Friday, May 25, 2012

The Family in the Window- Pt. 2 Mark in the Dorm Room

Mark closed the door and set the car alarm.  It was especially important in student parking at the dorms.  They had patrols but cars were still broken into, especially nice cars or ones parked in the back of the lot where there was the least lighting like where he had to park because all of the other spaces were taken.  He tossed the keys in the air and caught them easily as he walked from his car through the lot.  

He had done it.  He had actually fucking dated another guy, someone his own age.  He had picked him up, taken him to dinner, kissed him, felt him up, and they were going to have a second date.  It could be a relationship.

A relationship?  Maybe that wasn’t the best. What if Tristan wasn’t okay with him being in the closet still?  Or what if he gave him the strength to come out?  No one would want that.  Still, it wasn’t fake.  It wasn’t like all the dates with girls where he had to fake it.  This was something else.  This was real.  He knew it.  He felt it.  He was gay.  This is what he had wanted.

When he reached his on-campus apartment he wasn’t surprised to find his roommates, Scott and Glen were still awake in the living room playing Halo multi-player on the Xbox 360.  Two competitive athletes killing time.  Scott was on the soccer team with him but Glen was on the wrestling team.  Each with their own headset they were focused on the game and talking smack:

“Come on faggot,” Scott said.

“Ew, up side your head with that one faggot.”

“Well you’ll like this one in your mouth.  That’s it take it.”

“I’ll smack you with nine inches of limp dick if you come near me.”

Mark breathed deep to keep himself from saying something he would regret.  They were both ordinarily good guys.  They had even mentioned that they didn’t have a problem with gays they just didn’t know any.  Who did, they asked.  It would have been easy to admit it then but Mark couldn’t bring himself to speak.  But what would it have meant?

He didn’t want them to know, he wanted them to know, and he didn’t want to have to ‘come out’ to them because they shouldn’t have assumed.  He didn’t assume anything about them.  Did he? 

He said hello upon passing to the refrigerator where he retrieved a soda and was eager to get to his room.  Ordinarily he might have joined them but this was different, this was special and he still had good memories fresh in his mind despite their words.  He wanted to enjoy it all he could.

“Hot date tonight?”

“Yeah,” Mark said stopping just before leaving the living room.

“You gonna tell us about her?” Scott asked.

Mark turned to them.  He knew all the angles.  Whatever he said they would give him a hard time.  He wanted to say it then, describe his date in full detail.  

“She leave you with a major case of blue balls there?”

Mark smiled.  He didn’t want to have to deal with it though so he shrugged his shoulders.

“Either she did or she didn’t.  Your silence says that you did not get lucky my friend,” Scott said.

“We didn’t go all the way but we got to second to base.”

“We got to second base?  So she felt you up as well?  Why golly young Skywalker you may just be a Jedi yet.”

“Must be,” Mark said before tossing his soda in the air and catching it.  “I’m going back to my room.”

“Yeah to jerk off,” Glen said before mimicking masturbation with his hand.

“Hey at least I had a date tonight instead of playing Halo with my roommate.”

They laughed and he turned his back on them but they continued to call after him as he walked down the hall to his room though it was teasing he ignored.  He unlocked his private room, stepped inside, and closed the door.  There was silence.  

They were such assholes, he thought.  How could he ever have thought about coming out to them?  There was too much to lose.  No one would give up opportunities, the respect for what, for feeling like that, for being in a relationship, or committing sins, going against god and human nature.  His father had said many of the same things, his older brothers had similar feelings.  But Tristan, Tristan knew, he had been on the dating site, he had committed to something, a second date.  

Your being foolish, he thought, and self-centered.  No one knows anything.  You didn’t commit to anything.  Those guys weren’t his friends. Fuck the soccer team, fuck his parents, fuck the church and his brothers.  If it was so wrong then how come it felt so right?  God didn’t make mistakes, except sometimes He did.  Or maybe they weren’t mistakes, maybe they were challenges.  God didn’t make life easy.  God made man and He gave man free will.  Biology, there was biology and nature, whether it was God or not those things did have mistakes.  Fuck it.

He stripped off his clothes and opened the can of soda before sitting on his bed and opening his laptop.  He checked the time on his alarm clock.  It was eight hours before class, plenty of time.  He opened a blank word file and began to type.
No one understands what it is like.  Not for me, not someone who can pass.  Why give it up?  Why do they have to assume anything?  If they weren’t such assholes, such homophobes then it would be different.  But everyone just assumes I’m normal, just another guy.  I have to give my respect to the obvious guys, the ones who used to get picked on in high school.  Man, I saw it all but I barely did anything.  Once I helped a kid with his books but what the hell was that?  I’ve never been on a date with another guy before tonight.  I’ve never done anything.  Just an online chat room, fantasies but what the hell were those?  I can’t believe I lied to Tristan.  Now it’s a fake relationship started with lies.  There is fantasy and then there is real life.  Both are a bunch of lies.  
Am I gay yet?  Does it take a good fuck?  Maybe it’s just the right girl, the right girl who’ll shove a finger up my ass maybe or a dildo.  The rest of my life could be like this.  Get a girl, get married, but always know, maybe have a guy on the side and end up like one of those politicians caught in the men’s room of an airport or hitting on an aid.  More lies.  All of us are on some path of self-destruction
He stopped and looked at what he had just written.  A path of self-destruction?  What the hell did that mean?  His life was about success.  He had done it.  He had gotten to college and succeeded.  He deleted the paragraph then clicked undo so he could see it again.  He was so close so many times but it never amounted to anything.  He always played it safe.  One simple phrase would change his whole world.  But what else did he need from them?  What would they not give him if he told anyone?  

It was all too much so he closed the laptop and turned off the light by his bed.  He lay in the darkness of his room and stared up at the ceiling.  Living was hard, he thought.  Living was hard and dying, death, well that was easy.  Well sort of, it was and it wasn’t.  The human body had endurance, could have endurance.  If he was going to do something it would have to be absolute.  He closed his eyes and wished it all away.  His body, his soul, all of his problems, and a pain snuck up from the back of his skull then he felt it in his feet and he began to cry.  Someone help me.

He only slept four hours and he was up with the sun, a habit his body sometimes regressed to from when he used to run track in high school and had to be up early to train.  He dressed easily, grabbed all his accessories, used the shared bathroom, packed his laptop in his bag along with the book for class and headed for the door but when he saw that Scott was still playing Halo in the living room he stopped and decided to get breakfast.  He moved to the kitchen and noticed Glen was asleep on the couch in an awkward position. 

“You still awake?” Mark asked.

“What time is it?” 

“Almost seven,” Mark said.

“I still have two hours before class.  I can sleep then if I get to the back before everyone else.”

“Nice, yeah I still have to write my paper.”  Mark took out a packet of pop-tarts and walked back to stand beside Scott.   

“Is it hard?”

“No, just a reaction paper but I barely read the assignment.”

“You want to play some?  Glen couldn’t keep up.  The fag passed out two hours ago.  We should fuck with him.  Do some gay shit.  We could probably butt fuck him and he’d never know.”

Something in Mark snapped.  It was one of the times in life he found himself acting out of anger through some voice that couldn’t be reasoned with, some impression that sprang from deep inside of him.  He was doing everything wrong but maybe that was okay, maybe there was something to prove.  Scott was an aggressive player and had a bit of a temper on the field.  It would be easy to bait him.

“Dude you’re an asshole,” he said.


“Do some gay shit?  Butt fuck him?  What’s your problem?”

“I’m just messing around,” Scott said.  “Nobody cares, I mean you should have seen the stuff we did to the freshmen this year.  I wasn’t serious.  You get so bent out of shape about stuff like when that guy grabbed your ass on the field.”  

He knew he was hitting back with a heavy blow.  It was all part of the game to antagonize the opponent so when a guy grabbed Mark’s ass on the field and Mark snapped and began to chase after him all the rest of the team started to laugh until they saw the opposing team start to interfere then they had to back up their man.

“The guy was being a jerk.  He had it coming to him.”

Glen awoke as their voices had begun to rise.  He rubbed at his face and sat up on the couch unsure of what was happening.

“Maybe, but you got all hot and bothered about it.  Maybe you’re the one with the problem.  Maybe you’re a bit insecure.”

“Screw you Scott.”

“Screw me?  You’d like that.  Why don’t you go to class before you get yourself hurt?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.  I’d kick your ass.”

“Hey cool it man,” Glen said.

“No let him talk,” Scott said before pausing the game.  He set the controller down and stood.  He was a head taller than Mark and slightly more muscled.

“You think I’m scared?”

“I think you’re an idiot.  I think you’re a fag and that guy turned you on.  I think--”

Mark lunged at Scott with his hands out hitting the larger man in the chest and knocking him back two feet.  Each of them stood their ground for a second.

“Let’s just cool off guys,” Glen said.

Scott stepped forward and Mark lunged at him again but this time when he hit Scott didn’t move.  They wrestled for a moment for the advantage.  There was no easy winner.  Mark tried to throw a punch but Scott was too close and his arm was deflected over the other man’s shoulder.  Mark threw a knee and this time Scott was prepared so he grabbed the leg and pulled making him lose his balance and fall backwards.  Scott tried to fall on him to get control but Mark put up his other knee temporarily putting him off balance he fell to the side into the television stand almost knocking it over.

“That was my T.V.,” Scott said.

“Quit it you two,” Glen said as he looked on.

“Not ‘til he apologizes,” Mark said between breaths as he rolled to his knees to continue the struggle.  Scott knew to get back to his feet, or at least to his knees.  He caught Mark and the two rolled together until he had Mark on his back.  

When Mark felt his shoulders hit the floor years of watching UFC had told him to get his guard up making Scott fall between his legs.  Scott threw a punch into Mark’s stomach making him yell out in pain.  

“Come on guys,” Glen said at Scott’s back.  He reached down and grabbed Scott under the arms.  “That’s enough.”

Scott let himself be pulled away but Mark didn’t want it to end so he pushed up from the ground right into both of them knocking them sideways and right into the television.  They went over on top of it breaking it easily under their weight and pulling the Xbox 360 onto its side by the cables.  As soon as he heard the screen snap and the Xbox hit Mark knew that he had gone too far, something had been broken, something he would have to pay for.  

“Damn it,” Scott yelled out.

Mark was on his feet first but he used the time to retreat.  Scott and Glen recovered together and when Scott turned on him ready to attach Glen was at his back holding him.

“Let me go,” Scott said.

“Dude, I’m sorry wait,” Mark said.

“You’re going to be.”

“Cool it man it was just a T.V.”

“He’s paying for it,” Scott demanded.

“Look I’m sorry.  I’ll pay for it.”  He didn’t know how.  Ask his father for the money but what would he say?

Glen still held Scott who bucked at the grip.

“Look just get out of here man so we can all cool down.”

Mark turned on his roommates to find their fourth roommate, Bryan, dazed and scratching at his curly brown hair as he stood in the hallway in a pair of boxer briefs.

“What happened?”

“We had an accident,” Mark said before leaving the apartment with a slam of the door.

Glen let Scott go and they both looked to the television.

“What happened?” Bryan asked again.

“He broke our television,” Glen said.

“He broke my television,” Scott said.

“Dude what an asshole,” Bryan added.

Mark walked with a determined gate.  What had he just done?  What would he tell his father?  An incident like this could get him kicked off or reprimanded by the coach.  What would his teammates say?  A whole chain reaction was going to happen and he wasn’t sure if it was worth it.

The Family in the Window- Pt. 1 the Front Window

Tristan stared at the baby Jesus nativity scene made of lawn ornaments crowded together in the front window of his home as he stood on the sidewalk with his hands in his pockets and his shoulders hunched.  All of the figures were there, touching each other by at least one part.  His father had said they wouldn't fit but his mother said they had no choice since at least one figure got stolen each year they had put it on their lawn. The Three Wise Men looked like the Three Stooges or a Vaudeville act and the donkey appeared to be leering at baby Jesus.

 He was dressed in a red leather jacket, turtle neck sweater, black jeans, and black dress shoes but the clothes weren't warm enough, not after dark.  He had chosen it to look nice for his date but as he stood there shivering he found he regretted the thin ensemble.  Forty degrees out, snow on the lawn, and he was going out on a date?  Who dates in this kind of weather?  I should be dressed like an Eskimo, he thought.  But it doesn't matter anyway because this time next year I'm going to be at college in California, Texas, or Washington State.  Goodbye East Coast, hello nice weather.

He had already sent out his applications in November and now he was just waiting for high school to end, though his date didn't know that.  They had met through an online dating service and chatted briefly.  He had told his date that he was going to a local school, the date inferred that meant community college so he didn't deny it.  That meant that he was at least eighteen too which he didn’t deny.  It was close enough.

He heard a horn and he turned to see the headlights of a '57 Ford driving towards him.  He waited for the car to come to a stop before he looked through the passenger window to verify it was his date.  He could make out the face by illumination of a white street light.  The young man in the driver's seat looked just like the photo online: curly, blonde hair, thin lips, and athletic build.  The young man smiled at him and he smiled back before reaching for the door and opening it.

The warmth of the car hit Tristan and sent a shiver down his spine making him let out a grunt then a sigh as he rubbed his hands together.  

"Cold out there?" his date asked.

"The price of fashion," Tristan said.  He held out his hand and his date took it.

"Mark," he said.  “Your hands are cold.”

"Tristan, nice to meet you," Tristan said.  He got into the car, cupped his hands in front of his mouth and began to blow into them.  “Some weather out there.”

“Yeah it is.”

“So you found the place easily?”

“Yeah no problem,” Mark said before shifting the car into drive and pulling away from the curb.

“So have you been to this place we’re going before?”

“Yeah, I’ve been there before,” Mark said.  It had only been once to check the place out but he wasn’t about to admit that.  

“You go often?”

“Is that your way of asking me if I date a lot?”

Tristan laughed.  “Caught me.”

“A couple of times,” Mark said.

“So a couple dates,” Tristan said.

“You date much?”

"I guess I was dating a guy last year.  We didn't really do anything formal though.  We didn’t really go on dates."

"Last year of high school, that can be rough.  Was he in your class?"

“He went to my high school but he was a sophomore.”

“Younger guy, nice,” Mark said and they looked each other briefly before laughing.  “Too bad he wasn’t a freshman.”

“Too bad I know.  So is this place gay friendly?”

“Basically, I mean a lot of gay couples go there because the owner is gay and you can sort of get away with small stuff like holding hands or maybe even kissing if you don’t get too crazy, if no one is looking, because all types of people come in the restaurant.”

“So these dates.”  Tristan adjusted a vent to hit him directly.  “See anyone more than once?”

“Are you trying to ask if I was serious with a guy?”

“How many boyfriends have you had?”

Mark looked to his date.  “I never really had a boyfriend, like a commitment, you know.  Nothing serious I guess.”

“So how many blow jobs have you had?”

Mark looked across the car, Tristan wasn’t sure but he thought he was blushing.  

“I’m just messing with you man.”

“Well that’s one thing that’s different than dating a woman,” Mark said.  “A woman would never ask how many blow jobs her date has had.”

“Have you ever dated women?”

“I took a girl to high school prom but it wasn’t a real date.  We were friends.  Hell I think she knew I was gay and that’s why she asked me out.”

“She asked you out?”

“Yeah,” Mark answered.

“Well that’s your first clue.”

Mark laughed.  “You’re a pretty funny guy Tristan.  What about this guy you were dating?  This uh, sophomore you said.  How many blow jobs did you guys exchange?”

Tristan held up his hands and began to count with his fingers.  It was a lie though.  They had kissed a lot, dry humped, masturbated together, and even had one messy exchange as he jerked his previous boyfriend off in an empty theater but there were no blow jobs.

“I don’t need to know,” Mark said.

“No wait, I’m still counting.  You said exchanged so I might need to use my toes.”

“Okay, okay, I get it.  So was it serious?  Were you two out?  Did you break it off because you graduated?”

“Yes, no, no,” Tristan said.  “I was out but he’s kind of in the closet.”

“Does he have a name?”

“Yes,” Tristan said.

“And what was it?”

“Trying to make sure I’m not making it up?”

“Yes, I have a registry here of all the gay boys at your high school and oh look.”

“Very funny.  His name was Evan.  Yes, it was serious but we weren’t both out.  I was out but he wasn’t.  It was kind of weird but not really.  It’s not like dating girls.  You can take them to the movies, kiss in public, you know.”

“Have you dated girls?” Mark asked.

“That was just kid stuff, you know, trying it out.  I got to second base and I was like, what the hell am I doing.”

“Your parents homophobic?”

“Religious?” Mark asked.

“Did you see the front window?”

“Not really,” Mark said.  “Why?”

“I’ll show you when we get back.”

They continued to talk as Mark sped along the highway.  It was all small talk about television, high school education, and the current economic state of affairs. Tristan found himself agreeing with most everything Mark said and Mark seemed to agree with him too.  They laughed at the right time, waited for the other to speak.  It was going well.  But when they pulled into the parking lot behind the restaurant and waited to be valet parked Tristan found himself suddenly speechless and contemplating how to ask a very important question.  After the valet took the car and he found himself shoulder to shoulder with Mark staring at the restaurant.  He needed to know so he decided to ask.

“How does this work?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well like, we’re on a date.”

“Yeah,” Mark said.

“And we met online.”

Mark looked him in the face and raised an eyebrow.

“Well we’re both guys.  I mean I know how it works when you take a girl out.”

“As in the guy pays,” Mark said.

“Right, so if it’s two guys then what happens?”

“We flip for it.”

Tristan turned to his date suddenly considering if he could pay one let alone two meals at such a place but Mark was quick to pat him on the arm.

“I’m just messing with you.  Look the place was my idea so I’ll pick up the tab.  Next time you pick the place and you can pick up the tab.”

Next time, Tristan thought, there’s already a commitment to a next time?

“Don’t worry about it.  Just enjoy yourself.”

Tristan became more nervous when they stood at the host’s booth and he suddenly worried if he wasn’t dressed appropriately and if it would be obvious they were a gay couple.  We’re just two guys, he thought, no one sees anything but two guys, friends really, out on the town.  What straight guys go together to a place like this?  Rich ones, he thought.

The host greeted them with a smile and immediately began to lead them to their table.  Tristan followed behind Mark as he wanted to take it all in and not feel rushed.  He smiled at the first gay couple he saw then at the second one, a pair of lesbians in the corner didn’t notice him but he felt assured by the environment.  He sat in the chair opposite Mark but he couldn’t stop looking around at the people.

“Nice place?” Mark asked.

Tristan looked to him, swallowed hard and agreed that it was.

“Just don’t order the lobster,” Mark said.

Tristan laughed as he looked at his date as a sudden joke came to mind that he felt too nervous to say.  Not unless I plan on putting out, he thought.

After that the meal was easy.  Tristan managed to forget that they were a gay couple in a straight town, that they were two young men, or that someone might take a baseball bat to either of them.  It was a date.  The comfort they had made in the car came back to them to live and breath at their table.  Mark became free with his gestures, easy with the touch of a hand as he told a story or wanted to get his date’s attention.  Tristan reciprocated that feeling with his own casual touch.  They laughed through the appetizer, got serious during the entree, and laughed some more during dessert.

By the end of the date it was easy when Mark put an arm around his shoulder and he let his own slip around the other young man’s waist.  In that feeling of holding another person, of being held, he realized that what he had considered his previous boyfriend was no competition.  That was high school.  This was James Bond with Daniel Craig.  His previous boyfriend had been Pierce Brosnan.

The valet smiled at their approach and the car was quickly retrieved.  Tristan hated the lack of feeling as they went to their own sides of the car, having to let him go.  Mark became focused on the road again and they didn’t talk for a long time until they were miles down the highway.

“That was really nice,” Tristan said.  “I had a great time.”

“Thanks,” Mark said.  And with that he reached across the car to pat Tristan on the knee to regain some of that lost intimacy.

“I mean it’s pretty obvious but I’ve never been on a date.  Not a real one with a guy and all.”

“It’s nice isn’t it?”

“Middle America has no idea what they are missing out on.  Gays should be everywhere.  They are everywhere.”

“Amen,” Mark said.

“Can you believe it?  Why would anyone be so afraid?”

“They fear themselves.  They fear their own feelings.  It’s easy for a person to confuse sex with emotion, emotion with sex, and not be able to consider the infinite possibilities and the many limitations.”

“Did you read that somewhere?”

Mark laughed.  “I don’t know probably.  I would like to say it was original but probably something I learned in first year psych class.”

“You’re studying psychology?”

“Yeah, I read all I can about human sexuality.”

“So you want to be a shrink?”

“No,” Mark said.  “I don’t know maybe.  I want to know about it.  Just like I read the Bible and stay up to date with theology if I can.”

“Huh, I wouldn’t have taken you for a geek.”

Mark smiled.  “It’s my six-pack abs.”

Tristan looked to his date and a nervousness returned.  What if his date was braver than him?  What if his date was willing to do things he had never done?  What if he wanted to do them that night?  He had a brief flash of the two of them kissing, clothes being removed and he found himself getting warm, sweating, anxious.  He decided to keep up the conversation and ask him more about his studies before Mark asked him about his own.  What would he say then?

“So what do you want to be when you grow up then?  What do you want to study?”

“I don’t know,” Mark said.  “Keep my options open but you know, you just sort of end up somewhere.”

They continued back and forth with Tristan asking all of the questions until they reached his home address with a few directions thrown in along with the questions.  Mark pulled in front of the house and Tristan saw that his parent’s SUV was parked in the driveway which meant they were home.  The outside light was on, he hadn’t left it that way which meant his parents knew he was out.  The nativity scene still glowed in the window.  

Mark shifted to park and turned off his headlights then the engine.  He looked to his date who looked back at him.  There was an undeniable tension in the car as they stared at each other.  They unbuckled their seat belts.

“Do you want to go on a second date?” Mark asked.

“Of course,” Tristan said.

The sound of breathing was broken by the squeak of leather and they both laughed.  “Can I walk you to your door?”

Tristan shook his head.

“Can I kiss you?”

Tristan nodded and Mark slid across the bench seat until they could kiss easily.  Tristan let Mark make the contact but then he pushed back against his lips as he reached out to take hold of him.  He found Mark’s thigh and his hip.  Mark found his chest and his back, then his knee to turn him a little.  Mark’s hand began to move between Tristan’s thighs, his thumb pressed into the crotch of his jeans and Tristan let out a muffled gasp of unexpected pleasure.  But Tristan’s hands hadn’t moved and he was now feeling awkward especially when he considered his family was right there in the house waiting for him.  

Finally his hands moved, seemingly of their own accord, though Tristan knew that was a lie, it was really fear and he pushed Mark back for space and a breath of air.

“Wait,” he said.  “I have to go this is my parents’ place.  And I don’t want to put out too much on the first date.  You have to wait until at least date three.”  

“Date three?” Mark asked.

“Yeah this isn’t Queer as Folk.”

Mark laughed.  “So you’ve done your homework.”

“I am well versed in gay pop culture.”

Mark went for another kiss and Tristan kissed back for a moment and as he pulled away he still sucked at his date’s lip.

“We will have to see about that.  But the second date you have to pick the place because you’re paying.”

“Oh, is that how it’s working?”

“Yeah,” Mark said before retreating to his side of the car.

Tristan smiled.  A second date, it didn’t matter where.  It was all there for him.  It all made sense.  He opened the car door, closed it, waved to Mark, and then headed back towards his home.

Mark started the car, turned on his headlights and began to drive away.