From the creative mind of Hugh Roberts at Hugh’s Views and News, a slice of flash fiction that will slide a smile on your face. Enjoy 🙂
Visit: Gold Dust
“Pancakes?” David said, sliding onto a stool at the kitchen counter.
“Observant.” Joel grabbed two mugs, set one by David’s plate, and slipped onto the other stool. His stool. It was undeniably his kitchen too, although technically, he was a guest. The condo was David’s.
Eyes on their tablets, they forked up the pancakes in silence. Neither one of them was much of a talker before the caffeine kicked in.
“You see this?” David asked, pushing his plate aside. “We’re starting Stage Two on Wednesday.”
“We can get a hair cut.” David smiled, waiting for the inevitable what-hair crack from Joel, but he got nothing, not even a smirk.
His mind obviously on something more serious than David’s ever-widening bald spot, Joel gathered up his plate and mug, and slotted them into the dishwasher. He snapped the door on the machine shut and leaned against the counter. “I can go home.”
No! This is your home. Here, with me. “You think that’s a good idea? A five-hour flight, recycled air, germs floating about in a confined space?”
“Air Canada is enforcing a mask policy.”
“Yeah, that will be comfortable.”
“No, but…” Joel shrugged, shoved his hands in his pockets, his eyes finding David’s across the space between them. “This was never supposed to be permanent.”
True. When the country had shut down in March it had been chaos, flights cancelled, stores and businesses closed, the government pleading with people to stay off the streets, to stay home. Joel, a sales manager from their Vancouver branch, had been stranded in Toronto, and David had offered him a place to stay. Sure, they knew each other. They’d hooked up a few times, but they weren’t a thing. Not then.
“It could be. Permanent, I mean,” David said, walking around the counter. He gathered a handful of Joel’s terry robe and pulled him close. “It could be very permanent.”
Too freaking hot. Too many people. Glen much preferred to watch Pride from the comfort of his living room. He was too old for—Hello, someone’s been working out. Glen eyed the young man shouting into a microphone atop the float rolling down Yonge Street. Nice. When was the last time your abs looked like that, huh? Never.
He wouldn’t be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with half of Toronto if it wasn’t for his nephew. No, not fair, this wasn’t Tony’s idea. This was his sister’s fault. Blasted Type A personality. When Tony came out a few months back, Karen couldn’t leave it at we-love-you, use-a-condom. Nope, she had to join PFLAG, and volunteer with EGALE, and drag the whole family down to Pride. Overkill.
Not that he didn’t support his nephew, he did, but Tony didn’t need his family here. Somewhere between the parking lot and Yonge Street, he’d disappeared into a gang of his friends and more power to him. Glen wouldn’t mind ducking into the nearest pub for something cold himself. Beer on his mind, he tried to wedge himself out of the crowd and stepped back—onto someone else. “Sorry.”
“No problem.” The guy moved back, clearing a few inches for Glen. “Bit tight in here.”
“Yeah.” Glen shifted to the side, but the crowd surged forward and he found himself chest to chest with the stranger he’d stepped on. Green eyes bracketed by age lines, sunglasses set atop waves of grey hair. Lucky bastard. Glen was not okay with his own shrinking hairline.
“Had enough?” The grey head nodded at the crowd.
“Too old for this.” Glenn winnowed his way through the glut of bodies, aware of the stranger at his back.
“Me too,” Grey Mop said, as they reached the relative quiet of a store front. “Only came to support my son.”
Too old for Pride? Maybe not.
Sebastian loosened his tie.
“Long day?” Claire, his housekeeper/cook/lifesaver asked.
“Board meeting,” Sebastian said, liberating a beer from the fridge.
“Upstairs.” Claire shut the oven, set the timer. “You might want to check on Ethan.”
Claire shrugged. “You know Ethan.”
Sebastian nodded. “Yeah.” On a good day, Ethan wasn’t a talker. On a bad day, Sebastian had to beat the words out of him.
“Okay, the chicken’s got another fifteen minutes,” Claire said, washing her hands and slipping her wedding rings back on. “Everything else is in the warming drawer. See you tomorrow.”
His boys meant everything to Sebastian. They were the family he’d never thought he’d have. Halfway up the stairs, he knew Claire had been right. Ethan was worried about something, Sebastian could hear it in the tones he was pounding out of the piano.
The family room sprawled across the top of the house, Ethan’s piano sitting at one end, a seemingly never-ending sectional facing a large flat screen at the other, and various exercise stations plunked in the middle. The flat screen was dark, and it would stay that way until Sebastian gave permission for it to be on. It was a house rule, meant to remind and reinforce their central family dynamic—Sebastian was in charge.
Mark, racing against himself on a stationary bike, didn’t see Sebastian standing in the doorway, but Ru, sitting cross-legged on the sectional with his ever present laptop, did. A smile lighting his face, he closed his laptop and crossed the room to Sebastian. At thirty-nine, Ru was on track for tenure next year, and Sebastian couldn’t be happier for him.
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony ended with a crash of fingerwork, and Ethan seeing Sebastian, smiled and abandoned his bench. At twenty-eight, Ethan was the youngest of his three boys, and played with the city’s symphony orchestra.
Ethan stepped in front of Mark’s bike, pointed at the doorway. Mark turned, grinned, and shut the bike down. The newest addition to their family, Mark had been Ru’s personal trainer. He still was.
“Boys,” Sebastian said, happy to be home.
With the ease of practice, all three men went to their knees.
“No?” One hand sliding up Michael’s chest, Jared laughed. “Cute,” he said, thinking Michael was joking.
Michael shot a pointed look at the hand on his chest and tried to walk away, but Jared grabbed his shoulder and pushed him back against the wall, smiling because Michael was here for him. Obviously.
Michael didn’t struggle, but he didn’t have to, the look on his face enough to burst the alcoholic bubble Jared had been floating in. Shit. What was he doing? “Sorry.” He snatched his hand off Michael and buried it in his pocket, hiding the evidence. “Wasn’t thinking.”
“Yeah, you were.” Michael walked away from him, lost himself in the bodies clogging the main floor of the frat house.
Okay, he’d screwed up. Michael wasn’t into drunken asswipes pawing at him. Noted. Jared pushed his way through the crowd and out the front door, to see Michael heading back towards campus. He launched himself down the steps and onto the sidewalk, chasing after Michael.
Jared slowed to a walk at Michael’s side, and Michael ignored him. Okay, the guy was pissed. Jared could work with pissed. “You want me.”
Michael shrugged. “Not tonight, I don’t.”
A grin sliding across his face, Jared strolled at Michael’s side. “Tomorrow night?”
The music was loud, the strategically erratic lighting was a prelude to a migraine, and the men were all too young for him. Didn’t matter, he wasn’t hoping to talk any of them off the dance floor and into his car. This club, all the lithe swaying bodies, were his gift to himself.
His eyes on the dance floor, David toasted himself and remembered when he had been one with the press of flesh in the middle of the club, when the music had beat through him…when he’d found himself, who he was and who he wanted, in the arms of strangers.
He didn’t regret those years, but he didn’t wish them back again either. He didn’t have the energy anymore, or the interest. He’d long ago learned that new didn’t mean better.
He wasn’t looking to hook up, he was just looking. Enjoying the view. Happy that he could enjoy the view. Happy that he was here at all, when for a while there he’d thought he might not be.
David nursed his drink, watched bodies merge and separate, heads thrown back and arms punching up into the storm of flashing lights above. He inhaled the life in the room, the laughter on the air, and smiled at the thought of next year, and the year after that.
He set his empty glass down and stood, dropped cash on the table.
“You leaving?” Blue eyes grinned up at David from under a mop of dark hair that was shaved on one side.
“Uh, yeah, I was just…”
“Looking?” The kid stepped into David’s space, brushed against him at thigh and hip. “Yeah, me too.”
Is it the same?
After all this time, are we the same?
I don’t know. How would I know? How can I compare who we are now with who we were then…?
The years rolled on, shit happened. Evasions. Lies. Large and small hurts delivered in anger and in silence.
Shared memories and secret smiles. Mornings rushing around or sleeping in. Frenzied days and wild nights. Laughter … I don’t have to try to remember the laughter because we laugh still you and I.
I wasn’t looking to get married all those years ago, not that we could back then. I was looking to get laid and so were you…
And here we are, forty years on. Thinning hair, and rounding shoulders, and still looking to each other—to get laid.
He should have lied.
The minute Jared got a look at the man on the other side of the desk, he should have made up some excuse and got the hell out of there, but…
He had student loans to pay, and he was fed up with the short-term contract jobs, and he really needed to move out of his parents’ place —
“U of T,” Nicholas Allan Noyes, President and CEO said, reading from the resume in front of him. “Master of Arts in Ancient History.”
Jared didn’t add a sir to the yes because this wasn’t the military, he wasn’t a freaking boy scout, and — bullshit. He didn’t say sir because, oh God, he so wanted to.
“Latin?” Noyes asked. “Bet that comes in handy.”
“Not so far.”
That got him a smile. Fortunately, it was there and gone in a nanosecond because Jared couldn’t think when Noyes smiled at him. He was having enough trouble concentrating even without the smile. Concentrating on anything, but the fact that there was something about this guy that just flat-out did it for him. Something? Hah! Make that everything. The air of command, the stone jaw… God, even his hands—
“I see you’ve moved around a bit since graduation,” Noyes said, tapping the resume.
“Yes, contract work mostly. I’d like to find a more permanent home.”
With you, Jared thought, but he didn’t say that. He wasn’t psychotic.
Noyes sat back in his high-tech, black leather throne, Siberian blue eyes regarding Jared across the expanse of the polished slab of wood between them. “And what makes you think you’d be an asset to MicroSource?”
Jared trotted out his customary spiel, trying to sound intelligent when all he really wanted to know was what Noyes looked like under that bespoke suit and if he had a chance in hell of finding out …
“I’ve been thinking,” Martin said, spreading low-fat margarine over his toasted bagel. “We should get married.”
Charlie lowered his newspaper, looked at Martin over the top of his reading glasses. “What?”
“You heard me.”
“No.” Charlie went back to reading his paper.
“No, you didn’t hear me or no, you don’t want to get married?” Martin asked, grimacing as he bit into his bagel. It wasn’t the same without cream cheese and jam.
Charlie’s head popped over the paper again. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing, I want to get married.” Martin said, setting his bagel down and picking up his coffee.
Charlie flapped the newspaper pages, but he didn’t look up. “No, you don’t.”
Martin snorted. “You mean you don’t.”
“Don’t tell me what I mean, you know I hate that.”
“Why? You tell me what I think.” Martin popped the last piece of bagel into his mouth and dusted toast crumbs off his fingers.
Charlie folded his newspaper, pushed away from the table. Thirty years with Martin had taught him when to retreat. “I’m off to the gym.”
“I don’t know why you bother going. It’s not like you actually work out,” Martin said, getting up to slot his breakfast plate into the dishwasher.
“Should have thought that was obvious,” Charlie said, rounding the kitchen table, and pinning Martin to the counter. “I go to get away from you.”
Laughter spilling into Martin’s face, he slipped Charlie’s reading glasses off, and set them on the counter. “Get out of here, moron.”
At the kitchen door, Charlie turned back, raised an eyebrow at Martin. “You bought rings, didn’t you?”
“Thought you were leaving?” Martin asked, pouring himself a second cup of coffee.
Martin sipped his coffee, heard the hangers clang in the hall closet as Charlie got his jacket.
“No reception,” Charlie called down the hallway to the kitchen, closing the front door behind him.
Ever the romantic, his Charlie.
The behemoth of a doorman nodded his recognition of Ethan and stepped back, allowing Ethan to enter the foyer. Before him, two staircases, one spiralling down, the other spiralling up.
Ethan took the one that went down. He always took the one that went down.
On the lower level, Ethan bypassed the cloakroom. Most of the men here would be naked or close to it, reason enough to keep his clothes on. Ethan wasn’t one to follow the herd. Also, of course, he preferred a partner with a little imagination. Made for more interesting play.
In another incarnation, the room Ethan let himself into had been a library. The books were long gone, but the room itself remained unchanged. Built on two levels, the circular space supported a gallery that ran the circumference of the room.
Most of them mostly naked, men chatted in pairs and small groups. An X-rated cocktail party minus the cocktails…and the clothes. None of the men looked up. Each and everyone of them pretended the gallery above them didn’t exist.
“Fucker,” Daniel said, joining Ethan. “You don’t even try.”
“Hey,” Ethan said, tapping his chest. “New shirt.”
Daniel grinned, spread his arms open. “No shirt.”
No pants either, Daniel liked to put the goods on show.
Dressed or not, they were all on show. This was a goldfish bowl and they were the fish.
The fishermen stood on the gallery above them…watching, choosing their catch of the night.
A staff member, easily identified as such by his grey vest and black tie, spoke at Ethan’s ear. “Fourteen.”
No name, no description of the fisherman who had reeled him in, just a room number. All the information Ethan needed.
“Jesus,” Daniel said. “You just got here.”
“Must be the shirt,” Ethan said, with a smirk. “We still on for Saturday?”
“Tee off at 9:15.”
Barefoot and bare-chested, legs encased in faded denim, Ethan’s fisherman sat with his arms stretched out along the back of the couch. He stared at Ethan and his thin lips quirked into a half smile.
Ethan tracked a dark treasure trail down to a black belt, betting with himself as to which command would come first…strip or kneel.
“How do you feel about champagne?” Treasure Trail asked.
Treasure Trail leaned to the side, plucked a glass off a side table and proceeded to drip champagne down his chest. “Thirsty?” He spread his legs, inviting Ethan to stand between them.