|Far From Home|
Authors Note: Standard disclaimers apply here... If it illegal to read about homosexuals and any physical expression thereof, then go away (though there isn't any sex yet... so if that is what you are looking for, then it might be best to move on). This is my first time writing fiction, and I appreciate feedback.
from last time...
"Now I want you to go and spend some money on yourself. Buy a nice car, get a nice computer, and don't worry about money. If you need any more, just give me a call." He closed the manila folder and put it back in his briefcase. "Now, you give me a call in August when you enroll in classes at Tech. I will need to get some more information from you then. It's going to take me a week or so to get the disbursements from your trust and take care of all the related paperwork, so call me when you get to Atlanta so I can arrange to wire the money to you."
The waiter brought the check and dismissed my protests over his paying for the meal. "I can write it off on my taxes as a business lunch," he explained.
We got up and walked out of the restaurant. "Charlie, call if you need anything... and remember, your grandfather never stopped loving you, and he would be there for you today if he could." He shook my hand and walked to his car. I turned around and walked to the lot where Sam's jeep sat.
Wow. Life looks good. Life looks really good.
"Sam, this is your house?"
"Yeah. Like it?" I looked around. For a college student, Sam and Stacey had quite a nice setup. "When mom and dad moved to Virginia, they kept it as a rental property, which paid off the mortgage on the place. Now it's worth more than their house in Virginia. Real estate prices have skyrocketed in this part of Atlanta."
"What part of Atlanta are we in anyway?" I asked.
"The area is East Atlanta, which is kind of between downtown and Decatur."
"OK... that means nothing to me. Hey, where is Stacey by the way?"
"She flies in from Buffalo tomorrow. We've got to pick her up at Hartsfield at 9:00 p.m. This is her bedroom back here, off the kitchen. Her bathroom is connected to her bedroom, but there is a separate entrance around the corner. Let me show you upstairs so you can pick a bedroom."
Sam led me upstairs, pointing out the den and dining room along the way. "Okay, this one faces the front of the house, and this one looks out onto the back yard. The one at the other end of the hall is the Master Bedroom. That one's mine!" she said, smiling. "Which one do you want?"
I regarded each one carefully. "Well, this one has a larger closet, but the one that looks out to the back yard is bigger... so I think I'll take that one."
"Done!" she pronounced. "I now christen this bedroom in the name of Charlie." Okay, now Sam has always had a bubbly personality, but she was acting downright goofy now.
I gave her a quizzical look. "Are you high?"
"No dork, I'm just glad that you are here! The money I save on long distance alone will be worth housing you, I guess!"
"Hey, watch it!"
"Come on, let's go unload the jeep."
I spent the night in Sam's bed since I didn't have one yet. The next morning I called Hess to let him know where I was.
"Charlie, my man! Good to hear from ya!"
"I'm here, and in one piece. Oh, and I've got my new address for you." I read the address off the power bill that I had gotten from Sam.
"Got it. By the way, I have some good news for you. I was able to get your disbursement much quicker than I had expected. I deposited the funds into your account yesterday before 2:00. They should be there now."
"Awesome! Thanks Hess. I need to go furniture shopping, since I don't have any."
"Well, have fun, but spend wisely," he cautioned.
"Will do. Bye Hess." I hung up the phone and walked into the kitchen. "Got any plans today?" I asked Sam, who was making scrambled eggs.
"Can I interest you in some shopping?"
"Yeah, the grocery store isn't too far from here, and I need to pick up a few things."
"Well, I wasn't thinking about groceries... I was thinking about a car and a bedroom set."
Sam's eyes lit up as a smile crept across her face. If there was one thing that Sam was good at, other than being an amazing friend, it was shopping. She had no problems spending money, especially if it wasn't her own.
After breakfast, both Sam and I ran upstairs to get a shower. I walked into her bedroom as she was getting out of the shower. "Sam, where's Dunwoody?"
"In North Atlanta, why?"
"Well, there is a Subaru dealership there, and there is also one in Marietta. How far away is that?"
"'Bout half an hour each. You want another Subaru?" she asked.
"If I can't have the car I've been driving for the last year and a half, then I want one just like it." Half an hour later we were on a road called "I-285" which is the bane of every Atlantans existence. Luckily everyone decided to play nice today, and there weren't any major accidents.
We arrived at the Subaru dealership and looked around. I've always been of the opinion that if a dealer wants your business you shouldn't have to ask for help--and aren't they supposed to attack you as soon as you get out of your car anyway? Apparently this was not the case here. We walked around for more than half an hour without anyone coming up to us. "I guess we don't look like the car buying type," remarked Sam.
"Yeah, let's get out of here. How far away is Marietta?"
"A hop, skip, and a jump."
We had much better luck at the second dealer. Shortly after we parked, we were greeted by a rather attractive young guy who introduced himself as Phillip and asked if we needed any assistance. I switched into "angry empowered consumer mode."
"Yeah Phillip, we do in fact," I said. "Let's get a few things out of the way first. I am buying a car today. I am paying in cash. I know exactly what I want, and I probably know more about Subarus than you do. I don't want to here 'Oh, I'm new here, let me check with my manager,' or any other car dealer B.S. You know how much you can sell the car for, and if I think you've been helpful, there'll be a little something in it for you at the end."
He looked a little disarmed, and perhaps a bit panicked. I didn't expect my verbal assault to work, but I honestly think that he had just started working here. "Um... yeah, let me go get my catalogue and we can go out onto the lot." He scampered off and disappeared from sight.
"Who are you and what have you done with Charlie? That was a little harsh I think," said Sam. "He's kind of cute. Nice ass."
"I'm not buying his ass Sam. I'm buying a car." She was right though; that little display was out of character.
Phillip returned with a small notebook and led us through the showroom and out to the lot. "What were you interested in?"
"I want an Impreza 2.5RS with leather interior, in white or blue."
"Let me show you what we have."
After surveying through their selection, I was rather disappointed. "That's it?" I asked.
"Yeah, have you tried the dealership in Dunwoody?"
"We just came from there. I'm not buying a car from them," I said firmly.
"Well, we could order one, but it would be several weeks before we would get it in. Impreza's aren't in high demand."
"I know its a long shot, but I don't suppose that you have any used models?" I wasn't very hopeful. Subaru owners buy their cars and never sell them. They drive them for 20 years or until the car falls to pieces. Then they go out and get another Subaru.
He scanned through his notebook for a few minutes. "Over on the used lot we have an Outback that was returned from a lease, an old GL-10, and an SVX."
"SVX?" I said, getting very excited but doing my best not to show it. "Tell me about it."
"Well, it's a 97, Black, LSi trim model... We've had it for about a month now. I remember the guy who brought it in... He traded it in on an Outback after he found out his wife was having triplets. Do you want to test drive it?"
"Well, I'm not too crazy about SVXs, but yeah, go get the keys." As soon as Phillip disappeared inside, I turned around to Sam. "Oh God. Oh GOD! OH GOD!!!"
"Charlie calm down, your going to blow a gasket. What is it?"
"Sam, they have an SVX. AN SVX! It makes my old car look like a clunker. I've always wanted one but could never find one. They didn't make that many... You'll see once we test drive it! It's basically a Japanese Porche!" To say that I was excited was an understatement. This was my dream car. I saw Phillip pulling the SVX around and quickly regained my composure.
"It's got 32,000 miles on it, and is still under warranty. We can also set up an extended warranty if you like." I spent the next half hour going over the car with a fine toothed comb. Satisfied with what I saw, I took it for a spin.
Sam decided to stay behind, so it was just Phillip and I in the car. I think he was a little nervous with my driving--his knuckles were turning white as he held onto the arm rest. "Relax man, this car handles better at 120 than most American cars do at 55. Here, let me show you!"
I don't think he liked me as much by the time we got back to the dealership. I honestly didn't want to scare the kid, but hey, I wanted to inspect the goods. "I'll take it." I said. "Go ahead and get the paperwork started and I'll be in a minute."
I found Sam and filled her in. After raving about my new car and telling her about my theatrics while driving it, we went inside. "You should have been nicer to him," she commented.
We negotiated a fair price for the car, and after tacking on an extended warranty, I'm sure Phillip made a nice commission. "All right, I'll return at three o'clock with a certified cheque from my bank for the amount. I want my car detailed between now and then, and make sure to buff out the scratch on the front bumper too."
After lunch and a quick trip to the bank we hit the furniture stores. It didn't take me long to pick out something I liked. We doodled around until three when it was time to pick up my car.
Having signed the last of the papers, and handing over the cheque, I slipped Philip a nice sum of cash as a personal thank you. He protested, but I insisted that he take it. "Consider it battle pay for having to be in or near a car that I'm driving."
"Hey! Where's mine!" said Sam.
"You get the pleasure of my company. Isn't that enough?"
"I'd rather have the cash." That earned her a punch in the arm.
"Charlie, we're going to be late!"
I took the toothbrush out of my mouth to answer her, "Sam, calm down. I'm driving, remember? We'll be there on time."
I had never actually met Stacey before, though I had talked to her several times on the phone. We arrived at her gate just as she was getting off the plane. "Stacey, this is our new roommie, Charlie."
"Nice to meet ya Charlie. It's good to attach a face to a voice. And Sam's told me so much about you that I feel like you're my own brother."
She was definitely from New York. That much was for certain--not quite as bad as Fran Drescher, but definitely dripping in that which is New York.
"Really? Sam's told me nothing but bad things about you," I joked.
"And they are all true," she declared. "Now let's go get my bags before they disappear!"
I walked through the front door to the smell of dinner cooking. In the kitchen I found Sam and Stacey hunched over the stove. "What are we having?" I asked.
"Curry Bowl--" Sam stopped as soon as she turned around and saw me. "My oh my! Don't we look spiffy today!"
"Well, I didn't get all dressed up for nothin! I got the job!"
"Cool as shit man!" said Sam, who came over to hug me.
"Congratulations!" said Stacey, who pulled a bottle of wine off the rack. "This deserves a toast!"
"I really think I'm going to like it. I'm spending about half my time on the help desk and the other half doing odds and ends. And, I can go part time in the fall when I start school. Stacey, please tell Darren that I owe him big time for getting me an interview."
"Thank him yourself--he'll be here in half an hour."
"Hey! I just realized something," said Sam. "You've been her for three weeks now and we've not had a party to welcome you to Hotlanta."
"Sam, that is an awesome idea. How about next weekend? Oh wait!" Stacey walked over to Sam and started whispering in her ear. Sam's looked at me, smiled, and whispered something back to Stacey.
"What are you two conspiring about?"
"Oh nothing...." Stacey said, looking slightly guilty. I'd come to realize over the past few weeks that Stacey was basically a Northern version of Sam. With two of them in my life, was there any hope for me? I laughed at that thought.
"Help desk, this is Charlie."
"I thought you were supposed to call me when you got to Atlanta."
It took me a minute, but I finally figured out who was talking to me. "Justin, I'm sorry... things have just been a little crazy... and--"
"Don't worry about it. I could have called you just as easily. I just got off the phone with Sam. She gave me your work number."
"Cool. How's school?"
"Well, things are pretty good. I'm taking Organic Chem this semester, so that takes up a lot of my time...."
"I'm so glad I left before I had to take that class. How are things otherwise?"
"Well... I've kinda met someone."
"Really?" I guess I should have been happy for him, but I felt a little weird about it.
"Yeah, his name is Mark. He's in my Organic class. We started studying together... then hangout out outside of class... then one thing led to another.... How about you? Any prospective Mr. Rights?"
"Nah, not yet. But I've only been here for a little over a month."
"Don't worry about it. I've got a favor to ask though."
"Shoot," I said.
"Well, we're heading down to Florida in a few weeks for Spring Break, and I was wondering if we could stay at your house on our way down for a night. There' going to be four of us."
"Well, if you don't mind sleeping on the floor, and if Sam and Stacey don't mind, then I'm game. I'll ask them tonight."
"Thanks man! I'll give ya a buzz next week."
As soon as I hung up with Justin, Darren appeared next to my cube. "How's it hanging Charlie?"
"Help Desk until three, and then two hours of thumb-twiddling before I can go home. No biggie... how about you?"
"My day has been, if possible, less exciting. Do you have plans tonight?" he asked.
"Sam and I are headed to the store to get stuff for the party on Saturday. Other than that, nothing much."
"Stacey and I are going to see a movie. Oh, did you get someone to take your pager duty this weekend? It would suck to have to come into work during a party being thrown in your honor."
"Anita switched with me. She has her kids next weekend, so she's taking it this weekend and me the next." Appropriately, a pager started beeping. Both Darren and I looked down to see who got the call.
"That's me," he said.
Saturday came before I knew it. We were expecting about forty people, and Sam was running around putting finishing touches on everything. "Charlie, keg in the basement or the kitchen?"
"Sam, drunken people... a flight of steps...."
"Right, kitchen it is." The phone started ringing as Sam was trying to get the keg situated. "Charlie, can you get that?"
"Hello?" I answered.
"You have a lot of explaining to do Mister." It was Sam's mom, and she didn't sound happy. I guess she had gotten my gift in the mail.
"I hear that Barbados is very nice in late April..." Following Hess's advice, I had booked Sam's mom and dad on a trip to Barbados as a way of saying "thank you."
"Charlie, you can't afford this," she protested.
"I'm not paying for it Momma T, my dearly departed Grandfather is. Now I don't want to hear one more word on the subject."
"I'm not happy about this."
"Well, then you can spend five unhappy days in a luxurious hotel in St. James Parish, because the trip is nonrefundable. End of subject."
"Momma T, I've got to run. We're expecting the first of the party goers in a few hours. Do you want to talk to Sam?" I got Sam on the phone and started making sure things were good to go for the party. At 9:00 we had a full house.
Stacey made it a point to introduce me to everyone she saw. I wish people would have worn name tags, because I couldn't remember anyone's name to save my life. Until...
"Charlie, this is Ryan. Ryan, Charlie."
After a second, I extended my hand, "Ni... uh, Nice to meet you," I said, after regaining command of the English language.
He looked up at me with a bashful smile, "Hey," was all he said as he shook my hand. We stood there for a moment in an awkward silence before Stacey pulled me away to meet someone else.
Ryan. Ryan... nice name... Ryan.
The party continued on, and from what I could observe, everyone was having a good time. I headed to the kitchen where I met Sam. "Do we have any junk food?"
"Chips on the table."
"Nope, something sweet," I said.
"Brownies in the fridge--I think Darren made them." Brownies... yes, that would do nicely. After having one I recirculated around the party. A few minutes later I started to feel a familiar tingle on my scalp and in my toes. I don't think that Darren's brownies were the normal Betty Croker variety. I started to get a little claustrophobic and headed out to the back porch.
No one was outside, so I laid down on the chaise lounge and took a few deep breaths. Yes, that was no ordinary brownie. The back door opened and someone stepped out.
"Hello?" I called out?
"Oh--I'm sorry. I didn't realize anyone was out here." That voice. Gentle and sweet with a touch of uncertainty. Ryan.
"Come one out, I'm just taking a break from the noise." Ryan walked over to the chair across from me and sat down. A few moments of silence passed and he had a rather vacant look on his face. "Ryan? Ryan?"
"Yeah... sorry. I kinda spaced out for a sec." He shifted in his chair and some light from inside illuminated his face, showing a beautiful set of green eyes... slightly glassed over green eyes.
"You had a brownie, didn't you?"
"Oh--was I supposed to? I'm sorry, I--"
"Dude! Calm down. Just be advised that Darren added a bit of, uh... 'special spice' to them." The panicked look dropped from his face and he started to giggle, which started me giggling, which was followed by ten minutes of giggling by both of us.
"Okay... Okay... Deep breaths." I said We settled down and enjoyed a few more moments of silence.
"So, what brings you to Atlanta?" he asked.
"Well, I used to go to school in Pennsylvania but I had a bit of a falling out with my parents over Christmas and decided Penn wasn't the place for me. So, I moved down here with Sam last month. How about you?"
I can't honestly tell you what he said. I was too busy staring at him... his short, dark blond hair, green eyes... his slight frame covered up by a bulky sweater.
"Charlie, hello?" he said, bringing me out of my trance.
"Sorry. My turn to space out."
Just then Sam came out to the porch. "There you are Ryan. Mike is heading home."
"That's my ride. Wish I could stay longer."
"No problem. I'll catch ya around."
"Yeah," he smiled. "I'd like that." He headed back inside and Sam took his spot on the chair.
"So?" she asked.
"So?" I replied.
"What do you think of Ryan?" In response, I started giggling like a mad man. "Oh, my Charlie's got it bad."
"Sam... he is so nice, genuine... I don't know... gentle? Almost like he doesn't have a mean bone in his body."
"Yeah, and he's a little hottie too. Reminds me of someone I know." She got up and pulled me off the chaise lounge. "Come on, let's go inside--it's your party after all."
"Hey Charlie! What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I just had a craving for an iced latte. What about you?"
"I'm here every Sunday night, reading mostly. It's one of my favorite places."
"Really? I didn't know that."
Which was a lie. But only a little tiny white lie, so I didn't feel too bad. The day after my party I grilled Stacey for details, threatening her with certain death if she told him I was asking.
"Well, I met Ryan in a biology class my freshman year. He sat beside me, and one day I started chatting with him. He's pretty shy, but after a while we became good friends. He's one of the nicest guys I know."
"Gay? Well, I think so. I've never known him to go out with a girl, and he didn't seem to respond to my obvious flirtations..."
"So if you look at it, here's a guy who is nice, sensitive, very attractive, and who can resist my feminine wiles... he must be gay."
"Glad to see your self confidence is in working order," I quipped.
"Well, if you want to see him, he's probably at the coffee house a few blocks over. He's there every Sunday night."
"I feel like a latte," I said, with a smile creeping over my face, which explains where and why I am now where I am.
"Here," said Ryan, "grab a seat." I moved over to the leather chair directly across from him, which is good, because my knees were beginning to get a little weak with anticipation.
We sat and talked for an hour and a half after that... about nothing in particular, just life, the universe, and everything. I found out that he was born in upstate New York but his parents moved to Macon when he was three. That explained his accent, which was a combination of "adorable South Georgia boy" and something I couldn't place.
My watch beeped and I noticed it was midnight. "I had better be getting home now," I said. "I have to be up in seven hours to go to work."
"Well then, I'll walk you home."
"You don't have to do that--it's just a few blocks away."
"Exactly," he said. "It's just a few blocks away." He smiled at me and I felt my knees get a little weak. It was either move, or fall over--so I picked up our dishes and deposited them on the counter.
It only took a few minutes to get back to my house. "Here is the where I take off," I said. What to do at this point? Do I kiss him good night? NO--might scare him away. Do I hug him good-bye? NO--too intimate. I settled on a handshake and thanked him again.
I stood on the stairs to my porch as he turned around and started walking back in the direction of the coffee house. Turning around, I placed my hand on the door knob when I heard Stacey's voice in my head... "Remember, Ryan's really shy until he gets to know someone... so if there is a move to be made, you're going to be the one who has to make it!"
Shit! I don't make first moves! I'm always the one who develops crushes on people and never gets the nerve to even go talk to them. Shit!
"Yeah?" he answered as he took a few steps back towards my house.
Shit Again! Now I have his attention... what do I do? I really should have thought this through.
"Um, er--would you like to--um--maybe get a bite to eat sometime this week--um... I mean, if you aren't busy and all...?" Oh great! Spectacular performance Charlie.
Yuck! Don't you just hate when people do that!
Sorry I've been so absent for so long... and to those of you wrote me and didn't hear back for weeks... I'm really sorry!!! Things went a bit differently this time than in the past. So far, I've fallen into a pattern of writing one chapter and then typing and posting that chapter. This time i started writing and didn't stop. Chapter 8 is written and I'll post it soon... and Chapter 9 is well under way.
You should expect some powerful stuff on the horizon... as well as hearing more about the mysterious Ryan! Get back to me and let me know what you think! See ya around!