counseling. Or if you
won’t, I’m moving out.” She took a breath, the rehearsed spiel over.
going to be easy to explain,” I said, trying to look past her at the Carol
Burnett rerun. “But something weird happened last night.”
An ascetic in most
areas, Stef luxuriated in the presence of animals. She wouldn’t buy a second
frying pan, any food item costing more than $1.49, or a dress not on final
clearance. But she spent a good third of her salary on bulk cat and dog foods at
the pet superstore. Once we moved out of our apartment into something with a
yard, she wanted a small goat and maybe some chickens. With her zinfandel hair
and long legs, she regularly had to turn away men who’d become pet owners to
impress her. I didn’t buy an animal before I asked her out; I think the name
Peacock tagged me as an exotic breed to collect. She occasionally bought
bargain-pack porn mags at the gas station, cut out the faces of the models, and
superimposed them over our holiday snaps to show us fucking in improbable poses.
When I first told
her I thought I might be bisexual, Stef shrugged. “Who isn’t?” was all she
said. That was about three months before the Lucky Dog incident. I would have
called myself het-leaning anyway, since for every nice ass I saw on a guy I
noticed ten breasts. Stef seemed to consider the ability to be shocked just one
more unaffordable luxury. As a school guidance counselor, she’d seen it all at
one point or another. But the story of my bathroom follies pushed the envelope.
At first, she seemed to take it really well.
“O ... kay.” She
sat, index fingers clasped under her nose, knees together, bare feet apart.
“So you’re suffering from rape trauma. Those men assaulted you, and you’re
still dissociating. It’s normal. We’ll get you counseling right after we go
to the police.”
“Stef, it was
totally consensual. That’s the weird thing. I was into it.”
“Were you drugged?
“I remember the
whole thing vividly. And I felt normal right afterwards.”
I got up to turn the
TV off—it was driving me crazy to have it on and not be able to watch. Just
talking about my experience with Stef was making me feel more like my normal
you’re stuck with a sicko.”
“And the trigger
for all this was your real name, which you can’t remember.”
what makes it so weird.”
A tabby jumped into
Stef’s lap. She stroked him without looking away from me. “That still leaves
us with option A: counseling. We need to figure out what happened. The name
thing is weird, though. You know my name, right?”
Margaret Colson. And the only one who calls me the full spiel is my mom, usually
when she’s about to put me majorly in my place.”
“That guy looked
too young to be my dad.”
“Not the point,
PC. Think about it.”
Like I said, Stef
seemed to be taking it really well. Later I heard sobbing while I brushed my
teeth. She lay on the bed with her face on a pillow. I sat on the edge and put
my hand lightly on her shoulder.
...” she said. “I’d rather you didn’t touch me right now.”
I went back to
brushing my teeth.
For about a week,
things resembled normality. No men approached and enslaved me, though I felt
weird every time I went into a public bathroom. I watched other men urinate and
imagined that at any moment one of them might turn to me and issue a command. I
dreamt about the long-haired man who’d written my name on the bathroom wall.
In the dreams, I looked under my bed to find him writing there.
“Your name in
runes,” he said. “A Norse tradition: write it under a man’s bed to make
him sick. You’re incurable now.” His copper hair shone in the moonlight.
Stef seemed to relax
around me over that week. Of course, I made an appointment with a counselor
whose ad on the back of the free weekly paper promised non-judgmental sex
therapy. John Bergman’s next opening was a week away. In the meantime, I
walked around downtown Raleigh watching shaggy college students rub shoulders
with the ultra-conservative John Locke foundation. I ran into friends and joked
around with confidence. But occasionally I'd see a man cross the street and
imagine crawling at his heel on an imaginary leash. I passed by Raleigh’s only
gay leather bar on Monday, and stared at its door for a few minutes before
rushing back to the office where I sys-admined.
“Who am I
kidding?” I muttered. “I don’t even like leather. And Stef would never
forgive my wearing dead cows.”
An image came to
mind: me on my hands and knees, mooing for all I was worth while laughing men
brought a branding iron up to my buttocks.
Naked on my back, I
waited for the thread of urine to travel from my navel to my open mouth. The
bladder capacity of the man standing over me may have seemed endless, but my
patience matched it. His looming belly obscured his face. Outside the bathroom,
I heard bar patrons talking and laughing. I was an hour late to meet Stef, but
my mind fixed on the spray on my abdomen. I smelled beer, piss and spunk.
Finally, the spray landed in my mouth and I struggled to swallow. The spray
tapered. I waited, until the man handed me rough brown paper towels.
make it out of the bar before someone spotted me and called out. I crawled
obediently. I saw high-heeled shiny boots and looked up furtively at a
middle-aged woman’s face.
said, and then my name. “I never would have heard about you if I hadn’t used
the men’s room.” She laughed, patted my head. “You’re cute. Come on. I
want to take you to a party.”
I crawled until she
told me I could walk. She led me to a Mercedes, then paused to consider “the
back seat or the trunk?”
She chose the back
seat. “That way I can watch you strip and play with yourself in the rearview.
But don’t come.” She stopped to pick up two other latex-clad women and
introduced me, saying: “He’ll do anything you tell him. I found him in a
I sat and stroked
myself while they talked about Alan Greenspan, until the woman next to me told
me to lick her boots instead. The warehouse district south of Hargett Street
burgeons with clubs and restaurants, but the dark street we drove to lay beyond
the trendy zone. The warehouse we parked in front of looked deserted from the
“Here it is,”
the driver said. “Let’s hope they capped attendance at 200 this time. It was
a zoo in March. Heel, boy.”
I crawled just
behind the woman’s left stiletto into the crowded warehouse. Red and green
spotlights arced and a strobe went off occasionally. Out of the corner of my
eye, I saw women tied to crosses and bars at one end of the warehouse. Men
flogged them with single tails. The woman led me around, telling people the name
I wasn’t privy to. She must have introduced me to a hundred people as I
crawled behind her, and each time the name got a little clearer. It had an S
sound and a hard K as well.
One woman giggled.
“Is there anything he won’t do?”
“We really ought
to find out,” my captor said.
A series of staccato
commands followed, each while I tried to obey the last. “Stand on your head.
Sing the Barney theme song. Try to suck your own cock. Pretend to be Mariah
Carey. Lick up that vomit. No, don’t do that, that’s gross. Lick this dildo
instead. Now bend over.” I felt something cool and much smoother than the
toilet brush enter my ass. By now, a crowd watched us. “He’d probably make a
pretty good pony,” one woman called out. So they taught me the basics of
acting like a horse with a woman perched on my back. They tied me in various
positions, including hanging from my bent knees, and whipped me. The party
ended, and still they kept experimenting.
“Can we get his
cock through your Mercedes symbol? No, from the other side. That’s right, lay
him down on the hood of your car. I’ll tie his feet to the grille, you tie his
hands to the wipers. You got yourself a new hood ornament, sweetie. Come on,
boy, see if you can fuck that Mercedes symbol.”
get all the way hard in that pose. The woman who’d found me originally drove
around Raleigh with me on her hood. Familiar landmarks blurred in the corner of
my eye. In front of me, I saw her a red light loom and then disappear behind us
in seconds. The motor under me trembled and burned. I prayed we wouldn’t get
pulled over. Or crash. A whooping came from the open windows behind me, muffled
by the wind in my ears.
When we reached
downtown Raleigh, she stopped. It took her and her friends a few minutes to
extricate my cock from the Mercedes symbol without breaking either one. Then
they tossed me my clothes in a bundle and drove off. I looked down at my dirty
weal-covered body. I dressed as quickly as possible, found my car, and drove
I felt totally
drained but wanted a shower. When I opened the apartment door, I saw Stef
sitting on our sofa, phone in hand.
officer. He’s here,” she said, then hung up. She took in my bedraggled
state. “It happened again, huh?”
“PC, what are we
going to do? How many people know your real name, anyway?” She didn’t pause
for me to answer. “I can’t go on like this. I could stay with my friends
while I look for another place. I just can’t be with you if you’re going to
come home in this state.”
Tears ran down her
face, reminding me of the fat man’s urine on my face earlier.
know,” I said. “I’m tired.”
I slept on the
beanbag. The next day around noon, Stef nudged me with a riding crop. I opened
my eyes to see tall black boots at eye level. Above them, her naked crotch and
breasts, then a domineering pout.
“Get on your
knees, boy. Kiss my boots.”
I obeyed, but
I wanted to stay on the beanbag.
“You can do better
than that,” she growled.
“No I can’t,”
I muttered. “I’m really tired. I can’t do this.”
I felt as
though I’d drunk a dozen milkshakes and then run a marathon. And now somebody
was offering me dessert. I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I must have been
leaning against Stef’s boot, because when she stomped away I fell over. The
floor shook under the kinky boots, even through the carpet. I lay on the floor a
while. One of the cats bit my nose to experiment. I saw a boot step near my
understand you,” Stef said. “I’m trying really hard to do what you want so
you don’t have to go to weird bathrooms to get dominated. I actually
wouldn’t mind trying some of this stuff. But you ...” The sentence went
“Maybe I’ll feel
more up to it later. I’m sorry, Stef. Maybe the counseling can help, too.
Please hang in there. I just feel as though the part of me that likes that kind
of thing just isn’t here right now. For whatever reason.”
More stomping. Then
the sounds of luggage being pulled out of our crammed storage closet.
“I’m going to
stay with Marcia for a few days. Feed the cats. Get help. Do those two things,
and I’ll be back. I just can’t hang around knowing what you really want is
rough sex with the Tidy Bowl Man.” She lugged a full suitcase out of the
apartment while I lay on the floor, crying into my sleeve.
actually had a view of the warehouse where I’d performed. He had a couple of
abstract paintings and the obligatory diplomas but no couch. I perched on the
edge of an ergonomic stool, looking across the big desk at the red-haired man in
a suit. His hair was short, but he still reminded me of the man who’d first
spoken my name over a week before. I told him about my situation, and then he
held forth for what seemed like hours.
“I am that I am,”
Bergman mused. “The only name for Yahweh that Moses was allowed to know.
You’ve managed to reverse the traditional balance, where the mystic finds his
true name and tells it to no-one. The mystic gains that name in a spiritual
transformation. Signifiers unknown to the unwashed. The Kabbalists seek the
secret name of God, while physicists seek the theory of everything. ‘The
Deep Ones knoweth Thy secret Name/The Hydra knoweth Thy lair.’
Necronomicon. The Island of Blue Dolphins talks about...”
I stopped hearing
what he was saying and stared at him. He looked so much like my tormentor. I
rubbed my eyes. “Muhammed Ali and Siddhartha Gautama. The Smothers Brothers
and the Family Stone. The Artist Formerly Known—”
I blurted, standing up and leaning over the desk.
He stopped in mid
ramble and squinted. His ears twitched. “I’m who?”
“The guy from the
bathroom! The bastard who wrote my name on the wall!”
“What was his
“If you don’t
know his name then how do you know I’m him?”
“You look the
same, except for the haircut. I mean, you seem...”
He leaned back in
his recliner and sighed theatrically. “You haven’t been listening to
anything I’ve said for the past half hour, have you? Signifiers. Identity. A
equals A. I’m Dr. Bergstrom.”
“Bergman. It says
Bergman on the door.”
“ I should fire
that signmaker. I’m Dr. Bergstrom, the man you’re paying a hundred and fifty
dollars an hour to sort out your shit. Now crawl under this desk and suck on my
“You heard me. I
haven’t had a good nut-sucking since breakfast.”
“I don’t want
don’t want to. That’s my whole point. But if I were to say, ‘Jackson,
crawl under my desk and gently take my balls in your mouth,’ you’d do it,
wouldn’t you? Because Jackson does that sort of thing. Jackson loves to obey
I couldn’t answer
at that point, since I had crawled under his desk and was in the process of
unzipping his fly so I could raise my open mouth to engulf his scrotum.
“Am I right?”
fished the sac out of his boxer shorts and was bringing it into my mouth.
“That feels good.
A little tongue action never hurts too. I want to talk to Jackson for a while.
By now of course, you should be hearing the name consciously. You’ll learn it,
integrate it, make it a part of the overall dog-and-pony of your identity. But
don’t trivialize it or you’ll be right back where you started. Jackson, you
have a serious desire for sexual subjugation. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“I’m going to
write your name on an index card so you can memorize it. And I’m going to give
you a list of books to track down. You probably won’t want to see me again, so
I want you to get the most out of this session. You can take me out of your
mouth and talk if you like.”
We sat in silence
for a moment while my Peacock side struggled to the surface. “I still have
some questions, um, sir. Why did you ... I mean, why did that guy write my
name on the wall? And how’d he find me?”
“He was probably a
chaot. Some chaotic magic requires sacrifices, bringing chaos to one person’s
life to generate power. There are spells to find someone like you—your
ignorance about yourself was a chaos battery waiting to be tapped. Another spell
probably hindered your conscious mind learning your name for a while.”
Bergstrom sighed. “It used to be much easier to find chaos batteries before
the whole gay movement took off and everybody came out.”
“So is there any
way to, like, get rid of this part of me? I’m not thrilled at kneeling to
strangers all the time. Sir.”
“Get rid of it,
no. But now that you know your own name, you’ll only submit to those you
choose. Like your girlfriend, if she’s still in the picture.” I zipped up
his fly, thanked him and paid him. Then I got the Hell out of there as fast as
my cramped legs could manage.
I found Stef sitting
at the card table in our kitchenette, staring at a love poem I’d composed to
her out of fridge magnets.
cured,” I said.
she said. She didn’t look at me. “Nobody gets cured in one session. Whose
boots are you going to lick tonight?”
“Yours. If you
want me to.”
“But I thought you
I held out my hand.
“Jackson Fray, part-time submissive, at your service.”
She took it warily.
“Pleased to meet you. So you know your name now?”
And supposedly that means I get more control over that side of me. It helps to
give it a good workout every now and then, though.”
“So no more
“Nope. I think.”
“You’ll have to
get tested at a clinic in a few months.”
She stood up, looked
at me. Her eyes still had moisture in the corners. She slowly conjured a smile.
“Well, then. On your knees, Jackson. I want to take you for a test drive.”
I knelt before her,
eyes on her tennis shoes. She had me stay put while she closed the curtains.
Then she leaned me over the kitchen table and pulled down my pants and briefs.
The riding crop gently swished my butt, then stung harder as she found her
groove. I stared at the refrigerator as the blows landed one after another. The
past ten days’ frustration seemed to channel into her arm. I jerked and
twitched as much as I had hanging from the warehouse ceiling. Slowly my mind
emptied. I felt myself opening, receptive to whatever she wanted to do to me,
whatever she wanted me to do for her.
“I am yours,” I
whispered over the hum of the fridge and the rhythmic thrashing of the riding
crop, just before language fled and I felt my mind return to a place called