Title: Berlin [Part One]
Disclaimer: None of this is true, and none of it ever happened
Summary: Jim Osterberg and David Jones shared an apartment in Berlin in 1977. While there, they were very badly behaved and very, very sexy.
Bowie spent all of Sunday writing prose poetry about the skyline the week they arrived. Their flat had a wide view out onto the east of the city, facing the tall buildings and billboards advertisements, ending with the imposing presence of the wall. He sat by the white-curtained windows looking at strangers’ rooftops, trying to translate the scraps of conversation that floated up from the streets below into something familiar, something he understood. He wrote about dirty, polluted sunsets hanging low above the chimneys of a divided city.
“Urban schizophrenia, a scar across your face. What is this?” Iggy read out loud, snatching the paper from Bowie’s typewriter and pressing a hand on Bowie’s shoulder. “Come on, get up, we’re going out. There’s a city to learn out there!” He wore black slacks and no shirt. His hair was dark and cropped, bangs hanging just short of his eyes. Bowie cocked an eyebrow and stood. He picked up a long, black leather coat by the door and slipped it on, holding out a denim jacket for Iggy. Iggy grunted as he slipped the jacket over his shoulders, leaving it unbuttoned. Bowie locked the door behind them as they left.
“Here’s to a week clean,” Iggy toasted, holding up a glass of milk.
“Except for those two spliffs three days ago,” said Bowie. Iggy chugged the glass in one go.
“That doesn’t count as drugs,” he answered, licking the milk off his upper lip. He smiled coyly at his flatmate, and laughed. “What I mean is, we’re doing good.” Bowie smoothed the blue tablecloth and kissed him on the cheek.
“We are,” he chuckled, stretching out his “r”s. “We’re doing very well.”
Iggy woke Bowie up the next Tuesday at 4 in the morning.
“’m sleepin’,” Bowie mumbled, cracking his spine and stretching cattily. He rolled over and wrapped himself in the grey sheets.
“Dave,” Iggy cooed, “Get out of bed, I have drugs.”
Bowie opened his eyes, but didn’t turn around. “No,” he said without looking at Iggy and shut them again.
“Davey,” Iggy trilled, slipping a hand between Bowie’s chest and the mattress. “Get up.”
“I said no, Jim.”
Iggy wiped his nose and licked his lips, then climbed between the sheets and curled to Bowie’s back. They fell asleep and didn’t say a word.
Bowie came back to the apartment on Wednesday to find Iggy in the living room, getting a blowjob from a brunette who only wore grey panties and giant hoop earrings. Bowie looked at her ass approvingly. Iggy’s eyelashes fluttered and he smiled sleepily when Bowie walked in. He pointed at the mantle piece. It supported two candles, a sewing kit and a green vase.
“These are new, Jim,’ Bowie said, picking up and toying with the sewing kit. The girl giggled around Iggy’s cock and pulled off for a moment, laughing and holding the back of her hand to her mouth. Iggy growled and ruffled her hair. She looked up from under heavy eyelashes and curled a manicured hand around the base of his cock, returning to her task with fervor. “Look inside,” Iggy said, tilting his head back onto the sofa cushions. Bowie opened the sewing kit and found only the usual: needles, thimble, thread, and threader. He opened the vase. It was filled with white powder.
Iggy moaned as he came down the girl’s throat behind Bowie. Bowie looked at him.
“Bring it here,” Iggy said as the girl climbed onto the sofa next to him, throwing one leg over his lap and wrapping her arms around his neck. He slid a hand into her underwear. Bowie brought over the vase and the sewing kit.
“My aunt died and I had her cremated,” Iggy said, a sarcastic smirk splashed on his face as he filled the thimble with pale dust. He held one nostril closed and snorted it. He handed the jar to Bowie. “Pay your respects, Davey.”
Bowie grinned toothily and accepted the jar, inhaling a thimbleful of powder. He rolled his neck and sat on the other side of the girl, crossing his legs. The girl turned and kissed him, grinding against Iggy’s thigh. Bowie smiled against her lips. Bowie balanced the jar on the floor and reached for the girl’s nipple. She slid a hand into his pants. Iggy leaned his forehead into her neck and smiled, enjoying lying on the sofa with friends for a few minutes and the shudder that rippled through his companions as they each came. He lay across their laps when they were finished, grinning up at them and stretching his back. Bowie kissed him on the forehead and stood, placing the jar back on the counter and putting his dick back in his pants. Iggy stayed naked.
Jim loved when Bowie came home drunk. Shoes untied, hat long lost to some hungry street corner, he would bang on the door until James let him in. Iggy would crawl obligingly from his bed or the couch or some young thing’s lap and answer the door. Bowie tasted like beer on good nights, vomit on others. Jim didn’t mind either.
Bowie would snake up next to him on good nights, curling a hand into his pants.
“I’m not gay, Davey,” James would growl, undoing his pants.
“I know,” Bowie would answer. “I’m sorry, I’ll stop. I should know better.” Bowie would shove Iggy’s jeans to the ground, dropping to his knees. “It won’t happen again” Dave could watch as Jim grew hornier, more powerful. Iggy loved to fuck. Iggy would moan and lean against a wall of the hallway. Bowie’s lips were good for more than singing, he would think. Bowie would reach up and slip a few fingers into Iggy’s mouth. Iggy would suck greedily, making them slippery and wet. Bowie would worm a finger into his ass, then another, and Iggy’s knees would go weak. Bowie would curl his fingers, making Iggy squirm and grind onto his hand and mouth.
Iggy would whimper and nod as Bowie would whisper in his ears. He’d pull back and stand up, kissing Iggy hard and pushing him into the wall. Iggy would grind their hips together, trying to get friction against Bowie’s rough jeans. Bowie would turn him over and fuck him against the wall with short thrusts, wrapping his fingers around Iggy’s cock and pulling him off. Iggy would bite his hands until they bled, groaning and grunting as he came. If Iggy had brought home some beautiful youth, they would watch, and sometimes they’d join in if they were lucky.
On good nights.
“Here’s to two weeks clean,” said Iggy, holding up a glass of milk. He grinned at Bowie.
Bowie cocked an eyebrow. “Jim, you—“
“Shhh,” said Iggy, curling his chest to Bowie’s. “Don’t tell anyone.”
“Iggy…” Bowie started. He sighed heavily. Iggy silenced him with a short kiss. Bowie pulled him closer, curling their finger together on one hand and prying the powdered heroin from Iggy’s other hand.
Iggy considered fighting it, but decided to let Bowie wrap his legs around his hips and lift him up. Iggy shifted in Bowie’s lap and giggled girlishly. “You taste like milk,” he said.
Bowie didn’t say what Iggy tasted like.
They didn’t go out every night, though. Sometimes, usually after a long night on the town, the two would stay in the flat and do nothing at all. Iggy jogged every morning, even when he was hung over, and Bowie cooked them exotic little it’s-good-for-you recipes made of cabbages and things from places like Thailand. Iggy ate them all.
Bowie insisted that they keep their lives “somewhat normal”. He did the crossword puzzle on Sundays, which was difficult, but a good way to learn German. Jim liked to watch children’s television shows; he didn’t know enough of the language to handle anything tougher. “You’d like them better if we watched them on drugs,” he would explain. They’d play old R and B records of Bowie’s that Iggy never really liked but loved to dance to. He’d glitter sinuously around the apartment, no shirt and smudged eyeliner, singing obscenities over the lyrics. His hips would roll like they did when he fucked. Bowie laughed at him and shook his head, but never stopped him.
Bowie would calm him down in time for dinner, and usually some drugs and then maybe they’d watch the sun set.
Iggy was right, Bowie would think; the kid’s programs were much more interesting with heroin in you.
Jim woke Bowie up one morning and insisted that he come along for a morning jog.
“Fuck off,” said Bowie, “It’s not even light out,” but he sat up and put on some clothes, anyway. Jim smiled, excited. He buzzed around Bowie, clinging to his arms almost like a hug and then bounced off him again like electricity. Jim had never had company on one of his excursions before. Bowie knew it, too, and knew it was no small compliment to be invited. Jim wore a gray tracksuit and a camera around his neck that he held as he ran so it wouldn’t smack against his chest.
Bowie was in pretty good shape for a drug addict who preferred books to gyms, but he was no match for Jim. After a while he took off his sweater and Bowie saw that he wore no shirt underneath. He jogged topless through the pale gray light of Berlin.
The stood under the wall to watch the sun rise. Bowie thought sunsets were more beautiful, but this held a sort of charm as well. Jim got cold when they were standing still and put his sweater back on. He lifted the camera and snapped a dozen photos of the city waking up, but there ended up being more of Bowie than of the town. Bowie pointed this out to Jim, but he just smiled from behind his lens like he knew something Bowie didn’t and kept clicking. Bowie rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, laughing mockingly. He didn’t look at the camera.
“You never do,” Jim pointed out. He often looked at Jim past the camera, though, and that was good enough. Maybe better.
On Thursday, Angie came to visit.
She hadn’t called. Bowie didn’t know if she thought her visit would be unobtrusive or if she was trying to catch him at something, but arriving without calling was unwelcome. He loved her, he supposed, differently than he used to, and he loved Zowie, but he felt itchy if he stayed at the house in Switzerland for too long. She was happy there, in the mountains, and she didn’t feel the same way.
She arrived at the apartment in the late afternoon. Jim was out on errands, thankfully, but Bowie was home. A local tailor was fitting him for some new suits. She didn’t have key, so she buzzed the doorbell from the first floor.
“Darling, it’s me! Let me up, I brought you some cake.”
Bowie almost had a heart attack for a moment. “Yes, darling, I’ll be right there. Just a moment.” He tore through the apartment, hiding drugs and any signs of sex in any place he could find. Anything he couldn’t hide, he threw in Iggy’s room. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and buzzed to let her in, then ran back to the tailor, who was still kneeling and holding measuring tape. Bowie stood and calmed himself as the little man mumbled to himself in his native Turkish.
Angie burst in, holding flowers and cake. A man followed her with two small suitcases. “Oh,” said Bowie, “How long were you planning on staying?”
Angie’s face drooped for a moment, but she fixed her smile firmly in place. “Just a day or two,” she said. There was a pause. “I missed you.”
Bowie shook off the tailor and stepped off the little stool. He smiled warmly and stepped closer to his wife. “I missed you, too,” he said as he kissed her, and it wasn’t a lie. He had missed her, just not enough to go home. She clung to him for a moment too long and then stepped back, beaming. She walked to the kitchen.
“So, how is Jim?” she asked, putting the cake down on the counter.
“Oh, excellent,” Bowie said plainly, sitting down at the table. Angie gave the man who had come in with her some cash and thanked him in bad German, and then he left. Bowie asked the tailor if they could finish some other time. He nodded and packed up his materials. The Bowies were silent until he left.
“And how is the record going?” she asked, sitting down beside him.
“Oh, very well. I don’t think I’ve ever put this much of myself behind a record before,” he said. Angie smiled proudly. He slipped a hand onto her thigh and smiled back.
“I like the hair,” she said.
Angie kissed him again. He let her, and then they made their way to the bedroom, and then they had sex. They were both silent. Afterwards, he made them dinner, on of his Thai cabbagey things, but Angie only ate it to be polite. She ate very little. They went to bed before Jim came home.
“Jesus, David, I can’t believe it! I just… Grah!”
“Honey, I know, but it’s only-“
“I don’t care what kind it is, it’s still drugs, and you’re taking them! I don’t even care, but why did you tell me that you were off them?”
“Because I was, for-“
“No you weren’t, don’t you lie to me anymore. You’ve done enough.”
Her voice dropped until it was barely audible. “And don’t think I don’t know about you and Iggy.”
Bowie said nothing. They both looked down.
“I’m leaving now. You know the number. Don’t come home until you’re clean, or you stop lying to me. Zowie and I will be waiting.”
She packed and left. Bowie didn’t move until Jim got home.
“Hey,” said Jim, “Where’s Angie?”
Bowie started to cry.
Bowie came home the next day at three in the afternoon and Iggy was lying on the living room carpet in a pool of sunlight by the window, wrapped in a grey knitted blanket and sweating. He was sucking on ice cubes.
“Jesus, Jim,” he said as he knelt next to him. “Are you okay? What happened?”
“She should go home now,” Iggy mumbled.
“Fuck, what did you do?” said Bowie. He lifted the edges of the blanket, searching around him, looking for injuries or clues. The inside of Iggy’s elbow was bleeding a little. The needle was still on the floor next to him. “Jim, Iggy, fuck, are you alright? Bad trip?”
“The worst,” said Iggy, eyes drooping and drooling. “I saw the Wicked Witch of the South and she wanted to hurt me and she was going to steal you.”
Bowie said nothing. He gathered Iggy up in his arms and held him. Iggy shook and tried to hug him back but his arms were weak and his hands were to damp to get a good grip. Bowie tried to look him in the eyes, but they were so dilated that it scared him. He pressed their chests together and brushed Iggy’s hair from his face. It was wet and cold. He whispered, “It’s alright, it’s alright,” while Iggy moaned, “No, it isn’t, no, it isn’t,” until Iggy caved and whimpered into his shoulder.
Bowie brought him to bed. Iggy said “I’m scared,” and Bowie said, “No more drugs,” and Iggy tried to laugh but coughed instead. Bowie tried to keep him awake, afraid that if he went to sleep he’d never get up again. He sat by the bed for three hours, watching Iggy sweat and singing him songs that he made up as he went.
“You were cold when I found you, and the sun was too hot/The witch is gone, but so is all the china white and pot/Your laughter can’t be fading and my smile’s not quite gone/And as long as you’ll be listening I’ll be singing you my songs,”
Iggy smiled and reached for his hand and said, “No more about witches, I can still feel her here,” so Bowie sang another verse.
“Peroxide masks and cartoon heroes, my Baby’s sick in bed/With eyes like bullet holes and Baby’s messed up in the head/Baby cries and Baby sighs and Baby tries to sing/I’ll sing my Baby lullabies as long as Baby’s listening”
Iggy smiled. His pupils were smaller. “One little house with such big dreams in a broken little town/We laugh away in Paradise while London Bridge burns down/It’s alright, now, baby, Daddy’s here by your side/As long as you stay here with me, I’ll sing you lullabies.”
By the time Iggy stopped sweating, Bowie had climbed in next to him and fallen asleep. Iggy sang a song for him, too, but he woke up, he thought it had been a dream.