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.

I have managed to put together a website for the story. Check it out at http://www.crosswinds.net/~charlatan. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think... I enjoy getting email. BY THE WAY... if am finally going to set up a mailing list of sorts. If you want to get an email when the story is updated, please send me a message letting me know


from last time...

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!

"Hey Ryan!"

"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. 

Chapter 8

He looked down at his feet for a second and then back at me. He cracked a slight smile. "Sure."

"Um... Okay, great!" I was surely going to make a monumental fool out of myself if I continued on. "Cool... I'll see you later then." I turned around and walked inside.

I leaned against the door for a second, trying to recover my grip on reality. Wait! I hadn't gotten his number! Crap! I don't have a way to get in touch with him! What if I never see him again!

Okay.... Calm down Charlie. Come back to Earth. Ryan is a friend of Stacey's. She'll know how to get in touch with him. Okay... reality is returning. Deep breaths.

Once I felt firmly planted I walked into the living room, where Sam and Stacey were both studying. Stacey looked up from her mound of books. "So, how did it go?"

"Oh... wow. I mean... wow."

"Dear god," said Sam. "He's all twitterpated. I've seen this before. He'll be like this for at least a week."

"Sam," I said. "This is different! This isn't just 'The Guy in the Blue Sweater,' or 'The Guy in the Cargo Pants.' He's real. He's smart, funny..."

"Hey Stacey, didn't Ryan wear a blue sweater and cargo pants to the party?" I picked up a pillow and hurled it at Sam.

"... and we're going out to dinner sometime this week." That garnered a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" from both of them. "Okay, if you two are going to pick on me, I'm heading for bed." And I tossed another pillow at them.

555-3743. Not a particularly challenging phone number, but one that had paralyzed my dialing finger. I had been holding the phone for twenty minutes, the scrap of paper staring back at me. "555-3743," it said.

Maybe this is a good time to clean the shower? Does the trash need to be taken out? I know—the dog needs to go for a walk. Wait—no dog. But we are out of milk! Yes. We need milk.

The phone started ringing, disrupting me from my search for an excuse. I looked at the caller ID.

"555-3743 R. Kirkpatrick"

No. It couldn't be. Too weird. Too damn weird. I looked at the caller ID again.

"555-3743 R. Kirkpatrick." No more excuses.


"Hey, is Charlie there?"

"Yeah, that's me."

"Hey, it's Ryan."

"Um... did you still want to go get some dinner or something?"

"Uh... yeah. That'd be cool."

"How does Friday sound?"

"Friday's good."

"Great! I'll pick you up at quarter past seven."

"Okay, see you then."

I put the phone back on the receiver. Wow, I thought. I have a date. Or—at least I hope it's a date.

I never thought Friday would arrive, and once it did, I never thought I'd get out of work. It had been, to say the least, an exceptionally busy day. The bank I work for extended credit cards to various retail stores throughout the country. I'd been on two "swat team calls" already—that's what they call it when everything, for lack of a better word, blows up.

I looked at the clock on my desk. It was 3:30. T minus three hours and forty-five minutes until I was to meet Ryan. The anticipation was killing me. I got up and headed up into my boss's office.


"Come on in Charlie."

"It's been a bit hectic today and I've got a—um—date tonight. Do you mind if I shove off early so I can unwind a bit?"

"Sure. Go ahead. I was actually getting ready to head out myself."

"Cool! Thanks Anita." I got up out of the chair and headed towards the door.

"Hey Charlie!" She tossed a pager at me. "Don't forget, you've got beeper duty this weekend."

"Oh shit—I mean shoot!" I blushed but she didn't seem offended by my comment.

"Have fun on your date." Ten minutes later I was in my car and hurtling down I-75.

After a quick shower and shave, I walked back into my room. What to wear... What to wear... After an hour and six different outfits, I recruited Sam and Stacey to help me.

Ryan arrived right on time. I opened the door and looked at him. He looked at me. We were both wearing black pants and a white shirt. Sam took the opportunity to have a little fun at our expense. "Look Stacey! The Bopsy Twins!" I shot her a look of death.

"Don't wait up mom." We got in Ryan's car—an old white Saab. He explained that his roommate's brother worked at a Swedish auto repair shop and found it for him. Which was good, because if you own a Saab from the 80s, you need your own personal Swedish auto mechanic.

We sat down at a sushi place in Midtown. I professed my ignorance of Sushi and agreed to let Ryan order, provided there was no raw fish involved. I was glad to hear that there was such a thing as vegetarian sushi. Just as the waitress arrived with our food, my pager went off.

"What is it?" Ryan asked.

"Work. Hold on and let me call them. Maybe I can fix it over the phone." I picked up my cell phone and dialed the phone number from my pager.

"Credit, this is Pam." Pam was an evening supervisor that I had gotten to know over the last few weeks at the bank. She was a great person, always willing to share gossip about the workplace. She had quite a mouth on her too!

"Pam, it's Charlie."

"Oh thank God! Someone with a decent head on their shoulders. I was afraid that moron Jeff was on beeper duty this weekend."

"Pam, what's wrong?"

"The whole fuckin' enchilada is down. We have lost all of our stores. We can't pull credit bureaus—hell, we can't even print. This is worse than what happened earlier today."

Great. Just great. "Pam, can you hold on for a sec?" I looked over at Ryan. "I've got to go in to work... I'm sorry, but they're having major problems. Would you mind dropping me off at home?"

"Nonsense! I'll take ya."

"Really?" I was genuinely shocked.

"What else am I going to do on a Friday night?" He looked at me and flashed a smile—that wonderful, innocent smile. I told Pam I'd be there as soon as possible while Ryan flagged down our waitress. He asked for a to go box and, against my protests, paid for dinner.

"Where are we going anyway?" he asked as he unlocked the passenger door.


"Marietta?" he said, sounding slightly irritated. "Hell, if you'd told me that I never would have agreed to go!" My mouth dropped open. I stumbled over my words looking for something to say. He grabbed my hand and looked at me. "Charlie—Joke. Calm down. I live in Vinings, right next to Marietta."

I chuckled a little. "Does everybody enjoy having fun at my expense?"

"Of course. You make it too easy. Plus Sam said you enjoyed it." I'd have to have a chat with her when I got home.

"Oh thank god you're here!" exclaimed Pam.

"What's going on?"

"Exactly what you see. Fifty-two representatives twiddling their thumbs. We've been down for about forty-five minutes now and the natives are restless. I've got two managers on the way."

"Pam, do me a favor. Call my manager Anita and tell her what's going on. Tell her NOT to come in—she has her kids this weekend and I don't want to make her drive all this way with two kids in tow."

"No problem. I've got a phone list here somewhere." Pam started frantically looking through piles of paperwork. Pam's desk reflected her personality—a bit frazzled and rough around the edges. I pulled out my wallet and handed her Anita's card. "Oh, thanks. By the way, who's your friend?"

I turned around and saw Ryan standing there, looking somewhat lost among the commotion. "Ryan, this is Pam, Pam—Ryan."

"Nice to meet you Ryan. Sorry you had to come all this way."

"Not a problem, ma'am," he said.

"Pam, I'm heading down to the cold room. Call me down there if you have any problems." I started walking away from her desk when she called me back. I left Ryan standing in a sea of cubicles while I went to see what Pam wanted.

"He's quite a cutie," she whispered.

"I know."

"I want details."

"You'll have them on Monday."

The "cold room" was in the basement and housed all the expensive hardware that needed to be kept away from the general public. It was aptly named too—since it was kept at a constant temperature of fifty-five degrees. There was a slight burning smell that probably should not have been there.

After poking around for about half an hour I found the problem. I picked up the phone and dialed Anita's number. "Hello?" she answered.

"Hey. It's Charlie."

"What did you find out?"

"Well, Marsha blew one of her processors and when she did, the heat sink fell on the network card. It started broadcasting and froze the entire building's network."

"How does it look?"

"Well, the processor is white and kind of ashy."

"Uh—what colour is it supposed to be?" she asked.


"Oh. That can't be good."

"She'll be okay though. Marsha still has five processors left and she rebooted herself when the sixth one blew. I'm going to swap out the network card. That should fix it."

"Call me back."

"Will do." I hung up the phone to find Ryan munching on a California Roll and staring at me like I was a bit crazy.

"Charlie... who's Marsha?"

"Oh!" I laughed. I pointed to the misbehaving Unix server in the corner, "That's Marsha. And that's Jan, Cindy, Greg, Peter, and Bobby. Whoever set these up was a big Brady Bunch fan."

After some minor surgery on Marsha, the lights again started blinking happily. I called Pam and Anita and gave them the good news. "Now get back to your date!" declared Pam on the phone. "And remember, I want details!"

When we got out to the parking lot, Ryan started fumbling for his keys. "I'm sorry to drag you out all this way," I said.

"You didn't drag me out—I came on my own accord. It's definitely the most unusual first date I've been on."

My expression dropped, and when he saw it he got a bit panicked. "Date?" I asked.

"Oh, um—I mean—I kinda thought—er—um.... you know... kkkinda..."

"No!" I said. "I was... er—hoping... you know.. that... wh...." We stared at each other before he started laughing. I quickly joined him.

After we settled down, he said, "Well, I'm glad that's out of the way."

"Yeah, tell me about it. I mean—what are we? First graders?"

"I'm still kinda hungry. Is there anywhere to eat around here?"

"Waffle House?" I suggested.


I was still glowing when I came into work on Monday. My boss must have noticed it, since she commented that I had a bit of "spring in my step." The day flew by, and I thought of Ryan at every free moment. There was no joking it—I was falling for him, and falling for him hard. As I packed my things getting ready to leave, I saw Pam coming over to my desk.

"You promised!" she said. "So dish!"

"Not here," I said. "It's a little too public."

"Follow me!" she commanded. Pam led me to one of her favourite places—the Smoker's Jail. It was a fenced in back porch in the back of the building that was the only designated smoking area.

"Okay, I don't have to be at work for forty-five minutes. Spill it."

"Well, after we left here we went to the Awful Waffle. We sat down to have our second dinner of the evening, since we were interrupted the first time." I gave her the evil eye.

"Hey! Not my fault!" she exclaimed.

"No—I'm glad it happened. We talked for two and a half hours. And all I can say is... he's amazing."

"Do tell!" Pam was practically jumping out of her seat. She was one of those people who was always "on" 24-7. If you ever met Pam—you always saw her at 110%. She seemed to be moving in fifty different directions at the same time.

"Well, he grew up in a family that was quite a bit different that mine—"

"How so?" I recounted the story of my rather eventful Christmas vacation, and the reasons behind my moving to Atlanta. "Oh, I'm so sorry honey."

"Don't worry about it. I'm used to it. his family was much more open than mine. He had his problems though—with being gay. He tried to kill himself when he was a sophomore in high school because he couldn't deal with his attraction to men. He swallowed a bottle of painkillers."

Pam gasped, almost dropping her cigarette. "Oh—he's fine now. His mom found him a minute after he passed out and rushed him to the hospital. His parents were extremely supportive and got him into therapy with a very progressive counselor."

"Thank god!"

"Tell me about it."

"So what does he do?"

"He's a Senior at Tech majoring in Landscape Architecture. He worked in for his dad's landscaping company when he was in high school, and still does over the summers." I let out a pleasant sigh while Pam puffed away on her cigarette. I took one from the pack and lit it. She tried to grab it away from me but I assured here I only smoked from time to time.

"Pam—I can't explain—I mean, he's so amazing. He's the most genuine, kind, beautiful creature I've ever laid my eyes on."

"Charlie, you're talking about a guy, not a manatee."

"Hey! No, I mean it. I've only known him a short while, but..."

"I know. I went through the same thing when I met my second, and current husband. Number one was a dud, but number two is a keeper."

"I just hope this feeling doesn't go away."

"What feeling?" she asked.

"The jitters. That tingling feeling I get whenever I think about him."

"Charlie, Lucas and I have been married for twelve years now. And I can tell you, if its the right person, it doesn't go away." I smiled at that and put out the cigarette. "Oh, you didn't tell me, did you kiss him?"

"You'll get a kick out of this. We drove back to my house after dinner. We were standing on my front porch doing the awkward good-bye thing. I think we were about to kiss when the porch light came on and my roommate Sam appeared. She made some excuse about a late night craving for Ben & Jerry's, but I know she had to be watching us."

"Cut her some slack Chuck. If there is one thing I've learned, it's this: The easiest way to screw things up is to move too fast."

"Yeah, I know. I know."

"Well, I've got to get back to work. You go home and have a nice relaxing evening thinking about Ryan.

Friday April 16th and I'm sitting at work, staring at my monitor. Almost two months to the day since Ryan and I had our first date. We had become pretty serious in that time, but decided to take things nice and slow on the physical side, since we were both rather inexperienced. Slow was probably the best thing we could have done.

We had kissed though—boy had we ever. It was our third date, and we went with Sam, Stacey, and a few other people to a gay dance club in Atlanta. I'm not much of a dancer, but two Long Island Iced Teas helped get me out to the dance floor.

And right there in the middle of the floor he planted one on me. Now I'm sure I told you about kissing Justin, but that paled in comparison. We must have been lip-locked for two minutes, and when we were done, we had a small crowd of onlookers, including Sam and Stacey.

Justin came down a few weeks after that on his way to Florida. He and his friends arrived late one Friday night and had to leave early the next morning. Ryan had to go home that weekend for his dad's birthday party, so Justin didn't get to meet him.

He and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning talking about our respective boyfriends. I showed him a picture of Ryan and I from one of those mall photo booths. Justin reciprocated by showing me a picture of he and Mark at the Liberty Bell. I was really happy for him—he seemed to be as excited about Mark as I was about Ryan.

The phone rang, bringing me out of my stroll down memory lane. "Help desk, this is Charlie."

"Hey, it's Sam."

"And what can I do for my fantastic roommate today?"

"Well, I'm at home, and the Weather Channel says its supposed to get cold tonight with severe thunderstorms. I think we need to rent some horror flicks and have a little get together."

"I can do that. I'll call Ryan and see if he's up to it. Oh, have you heard from your parents?"

"Mom called me last night from the Richmond Airport to let me know they were leaving. She'd never tell you this, but she's been talking about this trip non-stop since she got the tickets."

"I'll have to give her some flack about that when she gets back. Now get off this phone and let me call my man!"

"See ya." I called Ryan and filled him in on the details. He was really excited about it and offered to pick up the movies on the way over. He was already there when I got home.

The rain and thunder and just started when we sat down. I curled up on the couch with Ryan as Sam went around lighting candles. Stacey and Darren grabbed the love seat "Okay," she announced. "We've got 'Night of the Blue Living Zombies' or 'The Oklahoma Lawnmower Tragedy III.'"

"Gees!" I exclaimed. "You'd think I'd pick a boyfriend with some decent taste in movies!"

"Those are two fine pieces of cinematic history!" added Darren.

"Thank you Darren," said Ryan. "And as for you Mr. Ashby, I've got one thing to say about your taste in movies: Beaches."

"Beaches was a very moving and emotional movie." That raised a chorus of gagging sounds from everybody in the room. "No one asked for the input from the peanut gallery!"

I can't really tell you which movie we watched first. I was just enjoying the feeling of being held by Ryan. Half an hour into the second movie there was a large crack of thunder and the power went out. Sam got up to light a few more candles and just as she sat down, there was a knock at the door.

"Oh my god!" Sam yelled. "The weed whacker man is coming to get us!"

"I'll get it. It's probably just Mrs. Gurtig from next door checking to see if we're all right. Don't worry, I won't let her in if she has her hedge trimmers with her." I untangled myself from Ryan, picked up a candle and walked around the corner to the front door.

I opened the door not to find a mad man with pruning shears, but a woman. Her raincoat had been soaked through and the curls of her wet hair hung limply about her face. I stood there regarding this ghostly figure while the candle flickered. I couldn't speak.

"Charlie?" I heard Ryan call from the den. He trotted up behind me, wrapping his hands around my waist and resting his head on my shoulder. I stiffened at his embrace.

"Charlie, what's wrong? Who is this?"

"Ryan," I said gravely. "This is Laura, my mother."

Again with these endings!

Okay here is the update: Chapter 9 is typed and edited. I'll submit it in about two weeks. It will appear on my website below before I send it to Nifty. Chapter 10 is well on its way to being written... though I'm having a teensy tiny problem that I'm trying to work out--nothing major.

If you remember me saying "expect powerful stuff on the horizon," well, you've have just hit the very tip of the iceberg. Expect more coming.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time out to drop me a note. I do my best to answer everyone, but sometimes it takes a little time. Again, thanks to David for giveing this one a look-see before I posted it. Have a freakin' great June!