Latest gay male story: Mikey and the Chickadee – Chapter 13
While lurching through my routine the next morning, I tossed around the memory of the kiss with a kind of detached amusement, as if it had been a dream, even laughing it off as I took stock of my morning appearance in the mirror. It really did feel like a dream, and that tiny beach was now a world apart from here. I had been exhausted at the time, without fully realizing it, and remembered very little of preparing for bed once Mikey dropped me off at home.
I thought about work while in the shower, then of my mom, imagining what kind of new occupation she’d be willing to take on, after having toiled for decades in the same place, much longer than I had been alive. She sewed like mad in her free time, read on it and watched videos about it. She had crafted many of her own dresses. I made my way down off the hill to catch the bus (it was a clear, sunny day, and also cold), considering that she must have deliberately avoided paid work as a seamstress for one reason or another.
It took Mikey’s absence on the second bus to force me into acceptance. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to remember. I think it was the smell of him, his quick, hot breaths and the light sweetness in the taste of his mouth, most of all, that pulled acutely at me. Thinking of these things made me ache with compulsion to feel it all over again, the roughness of his face, his tongue testing mine, his dark features closer to me than they had ever been. There was also the way he stood barely over me, so that I had to angle my head back just slightly to meet him.
But I was easily aware that in remembering so much, in wanting it to happen again, my actions and desires did not line up correctly with the path I had chosen. The circumstances were not convoluted. The factor of risk, to my mind, lay in the potential for one or both of us to be hurt when I left. It struck me as vital at this time to affix my longing to the kiss itself, to his physical body, and not to the boy-in general, to an intimacy that was only sexually charged.
It helped that Mikey wasn’t on the bus. I thought back to the nature of his appearances before we had ever spoken; he had always been either present or not, without explanation other than having simply left at a different time than I had and catching a separate bus, or driving. Maybe I could now seek relief in the fact that this aspect seemed not to have changed at all. Even after sharing our first embrace only several hours earlier, he’d made no effort to be here now, to discuss himself or his actions. And he didn’t need to be. It worked to preserve whatever small but important disassociation we still shared. I felt that holding on to that would facilitate our parting considerably.
Work that day was consuming and ordinary. I had packed lunch in an effort to save money and stood from my desk only a couple of times as the hours droned on.
“Chickadee,” Mikey texted as I departed from the first bus home, “I am so sick. Bad cold or something. I hope I didn’t give anything to you last night. I’m sorry. We should hang out when I’m better.”
“Maybe I was carrying it from my sister,” I replied. “She said she’d been sick. I’ll never forgive myself. Do you need anything? I’m nearby.”
After walking a half-block my phone buzzed again. “Don’t worry. I just need to sleep right now. We’ll catch up soon.”
As I passed his street I peered down a crowded wall of ancient buildings, making out the white metal railing of his tiny balcony and also the window next to his bed. If he looked out now it would be possible for him to spot me. I hurried on to catch the 40B.
It occurred to me that I would have gladly visited him, completely unconcerned about catching his cold. Absurdly, being sick alongside him seemed entirely pleasant; how fortunate would it be for us to quarantine ourselves from the world as we recovered? How much closer would we become? With my selfishness in check, I quickly acknowledged that Mikey should never have been sick in the first place, and I should be happy to give him the solitude he desired to ride it out.
I contacted Marie at lunch the next day, asking if she had plans after work. “I am on a budget,” I added.
Her reply floated in sometime around two. “Darling, do you need a sugar daddy? Come live with me. I can be that for you.”
“I don’t need that,” I texted. “Mostly I just need to talk. Is it rude to invite myself over?”
“Perish the thought. I’ll be on the train home around five. Please come.”
A few hours later I found her standing underground at the city-center station, blue shoes pressed together, near the edge of the platform.
She reached up and hugged me. “Just got here. I was hoping we would catch the same train.”
Soon we were swept up in a tepid and stale wind as three cars came moaning and squealing through the tunnel. When the doors opened Marie hustled through to the gangway, freely pushing her way between passengers. I followed her lead.
“I need to stand, if you don’t mind,” she said, grabbing ahold of a metal bar at the edge of the rubber corridor.
“I don’t mind at all,” I said. “I’ve been sitting all day.”
“It’s terrible,” she said. “The fucking man…making you and me sit all day.” She regarded me with terrible concern. “And he’s making you move away.”
“Oh, Wyatt. Tell me you decided not to go.”
“I confirmed with them, on Friday. It’s already set in stone. I’m sorry.”
She flitted her free hand dismissively. “Please stay with me when you visit home, okay? Don’t stay out with your parents. What person ever really needed parents, anyway? Parents are complete bullshit, Wyatt.”
I stared at her blankly across the narrow passage, then settled into a quiet, prolonged laugh.
“What?” A broad smile took over. “They are. I’m telling you.”
“What’s Sloan up to?”
“Same as us, I’m sure. We texted a little yesterday. Working hard for the money. Chasing love.”
I cleared my throat a little. “That does sound familiar. And are you having any luck in your pursuit?”
“Pursuit? Of love, you mean? Not at all. There’s nothing. No sex, either, which might be the bigger tragedy of my life at the moment.”
“You and Anthony are finished forever?”
“Forever. We haven’t said a word to each other. Not even a text.”
“And that’s the way you want it, right?”
She looked at me intensely for a second and then said, “Almost all of the time, yes.”
I nodded to indicate that I understood.
“It’s not him that I miss,” she said. “It’s just…you know. I’m not totally built to be alone. I wish I was. I’m sure you understand.”
“I think I said something very similar to you when we were still in school.”
“You did,” she said. “It stuck with me. That’s not to say I am unhappy right now. I’m really feeling quite fulfilled, for the most part. Food is my intimate companion. That and looking forward to travel.”
I smiled. “If I had to, I could be alone for the rest of my life, as long as I travelled the world and ate good food.”
“Now you’re getting it,” she said.
Such was the topic of discussion for the remainder of the train ride, and even until after we had entered her condo. Together we laid down an intricate, imaginary brickwork of plans pertaining to our activities when visiting certain countries. There were, for example, particular vietnamese dishes we would be seeking out. Eventually we acknowledged that the discussion was all but invalid without Sloan’s input.
“It’s not fair to him,” said Marie. “We have to stop. Put your coat in here.” She pointed through her bedroom doorway, toward her bed. “I hate it when you wear it around like you aren’t staying long. Here, give it to me.” She reached up and lifted it off of my shoulders. “I should be checking to see if there’s any black hair stuck to this,” she muttered, laying it on her bed. “What the hell is happening with Thai Guy?”
“Right. What the hell is happening with Mikey?”
As she went over to make us drinks I let her in on a few basic developments, mostly to do with his own self-discovery.
“It’s a good sign that he’s willing to take such an honest look at himself,” she said. “That kind of thing is never as common as you hope.”
She set my glass in front of me and I thanked her. “Seriously,” I said, “he’s got to be one of the most genuine and interesting people I’ve ever met.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “Most importantly, that.” I took a sip of the clear drink as she joined me at her narrow kitchen table. Outside the sky threatened to rain down on the streets far below.
“Actually…” I began, planning to launch right into a brief but careful retelling of Sunday night’s event. Instead I came right out with it. “He kissed me. On Sunday night, in a very romantic way. I’m not sure what to think about that.”
Marie covered her mouth with part of her hand but I could see a gigantic smile forming behind it. With some effort she composed herself enough to take a long drink, then set down her glass. “Are you glad that it happened?”
“I can’t help but be,” I said. “I’m starting to really, really like him, Marie.”
“A kiss,” she said, sort of to herself. “A romantic kind of kiss. Wow. That was really unexpected coming from him, right?”
“Well, yeah. He told me not long ago that he could never kiss a guy. I didn’t think he would ever want any kind of romantic involvement.” After a pause I said, “We were supposed to be friends with benefits. That’s all.”
She shrugged. “How long do you think those kinds of relationships really last? It’s only so long before they die, either because they turn into something more, or one person involved finds someone else.”
“I guess I thought it might just continue that way, especially since I’m moving. As in, we’d mess around with each other when I visited home and that’s it.”
“Yeah, I see how that might have worked for a while with you moving away. And I don’t mean that those relationships represent a bad decision, like, inherently, as long as both parties recognize that they’re unsustainable. But all of that aside, as far as fuck-buddy status is concerned, the two of you were doomed from the beginning.”
“What makes you say that?”
She paused. “I mean, look at you. You’re obviously too good together for something like that. I swear, you’re meant for each other.”
For an instant I shook internally with alarm. “You haven’t even met him, Marie.”
“No, but I know you pretty well, Wyatt. You don’t act this way for just anybody. You’ve slept with a few guys since your last relationship and none of them had you waiting by your phone-or seeing their face in a crowd when they aren’t actually there. You’re acting like a crazy person, and I like it.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “I hate you,” I said. “I fucking hate all of this.”
She laughed along with me. “Why? I want to be you right now. I want someone to make me feel that way.”
“Really?” I asked. “You want to start falling for someone just as you’re moving away? That sounds appealing to you?”
She quieted down, still smiling and poking at a submerged ice cube with her finger. “Maybe. It could be. Anyway, it’s better than what I have going on right now, which is nothing.”
“Alright, if you’re sure about that.”
“So,” I announced. “I come to you seeking your advice. I will hear it, no matter what it is. How do you think I should proceed, given that I am leaving town at the end of the month?”
“I think you should forget that you’re leaving, as far as he is concerned.”
“Yes,” she said. “Just do it all. Live it all. If you’re dying to fall for him, then let yourself.”
“Honestly, that sounds reckless to me.”
She nodded, smiling.
“If either of us-or maybe both of us-is really going to get hurt at the end, I’m worried I couldn’t handle it. I’m worried it might keep me from leaving.”
“Isn’t that the point?” she asked. “Your job has all the control over where your life is going. Your employer, I should say. I don’t think that’s healthy. Let this boy situation have some of that control. Let it have all of its weapons. Then they can do battle with one another properly. At the end you’ll find out which one prevails, and you can know in your mind that each had a fair shot.”
I stared at her for a moment and then took another drink. “It just sounds so reckless,” I repeated.
She continued to smile at me.
“There’s no mindfulness involved. It’s like setting up all the conditions for an science experiment, and then letting it run its course. That’s how you’re making it sound. Is that all life is? Just a set of experiments?”
“Yes, Wyatt, it is.”
I rolled my eyes. “That sounds like something from a movie.”
“Obviously I don’t live like that all the time, but sometimes I do, with some aspects of my life. I’m saying to you that you should, right now, based on everything that’s going on with you.”
I paused. “I don’t know if I can.”
“Just try. That’s my advice, okay?”
I nodded. “I asked. And I said I would hear you.”
We didn’t say anything for a moment, just sipped silently on our drinks until hers was gone and mine dwindled.
“Are we alcoholics?” she finally asked.
“Yes,” I assured her. “Damn it, Marie, one problem at a time.”
Our discussion eagerly shed its grave colors as it marched on into dinner. Marie shared with me leftovers from her refrigerator. I left just as the sky grew completely dark, thanking her for everything and promising that we would meet again soon.
The next day I stood up at my desk not long after noon, stretched and left for the break room. Jennifer joined me after a few minutes.
“I’m following your lead,” she said. “You’re not the only one who knows how to pack a lunch.”
I smiled at her. The company culture tended toward eating out every day, leaving the lounge area and kitchen surprisingly unburdened, considering the number of employees among whom they were shared.
“I have a question for you,” she said, smacking a container of yogurt down on the table’s rubbery surface and returning to the fridge. “Do you have a strong preference for living alone once we’re in Fern Hill?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “Now that you mention it, not at all.”
“There are a lot of two-bedrooms available up there. Who knows why. The rent is only slightly higher than the one-bedrooms. I think it only makes sense to share one.”
“You’re talking about you and me, right? Because I don’t think I’d share with anyone else in the office.”
“I’m touched,” she said.
“Sure. Let’s do it. Shit, maybe this will motivate me to finally look for a place.”
“We can look this afternoon,” she said. “We’ll sneak it in.”
That it might seem desperate did not not cross my mind until after I texted Mikey on my way to the first bus home. This concern was fleeting, as it felt strange and unfitting when filtered through our friendship.
“You feeling well enough for me to come by on my way home?” I had written.
“Sure,” he replied. “I would like to see you. I’ll leave the door unlocked. If I’m in the shower when you get here then let yourself in.”
Mikey answered the door, not long after I knocked, wearing only a towel. His hair was still damp. The broad, soft tract of his chest glowed in the yellow light from the hallway.
“You haven’t been sick,” I said. “You’ve been working out.”
He summoned a weak smile and welcomed me in. “I can promise you that’s not true.”
“Has it been really bad? How are you feeling now?”
He shrugged. “I’m getting some energy back. I haven’t thrown up since yesterday.”
“Mikey,” I said. “That sounds bad. I could have brought something. Do you have everything you need?”
“That’s really thoughtful, but please don’t worry about me. Are you sure you’re okay here? What if I’m still contagious?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “I think you should get more rest. I won’t stay long.”
He shrugged again. “You can sit down if you want. Tell me what’s going on with the outside world.”
“Not too much, really,” I said. I took a seat on the couch and he went over by his dresser to put on clothes. I did not watch him. “My coworker and I picked out an apartment in Fern Hill today.”
“Really? Were you up there?”
“No, just online, I mean. Sight-unseen, except for pictures.”
“I thought you’d be living alone when you got there, for some reason.” He came to slump down opposite me.
“I was,” I said, “but it’s much cheaper to share rent on a two-bedroom.”
He did not look completely recovered. Our eyes met for a few seconds.
“I talked to Sophie,” he said. “I had to, I mean, to tell her that I wouldn’t be at work. Maybe it was better that I was feeling so shitty. I didn’t have the energy to even think it over. Everything came out. I just said it all.”
“Well, first I said I was sorry for how I had reacted when she confronted me. But yeah, you and me fooling around, my attraction to guys, all of it. How I’m starting to…um…” He paused. “Well, whatever made me kiss you the other night. I told her about that, too.”
“How did she react to all of it?”
“I could tell she was ridiculously happy about it,” he said. “But I think she tried not to show that too much.”
“She’s been doing a lot of stuff for me,” Mikey said slowly, “especially over the last few days. I’m not sure how I can pay her back.”
“Is your business doing okay with you gone?”
“Yeah, it’ll be fine. She told me it’s not too much to handle.” He smiled. “She said it’s better with me out of the way.”
“She’s probably just happy you opened up to her.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I think that’s true.”
We didn’t talk for a moment. Mikey lifted his feet up onto the couch and faced me.
“I’m fine with talking about Sunday night, by the way,” he said. “How are you feeling about it?”
“The kiss, you mean? It’s fine. I’m okay with it.”
“Alright,” he said. “So you’re saying…that kind of thing…it’s alright with you if we just let it happen?”
I thought back to Marie’s advice from the day before. “If we both want it, and I think we do, then yes, I want to just go with it.”
Mikey’s eyes let go of some of the dull grayness which had so far weighed them down. “Okay. That sounds good to me, too.”
At the risk of annoying him, I asked again if I could do anything for him.
He raised an eyebrow. “Nothing that doesn’t require a lot of contact. And I don’t want you to get sick, too.”
I laughed. “That’s not what I mean.”
“I’m kidding. Honestly, if you would play Playstation with me, that would make me happy. Just a few races.”
Despite his ailment, Mikey won one after another, until finally after five or six, I edged past him in the final lap.
“Get the fuck out,” he said, grinning. “I won’t be insulted in my own home.”
“I should leave on a positive note anyway. It’s better for my self-esteem.”
“No,” he protested, realizing I did actually intend to leave. “You can’t go.”
“You need sleep,” I said. “You’ll never get better.”
“I will,” he said. “I have a strong immune response.”
“Prove it,” I said, standing. “Anyway, I’m meeting with my parents this evening. Tax season is upon us.”
“You’re helping them with taxes,” he said, remaining slouched down in the cushions. “That’s really sweet.”
“It’s not that big a favor,” I said. “Theirs are pretty basic.” I put on my coat. “Get some rest, okay? Don’t go back to work until you’re ready.”
“How about we do something Friday night, if I’m feeling better?”
“Of course,” I said.
He did not get up to walk me out as I went to leave, but threw me a half-smile and said, “Thanks for coming by. I really appreciate it.”
“I wanted to,” I said. I told him to feel better soon and left for my parents’ house.
On the second bus I reflected, expecting to feel something negative in response to our latest agreement-some pang of worry or regret chewing at the edge of my thoughts-but it couldn’t be conjured. I felt no adversity at all, and any anxiety (if it could even be so labeled) took the form of an occasional lightness, like a tiny balloon humming around in the upper reaches of my chest. Each time I felt it, I smiled.
Other Chapters: Mikey and the Chickadee – by kidboise
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 2
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 3
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 4
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 5
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 6
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 7
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 8
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 9
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 10
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 11
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 12
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 13
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 14
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 15
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 16
- Mikey and the Chickadee - Chapter 17