© by The Lavender Quill, 2002
Warning: the following story contains graphic descriptions of male/male sex between consenting adults. If that sort of thing bothers you, or you are a minor, or it is illegal for you to read this type of content under the laws of your area, dont read any further.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual people or events is purely coincidental.
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Other work by The Lavender Quill can be found on the web at <http://lavenderquill.tripod.com/>.
Setting: Sacramento, California, 2002.
I was almost giddy the next morning when Robby arrived at the construction site. I had to make real effort to act nonchalant around him when we were within eyesight of other guys on the crew. The roughly twenty four hours since he'd left my apartment served only to heighten my desire to touch him, to be with him.
We escaped down to the panel room in the basement. Our lips merged in a longing kiss. I missed him so bad. I crushed him to me, not wanting to ever let go.
I was learning so much about kissing with Robby. There are friendly pecks, lustful, tongue devouring kisses, soft romantic kisses, soul merging kisses, blissful after-sex kisses. This was a god-I'm-glad-to-see-you kiss. Intense and lingering, but not lustful.
We released each other. "God, I needed that," I said, taking a deep breath.
"I might, just maybe, make it through the day now."
"I think I'm gonna need a repeat at lunch," said Robby.
"Talked me into it," I said. "We better get to work."
We had only been working about a half hour or so when my uncle and Brian tracked us down.
"Robby," said Uncle Don, "can I borrow Kevin for a while? Can you work on your own today?"
"Uh, sure," said Robby, looking disappointed. "I can run conduit by myself I guess. Just takes longer."
"Sorry to do that to you. You can have him back later today, or maybe tomorrow." My uncle turned to me "The appliances showed up," he explained. "They're three weeks early, if you can believe that. We're gonna have to store them in the parking garage until we get the elevator installed. The semi truck is pulling around to the side where the garage entrance is now."
"You and me get to unload them," said Brian with fake enthusiasm.
"How many are there?" I asked.
"A full set for each unit," said Uncle Don. "Stove, dishwasher, refer, washer, and dryer."
I did the math in my head. Twelve condo units. Sixty appliances. It was going to be a real back breaker. I turned to Robby. I was glad we'd had the chance to spend a few minutes together, now that we were going to have to be apart for the day. "Later, Robby," I said, trying to act casual. I wished I could stay.
He looked at me. His eyes held mine for what seemed like a long time. I could tell he wished I could stay too. "Okay. Later."
I wanted to give him a quick goodbye kiss, or even just touch his hand. Having to hide our budding relationship sucked.
My uncle walked off, and Brian and I went down to the parking garage. The truck was too big to fit in the entrance, so the driver just parked on the street outside. The union driver, of course, is just paid to drive. He wasn't about to help us unload, and was in no hurry for us to finish. He turned off the engine, and kicked back to take a nap while we set to work unloading appliances.
It was heavy work. Even with good quality dollies, it is still a lot of work to move sixty appliances. We had to move them to the far end of the garage, where they would be out of the way for a few weeks, and could be secured so they wouldn't get stolen. I barely said a word to Brian.
We stopped to take a break after about an hour. I sat on the ground and rested my bare back against the concrete wall of the garage. I was hot and sweaty, and the concrete was cool. Brian was breathing heavy.
"Hey, man," said Brian. "Your off trippin in your own world this morning. I can tell by that shit-eating grin on your face that you got laid again." He laughed. "Robby too. He's got that same fuckin look. You young guys kill me, man."
"Oh, like you weren't doing the same thing when you were nineteen?" I asked, laughing with him.
"Oh, yah, man. 1971 was a very good year. When I wasn't high, I was naked." We both laughed. "Actually, sometimes both." He sighed and opened a can of soda. "So who's the lucky chick, man?"
I opened my mouth to answer. I intended to spout something clever and off hand. My mouth shut before I uttered a word. I was annoyed that I felt like I couldn't tell him the truth. I wanted to scream: it's Robby, and I think I love him! Maybe I should just tell him, I thought. My uncle said he was pretty sure Brian would be okay with it. But what if he wasn't? What if he got pissed? I liked Brian better than most of the other guys. He was kind of a friend, I guess. I was afraid of risking that friendship. What if he blabbed it to the rest of the crew? I looked at Brian, and I couldn't imagine him doing something like that.
"Brian," I said. "Why do you assume it was a girl?" He looked at me blankly. My heart raced. I was trying to be cool, but I was terrified. "What if it was a guy?" I looked down, afraid to look at his eyes, afraid of what I might see there.
"Oh, wow, man," he said, all serious now. "I'm sorry, man."
"Sorry?" I wasn't sure what kind of response I expected, but this wasn't it.
"Oh, yeah. What a bummer." I looked at him. "I feel bad, man. What a dope."
"What are you talking about?"
"Well I didn't even think about it, man. I been razzing you about chicks since you started working with your uncle. I didn't know, man."
"Well, it isn't like I walk around with a sign on my forehead."
"I know, man, but I should know better. I can tell you must have been worried about telling me. You don't have to worry about me, Kevin."
"You're okay with it then? I mean, me liking guys?"
"Hell, I don't care, man. You're a good guy, Kevin. As long as you're happy, why the fuck should I care which way you swing?" He looked at me conspiratorially. "I was even known to swing the other way a few times myself, back in the seventies."
"You?" I asked, surprised. All he talked about was 'chicks'.
"Yeah, man. I went to Berkley. I'd try anything once or twice, just to prove I wasn't square."
"You went to college?"
"That or Vietnam, man. I couldn't imagine myself shooting some poor Vietnamese kid that was probably just as scared as me. No way, man. I was totally in to 'Make Love, Not War'. Sometimes that lovin' wasn't with a chick." I gaped at him. I tried to imagine him thirty years younger as a college hippie. "It was kinda' fun if I was a little high. But I still dig chicks better, man. I guess that's just the way I'm wired. If you're wired different, that's cool."
He reached over and squeezed my shoulder. It was just a friendly squeeze, but it startled me, and I flinched.
"Relax, Kevin. Really, it's okay." I blew out my breath. I had not realized how stressed out I was. "I know there are people out there who will treat you different, or will hate you 'cause you like guys, but that ain't me, man. I always thought you were a good guy, and I still do. Don't worry about me, man."
"Thanks, man," I said, imitating his funny way of talking. I was relieved. "Lets get back to these appliances if we're ever gonna finish before dark."
We got up and went back to unloading the truck. The heavy labor actually helped. I worked off the last bit of nervous tension I'd built up telling Brian my big secret. We worked for another two hours. Finally, Brian stopped me.
"Enough," he wheezed. "I can't keep up. Time for another break." We went back to where we had sat earlier. He plopped down. "I'm getting too old for this."
I popped open a soda and sat down too. I drank half of it in one go.
"Okay, man," said Brian. "So who's the lucky guy,?"
I looked at him. I thought I probably shouldn't say until I asked Robby first. I smiled, thinking of Robby.
A look of sudden realization crossed Brian's face. "It's Robby isn't it?" He laughed. "That's why you both had shit eating grins on your faces this morning, isn't it?"
I blushed deeply. He laughed harder.
"Oh, shit, man," said Brian, his laughter dieing down. "That's good."
"Quit laughing. It isn't funny."
That got him going again. Eventually he stopped. "I know, man, but you should have seen your face. I've never seen you blush like that. That is fuckin funny."
I grinned a little.
"Well," said Brian, "at least you have good taste, man. You're lucky I'm older than your father. Otherwise I might chase after him myself, man. He's cute enough to make me forget about women." I looked at him. "Well, maybe for just an afternoon." We both cracked up then.
I drank down the rest of my soda. "Brian, I'm glad you're so cool with all this. I wanted to tell you, but I was afraid. I wanted us to be friends, and I didn't know if you'd still wanna be friends once you knew."
"I can understand why you'd feel that way, man, but you shouldn't. You gotta be real to yourself, man. If someone is your friend only under the condition that you're straight, then they aren't really a friend. Not a real friend. They are putting limits on their friendship--limits that you can't concede to, unless you want to live in denial of your true self. What the fuck good is that, man?"
I thought about that, and wondered if he might be right. "Maybe," I said. "I've told Uncle Don, and he's okay. I told some kids when I was in high school, and that didn't go too good. I haven't told my parents yet. Really, I haven't told anyone else."
"Well, high school is a weird age, man. People are still a little immature, still trying desperately to fit in, searching for their own independence. You're parents are a different story though. That's rough, man. Do you want to tell them?"
"Yeah. I've been thinking about it."
"How do you think they'd take it?"
"I don't know. I can't seem to be objective. I mean, they seem like accepting people, I think. They don't talk bad about people, or judge people. I've never heard them make fag jokes or anything. But it is hard to say for sure, you know? As afraid as I was to tell you, I'm a hundred times more afraid to tell them. A thousand times more afraid. With you, I was risking a friendship with someone I've known less than a year. How can I risk ruining my relationship with my parents?"
"Kevin, you're letting your fear rule you. Unless you are prepared to hide it for the rest of your life, your gonna have to tell them sooner or later, right?"
"And you live on your own, and have a job, right?" I nodded. "So they can't throw you out of the house, cut you off, force you to live on the streets or anything. You're safe, no matter how they react, right?"
"Yeah, I guess." In the back of my mind, I knew that was one reason I got my own apartment as soon as I started working full time.
"So all you are doing, man, is delaying the inevitable." I looked at him blankly. "At their age, they are not likely going to have an epiphany. They pretty much believe what they believe at this point in their lives. They are gonna react however they react whether you tell them today or in ten years, man. They'll either accept it or they won't. If they don't, they'll either get past it or they won't. Either way, delaying it won't make any fuckin difference."
He was probably right, I decided. But that didn't make me any less afraid. We sat silently for a minute or two.
"We better get back to these appliances," he said. We both stood.
"Brian, I'd rather you didn't say anything to anyone, okay? If anyone else finds out, I want to be the one to tell them in my own time, on my own terms."
"Hey, man, I'm cool. This is just between you an' me until you say otherwise. Don't worry too much though. I've worked with some certifiable assholes before, but I think most of the guys that work for your uncle are okay. I don't think you'd get any hassle, man. Fer instance, James goes to the gym almost every night after work, and you know half the guys at the gym gotta be gay. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't give a shit at all. Gay people have been around since the dawn of time, man. Most people can deal with it just fine. There's just a few jerks around to make us all look bad."
We continued to unload the truck until lunch time. When we stopped, it looked like we were about three quarters done unloading. We'd finish in an hour or so after lunch.
I went to find Robby, and together, we sat a little way away from the rest of the crew. Not completely out of sight, but far enough away that we could talk privately. Exhausted, I lay flat on my back on a sheet of plywood laying on the dirt. Robby sat down next to me. With barely a word, I gobbled down the first of two sandwiches I had in about four bites.
"You must have been working hard this morning," said Robby. "You macho stud."
"You better watch yourself," I said, grinning at him. "People around here are gonna think you're the stud." He looked at me confused. "Brian thinks you're cute."
"I came out to him this morning. It didn't take long for him to figure out you and me."
"Are you out of your mind?" Robby was trying to be quiet, but he was obviously very agitated. "I don't want any of these guys to know." He waved an arm in the general direction of the rest of the crew. "What if my parents found out? They'd kill me!"
"I'm sorry Robby." I wanted to reach out and hold his hand. To reassure him with a hug. "I would have talked to you first, but he figured us out on his own. He's okay though. Don't worry. He's just a mellow old hippie. He told me he even made out with a few guys when he was in college back in the 'free love' days.
He turned and stared at Brian for a minute, then turned back to me. "I'm having a hard time picturing that." He laughed. "You're forgiven. But please be careful. This absolutely can not get back to my parents."
I thought about his situation and mine. Surely I had little to worry about in comparison. "Don't worry, Robby. I would never do anything to hurt you like that."
He reached out his hand, and suddenly pulled back. He wanted physical touch too. We stared at each other for a few minutes, communicating our desire for each other with our eyes. We ate in silence for a few minutes.
I noticed Robby's eyes roaming over my bare chest. I glanced down, and saw he had a noticeable bulge in his pants. Luckily for him, he was facing away from the rest of the crew. I stretched and looked at him as provocatively as I could without any of the crew noticing.
"Okay, stop already," said Robby, "or I'll never get through the afternoon." He smiled at me.
I smiled at him. "Can't help myself," I said. "You make me feel sexy."
He turned serious. "Kevin?"
"Would you would you go down to the clinic with me after work?" I mentally switched gears, trying to follow where this was going. "I want to get another HIV test both of us. You and me." He looked down.
He was embarrassed to ask, I realized. I didn't know why. "Sure, Robby, if you want."
"It would make me feel better. I mean, we've both been safe, and neither of us has dated much recently." He looked me in the eye. "I want this to work out between us. I want to have something that lasts with you. I don't want to have to worry."
It occurred to me that with his home situation and his past history, this was as close as he could get to telling me he wanted us to make some kind of commitment to each other. At least for now. "Yeah, Robby, I think we should go too." He smiled and looked like he was going to cry. I dug my watch out of my pocket--I keep it there when I'm working so I don't snag the band on a tool or something. "We still have a few minutes left on our lunch break. Wanna meet me down in the panel room? I really want to hug you before we go back to work."
Robby gave an almost imperceptible nod. I took my lunch cooler to my truck and went into the building by a different route than I had seen Robby take. He was waiting for me when I opened the door to the panel room.
I took him in my arms and we hugged each other tight. I was feeling kind of emotional after talking to Brian, and it felt really good just to hold on to each other.
"I was afraid you'd be mad," Robby whispered in my ear.
I squeezed him tighter. "No way dude. You can't make me mad that easy. I'm glad you care about our health." I kissed him gently on the neck. "It makes me feel good that you were thinking ahead about what we might do in the future. I've never felt there was much of a future with any guy I've ever been with before. Until I met you."
We held each other and swayed in place for a few minutes, just taking comfort in being together. Knowing we had to get back to work, we reluctantly broke our embrace. He looked at me with his intense eyes, and I felt like I would melt into the floor. "Thanks, Kevin," he said. I gave him a light kiss, then shoved him toward the door.
Shortly after Robby disappeared up the stairs, Brian came down.
"He looked happy," said Brian, pointing his thumb up the stairs. "You guys having a nooner down here, man?"
"You're a dirty old man, Brian." I laughed. "We were just having a little private talk."
Brian sighed. "I don't think I would'a had enough energy for a nooner after movin all these damned appliances." We walked to the truck. "Not too many more to go. Lets get it done."
We worked right through without a break till we got it all off loaded. I was anxious to get done. When the truck finally drove off, we both just stood there, barely able to move.
"I think I feel as old as you look," I chided Brian.
He laughed. "I should kick yer ass for that remark, but I don't think I can lift my arms, man." He wiped his forehead with a sweaty arm, which I don't think did any good. "Let's go find your uncle. I'm about done in for today."
Uncle Don was in the small trailer that serves as a temporary on-site construction office.
"We're done with the appliances," said Brian.
My uncle looked at his watch. I knew we still had a little more than an hour before the official quiting time. "Thanks guys. Sometimes stuff gets dropped on us like that without warning."
"No problem," I said.
"There really isn't enough time to start anything else now," said Uncle Don. "Why don't you guys take off."
"Don't have to tell me twice, man. I'm outta' here." Brian turned and happily walked out the door.
"Um, Uncle Don? Would it be okay for Robby to leave too? There's something we want to get done this afternoon." I was thinking about the clinic.
"Sure. He's a subcontractor. He's getting paid a flat fee for the job. He can work whatever hours he wants, as long as he gets done on time."
"Everything going okay with you two?" he asked.
"Great. I really think he's something special. Like maybe he's the one meant for me."
"I'm glad to see you with someone that makes you happy, Kevin."
"Hey, you were right about Brian. I told him today, and he's totally cool."
"I know. We talked about it a little at lunch while you two were way down there making googley eyes at each other." He laughed.
"We weren't making 'googley eyes'," I protested. "We're trying hard not to be too obvious."
"I'm just kidding, Kevin. You are doing fine. But its still obvious when I know what to look for." He smiled at me. "Go on, get out of here."
I went to find Robby. He was on the top floor. I told him I was done for the day if he was ready to go. He didn't want to be seen leaving together in one vehicle, so we agreed that we would meet at my apartment and go downtown together from there. Since I was all ready to go, I left right away. Robby would clean up and leave shortly behind me.
I drove to my apartment building. Figuring it would be a few minutes before Robby arrived, I ran up to my apartment. I had been sweating heavily most of the day, and thought I smelled rank, even to myself. I quickly ran a washcloth over my torso and pits, and slapped on some more pit juice. Hopefully that would due for now. I threw on a clean tee shirt, grabbed a jar of peanuts and two sodas, and ran back down to the parking lot.
Robby pulled in to the parking lot a minute later. He offered to drive, and I got in. His van was almost new and had air conditioning--a far better option than my beat up truck. I was tempted to suggest we bag the trip to the clinic, and fuck like bunnies in my apartment instead. An HIV test was a good idea, though, and the apartment would still be there when we got back.
As we drove downtown, neither of us said much. I was hungry from moving all those appliances, a munched on peanuts most of the trip. "Are you nervous?" I asked.
"Well yeah," he admitted. "I mean, I was negative last time, and I haven't had sex in, like, five or six months--except for you. I know I can't be positive, but it still scares me. It is totally irrational, but I can't help it."
"Yeah, me too," I said. "I've always been careful, but what if I did something wrong and didn't know it?" I blew out a breath. "I have a confession to make, and you have to promise not to laugh."
"I'll try not to."
"I really, really, really hate needles. I know it sounds crazy. I accidentally cut myself at work every now and then, and I'm fine. Last summer one guy got hurt kinda bad, and there was blood everywhere--at least it seemed like it--and that didn't bother me. But laying my arm out there voluntarily, and letting someone stick a needle in my arm just totally sets me off. Last time I started to hyperventilate, and they made me hold a bag over my mouth."
"You?" he asked, sarcastically. "My macho construction worker?" He noticed I was not amused, and turned serious. He reached over and took my hand. "We'll be together. We don't have to be scared. We can help each other try to be calm, okay?"
"Thanks, Robby. I'll probably be fine. That just happened one time."
We arrived at the clinic and found a place to park. We went inside. We had to wait a while. The clinic did a variety of services, like pregnancy testing, and testing for a wide variety of sexually transmitted diseases besides just HIV. It was a free clinic, which meant it was understaffed, mostly by volunteers.
We were given forms to fill out. Two pages of questions, some typical health-type questions, others explicit sexual questions that made me embarrassed just to read. I guess I was a little naive, because I didn't even understand some of the recreational drug questions.
They don't ask for your name, though, which was the most important thing to me at the time. They asked your age, but didn't ask to see any identification. I figured they wouldn't test a minor, so I had lied about my age when I'd had the test a few times before I turned eighteen. They asked for a fictitious name and assigned a random number to match it.
Then we sat and waited again for a while. I think maybe I wouldn't get so worked up over it if I didn't have to sit around waiting so long. Eventually a nurse called my fictitious name. The nurse was a guy, maybe mid-twenties. He had at least six piercings in his ear, and a heavy steel stud through the cleft of his nose that looked like it must have hurt like hell to get pierced. I have no idea what his sexual orientation was, but I was sure he wouldn't care about mine.
"Um, can we go in together?" I asked, waving toward Robby.
"Sure," said the nurse. "Let me find his form, and I'll do both of you." Robby stepped up next to me, and the nurse flipped through his clipboard, finding Robby's form right below mine. "Come on in." We followed him into a room. There was an exam bed, and several chairs with flat arm rests on one side. "Either of you ever pass out giving blood or having a blood draw before?"
Robby shook his head no. "I kinda hyperventilated last time," I admitted. "I hate needles."
"Okay, no problem. I'm pretty good, and you probably won't feel a thing, but I'm gonna have you lay down, just in case. Who wants to go first?"
Before I could say anything, Robby plopped down on one of the chairs and slapped his left arm on the arm rest. "I'll go," he said. I sat down in a chair to his right, opposite the arm presented for the blood draw. The nurse cleaned the skin over the vein running up inside the elbow. Robby's skin is so fine, so smooth, so creamy--it is one main reason why I think he looks so young. I didn't think I could bear the idea of watching the nurse pierce that skin. What is it with me and needles? I took Robby's right hand in mine.
After the nurse had tied the rubber thing around his arm and started toward him with the needle, I had to turn my head away. I brought Robby's hand to my lips and kissed it. I turned his hand and opened it to face me, palm open. I nuzzled his palm and softly kissed his wrist. He cupped my face with his hand. I wasn't sure who was getting more comfort from that, Robby or me. Probably me, I ruefully admitted to myself.
I heard the rubber tie being snapped off. "I'm done here," said the nurse. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" I don't know why they always ask that, but it seems to be a universal question that every nurse or doctor has always asked me every time I've been poked by a needle.
"I didn't feel it at all," said Robby, smiling. He turned to me. "He really is good. You'll be fine, stud boy."
I was not convinced. My heart was racing. Maybe I should have gone first. I thought that maybe experiencing Robby going first only heightened my anticipation, my anxiety. I knew it was all just in my head, that I was being ridiculous, but that knowledge didn't help at all. I tried to act cool, but I'm sure I didn't fool either of them. I laid down, and the nurse started to swab my left arm. I turned my head away, knowing full well that if I saw the needle, my anxiety would double.
Robby looked me deep in the eyes. He took my free hand and placed in on his chest. "Breath with me. Don't pay any attention to him." With my hand I could feel him take slow deep measured breaths. I matched him. Then he did something completely unexpected. He began to sing:
"I've tried before to tell him, of the feelings I have for him, in my hearrrrt " sang Robby. I recognized it immediately. It was 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,' by Sting--I think from way back when he sang with 'The Police'. Robby had changed the gender, singing 'he' or 'him' instead of 'she' or 'her'. I was floored. I had no idea he could sing. I couldn't carry a tune if my life depended on it. His voice was beautiful. I had heard the song lots of times before, but never paid all that much attention to the lyrics. " every little thing he does is magic, every thing he do just turn me on " Robby launched into the chorus. Somewhere along the way, I felt a slight poke in my arm, but I barely noticed. I was enraptured with Robby's singing. He sang fairly quietly, but with great emotion, showing greater angst than Sting's original version. Passionate as he was about this song, it made me wonder, is he trying to tell me he has a hard time sharing his feelings? Does he love me? Can he tell me if he does? Maybe I was reading too much into it. Perhaps it was just the first song that came to his mind that he knew the words to.
Robby stopped about half way through his song. "I think he's done, stud boy," said Robby, indicating the nurse.
"Yeah," said the nurse, "but you didn't have to stop on my account. You're damned good." Robby blushed, and the nurse went about disposing of the needles and labeling the vials of blood.
I realized I was totally calm. "Thanks, Robby," I said. I sat up and took both his hands in mine and held them in my lap. "That was beautiful." I felt like that was inadequate to describe how I felt, but didn't know what else to say. I just stared at him.
The nurse went through his routine. We had to keep our numbers and fictitious names. If we lost them, we would have no way of finding out the results of our test, and would have to retake them. We could check back in three days, either by phone or in person. If we tested positive, he recommended a second test, as sometimes they get a false positive. They had free counseling available if either of us had HIV. He gave us both photocopied pamphlets about safe sex, and another on how to clean needles if we shared needles for injecting recreational drugs. I stared at him when he handed me the second pamphlet like he was out of his mind. He chuckled and took it back. "Maybe not."
"I don't think so." I said. Robby was chuckling too.
"I'm all done here," said the nurse, heading for the door. He stopped before he opened it and turned to us. "You know, I see a hundred people a day come through here, and I hardly ever say this to anyone, but you two are really cute together. I hope you make each other happy." He opened the door and walked out to call the next person on his list.
Robby and I looked at each other. I was a little stunned by what the nurse had said. I smiled at Robby. I loved it that the nurse thought we were cute together. I loved it that Robby sang to me. I blinked, realizing that he was saying something to me. "What?" I asked.
"Earth to Kevin." he waved a hand in front of my face. "Come in Kevin." I stood up. "C'mon, stud boy, lets get out of here. You're supposed to make me dinner."
(To be continued.)