Latest gay male story: Mikey and the Chickadee – Chapter 7
Once we were stopped I got out. Mikey pulled the brake and met me in front of the car, where the engine clicked away like a sewing machine and the street was a pool of white. He engulfed me in a tight hug and said into my ear, “Take care of yourself while I’m gone, Chickadee.”
“I will,” I said. “Drive safely tomorrow.”
The next day at work I burrowed underground, clawing through an exceptional amount of back work kicked around by lower-level staff. Though both Jennifer and Calvin voiced their appreciation, I was not inclined to accept credit for behavior derived from boredom and an appetite for distraction.
I wandered into the gym that evening and was approached near the end of my workout by a dark-eyed boy-a man, technically, but certainly younger-with a distinguished face and a solid, compact figure. He was beautiful, I figured, by a kind of objective and widely acceptable token, above which I did not suspend myself.
“You used to show up on my phone as nearby,” he said. “You look just like your picture. I never got brave enough to text you, though. I don’t see you on there anymore.”
“Oh, sorry. I got rid of it,” I said, referring to the location-based hookup app Marie had convinced me to download over the summer. “It wasn’t really doing me any good.”
“Aww, that’s too bad,” he said. “Well, if you’re ever interested it would be fun to hang out sometime.”
I spent little time processing a response. “I’m actually taken, but thanks. I’m flattered.”
“Oh,” he said, “good for you. Well, thanks anyway.”
As I walked home, what had felt initially like a straightforward decision unfurled, inevitably, to reveal some problematic aspects. For example, although I had removed the app from my phone, I was customarily unlikely to spurn the brave, in-person advances of appealing men. Actually I was only further attracted by the audacity of a face-to-face proposition.
Another issue lay in the specificity of my response; the only other situations in which I had ever claimed to be taken occurred, in fact, when I was still with my ex-boyfriend (a time when I did not shoulder an air of availability and was rarely ever approached in the first place). I liked to believe I carried no illusions-I was no less single now than I’d been a week ago, or a year ago-and yet my behavior had plainly changed. I still held confidence in my resolve to see Mikey as no more than a friend with whom I had begun to share intimate moments, and now acknowledged the importance in conducting myself accordingly.
Wednesday morning I swayed in my seat at the back of the 40A, flicking idly through my work email, when Marie texted asking if I could meet her for lunch.
About five hours later I hurried down to the street and tore several blocks east to a sandwich shop halfway between our places of work. I was only allotted forty-five minutes and desired as much time as possible to sit and talk.
We collided in energetic embrace by the door. After each of us made our orders we sat down and I said, “Before we get into anything else, I need to tell you that Tandon and Dufresne wants me to move to Fern Hill next month. I’ll lose my job if I don’t.”
“Excuse me?” she said. “You can’t move. When did they tell you this?”
“Last week. Marie, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I was trying to work it out in my mind, and I really just wanted to have fun last time we saw each other.”
“It’s fine,” she said. “Sometimes you’ve got to process those things.” She tore her napkin in two and stored one half in her coat pocket because, as she had once explained to me, she wouldn’t need a whole napkin now, and nobody knew what disasters the future held. “How’d you let them down?” she asked.
I could tell she was only partially joking. “I haven’t.” I said. “I haven’t yet.”
“Well, those two statements are very different. You’re saying this is a situation that can still be saved?”
“I’m not sure what I’m saying,” I said. I explained how I was really inclined to go but that I had lingering doubts that were hard to pin down.
“I guess I’d be thinking the same thing if it were my job,” she said. “I’ll love you no matter what and I promise to visit all the time if you go. But I am too selfish to support the idea of you moving. Make no mistake, Wyatt-I want you here.”
She smiled. “Yeah, you better take that seriously.”
“Of course. I’m not going to tell you and then ignore what you have to say about it.”
Our sandwiches were called and Marie jumped up to grab them, commanding me to rest.
“You keep me updated, okay?” she said as she set my food in front of me. “As for our next order of business, Sloan and I are going out tomorrow night and your presence is mandatory. Since it’s a weeknight the lines will be shorter and cover will be cheaper. The intention is to get a little crazy.”
Sloan served as the third pillar in our European undertaking, and I had not seen him in over a month. “That sounds so tempting,” I said. “Aren’t we all working on Friday, though?”
“Sloan and I are taking Friday off,” she said, tearing gingerly at the red-and-white-checkered paper encasing her sub.
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to ditch work,” I said. “Not on such short notice, anyway.”
“Sloan and I were concerned you might say that. How about you take Friday off and use it as an indicator for whether or not you move to Fern Hill? If they fire you then your decision is made for you. Easy. If not, well, maybe you’ll still move. Maybe.”
I smirked at her. “That’s a solid plan right there.”
“Come on, Wyatt. You and I both know that the worst thing you’ll face is a slap on the wrist. Besides, if you really are moving then you owe us a night out before you leave. Please let me shame you into doing this.”
Her plea was not wasted on me and I felt my mind tilting steadily toward action. “Alright,” I said. “But if I’m fired and can’t pay my rent I’m moving in with you.”
“Oh, lets’s do that regardless,” she said, placing her hand on mine.
That afternoon I approached my supervisor and requested Friday off. She reminded me about the obligatory week’s advance notice of nonemergency absence, then granted it, emphasizing the special exception was making. “By the way,” she said, “we’re asking all relocation employees to give written confirmation by the end of next week-March 4th. You’ll have an email about it soon.”
Over the next twenty-four hours I gracefully cast aside any doubts concerning an appropriate reply to such an email. As a tireless Thursday afternoon faded to early-evening, I ditched the elevator for the stairwell and pinballed down six flights to the lobby. I was thankful for the four hours separating me from the planned beginning of our evening adventure, since I had made up my mind to transit home and change out of my work clothes.
I set my phone to wake me before I reached my first stop and slept somewhat well until then, repeating the process after boarding the second bus. I’d stayed up late reading the night before, and throughout the day, fatigue had dangled itself stealthily from my fingertips and eyelids.
I did not spend much time at home, changing and then loading a small backpack full of items for the evening, including workout clothes, overnight items, water and a can of beer that was set to expire soon. I texted my mom to ask if I could stop by after the gym.
About an hour later I treaded across the lawn to the front door, warm, sweating and still in my gym attire.
“You’re going to catch a cold,” said my mom, who met me as I stepped inside.
“I don’t think so. It’s so nice today.”
“You’ll want to shower, right? I got a towel out for you.”
We shared a disdain for showering at the gym. “Thanks, Mom,” I said.
“When we had that freeze I spent a lot of time there. But I’ve been running outside since the end of January.”
“Good for you.”
We continued to make small-talk for a couple of minutes and then I went to shower. Afterward I found her in the kitchen, where she asked me what I wanted to eat.
“I can help myself, Mom,” I said. “You’ve been at work all day.”
“So have you. How about you just let your mother cook you a nice meal?”
I smiled. “If it will make you happy, then by all means.”
“It will,” she said. “It always does.”
I sat on a barstool across the counter and received a photo from Marie depicting two outfits lying on her bed.
“Left,” I texted.
“I’m sorry for assuming your friend was gay the other night,” said my mom. “You know that’s not how I think about it. It’s just that I want you to find someone nice.”
“It’s fine. I don’t exactly have a lot of guy friends. You’re okay to assume.”
“You have Sloan,” she said as she chopped vegetables for a stir-fry. “Beef or chicken?”
“Chicken,” I said. This was a rather keen observation on her part. Sloan was biologically female and attracted to women, but when I first met him he spelled his name “Sloane” and still identified as a woman. That changed at some point during my third semester at college, and since he was also from Corbin, where we both held down summer jobs and often hung out in the evenings, my parents knew him both prior to and after the gender change. They had handled it with a level of elegant composure that, at the time, surprised me a great deal. It may have helped that Sloan cut his hair short and maintained a decidedly masculine appearance.
“I’ll be seeing him tonight, by the way. And Marie.”
“Oh. Please say Hello for me. I never see either of them anymore.”
After the food was done we sat side by side at the bar and ate.
“I’ve also been thinking a little about your move,” she said. “I no longer have an opinion. Your career should not come before your happiness. I can’t get your dad on board, though. He thinks you’ll be unhappy if you give up your job to stay here.”
“Sometimes I feel like I don’t have an opinion either.” I took a bite of food. “I’m supposed to have one by the end of next week, though.”
“Is that when they want you to commit?”
My mom shifted her weight on the stool, crossed her legs under her pale yellow skirt and continued eating in silence. She always wore a measured amount of floral perfume; its weathered familiarity meant that I did not notice unless, like now, I searched for it.
“Tell Dad not to worry about me,” I said after a pause.
“He’s not worried. He just thinks he knows what’s best for you-both of us do. But we don’t know as well as you do.”
“Hah,” I said. “I wish I knew.”
She smiled. “You’re not twenty with a child. People decide to wait now and it sets them free. I think Dad and I project our sensibilities onto you from when we were your age. It’s not very helpful.”
I didn’t say anything for a while and neither did she. When we finished I carried our plates to the sink and rinsed them before loading them into the dishwasher. Out of nowhere I thought of the car ride home, and how Mikey’s hand had touched my face when he thought I was sleeping.
I turned to my mom. “If that guy becomes more than a friend, I’ll bring him by so you can meet him.”
She looked up from a white tablet that lay flat on the countertop. “That would be nice. What’s his name?”
“It’s Mikey,” I said. “If I’m moving, I can’t get attached, though. You know that.”
“Of course,” she said.
I caught the 8:05 northbound and sat at the back. It was mostly empty so I felt unselfconscious about cracking open the beer and downing it quickly. It had been wrapped in a small towel and remained cool, but was not particularly satisfying.
Around nine o’clock I approached our meeting place and noticed Sloan slouched against the scarred brick face of a corner convenience store, buried in his phone. He didn’t see me until I was a few feet away.
“Wyatt, where the hell have you been?” he asked, giving me a hug.
“Busy, I guess,” I said. “I’ve missed you. You’re still liking work?”
“It’s okay,” he said. “Not enough of the real meaty stuff. A lot of filing and shit.”
“I know how you feel,” I said.
“Marie said you might be moving. I hope that’s not true.”
“I haven’t decided anything,” I said. “I’ve still got time.”
“How long have you guys been here?” Marie shouted from twenty or thirty feet away. She bustled past a slow-moving group and coaxed all three of us together into concurrent embrace. “There we go,” she said. “Bring it in.”
“We just got here,” said Sloan, half of his face still pressed into my chest.
Marie stepped back, sizing each of us up. “Old glory, reunited. Are we ready?”
We decided to start with beers at a pub in the old part of downtown, which lay only a few blocks away. The interior shrugged with worn and dusty expanses of wood, uninterrupted, as though carved out of a single massive block, joints and floorboards long settled into a final, indelible resting place.
“You guys gearing up for tax season yet?” asked Sloan as we sat down.
“I don’t talk shop with friends,” said Marie, peering into her drink menu.
I knew this already and so did Sloan. After graduating, Marie began to express her distaste for the topic of work, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the innumerable nights spent wasting at the university library, quizzing one another, sharing homework answers and prepping for exams.
My phone buzzed and I clapped it down on the table, dismissively glancing at the screen. I saw that it was a picture message from Mikey and quickly examined it. He stood in front of a stately looking, large domed structure which I recognized as Idaho’s capital building from a three-minute Monday-night Wikipedia research session. Underneath he had texted, “Greetings from Potato Land. Hope all is well with you back home.”
“It’s him,” said Marie.
I looked up and met Marie’s eyes, then Sloan’s. “How do you know?” I asked her.
“You’re never on your phone when we go out. It’s one of your things.”
“He’s been out of town since Tuesday. It’s the first time I’ve heard from him.”
A server came by to take our orders.
“Let me see that,” Marie said after they left, snatching my phone from across the table. “Oh, wow.” Her face glowed opposite the screen and she manipulated the photo to get a closer look at him. “Oh, Wyatt. This man is a fucking find.”
Sloan demanded a look.
“I’m not finished yet,” Marie scolded.
I reached for it. “What are you doing?”
“I’m texting it to myself.” She swatted my hand away.
“Stop,” I said.
“Sent.” She handed my phone to Sloan.
“Are you dating this guy?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “It’s complicated.”
Our beers arrived.
“To hot people,” said Marie as we clinked our glasses gently together. “Has anything else else happened with him?”
“We’re still hanging out. We’ve messed around a few times,” I said, grinning.
“Details, please,” she said.
“Maybe after I’ve had a few more drinks.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re such such a tease, Wyatt.”
“And you’re so demanding,” added Sloan, gesturing toward Marie with his drink.
“You saw the picture. Can I help it that I want to know what the guy looks like with his clothes off?”
“He’s not really my type,” said Sloan.
“What happened to that girl you brought to bubble tea?”
“She’s…I don’t know…not that into breasts, as it turns out.”
“Did she know?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m mean…yeah,” he said. “Fuck, I don’t know. Probably. I thought I made it clear when we first met. Besides, I’m fucking flatter than most guys I know.”
I laughed and Marie drank deeply from her beer. “It’s her loss,” she said. “Anyway, historically you do not have any trouble meeting girls.”
Sloan leaned sheepishly against the wall. “I can’t argue with that.”
“And he’s modest, too,” she announced, projecting her voice out around the room as if someone eligible was stationed nearby.
Sloan swung an arm out across the table at Marie, who ducked out of his reach. Once she had straightened herself up she said, “I think we should start planning for another trip this summer. Southeast Asia? Maybe India?”
“It will be hard to swing with work,” he said.
“Oh, come on. We said we would be like this. And we weren’t supposed to listen to ourselves, right?”
“Right,” said Sloan. “I remember.”
“We said that no matter what was going on in our lives, we’d drop everything. For a month. Just one month this time-remember that?” She turned to me. “You remember, right? We were trying to be realistic about it, so we decided just one month.”
I nodded. I also remembered thinking there was no way I’d ever fall so cleanly away from the careening thrill of travel that I could fathom the tragedy of passing up another chance at it. But now the threat to my stability in the coming months, which perched at the edge of cognizance, pecked at a thin membrane of certainly in which I had encased myself.
At the time I had told myself that if I ever began to have doubts about venturing out again, I would do everything in my power to fight them. “I think we should set dates right now,” I said. “Otherwise we never will.”
“That’s the kind of energy I was looking for,” said Marie, reaching over and petting my hand.
Sloan downed his beer and said, “Alright, let’s do this.”
Marie bloomed into a fountain of exuberance, shuffling around the table, squeezing in between us and throwing her arms around our necks. “I love you both so much.”
We she returned to her seat, the server came back and Marie ordered another round, on her.
Each of us was well into our third beer by the time we had concluded our preliminary discussion of this new adventure. The dates of July 15th through August 15th were earmarked, crystalized, inalterable, and I rested a bit more easily on my worn, precarious barstool.
As we finally grew weary of examining possible destinations, looking up hostels and various fares, and the general collective imaginings of sights, smells, sounds and tastes we were destined to behold, Marie turned to me. “Wyatt, tell me about your lover.”
Although I had not downed enough beer to achieve any substantive level of insobriety, I felt very relaxed and frankly a little drunk. “Calling him my lover implies that we have made love, which we have not,” I said.
“Well,” said Sloan, “what exactly have you done?”
“We have ejaculated in each other’s presence. Twice.”
Marie knocked over her glass, which was thankfully-if not surprisingly-empty. “Shut the fuck up. And this happened when?”
“Over the past week. We’ve been spending a lot of time together.”
“What will happen to you guys if you move away?”
“No idea,” I said. “I haven’t spent much time thinking about that. Really though, he says he’s just into sexual stuff with guys. He doesn’t seem have romantic feelings toward me like he does with girls. So I’m not worried that he’ll get attached.”
Sloan rotated his glass on its base. “This guys respects you, right? I mean, does he want to hang out for more that just getting into your pants?”
“I really think so,” I said. “He’s been really genuine. Plus we hang out for a long time after. It can’t be just about sex.”
“That is incredibly sweet,” Marie said.
“I don’t know,” said Sloan. “Sexual attraction is a big fucking deal. Without it, people have big problems. But if it’s a mutual thing…” he paused. “I don’t know. It’s just this idea of the person who likes getting physical with he same sex, but nothing else. I don’t buy it. I don’t think it’s that simple. If it’s there, then so is the potential for real feelings.”
“Sloan,” said Marie, “not everything has to be read into. If they just want to have fun, then who cares?”
“Of course,” said Sloan. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. I just don’t think some people can recognize how they feel, or they shut it out, or whatever, and they end up sending the wrong message. Then other people get mislead.”
“I know what you’re saying,” I said. “It’s okay. I won’t be hurt.”
“Okay,” said Sloan, grinning. “Maybe that was my point. I feel better.”
“Did you text him back?” asked Marie.
“Oh, fuck. No I didn’t.”
“Give me the phone,” said Marie, prompting me to cling guardedly to it.
“No. Text your own lover.”
“Yeah, shit,” she said, “excuse me while I decide which one.”
“I am going to die right here if we don’t go dancing soon,” said Sloan.
I stared off at the far wall of the pub, thumbs at the ready. “Great picture,” I texted. “Hope you’re having a safe trip. Looking forward to seeing you when you get back.”
A confounding warmth nested in the night air outside. City lights still glowed intensely and filled the space between street surfaces and an omnipresent layer of cloud hanging low in the sky. The weeknight crowd diminished moderately when measured against the clotted veins of a typical Saturday night. Still the route to Sloan’s and Marie’s preferred nightclub led through near-impregnable segments of sidewalk, where shouting and laughter resounded from glass and brick facades and evaporated into the emptiness above.
Along the way I looked upon Sloan admiringly because of his protective instinct for his friends, as couched as it was vehement. He understood the nature of particular people who behaved recklessly with regard to the feelings of others. He had become seasoned as the unwitting target of this kind of behavior; he knew tragically well the way it felt to be the focus of others’ cruelty. These experiences echoed back from his surface not as anger or projections of his victimhood, but as unadulterated concern for others. I felt strong and looked well after myself, but his words concerning Mikey back at the pub had not escaped me.
A couple of hours and no fewer than four shots later my experience had become distorted, although I felt distinctly happy and utterly unburdened. Initially I had worried that the order and sheer quantity of my drinks would make me sick, but the fear eventually left me. Sloan had located an acquaintance at some point and she clung devotedly to him now. They occasionally snuck off to make out in a darker corner of the club. Marie and I would dance mostly together in gradually increasing levels of suggestiveness until we broke out into laughter and started the cycle over again. And all the while the stark presence of strangers in the club, mounting steadily in spite of the five-dollar cover on a Thursday night, devolved for me into a nonspecific entity, the individuals of which becoming all but indistinguishable. I grew tired, but in an isolated, forgettable sense that wasn’t truly felt until Marie brought up wanting to leave. By then it was well past one o’clock.
I retrieved my backpack from coat check and paid off my tab. Sloan bade farewell to his companion. We staggered together and giggled our way out to the street, where we began walking to the nearest station.
Marie had a fair amount of trouble walking normally, so she linked arms between us. “You’re both my favorite,” she mumbled. “Wyatt. I need something to fantasize about. Tell me more about your man, please.”
I attempted to gather a few thoughts together, scattered about the floor of my mostly euphoric and unfocused mind. “He’s tall,” I said. “He has the best body you’ve ever seen.”
“Mhmm,” said Marie.
“He’s the kindest person. And one time he even touched my face when he thought I was sleeping.”
“Don’t make me cry,” said Marie, limping along. “I will cry forever if you tell me things like that.”
“Sorry,” I said.
Sloan laughed in a way that was felt more than heard. I glanced over Marie’s head at him and he looked back at me with an expression that reminded me to keep my feelings in check, or otherwise accept what may come.
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