Latest gay male story: Mikey and the Chickadee – Chapter 3
Before bed and after an evening spent in mostly worthless reflection only half-interrupted by a trip to the gym and the resulting takeout meal, I made a promise to myself. I would never pressure Mikey. Whether out of fear or discretion, or some measure of both, he had arrested our quickly intensifying moment together. He’d done it with poise and certainty.
His action revealed a striking ability that might have been otherwise difficult to distinguish: he knew how to look after himself. A further advance into intimacy would not have indicated to the contrary; it wouldn’t have proven anything other than the actuality I had already come to know (his attraction to me). But he had chosen to stop, an employment of the same deft certitude he’d used to rock us into motion. He lacked the clarity I possessed regarding my desires and certainly my orientation, but his authority eclipsed my own–which, with regard to sexual advances, I would relinquish.
With this in mind, I did not sleep poorly and in fact felt revitalized during my walk between buses the next morning. I picked out his apartment building among the others as I passed his street. At this point our paths sometimes coincided, at which time one would follow the other while maintaining a suitable distance. I found it solacing to consider that this distance would no longer be necessary. Today, however, I saw no sign of him until I came to the bus stop.
He flashed a smile as I approached so I smiled back and arrived to stand next to him in front of the shelter. He wore a black peacoat I had never seen before. His thick hair, blacker still, had been shaped a little more deliberately than usual, and was swept up, far away from his eyes.
“Any important meetings today?” I asked.
“No, actually. Nothing scheduled, anyway.”
“Well,” I said, choosing my words carefully, “You look ready, if they show up.”
“Thanks.” He must have known what I referred to, because he then said, “My hair’s getting way too long. I can usually get by putting some gel in it and tossing it around. Today it needed extra attention.”
“It looks good,” I said. “I mean, it always looks good.”
He smiled. “Thank you.”
I leaned back against the glass wall of the shelter and after about a minute, so did he. We watched cars and pedestrians pass by for a short time and then he turned toward me a little. Even though the roadway roared with life, he lowered his voice when he said, “I want to apologize for coming on to you last night. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“It didn’t bother me,” I told him.
“Well, it shouldn’t have happened.”
The bus arrived and the subject rested until we had boarded, offering me time to consider how to respond. I had not expected him to feel this way. I entered the bus before him, a fact for which I was soon grateful; I had taken it for granted that we would sit next to each other, and realized suddenly that this might not be what he wanted. I sat by the window, and was relieved when he did not ask, but simply came to rest at my side.
We did not say anything say anything immediately. I though about what he’d told me a little longer and asked, “It shouldn’t have happened last night, you mean? Or it shouldn’t have happened at all?”
I could sense that he strained to find an answer and I stopped him. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you that.”
“You’re really putting me on the spot here, Chickadee.” He laughed, but he also looked very nervous.
“Really,” I said, “I don’t need an answer. It’s not a big deal.”
His expression vacillated between confusion and a kind of unfiltered sadness. “I don’t blame you for asking,” he said.
I didn’t say anything for a while. I perceived an overarching message of apology from Mikey, apology both unfounded and misplaced. I cleared my throat. “Could you try to trust me about one thing?”
He looked at me.
“You need to know that you didn’t do anything wrong.”
He stared at the back of the seat in front of him. “Okay,” he said in an uncertain tone. “I’m glad to know that’s how you feel.” His phone rang and he excused himself before answering.
I could see the call was work-related and probably important. I sat back and looked up to the front of the bus, through the gaping windshield at the path ahead. Mikey’s own desires, or more appropriately his cognition respective to them, differed from mine more than I could ever have anticipated. I marveled at the dissonance between his displays of clarion confidence and these fresh moments of uncertainly. Even now his voice rang in quiet tenacity as he negotiated an exchange of money and services to occur later in the day.
His phone call persisted until my stop, at which point he said, to whomever he was speaking with, “Hold on just a minute,” and covered the bottom half of his phone with his palm.
To me he said, “I’m staying downtown late tonight, so I’ll see you tomorrow. We can talk then.”
I told him goodbye and left the bus. It didn’t occurred to me until I was a block from the office that it was Friday, and I guessed he hadn’t remembered, either. I resented the thought of a whole weekend spent vaguely suspended by an unfinished conversation. At least it had not been entirely unfinished; I had let him know he wasn’t in the wrong, something I felt deeply and which, I reflected, overshadowed anything else I could have said.
I resolved to limit my thoughts about him in general, and if I did ponder over him much further, to use other people in my life as sounding boards. I was not an especially unsocial person, and in that moment, found myself shocked to realize that, other than Mikey and my work colleagues, I hadn’t spoken to anyone in several days.
I was pleasantly surprised to find work that morning engaging in spite of lingering doubts about my approaching relocation. By some miracle, considering my penchant for frantic anticipation, I was able to put it out of mind. I had lunch at a pho place down on the street, accompanied by a work acquaintance whom I had become somewhat close with, and who had very recently received the same relegation.
“I just wish they had told us this could be a possibility from the beginning,” she said.
“I know. It wouldn’t have made any difference for me, though,” I said. “I felt pretty lucky when they hired me.”
“Me too. And I mean, obviously they expected us to be versatile. It’s not really asking that much. The trade-off is in how fast people rise up through this company.”
“So you’re going?” I asked.
“Well, it’s not like I have a choice.” She paused and then said, “Aren’t you?”
I told her I would probably go, that the reality of it just hadn’t sunk in yet.
“I feel the same way,” she said. “It’s going to take a little time. I’m sure I’ll feel a lot better about it when the time comes.”
We said nothing for the next few minutes as we ate our soup.
Eventually I sat back and said, “The thing is, I just met someone who’s made a really good impression on me, and it’s not that it really matters–I mean, I hardly know the guy–but just thinking about Fern Hill and how small it is…what are my chances of meeting someone like that up there?”
“If you think about it,” she said, tilting her head to one side, “small winter village…people trying to stay warm…opportunities may present themselves.”
“Sounds like you’ve already thought about it,” I said.
“I have,” she assured me through a mouthful of noodles. She finished and said, “Wyatt, with a face like yours, what could you possibly have to worry about?”
“If you’re saying that for the return compliment, I’m not giving it to you.”
Conversation turned as it usually did to our work; we discussed sources of confusion and complained about our superiors. Back at the office I labored energetically and the afternoon hours passed at a tolerable pace. I began preparing to leave for the day, contemplating a long ride home and the uneventful Friday evening ahead.
Down in the lobby I texted one of my closest friends and asked if I could catch the train with her to Celadon. Marie, who also worked in the city and became free around the same time I did, lived by herself in a high-rise condo several miles east of downtown. After many late summer nights spent together in hostels around Europe, turning sleep away as we discussed life’s beautiful and ugly truths, we lately bonded over a shared perception of life back at home as nebulously unsatisfying.
“I’m already on,” she texted back. “Follow me! You’ll only be one or two behind.”
I walked underground and bought a twenty-four hour pass, unsure whether I would be staying overnight. The eastbound car arrived after a few minutes and I sat near the front.
Two stations later the train climbed above ground and I was met with a dignified view of the harbor to the north, where colossal container ships, some languishing at the docks and some drifting glacially, were the reigning species. I attempted to imagine the lowly human effort responsible for the creation and movement of such monumental beasts, but to the discredit of shipbuilders and crew the world over, I couldn’t do it; in my mind, epicenter of the childish and absurd, they had birthed themselves into existence through their own endeavors and they did not bow to human influence.
Rain had begun pouring and battered the front window of the train car. One long wiper swept silently across the expanse of glass. Someone now sat in the seat next to me, their elbow pressed slightly, painlessly, into my side.
If Mikey were here, I wondered, what among all of this movement would he find remarkable? If, in some moment of disregard, I unmasked my thoughts about the mammoth creatures of the harbor, would he laugh, or would a part of him, either tiny or considerable, find validity in my impressions? I did not favor one hypothetical response over the other, but I longed to know which it might be.
I found Marie about fifteen minutes later waiting for me at the station.
“You could have just gone home,” I said as she squeezed me tightly.
“Nonsense,” she said. “I haven’t been here long. Besides, you never carry an umbrella. I couldn’t stand the thought of you out in the rain.” She opened hers and pulled me under it. She wasn’t very tall, so I had to duck a little until she laughed and handed it to me. “Here, you hold it.”
Marie was an only child whose parents moved from Korea when she was very young. We met during the first week of college and had bonded over our tentatively chosen path to an accounting degree. I had been drawn to her initially because of her energetic disposition; people with that kind of unbridled verve and spontaneity often rubbed off on me. Later on she would offer undying loyalty, even during my most self-infatuated period to date, the eleventh hour of my failed relationship.
“You saved me,” she said. “Another night alone watching Netflix–I would have died.”
I laughed. “I was dreading the same thing. That’s why I texted you.”
“I’m so glad you did,” she told me as she surged up the street to her building. Her pace was astonishing, if not unfamiliar to me. “It’s been too long,” she said as we entered the lobby. “Come into my home and I will tell you what has changed.”
“Shhh.” She held a finger to her lips, then grabbed her umbrella from me and folded it into her cavernous purse. “Not until we have drinks.”
She stamped her feet frantically as we rode to the 11th floor.
“The suspense is killing me,” I said, half-sarcastically.
“I know,” she said. “Me too.” The door opened and she took off down the hall, towing me along with her.
Marie’s parents owned the one-bedroom condo and rented it to her at a forgiving rate. She had filled with it mostly modest furnishings, but the unit itself was finished with materials that gave one the impression of lasting quality.
She told me to wait on the couch and then leapt over to the kitchen to throw together two of the strongest Vodka Collins yet known to the world.
“Let me taste yours,” I demanded as she sat next to me. After sipping it I said, “Okay, as long as we’re in this together.”
“I’m not trying to get you drunk, Wyatt.” She slapped my thigh. “Not without me, anyway.”
I laughed. “So? Big news?”
“So, I broke up with Anthony last night.”
I set my drink on the table. “What? Why didn’t you text me?”
“It just didn’t feel text-worthy. Besides, I knew we were long overdue for a chat and, well, here you are.” She grinned.
Text-worthy or not, she seemed ecstatic to be reporting the news. At the risk of sounding selfish, I had been as bored with her relationship as she was. I dreaded circumstances that would bring the three of us together, such as whenever she felt an obligation to include him on our exploits. Anthony’s emotions were delicate and required a certain level of outside care and upkeep during a given evening; this ranked highly on a short list of social traits that I considered unacceptable. I kept this mostly to myself, but when Marie complained, I lamented alongside her.
“Well, you know how I feel,” I said. “I’m not going to miss him.”
She raised her glass and we clinked them together. After taking a drink she said, “You know what sealed it for me? I gave him an ultimatum for more sex–you know about our dry spell–and he actually couldn’t bring himself to do it. He kept ducking around the issue so I just let him have it. I could have internalized it and made it into something I was doing wrong, but you and I have talked about that. If he doesn’t want it, he doesn’t want it. I’m not going to wait around trying to read into it.”
“I’m so proud of you,” I said.
“Thank you. You and my parents both. I told them this morning. Although I think for them it has more to do with the fact that he’s white.”
“Come on,” I said. “Your parents aren’t really like that.”
“Well, I’m sure a good Korean boy would be the answer to their prayers, but yeah, they want me to be happy. Also, it’s strange because I keep waiting to become sad, but it feel like that’s not going to happen. Maybe we’d become even more distant than I thought.”
I told her it had certainly appeared that way to me.
“I just can’t believe I pulled this off without you,” she said. “Where have you been? What have you been doing?”
“Working,” I said. “Tandon and Dufresne. Got me right where they want me.” Even at that moment the irony of the expression did not escape me. I wandered within inches of telling her how, in fact, they now wanted me four hours north. But I had grown very tired of the subject and resolved to tell her on the very next occasion that found us together. Instead I just sat back and took a long drink, staring out her floor-to-ceiling windows at the rain and fog cloaking downtown’s very distant skyline.
“Something’s on your mind,” she said. “I can tell.”
I was certain she could. It was a matter of deciding what exactly to divulge, which suddenly had me wondering why I was being so cagey. “I think I met someone good,” I said.
“Oh my god,” she said, leaning into me. “Not just anyone, but someone good? Tell me everything; leave out nothing.”
“Well, honestly, I only met him a couple days ago. But we’ve been riding the same bus for a long time.”
“Thai Guy,” she said. “It’s Thai Guy, right? You finally talked to him?”
I had completely forgotten that a few days after Mikey had first caught my eye–months ago–I had mentioned him in passing to Marie. “How the hell do you remember that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “You sounded quite taken at the time. Anyway, I figured he’d disappeared or something. You never said anything after that.”
“Nope. He stuck around. I just never got brave enough to talk to him until the day before yesterday. Then, yesterday, the bus was broken down so he offered my a ride to work in his car.”
“Stop it. Stop right now.” Marie was enjoying her drink at least as much as I was, and there was little liquid left to spill when she gestured wildly with it still in hand. “What happened?”
“Nothing much,” I said. “I mean, something did happen, but not much to confirm anything.”
“What does that mean?”
I told her about the ride home and how, from the beginning, talking to him had felt special, for lack of a better word. “He really opened up to me,” I said, “and he knew I was gay. It came up when we first met. It definitely didn’t affect him, at least not in a bad way. I don’t really want to generalize, but straight guys tend to not act that way around me. They’re always really friendly, but this just felt like a little more than that.”
“Oh,” she said. “Would you call it flirting?”
“Well, no, not exactly,” I said, suddenly observing the effects of alcohol on an otherwise empty stomach. “I mean, yeah, but not at first.” I started to tell her about the hug. “He instigated it. He, like, asked me if I would come over and hug him.”
“What? Just a normal hug?”
“At first, yeah, but then he definitely started feeling around, and soon we were both hard, which was interesting.”
“Holy shit, Wyatt. So he’s into guys for sure.”
I explained the rest of it, about how he had stopped it not long after that, and then how he had clearly regretted the whole thing on the bus the next morning.
“Regretted the timing, or that it happened at all?”
“That’s exactly what I asked him,” I said. “But then he got pretty awkward and I felt bad for asking.”
“You would,” she said. “You’re not always at fault, you know. He’s the one who started it.”
“I know,” I said. “Anyway, he wants to hang out again.” I told her about how I had decided not to put any pressure on him. I was, after all, satisfied just to call him a friend.
“Sure you are,” she said. “Is he fit?”
“Yes,” I said. “Marie, he’s an exceptionally attractive man.”
She squealed at this, setting down her vacant glass and closing in on me. “Could you tell how big he was down there? Don’t believe what you’ve heard about asian guys.”
I backed away playfully. “Marie, stop it. It was definitely there; that’s all I need to know.”
“If it was that obvious through his pants, I bet he’s big.”
“Oh my god, Marie,” I said, cracking up.
She took my empty glass and said, “Have one more with me and let’s go back downtown for the night. Dinner and dancing. I’m a newly single lady and you’ve just met a stunning new man. These are the things to celebrate in life.”
I raised no objections and half an hour’s time found us giggling our way into the train car, by which we were compelled fluidly into the violet lake of night.
I had not forgotten that Mikey stayed late in the city that evening. My imagination ventured far enough to see his face a handful of times–including once at the second club we visited where I was so convinced that I trailed someone halfway across the floor before he turned around, and I quickly turned away (“You’re so fucking hopeless,” laughed Marie). Always, a second glance had cured me, and halfway through the night I had thankfully given up. It was not a small city and downtown carried on for miles.
Hours later we were spat out, stumbling together on legs made feeble by unrelenting movement and slack by alcohol, having shed the last of any strangers who’d temporarily shackled themselves onto us. I had missed the final south-bound bus and neither of us wanted to be alone, so we boarded the train together and were towed mercifully back to her home.
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