Night moves – Full version, but free

Gypsy boy sleeping in my bed

Originally published on July 26, 2008

I’ve had sex and slept with a lot of abandoned boys.

Anecdotally, the percentage of rent boys in Prague, and presumably elsewhere, who spent a significant portion of their childhoods in orphanages, kinder homes, or halfway houses, appears to be high. In the Czech Republic, if your kids are a problem, you can simply ship them off to an institution. There are about 20,000 Czech children and teens living in institutions all over the country. A large number of them, particularly boys, run away and end up on the streets without support, often in the sex biznis.

Let me list a few of the boys I’ve known who have been in institutions because their families didn’t want them or because they had no families:

Daniel, my first live-in gypsy boyfriend;


Cip — not a rent boy, but rather a beautiful, gifted, young Romanian guy I fell in love with a couple of years ago; he unfortunately had had the life of a typical Romanian orphan; 

Miki — he stole my blanket but was a very close friend of mine for a while;

Roman, a recent trick;

Martin, who has slept the last couple of nights in my flat and in my bed;

and finally, of course, Marek.

That is, all of them, all of the major players, and extrapolating out, more than likely a large proportion of the minor ones.

I didn’t always know they’d been abandoned because they told me or because they were inordinately happy with simple gestures of affection, as many of them were, but because they all had a strange and affecting night-time habit.

Cip was the first to clue me in on this. In his typical offhand way of sharing a confidence, he explained to me why he had to sit up in bed, knees crossed, and rock himself rapidly back and forth, bending from the waist, before he could sleep. He said not to be concerned if I woke up in the middle of the night to find him doing it.

He said almost all of the orphans he knew had their own idiosyncratic way of cradling themselves, providing comfort before and during sleep. Something learned as a child, but one that often continues unconsciously into adulthood. I don’t have the words to explain how I felt when he told me that and later when I saw him doing it. Anything I write might misdirect your sympathies. It’s not about my reactions, or my lyrical recounting of them, that matter.

Everyone looks a little ridiculous when they sleep but often it’s the only time these hard boys look vulnerable; and, so, a voyeur and a thief, I often watch them doing it. Stealing intimacies they rarely give on their own.

All of the boys I listed do some unique variation of Cip’s repetitions. George used to shake his head back and forth across his pillow, almost violently, eventually burrowing underneath it. Miki shook his shoulders back and forth rhythmically and chimed in his sleep. Roman, Martin, and Marek all banged their heads face down, either into the bed or the pillow, and not softly, frequently scaring me and waking me up.

In Marek’s case it would usually lead into his ducking his head under my arms or throwing his legs around me, still unconscious. Last night I could hear Martin holding his breath and then letting it out in a whine and then a load moan and then he would resume bouncing his head. I couldn’t sleep.

Whatever crap I might throw around about my hopeless year of homelessness, my childhood was not wrecked. Even in my worst moments, I knew that I had been privileged, that I had been taken care of in a way that most of the boys I encountered, befriended, hired, and fucked, had not.

I’ve tried not to add to their misery, despite my resignation to using them, and despite their insistence that the lack of care is all behind them, or that nothing in their pasts figures in the present.

They can’t hide it. It’s all there when they sleep.

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