A Lifetime

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.

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The Interview

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.”

“Yes.”

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-backed, 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 …

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Proposal

“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.

“Ah, shit.” 

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.

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Upstairs Downstairs

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.
What?
“Sorry?”
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.

Game on.

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Lucky in Vegas

Eyes on his laptop, Brian searched Air Canada’s website for flights to Vegas. “The Belagio is supposed to be nice.”

“Yeah?” David wasn’t really listening to the man sitting on the other side of their kitchen table. He opened the Expedia website on his own laptop, typed Las Ve — “Wait, what?”

“The Belagio, Eric and Daniel stayed there last month. They said,” Brian looked up from his screen. “It was —”

“You are so full of shit.”

“What? They said the Belagio was excellent. Nice rooms, great pool, sumptuous spa.”

Brian was a bad actor. He couldn’t do innocent, not without a lobotomy. That tick at the side of his mouth, the one that said he was holding back a smile, gave him away every time.

“Yeah? Nice. Sounds good. We’re going to the Venetian.”

Brian shook his head, turned back to his screen. The small twitch at the side of his mouth became a full-on smile. “It’s not the only hotel on the Strip, you know.”

David didn’t bother answering that bit of heresy because they both knew that it was the only hotel on the strip — for them. “Find a flight.”

 

Brian turned from the window and his view of blue sky and white clouds over rust coloured mountains. “We’re descending.” He plugged his phone into the outlet between the seats, opened a game he’d become addicted to. “You know, we haven’t been to the Venetian in a while. They might have renovated, redecorated.”

“No, they haven’t.” David heard the smug in his voice. There was no way Brian missed it.

“You called and asked, didn’t you?”

“Yep.”

“Unbelievable. You actually asked if they still had —”

“Give me some credit. I wasn’t specific. I just said we were very happy with our room last time we were there and asked if the rooms were still the same.” David sighed his satisfaction. “I was assured that they were.”

“Happy with the room,” Brian grinned. “Yeah, that was it.”

 

A five hour flight, a ten minute taxi ride, more time than David wanted to spend standing in line at check-in and they were finally in the elevator. Brian hit the button for their floor and his eyes locked with David’s.

The door hushed closed behind them. They dropped their bags and took in the room. Same railing dividing the room in two, same set of steps leading to the lower sitting area. Same king size bed and yeah, same —

“Still here.” Brian was already unbuttoning his shirt.

“Yep.” David kicked his shoes off.

The ensuite washroom boasted a flat screen you could see from the shower, the bath was big enough for two, and the towels were luxurious. The bed linen had a high thread count, the pillows were exactly right and the view of the strip was amazing at night, but none of those things mattered all that much to Brian and David. They were faithful to the Venetian because of the bench.

It wasn’t anything fancy, not by Vegas standards. A simple, solid piece of furniture, it sat at the foot of the bed. Upholstered to coordinate with the room, most people probably never saw it as more than a place to dump their suitcases.

Like everything else in Vegas, the bench’s magic rested in a happy coincidence of numbers. The height of the bench, the depth of its cushion, the relation of bench to bed. Angles and proportions, they all worked together to describe a sensual geometry.

Coincidence and luck, the very elements that built this city. If the bench was a little narrower, there wouldn’t be enough room for Brian to kneel behind David. If it was a little higher, the mattress wouldn’t be at the perfect height to pillow David’s chest as he leaned over the bed.

They didn’t need a casino to get lucky in Vegas.

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