June 26, 2024

Cardcaptor SakuraBoytoy Fiction by Brendon Holder

“So… clap if you’ve ever wanted to kill somebody.” Wendy Williams 

When things go wrong in a relationship people ask if there were signs. And when they say the word “signs” what they really mean is the word “sex.” The absence of it. The avoidance. If Teddy were to be honest about his relationship and what led to its bleak ruin, he supposed there were “signs” because, yes, there was “sex.” There wasn’t necessarily an avoidance of it but perhaps, through the sex, something was being avoided. 

Seven years ago, as the boys progressed beyond the first timid weeks of dry-humping and “hand, foot, and mouth stuff,” Wyatt suggested that they fuck exclusively to hardcore rap. Mobb Deep. DMX. Wu-Tang. For more reasons than he was equipped to articulate, Teddy felt uncomfortable. To Teddy, it felt like the hosts of BET’s 106 & Park were in his bedroom, watching him ride his boyfriend. He had not watched the show since Free left. 

Instead of simply telling Wyatt “no,” or investigating the origin of this particular preference as Wyatt did not listen to hip hop during his non-fucking hours, Teddy requested that he contribute to Wyatt’s sex playlist too. Until then, Teddy never cared to listen to music when he made love, basking in the primal grunts of the act and not wishing to be ruled by a rhythm that, more often than not, his partner was incapable of keeping up with. Gay sex was already challenging: the lube, the poppers, the shit. Who could be tasked with doggy styling to Snoop dee-oh-double-gee? 

After some private experimentation, he started playing Disney music in between Wyatt’s rap songs. Not because he was a “Disney gay” or anything tragic like that but to make a point. To be fiddy-fifty. A dick democracy. To win yet another imaginary argument in his head that Wyatt had no idea he was fighting.  And so, Wyatt and Teddy’s Infinite Fucklist altered between 21 Savage and Mulan’s Reflections. 50 Cent’s Candy Shop right next to Hakuna Matata. The stop-start was dizzying. One moment Teddy would be face down taking it to Juvenile and then he’d be having his asshole eaten to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. 

The cyclone of genre made getting off impossible. Teddy could tell Wyatt was fed up. To circumvent this, Teddy suggested that they bring a toy into the bedroom to help. AirPods. The two began to bang with their own separate AirPods in, Wyatt jackhammering away while the voice of Aladdin lulled Teddy into submission. It was a whole new world, indeed. 

After a while, Teddy conceded and copped to Wyatt’s bedside preferences. First, he stopped playing music but kept the AirPods in his ear in silent protest, slowly studying Wyatt’s face as he sleeved in and out of him. Sooner or later, he dropped the act altogether, ditching the AirPods, and succumbed to Wyatt’s arousal for rap music. 

But, to Teddy’s disappointment, Wyatt kept his AirPods in his ears.  Rather than cast the raps of Foxy Brown to a nearby speaker for both to hear, Wyatt remained secluded in a private fantasy while interlaced in the tendrils of Teddy. A fantasy that Teddy could not participate in. 

On his back, Teddy scanned his boyfriend for signs of connection, for proof that the improved syncopation ushered in by the music unlocked a new level of intimacy. The snarl and quiver of Wyatt’s lip, a “sign.” Another “sign” hid in the grunt Wyatt muzzled into the basin of Teddy’s clavicle. Wyatt appeared to be happier, possibly moaning more than usual but, of course, beneath the concealed shouts of DMX, Teddy never could tell for sure. Perhaps, he was just humming along.


He used to spend his days trying to figure out how rotted Wyatt was. Inspecting how far the contamination had spread and what parts would need to be amputated. What components of their relationship he could salvage, and what scraps he would need to sell. 

So much of their relationship had become outsourced. Emotional reasoning to their couple’s therapist. Sex with whoever. A relationship of mechanics. But, in this age, how could anyone expect everything from one person?  Seven years invested and the relationship was now virtually autonomous. Like a self-driving car, they cruised through the motions with an untrusting precarity. And Wyatt appeared to be drifting. So much of Teddy had been hollowed that he felt like taxidermy. Stuffed with fluff, dead in the eyes and on display. Only now with moving parts. Knees that bent. 


Before the tragedy, he showed gratitude by saying gracias, merci, and arigatou, instead of thank you. This gestured a playful charm but cloaked beneath it was something more sinister. For under the guise of worldliness, an incapacity for vulnerability was sheathed. A gimmicky language barrier between him and to whom he refused to appear indebted to. “Danke,” he’d utter, one degree removed from thankfulness. 

Teddy never really had to worry about money which is how he could afford to have such a bullshit job, playing with dolls all day. His mother fixed assholes for a living, a renowned rectal procologist. His father had been a tenured professor, leaving him and his twin sister a handsome trust that Teddy gained access to a year ago, at the age of 30. 

Teddy felt as though Wyatt never acknowledged where the money came from, or how the rent got paid. Wyatt only referenced Teddy’s wealth as a pejorative, when they were fighting, as if it was the root for Teddy’s black-and-white thinking. “Not everything is a transaction,” Wyatt would hurl in the privacy of their city apartment. 

But at times, Teddy felt as though Wyatt’s thinking was black-and-white. “Not everything, no. But most things.” Teddy adjusted the dial of the microscope to focus on the detailing of the small figurine. There was a thin layer of dust underneath the chin of the doll. He made a note to polish it before sending the toy to photography. A small imperfection could be the difference of a thousand dollars once the figurine went up for sale. Teddy carefully fiddled with a miniature stick of cloth along the perimeter of the doll’s neck and wiped at the specks of dust. 

It was late afternoon and Wyatt was off somewhere in the kitchen. Probably setting up a ring light or something. “It’s not like you need the money. And what he’s offering you… You could, like, buy a trip to France or something.” His voice reached Teddy’s office as he stood in the kitchen, thrown like that of a ventriloquist.

Teddy removed his magnifying spectacles and replaced them with an identical-looking pair. “What he’s offering isn’t worth the doll's value. I can get double the price with a few refinements. If I hold out a bit longer. Besides… what’s better than a ticket to France?” Teddy held for Wyatt’s response while he clawed methodically at the doll’s neck again. 

“Two tickets to France.” 

“Bingo,” he smiled, pleased. “Aren’t you a smart lad?” Teddy removed his glasses, lifting his vision from the doll to the corridor that led to the kitchen. He allowed his eyes to wait for a sec or two until… 

Wyatt emerged from the kitchen, hand on hip, half-smile on face. The apron Teddy’s mom purchased Wyatt for Christmas was cinched around his waist. He must be filming a cooking video, Teddy thought. “Yeah, I get it. It’s just… I dunno. Sometimes I feel like everything needs to be bartered with you.” 

“Well, you know I hate getting the short end of the stick, Wy.” Teddy put down the doll, waiting for what he knew came next. 

Wyatt stepped towards Teddy, drifting further from the corridor and into the office. He mounted a knee on the armrest of the desk chair. His hand pressed into Teddy’s scalp like a Spalding, his fingers webbing against the coils of his hair. Swimming against his waves. “Luckily you’ve never had to worry about that with me. A short stick.” 

“I’m the luckiest boy in the world.” His lips met Wyatt’s. His mouth tasted like… Doritos Cool Ranch? Teddy didn’t mind and tongued past Wyatt’s powdered mouth. “Merci, mon garçon.” 

“Ton grand garçon,” Wyatt returned. “And I…” He slipped his fingers underneath Teddy’s belt buckle. His hands were chilly as if they recently gripped something cold. An image of Wyatt handling cold fish – a fillet of Dover sole – flashed in Teddy’s brain. “... Have something I want to give you.” Then, the image of a fish sucking his dick came to Teddy. And then, a worm snagged on a fishing rod in the lake, struggling to break free. Wyatt kissed Teddy on his forehead, breaking him to the present. “Don’t worry, this is for free.” 

“Your love don’t cost a thing?” 


But the fish, his dick, and the worm reappeared to Teddy in between Wyatt’s kisses. The silvery skin of the fish began to crisp as if agitated by his throat fucking. “No, but seriously. Let’s just think for a second,” said Teddy, re-adjusting his legs in his seat, forcing Wyatt to dismount. 

“I don’t wanna think.” 

“There must be something you’re getting from this,” Teddy challenged. 

“This? Yeah, I’m trying to get off.” 

“No, I mean being with me. Being seen with me. We all have something to give each other, right?” He was dancing around what he really wanted to say. He knew Wyatt loved him deeply but sometimes felt as though Wyatt got a kick out of what being associated with Teddy symbolized. Here is my rich, intelligent Black boyfriend who archives rare art from Japan. Isn’t that subversive? And if Wyatt didn’t realize this, was that actually worse or better?

“I dunno, Ted,” said Wyatt, pulling away. “‘As I said before. Not everything is a transaction.” He put back on his apron and took a couple of steps back towards the kitchen. “At least, not to me.” 

It struck Teddy that perhaps Wyatt didn’t see their relationship the way people saw it from the outside. Or, the way Teddy thought they did. “I just think, you get a lot out of being with me.” 

Wyatt’s face scrunched together. His eyebrows closer to his eyes, his nose closer to his eyelids. For a brief moment, he looked ugly. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Ah, and then, he looked hot again. 

“No, like I mean, so do I. Of course. Obviously.” The oven alarm went off, letting them know that the meal Wyatt prepared for them, prepared for content, was done. But Wyatt remained in the office, his eyes holding Teddy hostage for an answer. “I just think… we look good together. That’s all.” 

“I pay my fair share of the rent. I know it hasn’t always been that way but I have for the past number of years.” 

“That’s not what this is about,” chuckled Teddy. “Hey, let up.” Sensing that he’d gone too far, he moved his mouth to a smile. “OK Google, play Doja Cat,” commanded Teddy, trying to recapture the mood. 

“Nah,” scoffed Wyatt. “You think you’re so unique. So counterculture. Dude, you sell toys.” Kissing I hope they caught us… whether they like or not… the song went. 


“You think you’re so subversive. Like your presence makes me cool or something.” There it was. What Teddy was looking for. “Is it hard to believe that I want to be with you… just because I love you? Not for an alternate agenda or some, like, brand positioning exercise.” 

“Isn’t it subversive enough that I bottom and you top? My big black cock bopping around, rarely put to use,” Teddy laughed. He had rehearsed that line in his head before. It sounded funnier in his brain than it did in the office. 

Wyatt did not return the laugh, freezing at the mention of race in the bedroom, or, in this case, the office. “Theodore.” This type of foul talk did not get Wyatt’s dick hard in the slightest. 

“Not the government name.” Neither did the mention of governments. 

I wanna show you off… I wanna show you off… 

“And I don’t sell toys, Wyatt. I sell rare collectibles from Japan.” Teddy put on a phony British accent to diffuse the mood. “I am an archivist,” he declared flamboyantly. 

“Yeah, whatever. This is just a bit rich.” 

“I am rich,” Teddy cut quickly. Then, sensing this bluntness disarmed Wyatt, he added “And so are you,” spritely. 

“No, this talk about transactions and now race or whatever… It’s rich. Coming from you.” 

“How so?” 

Wyatt paused, his thoughts rolling around in his head like pinballs in a machine. Just trying to find a hole. “You’re the one who trades Japanese culture for mass white consumption. You sell your little dolls to white incel weirdos.” He motioned to Teddy's desk. Toy legs and arms were dismissed across the oak surface like a warzone. “Like that sexy schoolgirl doll character on the desk. It’s gross, man. It makes sense that you look for a similar dynamic in our relationship. This transactional… bartering… capitalistic cultural exchange.” 

“Ouch,” said Teddy, not sounding hurt at all. He looked at the pink bonnet and the coquettish dress she wore. It wasn’t, like, a ‘schoolgirl’ dress. It was fashion. Cardcaptor Sakura. “It’s well known that there is an established cultural treaty between Black people and Japanese people. We give them streetwear and, in exchange, they give us anime.” He was joking but also kind of not. Again, this joke sounded better in his brain than it did to Wyatt but, at this point, Wyatt could tell that Teddy meant no harm. This was just the way a person could be. Supremely wrong but somehow right for you if you allowed them to be. If you squinted. 

“Theo, you’re proving my point.” A grin returned to Wyatt, an opening for Teddy. 

“Which is?” 

“That there are some exchanges that don’t require money.” He stepped close to the armchair again. 

The cat continued, Hold my hand… you can hit while they watch… boy… 

“And then so, what am I?” Teddy’s lips pushed into a tight smirk. He readied himself for Wyatt, uncrossing his thighs suggestively. 

“A bad trade,” smiled Wyatt as he descended on Teddy once again. “A bad trade.” 

The oven went off again but the boys didn’t care. The baked branzino charred to a crisp, ruining the kitchenware for good. By the time the boys returned to the kitchen, they sneered at the spoiled fish. Its skin was all tar. They laughed and ordered sushi instead. There was a time when fish fixed everything. 


The voices in Teddy’s head went a little something like this: 

Sometimes, when you’re drowning in the thickness of love, it’s incomprehensible to imagine your life without someone. 

Your soul cannot exist without them. Their love has latched to become a fixed input to your existence. This is why, when that love goes away, their existence without it is confusing. 

The only logic behind the love disappearing is that they too must have disappeared. And if that is not the case… the only way to make sense of things is to make them disappear to justify the absence of love. 

To preserve your existence. 

To snuff out theirs. 


Long before Wyatt received weekly brand gifts (the packets of matcha enemas, the cashmere toilet seat covers, etc.), before the mornings in which he’d wake to countless of direct messages from followers requesting him to mail his skunked underwear in exchange for a handsome sum of cash and well before the point he employed a social media manager to schedule his editorial posts, Wyatt was a senior architect at a boutique firm known for their expertise in hotels. Wyatt was drawn to the profession because of the work’s slow metamorphosis. How something started on the page, as a calculation or a rough outline of dimensions, and by the months and years, became physical. The penciled measurements slowly stretched off the page and reached toward the sky through wires of steel and brass beams. Bigger than Wyatt they became. 

Everyone romanticizes the idea of dating an architect. They are creative but practical. They have good taste but are also good with their hands. It is through their career that they promise a unison of substance and style where other gay jobs like creative director or flight attendant or investment banker typically fail. 

“Oh, my boyfriend? Yeah, he’s an architect,” Teddy used to love saying. He knew it unlocked something in the imagination of whoever was listening: 

● A recently restored entrance of wicker and slate in their home, worthy of Architectural Digest.

 ● A man who was handy, and apt at applying limewash paint to the guest bathroom.

● Good at sex, precise and thorough strokes with a whiff of suppressed violence. 

And with Wyatt, all of these things were true. He was good with his hands, reliable on his knees, and held a sharp eye for design. But, to Teddy, with it came an ego. A belief that his work was more critical than anyone else’s. Wyatt! Built! Things! Applied mathematics, physics, you know, real brain power to produce arcs of beauty that housed humans. Luxury hotels. Teddy enjoyed the comped stays. The open-air hill tavern in Marfa, the modernist skyscraper in Kyoto. All of it was honey, worth him stomaching the bouts of stress Wyatt would pulse whenever he approached a deadline or cancelled last-minute when Teddy was already at the restaurant on his second glass of pinot noir. 

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” is how he always started. 

“I know. I’m the worst,” is how he always responded, his sweet voice hitting the phone like schnapps. “I just received all these revisions from the client and the Berlin office needs a perspective before they wake up.” 

“Well, nein!” Teddy said, figuring out how to play this to his advantage. “The special is trout almondine. We haven’t had one of those since that Nola trip I surprised you with.” 

“Yeah, babe. Just order it and use my card. Maybe take it to go.” 

“To go? If I wanted to have cold fish alone in our apartment I’d have ordered sushi.” Fo shizzile my nigiri, thought Teddy. He knew to keep this one inside. 

“Calm down. You won’t be alone,” Wyatt replied with a laugh. “You’ll have Barry.” “Shit, yeah. Another night with the pup to keep me warm.” 

A muffled sigh reached his ear from beyond the receiver. “Just run my card,” Wyatt said. He was distracted. 

Teddy imagined Wyatt’s twink associate sliding a laminated worksheet across his boyfriend’s desk. Oliver. Teddy took a gulp of his wine. “I have my own money.” 

“That’s not what I meant. I just mean, this is on me. Like, it’s my fault.” 

“Well, you didn’t say sorry.” 

Wyatt cleared his voice as if to prepare himself. “I shouldn’t have to say sorry. This is a job I’m committed to.” 

Teddy licked his lips, ready to engage. “And your commitment to me?” 

“Don’t do this. I am committed to you.” 

Teddy paused before responding, recalibrating. Waiters shuffled behind him like roaches, the clicks of cutlery battled for his earlobes' attention. “You’re right. I know you are,” he pushed his lips into a smile. Wyatt always said he could tell when someone was smiling behind the phone. 

“Sorry, babe.” 

“Yeah, me too. I’ll see you later tonight.” 

“Love you,” they both said in unison, like ‘amen’ at the end of a prayer. A sacred seal that ended the conversation for good. 

And that was that. The trout got boxed. The carafe of red got gulped. And when the Berlin office went to work the next morning, a revised proposal graciously waited in their inbox. 


The last thing he remembers: The unflattering glow of the fridge light, beat-up Nike SB dunks splayed by the apartment doorway, the unrelenting shriek of the Great Dane. The walnut folds of his fingers wrapped around Wyatt’s throat. 

Wait, he remembers more: 

The white spheres of Wyatt’s eyes overtaking the blue. 

His body stiff on the floor, unmoving. 

His jaw lopsided and ajar like a dog’s mouth out of a speeding car window. 

He used to wake up early and watch Wyatt sleep, his hooded pupils fluttering through nests of dreams. A place where Teddy could not reach him. In sleep, Wyatt thoughts were his own, his emotions selfishly obscured from Teddy. 

How evasive was slumber? 

Not as evasive as death it turns out. 


It was 3:43am and Teddy was dreaming. The toads belched in the thicket. Humid mist rose from the creek like dry ice on a stadium tour. Damp moss found its way under his toes. The air had a dankness to it, of flesh, of fern, of bodies who had passed through right before he arrived. 

A grassy slate of moss burrowed itself open in front of Teddy, splitting like a part in a high-top fade. Down its center, it revealed: Wyatt. Correction. Wyatt standing on top of a horse’s saddle. Correction. Wyatt standing on top of a horse’s saddle with his throat in a tight necklace of rope. Rope attached to the branch of a willow. 

The horse gazed at Teddy, his calm eyes speaking to him with words that only he could understand. 

Wyatt struggled atop of the black horse, his face contorting in an illegible expression. “Teddy, please,” he sputtered. “Please help.” The toes of his boots barely scraped the saddle. The noose was a tad too high. He needed a phonebook. The necklace gripped his neck the way Wyatt had done before, the way he had asked Wyatt and other men to do in bed. 

Wyatt kicked and crip-walked in the air. 

Then he was still. 

The mist retreated into the bog while Wyatt hung from the willow like a forgotten Christmas ornament. Then his light bulb went dark. And with it, the dream. 

Brendon Holder is a Canadian writer based in New York with work in The Globe and Mail, Electric Literature, The Drift, and elsewhere. He is the author of the culture newsletter LOOSEY and is working on a novel.