Shoot the moon. This brought to mind what my mother, Tala, would whisper to me as she pulled the curtain across the bed in our shack on an Olongapo City alley, the smell of the smoke and the heavy breathing of the man—invariably an American from the naval base at Subic Bay—having already told me the curtain would be pulled. Just another lonely and horny American sailor—just like the one of many possibilities who had fathered me fourteen years earlier, in 1959.
“Shush now and lay quietly, little Angelo,” she’d murmur. “Mother helps this man shoot the moon and soar with the angels now.” Tala still said that after all these years of men coming—and coming—and then going, just as my father must have, although he’d stayed around longer than any of the others had. I no longer was a child. I knew what they did while I lay here behind the curtain and listened to them. I knew that “shooting the moon” meant the release of pleasure. I wanted to be wanted the way my mother was in those moments. I wanted the men to want me too. I wanted to be there, under them, being held close by them, them inside me, when they shot the moon. I wanted them to make me soar to the sun while they released. I heard my mother’s cries of pleasure as they shot the moon on her.
Each time she’d say that I would feel warm and close to her, as my name, Angelo, meant “angel,” and for a moment, a moment only, I thought she was coming to me, to cover me with her arms and rock me back and forth and hum a tune of safety to me—or to take my hand and lead me to the man who wanted to shoot the moon, to make me cry out in pleasure as she did when they did it with her. But she never meant she was coming to me. And I would lie there on the other side of the thin curtain, hearing everything, knowing the moment she reached the sun, crying out in passion, and he shot the moon, knowing she was being seared by the heat of the sun, crying out at the explosion.
It was not long, there in Olongapo City, the Philippines, at the edge of the Subic Bay naval base, before, in 1973, when I had reached fourteen and, although still slender and small, had started to become a man, that the American sailors came not always for my mother—but, sometimes, for me, and I learned myself what soaring to the sun as the sailor shot the moon could mean. Until then, I denied what it really meant. Souring to the sun for me was rising out of the shacks of Olongapo City, above the trees and the fetid squalor of our alley and into the clean sunshine and the crisp air of the mountaintops. It was only a dream then; I didn’t expect ever to do that. And when I did get glimpses of it, I was sorry that it only shed understanding of the conditions I was born into. I think I would have been happier never to have known more or better.
Shooting the moon with an American sailor didn’t always have the ecstasy I once thought it would. It did often enough, though, that I wanted to continue doing it—not just for the money it brought in, but for that moment of pleasure when I to released and shot the moon.
I would speak to my mother of what I wanted soaring to the sun and giving men the pleasure of shooting the moon to mean, and she’d give me a soft look and tell me that was a lovely way to think of it. And that’s when she told me that she was able to do what she did for the American sailors because she held a double meaning of the term too. Yes, she had to open her mouth and legs for the foreign men in whatever manner pleased them. But in doing so, she opened up a world of continued existence for herself—and for me—as well, although in the times I had displeased her, she was quick to point out the increasing expense and drag on her life that I was.
The first time, when I was just fourteen, was by my choice, not because my mother wanted me to. But when I’d done it, she merely smiled and spoke of our lives perhaps being better now. Tala worked in the evenings at Rosa’s, a bar on Fontaine Street, where they had rooms upstairs. She sometimes—well, often—made more private arrangements with a sailor or a Filipino contractor and brought him back to the shack. I went to school, but I did various other odd jobs to bring in what money I could. I sometimes swept the floors at Rosa’s, so I knew some of the other B-girls she worked with. There was a time that Tala was sick for several days in a row, and no money was coming in. I spoke to the girls at Rosa’s and they sent me to another place, Over the Moon, a house of sex—sex for men with men and boys—on Barretto Street.
They were happy to see me there, the man who I talked to saying that I was a “cute little piece,” and asking me about my Western looks and the blond highlights in my hair, understanding exactly how I might serve both his interests and mine when he learned what my mother did; that my father had been an American sailor, who was here and in my mother’s life for nearly a year, before being shipped out, that I was interested in a certain kind of life myself, and that I never had been with a man before.
He gave me more money than I’d ever seen before, enough for my mother and me to live for a month or more. He showed me into a room where other men and boys were lounging about. There was a glass wall and men standing on the other side. Most of them were American sailors. And then I was in a smaller room, which also had a glass wall with men standing on the other side, watching. The room had a platform bed in the center of it. I was told to strip down and to pose for the men on the other side of the glass, which I did. The man gave me a shot in the hip. He said it was something they gave women who were giving birth—that it would help me with what was coming. It did numb me—but not on the inside, not where I was stretched and filled and chafed.
A sailor in a blue uniform was let into the room. He slipped his tunic off and embraced me at the bed and kissed me on the lips and cheeks and throat and nipples. He was muscular and black and about twice as big as I was. I was both afraid and aroused. I wanted this to happen, and not just for the money, but I found myself panting and moaning. I was trembling so hard that he had to sit on the cot next to me, take me in his arms, whisper encouragement in my ear and rock me back and forth until the trembling subsided. He whispered that it made him want me all the more, that it helped him believe he would be my first. It seemed important to him that he be my first. It was important to me to get beyond the first time. He said that he would be gentle and would take his time.
He sat me on the edge of the bed and stood in front of me and unbuttoned and flared his trousers. He was huge and hard. I had seen men naked before, though, and I had seen what my mother did for men when they were in this position. So, when he pressed the blub of his dick at my lips, I opened them for him. I could hear the men giving encouragement and cat calls through the glass walls, but I concentrated on pleasing the black sailor, keeping him hard, making him harder.
When he rose and turned me onto my belly on the bed, my feet still on the floor, and buried his face between my buttocks cheeks, I gripped the rim of the thin mattress on the other side of the bed and held steady, moaning at the sensations I was feeling. I was starting to soar to the sun.
The man who was paying me looked into the room and reminded the sailor that the men behind the glass were paying to see me losing my virginity. So, he moved me onto the bed on my hands and knees, sideways to the glass wall. He covered me close from above and embraced me tightly. I writhed and cried out in pain and violation as he worked his dick inside me. He was a black man with a huge, black dick. The men on the other side of the glass laughed and called out and beat on the glass as he started to move inside me. He was thick; I’d had no idea that anything could be that thick inside me—that my channel would have to open like it did. He did whisper encouragement in my ear, but he didn’t take it out. He’d paid to fuck a virgin. He was going to fuck a virgin. He did fuck a virgin.
He was gentle and took it slow at the beginning, but then he lost control in his lust and he moved it fast and deep inside me and held me so close that I barely could breathe. I writhed as best I could under him and cried out and sobbed, but that only encouraged him to use me hard.
The pain was still there, but it was subsiding and I was opening to him, as he murmured, “Relax, relax. Take it,” in my ear. I was soaring to the sun, although it was a more painful journey than I had imagined it would be. He moved a hand under me and stroked my dick. I shot the moon and then he tensed, jerked, and did so as well.
He patted me on the buttocks and whispered, “Very nice,” and let me collapse on the bed, as he rolled off of it, pulled his uniform on, touched me on the cheek with his hand, whispering again, “You done good, boy,” and was gone—only to be replaced by another sailor and then another one. One dick after another one, in my passage. None, though, as thick as that first man who popped my male cherry. There was pain, exhaustion, and one dick after the other one. And there was soaring and so much shooting of the moon.
It was something I wanted to do and get past, though, to live the life I both wanted and that was given to me.
The master of the house had to send someone with me to help me get home that night. I was in pain, but I was in more pain when the drug wore off that he had shot into me. He told me, though, that I did well and was valued there, even though I had lost my virginity, and I could come back and would be well paid. He told me the pain would go away the more I lay under men, and, over time, I found that he was right. The filled, stretching feeling would always be there and slight pain, but the possessed filling came to be a reason for me to want to do it and what pain there was become just a curtain to pull away to get to the pleasure and the sensation of soaring—and, of course, the shooting of the moon.
When I reached home that first night, I told my mother what I had done and showed her the wad of bills I had been given. There were tears in her eyes but she said nothing to make me feel I had done anything wrong. For a couple of months after that, I went back to Over the Moon a couple of times a week and added much-needed funds to what we needed to live on. I was not put on display as I had been that first time, but I wasn’t of as high a value as I was the first time. Still, whenever I went I had no trouble having men to go with and could go with two or three in the two hours I would spend at the club. It didn’t last for more than a few months, though, as I moved on to something more permanent.
One evening when I was at Over the Moon and sitting in the lounge area on the other side of the glass wall, I noticed a distinguished looking man old enough to be my father, tall and a little stocky but otherwise well-built, and with a dark buzz cut salted with gray—in a white uniform rather than blue, so an officer I had been told—standing on the other side of the glass and watching me. I smiled at him and lay back on my elbows on the lounge I was on, having begun to learn the enticing ways of a B-boy. I bent and spread my legs, raising my pelvis so that he could see my hole. By that time, my hole wasn’t closing up all the way. It was a perfectly round, slightly open rosebud and was, I was told, quite enticing. He smiled back at me and I saw his hand go down to his crotch. I could always tell when I’d caught a man—he’d lower his hand to his crotch.
In a smaller room, without a glass wall, but with a bed, the naval officer laid me out, both of us fully naked, and laid me. He took his time. He had paid for extra time. He made love to me, covering me in kisses and exploring me—totally, every curve and crevice of me—with worshipping hands. When he reached the point of putting it in me, I was panting and moaning and begging him for the cock. Covering me in the missionary position, on top, taking his weight on his elbows, a hand pressed to my forehead, his lips on mine, he slid inside me. I moved my knees to embracing his hips and rocked with him, taking him deeper inside me. His hips went into a rolling motion, as did mine, and we were fucking. He wasn’t just a sailor fucking a B-boy, we were making love, fucking each other, both soaring to the sun, both shooting the moon.
But there were two of him. The early fuck him was a lover. When he lost control, when the juice was rising inside him, he was forceful and it was all about him—thrusting and thrusting, using me without any thought to me, grabbing his own pleasure from and on me.
His name was Sam. Even though he’d fucked me, I found myself thinking of him as a father figure—because he was old enough to be my father and I didn’t have one.
When the American naval lieutenant commander, Sam, came to Tala and I saw the fistful of naval script he handed to her and she turned to me and told me that my dreams of soaring to the sun would come true and that she would always think of me high above the clouds on a mountaintop, and the American smiled and put out his hand, I went with him. I went with him so that I no longer would be a burden on my mother and so that perhaps she would not have to fall on her back for a foreign man as much when I was gone. But I also went for myself. He had made me soar higher than any other man had. And I could not see above the trees—to the warmth of the sun—from the hovel existence I led with my mother. Surely, I thought, any new life would be more like soaring to the sun than the life I then was trapped in.
I became the lieutenant commander’s houseboy on the American naval base—he said he was a military lawyer, and he seemed to be treated like someone important. I couldn’t believe that a single man could have five rooms of a house all for himself—six rooms, if you included the storage room off the kitchen where I slept when he didn’t take me into his bed.
I worked hard for him during the day. But I also worked hard for him in the night, soaring to the sun again and again, my legs open wide and his throbbing club moving relentlessly in and out of me, searing me with the heat of the sun, moaning and groaning just as I had heard my mother do for the American sailors, and crying out in passion and exploding as I flew into the sun. All of that work and giving I did for a few seconds of passionate cry, but each time a man put himself in me, I longed for the shoot the moon moment.
He would walk into the room after a day at work and release the knot of my sarong and sweep it off me—telling me to run, to try to allude him. A game he liked to play. I would run and whimper for him, and he would track me down and push me to the carpet or onto my back on a table or desk or fold me on my belly over a chair. And he would move a hand between my legs and coax my legs apart as he held me in a close embrace. He would search me deeply with his fingers and then, when I was moaning and groaning, mount me, riding me hard and deep, while I sobbed for him.
We had settled into that life, me still fourteen, when I met Hugo. He was a senior warrant officer and watched over men taking care of the ships at the naval base, and I knew he must have been a heavy task master, because he certainly was cruel to me.
His quarters were near to the lieutenant commander’s and he would take long looks at me when he passed by the lieutenant commander’s bungalow—and he passed by increasingly. He would smile, and he was pleasant to me. He would stop to talk to me as I worked in the lieutenant commander’s yard, and, lonely as I was when Sam wasn’t there, I would smile back and would try to have something that needed done outside when I thought he’d pass by. He would bring me chocolates and little presents. I knew what this meant when the chocolates appeared.
He was a huge man. All muscle and bullet head. Bald and with arms as big as my waist. He told me he was a cook in his civilian life and that he wanted to know how to cook Filipino food. He would show me how to make some Western dishes the lieutenant commander surely would like, if I showed him some Filipino cooking. He told me he would become an innkeeper when he returned to his world—that he already owned what he’d turn into an inn. He hinted that he might take me to the States to work for me there. He told me that maybe we could find my father when he took me to the States.
I let him into the lieutenant commander’s house during the day. Most of Hugo’s work shifts were at night, and Sam’s were during the day. So, as a surprise for the lieutenant commander, I invited the master sergeant into my kitchen and for weeks I traded cooking lessons with Hugo. All I wanted to do, or so I told myself, was to learn new American dishes that would please Sam. I also dreamed of going to the States and finding my father, but I never forgot that that was just a dream. Dreaming help, though. I had dreamed of getting out of the Olongapo City slum, and here I was, in neat and tidy navy base housing.
But when Hugo had learned what he wanted to know about Filipino cooking, he sent me soaring over the sun—not just to the sun, but over it. First, he did it with his fists, beating me to the floor with blow after blow. Then lifting me and slamming me down on my back on the kitchen table and ripping my sarong off, and then my loin cloth, leaving me naked to him. He forced my legs apart, twisting my ankles into the open slats of kitchen chairs on either side. Then, with one hand he grabbed my neck and choked me almost to the point of unconsciousness as he took his hard tool in the other hand and guided it to my hole and then forced his way into me—and we were soaring straight to the sun. His member was huge and he didn’t give me time to open to him. He laughed, saying he liked to force the stretching himself. He wanted me to cry and to beg for mercy. And I did cry and beg for mercy. He just laughed. I did black out then and didn’t come to until he had turned me on his hard member and was spouting his seed deep inside my belly.
He was cruel and brutal. I had gotten a bit of that in the Over the Moon. And, where it should have shocked and disgusted me, I found that it excited me. The lieutenant commander made love to me and took me on a journey toward the moon, but Hugo’s demanding taking made me soar over the moon. Hugo beat me and stretched me, and my heart went to racing in anticipation when he reached out and grabbed me. I was only fourteen. I did not make good decisions.
Hugo came to the house three more times during the day and took what he wanted from me before Sam found that I was lying with another man. I was afraid to tell the lieutenant commander what Hugo was doing; he told me he’d kill the lieutenant commander if I did. And, as cruel as he was with me, I believed he was capable of doing that. Sam wouldn’t touch me after learning I had lain under Hugo. He beat me and told me he would turn me out into the night. But he didn’t. He locked me in my room—his laundry room where I kept a mat to sleep on—and let me out only to relieve myself and to cook his meals. He said that all I was good for now was to cook and clean for him. He brought other Filipino boys home, and I heard them having sex in the night.
There was a younger naval lieutenant lawyer, Pete, who visited the lieutenant commander sometimes. I thought that maybe they were lovers, but when I hinted at it once, Sam just gave me a funny look and said that they liked the same thing too much for that. And then he laughed and called Pete his bait. He said they went out to the clubs at night and that Pete was so young and good looking that he would attract enough men for the both of them.
“Pete fucks men?” I asked.
“He sure does,” Sam answered. “He fucks boys too. He has the same tastes I do.”
I looked at Pete in an entirely different light then. Before then he was just friendly and made me feel good. Now he made me feel other sensations and desires.
And indeed, when the young lieutenant visited the lieutenant commander, it was me that his eyes followed around the room, not Sam. They seemed very comfortable with each other, and I only saw them fight the once—and that was over me. After Sam locked me up in the small room at the back of the house, I heard voices raised when the young lieutenant visited. They clearly had developed some sort of disagreement. It was only days later that Sam opened the door to my room and told me to come out into the living area. Pete was sitting at the dining table. His eyes picked up my form as soon as I entered from the hallway, and I looked down, embarrassed, because I knew that look. That was the soaring to the sun look—the look of want.
Although I was embarrassed, I also was pleased. The lieutenant was a beautiful young man and he had always addressed me politely and been kind to me when he had visited. He was soft spoken and had a sweet smile that made me feel safe and happy. I could see how the lieutenant commander considered him a good man to take to the clubs with him. He exuded a presence that made others want to know him and please him—and to be with him. I felt a glow and an inner feeling of completion when he visited.
Looking past him, I saw that there was a stack of American naval script on the table in front of the lieutenant. And thus I was surprised but I understood when Sam said, “You are to go with Pete now. You belong to him now.”
Out on the street, I noticed that he looked concerned. I hadn’t had any concern myself. I had just gone back into the room I slept in, what had once been a storage room off the kitchen, gathered up my few belongings in a cast-off duffle bag Sam had given me, and followed the lieutenant, my new master, out of the bungalow.
“I hadn’t planned this,” he said. “I just wanted to get you out of there. I’m not sure where we can go.”
“Anywhere is fine with me,” I said.