Flash Fiction: "To Be Naked"

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    "Do you know the difference between nude and naked?"
    "No, what is it?"
    "Nude is a show. Naked is for real."
    "See this here?" Jakob holds up his faded blue American Eagle tee shirt, a cut in the front of the fabric, as he models. He had already pulled down his pants to show his ass. He smiles. Turns around again to show his sleeping cock as a tease. Spreading his hands out to prove a point, he says, "This is man-made bullshit."

    He takes off his cyan-blue underwear in a quick theatrical gesture to prove a point. Miles had provoked him. The both of them had been wrestling the night away acting out pathetic improvisations after a dinner of steak spears, vegetable medley and homemade potato chips doused with cheese. Jakob had called Miles to come over at the last minute. Miles said yes, thinking it would be fun since he had not seen him in eight months.
     They ate dinner together sans a table, both seated cross-legged on a ripped piece of thin, soft canvas. "This wine comes from the bottom of the sea," Jacob said. "My father carried it up to the surface after scuba diving in Sydney."
      They drank the wine together which had the same effect as really good hashish. Miles was impressed by the sea story. The liquid was thick and reluctant to be ingested.
      Feeling the effects of the drug, they became actors. Jakob was much more into it. Miles was the passive one. Jakob was rough on Miles because he could not quite rid himself of a perennial smirk that kept ruining the impromptu scenes. In one improv, Miles played the part of a brother who returns home with news of a crippling disease. Jakob played the younger brother with ease, hitting the pathos with his expressive face. "Johnny," he said in a fake performance of fraternal love, "I don't care if you have AIDS. You're my brother." He would not let Miles say his line. "You're not fucking doing it right. You're not acting." So, they did it again until he felt it was right.
  "I don't perform drama well. I'm more "the Woody Allen" schtick while you're doing total Almodovar," Miles says. After a few scenes of I-don't-even-remember, Jakob says Miles is not serious enough. "You have to really act, here. You can't just smile. And dance around. You're a writer. How do you expect to write your characters if you can't even get in touch with their emotions."
   "It's not the same thing. I'm a writer, not an actor."
   "The actor's not an artist?" 
   "The director tells you what to do. So do it." 
   A quick argument for auteur theory from Miles, but Jakob is not having it tonight. 
   "See this here." He takes off his underwear. He dances the floor of his one-room studio apartment.
   "If the lights go off or if anything fucks up you just go with it. If you continue going with it at ease, that's art. No director can auteur that.
    See what you are wearing," he says, pointing to his friend's clothed body, "You are covering up your insecurity. See. I'm naked. I'm okay with myself. You're not. You're insecure.
    We are more real naked. We came out of our mother's completely naked. We were still attached to them when we were spit out. We are two people before we come out of the womb.
    We all have nipples, clavicles, skeletons. Look," he says, inching closer, pressing his torso into Miles' jeans. "We are the same height, pretty much. We are all the same. We are made of personalities. That's different, but we are still made of the same matter."
    Given enough provocation Miles'll take off everything too. "He is right," Miles reasons to himself, "I feel insecure. I feel my tummy extending out like a bowl of jelly." He takes off his clothes.
     Two men stand naked in front of a weigh-a-ton mirror.
     "The David was nude. We're naked. We're not fucking art."
     "I look the same as you know. Your clothes don't mean anything anymore."
     Jakob is enjoying this moment immensely. "Look at you. If you got a haircut. Jog a little. Lost like six pounds. You could have any guy you want."
     Miles ignores his back-handed compliment. 
     Wanting to illustrate a point, Jakob - in a not-so-nice-way-but-not-too-brutal-way improvises. The meal, the art strewn around his apartment is a naked display.
     "You can spend the night if you want. But, we're not having sex. I have a boyfriend, you know."
      Jakob stretches his body across the bed. A recent oil painting of a sandwich sits against the armoire. The crumbs in the painting are its most real parts. For a moment, Miles feels he can grab it to eat.
      He climbs into bed and presses his naked body against Jakob. 
      "You are very smart, Miles, but you are also very stupid. You know that?"
       I'm too much asleep to say, 'Fuck you.'"
       "Fuck you too."
       "Good night."
       "Good night."

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