Juan put a Flintstones toothbrush up his ass in the parking lot behind the Westview Mall in daylight because some boys told him to. They didn’t force him to do it; he just liked to obey. Nobody ever gave Juan an order he disobeyed, as far as I know. He had a beautiful sleek body that healed quick. The mall cops arrested Juan, but not the other boys; he still had gravel on his knees when I came to get him, a bruised candy-apple look on his face.
Juan never went looking for people to boss him. It just happened. He gave off a vibe. He’d be in the drug store buying toilet paper and vitamins, and a little old lady would ask him to grab something off the top shelf for her. Something about his readiness to jump at the task tempted people to see how far they could go. Maybe they got frustrated when they couldn’t find his limits. It was like finding out the ocean had no bottom. People took it as a challenge.
That old drugstore woman started out asking for help reaching the suppositories, and ended up with Juan’s tongue in her ass in the back of her Chevy Citation. Juan carried her bags out to her car for her, and then she kept trying to find something he’d refuse to do.
We timed how long he could stand on his head (57 seconds) and how much water he could hold in his ass (almost the whole contents of two rinsed-out Big Gulp containers). We found a glory hole in the fifth floor men’s room at J. Presley Department Store, and made Juan put himself through it and stand there for an hour, no matter what happened. Many people think they’re submissive, but really they just like being the center of attention. When you meet a real submissive, like Juan, it’s like finding a double eagle silver dollar or something. Juan could be your party’s centerpiece– an ice sculpture, an angel made out of Crisco. He only got more lovely and pristine as we abased him.
Everybody loved Juan: the cops, his coworkers at Trend Analytics, his public defender, our fellow human chess pieces, his cellmates. And of course we all loved him. Juan was maybe the only really nice person I’ve ever met, not in a manipulative or give-to-get way, but from his heart. Juan and I were both white pawns, our headgear custom-fitted to our heads. If you’re going to stand out in the middle of a field of grass and gravel squares for a few hours every Sunday wearing a big globe helmet, you want it to be exactly the same size as your head. Juan always looked peaceful, staying exactly inside the lines of his grass space, not talking like the rest of us, but waiting for instructions from the loudspeaker.
We tried to get Juan to teach us, not how to be wide open, but how to broadcast it. But it wasn’t something he could teach. It just happened. It wasn’t just his eagerness, but his beauty and quickness to figure out what you wanted, and guess what you might want next.
How had a man gotten a master’s degree in computer science and a decent job, when he had “use me” written on his forehead? We asked Juan, and he said it had to do with context. At work or school, nobody would ever tell him to do anything inappropriate. Unpleasant, sure, all the time — but not inappropriate.
We thought maybe Juan was some kind of sage. Actually, we couldn’t agree amongst ourselves, between “sage” or “wild he-nymph.” And then we weren’t sure what the difference was between those two things. We agreed, though, that Juan had a limit somewhere. We just might not be mean enough to find it.
A guy pretended to castrate him — a teeny teeny guillotine, like you’d use to behead cigars, had its blade positioned to strike Juan’s cock from the record. Juan not even tied up — we always said Juan was a cheap date at a play party because the words “don’t budge” were inescapable bondage to him. The guy, who had a trucker outfit and handlebar ‘stache but actually sold bongs, put a blindfold on Juan and then took guillotine away. Smacked Juan’s cock root with a ruler, then put a soft dildo in Juan’s mouth and told him he was sucking his own cock. We weren’t there, but we imagined Juan making little slop-pop noises with his mouth.
What if we were all like Juan? Would the human chess game turn into group sex on the checkered field, or would we just stand there waiting for instructions, the way we already did? A good human chess piece has a super imagination. We would have gone nuts, standing out there for hours, if we couldn’t visualize the big picture. Or make up stories in our heads about the war we were helping to fight.
Juan called in sick at work because an Elk Lodge had him in their basement, dusting all their ceremonial hats while they took turns plugging his holes.
What would happen, we wondered, when Juan was older and less pretty? Would people still approach him randomly to serve them? If they stopped, then would he just shrug and carry on with his life, or would he spend the rest of his days looking until he found someone?
We would never stop using Juan, we swore on our satin chess-piece robes. We would keep probing and commanding him long after we’d all lost our teeth and had two hip replacements each. We competed to see who could come up with the most time-consuming task for Juan, and I won with the full- body tongue bath I made him give me. A human body is bigger than you’d give it credit.
The person who found Juan’s limit was not one of us, he was not even anybody we would want to know. He was a sanctimonious jerk who drew those little religious comic-book pamphlets, in the style of Jack Chick, where people try video games or Christian Science and the next thing you know, they’re turning on kebab spits that unravel their intestines each time around. One of those angry closet cases.
In the end, it wasn’t any particular action that Juan didn’t like, it was a person. Before Robert, Juan had never met someone he didn’t like. He was the Will Rogers of sex slaves. Maybe that was why people enjoyed taking advantage of him so much, you could tell he liked you from the way his eyes widened, the little nod he’d do when you’d just given him some extra horrendous task.
Robert Daly would work for 48 hours non-stop on one of his comics, snarfing caffeinated Penguin mints by the handful and not eating or bathing. At the end of one of those stints, he wouldn’t be able to sleep until he’d messed up a cute boy. Before he met Juan, he had a few hustlers on speed dial on his cell (labeled things like “Domino’s Pizza,” so when he was really sleep-deprived he’d call them up and try to order a meat lovers’ classic from them).
But then he meet Juan. And every few weeks, he’d call Juan up at three in the morning or afternoon, and demand that he come over immediately. Juan would rush over, strip, and bend over the drawing table. Daly would whack at him with a long thick brush, hitting the table instead of Juan about half the time. This went on for an hour or two, while Daly screamed at Juan about his disgusting faggot ass. Then Daly would ram his cock into Juan’s ass, cum in a few seconds, and pass out. Juan would dress and let himself out.
Maybe six months of this, and then one day Juan went all Bartleby the Scrivener. He was at the park, flying a long fancy dragon kite, with a twenty-foot tail that looked like it was threading the clouds. His phone rang and Daly’s name popped up. Juan didn’t pick up. He missed the second call, too.
The third time, Juan looked at his phone, heard the buzzer insisting, and picked up. Daly told him to get his fucken faggot ass over there, and Juan bit his lip. “I don’t know,” he said. He looked up at his kite, and thought about how long it would take to get it down safely, roll up the fancy tail, get it into storage. “I can be there in about an hour,” he said.
Now, Daly said.
Juan said he would do his best. He scratched his head, then started to bring the kite down. He got to Daly’s house in about 45 minutes, then fidgeted instead of undressing. Finally he looked at Daly’s eyes, which didn’t look back at him, and said he didn’t think he could do this any more. He said it was nothing personal, which was a lie. Daly screamed, tried to push Juan down onto the table. Juan shoved back. Daly fell onto his sofa. Juan went home and took a bath. A couple of days later, he gave pedicures to five members of the same women’s glee club and then went down on them.
Some time after that, our White Overlord took an interest in Juan. She kept slipping Juan forward whenever she had no more urgent move to make. Juan made his way halfway across, then into Black (gravel) territory. By the time anybody noticed, he’d gotten four squares from the other end of the field.
We all started rooting in silence for him to get to that last square, to trade his round hat for a big crinkly inverted cone- shaped crown. The next few moves, Juan stayed where he was, then he got another square closer. Nobody said anything or even breathed, we all just looked at him, biting our tongues. Only Juan kept his face totally relaxed and empty. Totally patient and up for whatever. Watching the birds chase each other from one tree to the other, at the north border of the chess grid.
Charlie Jane Anders blogs about science fiction and futurism at io9.com. She’s the author of Choir Boy and the co-editor of She’s Such A Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology & Other Nerdy Stuff. She organizes the award-winning Writers With Drinks reading series, and co-founded other magazine.