By Madison Aysha Dante
Edited by Cattlin J. and SeOlder
The Peach Tree Junction was a queer bar just thirty miles east of Dallas, Texas; where the lights were bright and the roads ran far and long. The joint wasn’t upscale by any means, but if you tried to tell that to the patrons, you would have been greeted with jeers, doused in drinks and thrown out by a three-hundred-pound half-black, half-Mexican bouncer named Tiny with a penchant for ballroom dancing and wearing leather vests. This place was home to the few folks who frequented it; a Mecca for wayward souls, freaks and other outcasts to act without care, free from the judging, conservative, bible quoting, plague fearing eyes of the small minded ‘good ole Christian folks’ in a state where such a thing was the norm, the populace, the way of mother fucking life. If you didn’t fit or buy into what they were selling, in even the most minuscule of ways, then you, my friend, were just plain shit out of luck.
“Hey, can somebody zip me up?” Ross asked slithering into his tiny blue sequined gown.
“God you make me feel fat. Fat and old.” Michael groaned holding a stick of rouge between his lips like a cigarette as he zipped Ross up. “Oh to be in my twenties. How I remember them fondly. Now I am thirty-two. I am old. And I am fat.” He sighed wistfully.
“You’re not fat. You’re old, but not fat.” Ross teased.
“My, somebody’s in a good mood tonight.”
“What can I say, I had a good day of sleep.” Ross smiled shrugging his shoulders.
“Yo, you gilded cunts, tuck your dicks in and cough. Show is starting now. Ross, you’re on in three. Did you give Bob your music?” Brenda chimed in sticking her tiny little blond head in through the doorway. The guys all called her Mac truck behind her back given the fact that her last name was McClure and she was a tough butch who talked smart and didn’t take any shit. She was a little gal too, barely over five feet tall and her face was kind and sweet, but don’t be mistaken, she’d cut you if you so much as looked at her the wrong way.
“You got it darling.”
“What were you saying about frat boys?” Ross turned his attention back to Michael quickly glancing in the mirror making sure his wig was on straight.
“Nothing. Just think we got a couple of punk fraternity boys in the audience so ignore them if they try to start shit.”
“Great, that’s all I need. Stupid college kids.” Ross sighed despondently. “So. How do I look?”
“Well Ms. Tammy Wynette, you look beautiful!”
“Why thank you Ms. Patsy Cline,” Ross grinned. “Okay, that’s my cue. Wish me luck.”
As Ross walked up the stairs that led to the stage, he was thankful that the lights weren’t on because the darkness helped ease away some of the butterflies that fluttered throughout his gut like wild things possessed. He walked up the stairs slowly, carefully, each step easy and well timed so he wouldn’t trip over his six-inch stilettos and he waited behind the red velvet curtain for Ms. Kitten to introduce him.
Here at the Peach Tree Junction we’d like to tell you about our three drink special since some of you motherfuckers don’t like to drink but a’one. Three drinks to every one queer so quit being so cheap you goddamn faggots and get to ordering! And don’t forget to tip your barmaids! Shit, these bitches live for tips and unless you want angry trannie-spit in your bourbon, I suggest you just give a girl a dollar! Shit motherfuckers, a dollar a make a bitch holler, know what I mean? And a chick will do something strange, for a little bit of pocket change too! Okay homos, I’m Ms. Kitten and yes, I do purr, but only if you pay me twice, cuz twice makes you cum right! I know ya’ll sick of hearing my black ass talk so let’s get the talent out shall we? Coming to the stage, please take your left hand and beat the FUCK outta your right and welcome Ms. Tammy Wynette!
There were a few claps, a couple of cheers as Ross walked out, the stage lights nearly blinding him. He closed his eyes, bowed his head and said a silent prayer as he waited for his music to start.
“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, giving all your love to just one man,” Ross’s pitch was perfect as he sang. Technically, he didn’t have to actually sing since he only needed to lip-synch, but he did anyway. It’s just that song made him think about being a little boy back in Fort Worth and dancing on the tips of his mother’s toes in the backyard as she’d sing that song, waiting for his daddy to get off of work. “You’ll have bad times and he’ll have good times, doing things that you don’t understand…”
He raised his head up, looked into the audience. Immediately his eyes fell upon a group of young men, all probably no older than twenty-two, but Ross couldn’t be sure because the glare of the lights were too bright to make you want to focus on any one thing for too long. He knew these were the guys Mickey had been talking about.
Ross stared at them, eyes squinted and cold with warning. He had dealt with their kind before, their type. Types that made it hell for a quiet little church boy that walked a little too softly growing up in East Texas. “But if you love him, you’ll forgive him. Even though he’s hard to understand,” he smiled, raising his arms up high to the lord as he descended the steps slowly, making his way through the crowd. Unlike most nights, he didn’t circulate the room, he stayed by the front row table where the frat boys all sat, most stone stiff, a few laughing their heads off. This annoyed Ross, pissed him off even. Who did these boys think they were coming in this place and this place of all places just to make fun of him? He made his way over to them with a smile and continued singing. “But if you love him, oh be proud of him, because after all he’s just a man…”
One guy was frowning. He had a baseball cap pulled over his head, his hair was long and dark brown, fell to his chin and the hick had the nerve to actually roll his eyes at Ross when their eyes met. Normally, Ross was a reserved kind of guy. He’d be more likely to run away from a fight than to run towards one, but there was just something about that night and the way the guy slinked down in his seat, almost as if he were afraid that by looking at Ross he’d catch some awful, awful disease that made Ross angrily -yet gracefully in six-inch heels, walk over to him. He planted himself right down into the guys’ lap, gently caressing his cheek as he continued to sing, using his real voice, making it loud, so loud that you could hear it over the music track. “Stand by your man, give him two arms to cling to and something warm to come to when nights are cold and lonely.” The man tensed up as the houselights fell on them. His face turned a dangerous shade of scarlet and being so close, Ross could see a sweet innocence to his face, like a huge part of him was still a child who was just out of his element and meant no harm. For half a second Ross actually felt bad, but then one of the guy’s friends spoke up.
“Yeah Wallace, get that lap dance! Maybe if you play your cards right, she’ll blow you later.”
“What do you say honey, wanna suck me off?” The guy laughed almost cruelly his hand pinching Ross’s backside. Ross jumped out of his lap with a grunt, glared and tried his best to push away the burning quake of rage that surged throughout his body like a cannonball as he stepped back onto the stage finishing the song out.
Once his set was over, Ross stormed back into the dressing room pissed, grunting as he yanked his wig off and threw it down on makeup table.
“I hate, hate, HATE straight boys,” he growled. “Why are they such assholes?”
“Whoa, what happened Rossy-boy?” Michael asked throwing his black wig on. It was amazing, Mike Newman was the only one of the ‘ladies’ who could get dressed and actually look pretty good as a woman in only a few minutes. Even Ross needed an hour to prep or so he thought.
“Nothing. One of those idiots just ticked me off.”
“Want me to tell Tiny to throw em out?”
“No…not worth the trouble,” Ross sighed sitting down picking his wig back up and shaking the curls back into place. “I think truth is I’m just mad at Jeff. He was supposed to be here tonight and I didn’t see him out there.”
“Goddamn it Ross, why are you still messing around with Jeffrey Dean Tillman? He’s an asshole -a married asshole with kids and a closet case that likes to beat up on you! When you gonna leave him alone?”
“That was only one time and I hit him first,” Ross stated resolutely. “He’s gonna leave his wife too. Said he would. He just has to make sure the time is right.”
“He’s the fucking sheriff in Cook County! The timing will never be right! He’s never gonna leave his wife and kids to go run off and be your husband honey, I’m sorry, but he won’t. This is Texas Ross or did you forget that?”
“Mickey, I don’t need this right now, okay?”
“What’s really bothering you sugar?” Michael sat down beside him, placed his hand on Ross’s back.
“My mom called me today. Said she wanted to see me.”
“Well fuck her, where was she when you were homeless? Where was she when you didn’t have a pot to piss in?” Michael yelled. He had met Ross seven years earlier, back when Ross was working the streets and developing a nasty little amphetamine habit. Ross had been a sweet, innocent and disgustingly naïve kid not aware of his good looks and he got used up a few times over before Michael spotted him, took him to the shelter where he worked and got him into a drug program. Ross’s story wasn’t pretty, but it was a lot less ugly than it could have been and to Michael and the rest of the Newman’s, Ross was like family. A little brother and another son. They had been the ones taking care of him, giving him a place to live and food to eat and love since he was nineteen so as far as Mike was concerned, Ross’s birth mother and the rest of his natural family could go screw themselves. They could ride the New Testament straight to hell for kicking Ross out at sixteen because he was gay and didn’t want ‘to be saved’.
“I know…” Ross trailed off sadly. “But…her voice Mike, man it was so good hearing it.”
“I gotta go on now, but we’ll talk about this some more later, okay?”
“Yeah Mickey, okay.”
* * *
“Wait, that wasn’t the plan!” Wallace argued lighting up his cigarette. He was a tall guy, actually, too tall, and just an inch shy of being halfway to seven feet. His ears were rounded, stuck out from the sides of his head like antlers and he wore his hair long to cover it. Truth was, his ears made him cuter, gave him boyish character, but if you tried to tell Wallace Sanchez that, he’d roll his eyes and call you a moron.
“I know and it fucking bites, but Tim said we gotta, so we gotta.” Jimmy replied rummaging through his backseat looking for his cell phone. Unlike Wallace, Jimmy couldn’t afford the luxury of long hair. His father was a marine, made him wear his dark blond hair closely cropped up top and damn near shaved off in the back. It made him looker older and meaner than he actually was.
“I really hate that guy,” Wallace took a drag. “We’re already members, but it feels like we’re re-pledging.”
“Tell me about it,” Jimmy sighed leaning his hip against the hood of his old, dirty, blue Trans Am. “Let me get a pull.”
“So not only did he make us come to this faggot bar, but now we gotta go find one of those…things in makeup and get their phone number?”
“Drag queens Wallace, they’re drag queens.”
“They’re creatures.” Wallace grunted turning his baseball cap on straight. “Did you see how the one sat on my lap?”
“You know you liked it. She -he, whatever was kind of cute. I’d definitely hit it.” Jimmy smirked.
“Not funny asshole. And give me back my cigarette.” Wallace smiled snatching away his smoke. “How are we supposed to do it? What? Just go up and say ‘Hey, I’m not like a fag or anything, but I want to like get your number so I can call you, make you think I like you, take you out on a date or something and then me and my buddies are gonna beat your face in just so we can say we did’ Yeah. Not gonna work.”
“Wait -beat up?” Jimmy asked and Wallace closed his eyes and cringed. He wasn’t gonna tell Jimmy that part.
“Listen,” Wallace took a drag off of his cigarette. “I heard Tim and one of the other guys talking in the car on the way over. Said they do this every once and a while. Find a fag, rough him up a little.”
“What?” Jimmy yelled. “That’s NOT cool!”
“Yeah, I know! I mean, hey, I don’t really get the whole dudes kissing dudes thing, but as long as it’s not on me, I don’t care. I don’t want to beat anybody up or anything, but what can you do?” Wallace shrugged his shoulders, his indifference pissing Jimmy off.
“Then why are we here? This is so fucking stupid! We can’t just go around beating people up -Wallace, let’s just leave. I mean, we’ll take my car, go back on campus and tell the boys you got sick or something. I don’t want to be a part of this, it’s fucking sick!”
“Would you calm down? I’m not even sure if I heard right. I mean…I could be wrong.”
“Wallace, shut up. No you weren’t. T.W. is just that much of an asshole.” Jimmy argued. He closed his eyes, buried his head in the palms of his hands and sighed. “It ain’t right. The whole thing just ain’t right.”
* * *
Ross wasn’t really up for it -for this. The thing that involved him smiling politely at all the strange faces, pretending he cared about what they were saying all in hopes of encouraging them to order a drink and hopefully tip him a dollar or two for getting it. It had been an hour and still no Jeff. Ross really needed him tonight. Needed to talk to him, to hear his voice, to feel his mouth hovering above his cock. But just like always Jeffrey Dean wasn’t there, he was probably at home in bed with his miserable wife so as Ross knocked back a shot of whiskey, he cursed Sheriff Jeffrey Dean Tillman to hell.
“Baby, you know I don’t like it when you drink.” A gravelly voice suddenly whispered in his ear, a rough kiss being placed on the side of his neck. Ross smiled, leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
“Well it’s about time J.D.” He turned around, threw his arms around Jeffrey Dean’s waist and pressed their lips together.
“I’m sorry babe. Had all this shit to deal with down at the station and then crap at home with Mary Louise and the kids. How was the show?”
“It was alright. I missed you though.” Ross sighed, playfully poking his lips out.
“Don’t do that,” Jeff stated firmly. “You know I hate it when you act like a kid.”
“I’m sorry. I was just messing around-”
“I’m sorry,” Jeff mimicked Ross rolling his eyes. “Why do you always have to talk back? I had a hard enough night as it was and you just want to add to it, is that it?”
Ross looked around the room. “No, I’m sorry. I was just…”
“I gotta go get more drinks.” Ross yelled over the thumping techno music as he began to ease his way through the crowd. He knew what would happen if he didn’t go away. It always happened, Jeffrey Dean making a scene for the littlest of things. Ross sure did love him, but god damn it he hated the man’s temper. It went up as high and fast as lit pilot light.
“Hey,” Jeff growled pulling Ross by his wrist. “Don’t walk away from me when I’m talking to you!”
“Come on now Jeffie, you know I’m not trying to make you mad, but I gotta work.” Ross stated softly his stomach twisting with knots and tight with tension.
“Work can wait, we’re talking now.” Jeff’s fingers clenched around his wrist and Ross winced, pulled away and kept walking. There was no talking to J.D. when he got into one of his moods. Your best bet was to just wait them out.
Ross found solace in the dressing room, only needing to regulate his breathing and touch up his makeup before he could go back out and deal with the crowd. Michael, Shawn and Justin were all working the floor and for that Ross was thankful. He’d hate for his friends to see him so upset. Why did Jeff have to act like such an asshole all of the time?
Before Ross could even twist open his rouge, Jeffrey Dean came bursting through the door like a mad, hot bull, his fists balled, eyes a pretty shade of blue, but an ugly shade of angry.
“I was talking to you!” He yelled, his fist finding a nice little spot on Ross’s side to dig into. “I told you to wait! Why couldn’t you just listen?”
“What’s wrong with you?” Ross yelled pushing him away. “Would you calm down?”
“Why do you keep talking back?” Jeff’s voice was dark, his nostrils flared, face not that of a sweet, kind man of thirty-eight who made love just as sweet and tender as only a lover could. No, his face was twisted with something sinister. He clipped Ross in the jaw once, the cheek a second time, sent him flying back on the makeup table; matte, lipsticks and foundations flying past Ross’s arms as he crashed into the mirror, shards of broken glass cutting into his arms, digging into his back and setting his right shoulder on fire.
Something broke. Something broke or it cracked or popped in his shoulder as he felt Jeff push him down. A strange thought stuck Ross as he fell to the floor like crumpled paper. He thought of how easy it was to fall in high heels. The burning pain in his shoulder was so strong that he had to bite down on his tongue to keep from screaming.
Jeff hit him in the face again, a ribbon of red gushing from Ross’s nose like a swelled river in a rainstorm.
“Look what you made me do, look!” Jeff growled staring down at the blood mess of Ross’s face. “Shit. I’m sorry…” he sighed, his voice becoming heavy and he breathed with effort. “Go on… get yourself cleaned up. I’ll be in the car…take you home.” Jeffrey Dean reached down to help Ross up.
Ross took his hand, ran his tongue over his lips and when the thick, rich, metallic taste of blood greeted him, he lost it, threw his body on top of Jeff’s using all of his might to punch, dig and rip anywhere that he could. Now see, Jeffrey Dean wasn’t a big man, but he had an inch of height on Ross and at least twenty pounds of muscle and it only took a moment for him to push Ross off of him.
“What’s your problem?”
“Asshole!” Ross yelled or he cried or he did a pitifully pathetic combination of the two and before he knew it, the door was thrown open and Jeffrey Dean was already rambling up a fabled tale to someone that Ross couldn’t see because his crooked white-blonde wig obscured his vision.
“See this mess?” Jeff started, his voice so calm that it made Ross want to vomit. “ He did it. I told him not to drink so much. Done went up and cut himself acting crazy.”
“I was just looking for the bathroom…heard yelling…everything okay?” A man asked. His voice was deep, rich with the heavy twang and easy drawl that only a purebred Texas boy could have.
“Get outta here Jeffrey Dean Tillman or so help me god I’m gonna call up your wife and tell her about you and me!” Ross yelled, tears of anger streaming down his face washing away the pale and ugly paste of makeup revealing the pretty of his soft, freckled skin.
“He’s drunk. Don’t listen to anything he says.” Jeff laughed. “I’m the sheriff. And you are?”
“Get out Jeffrey Dean!” Ross yelled.
“Okay! Jesus…” Jeff grunted his footsteps retreating.
“Hey… you okay?” The man asked walking towards him, his voice so full of concern that it made Ross want to open up and tell him all of his secrets. Of course, that was stupid and would only happen in a make-believe kind of world where there were only happy endings and butter-pecan ice cream for dessert and fudge turnovers for breakfast.
“I’m fine.” Ross sighed heavily wanting to be left alone.
“Just go away,” Ross sighed feeling the warmth trickle from his open wounds, running down his neck, shoulders and arms like maple sap.
“The blood is coming out pretty fast. I’m in med school. Let me take a look at your shoulder, if you punctured an artery that bleeding won’t stop until you’re dead. My name’s Wallace, what’s yours?”
Ross could feel him coming closer, the tangy sweet smell of the stranger’s aftershave rolling over him like a fog.
“Hello-” Ross looked up. “Get away from me asshole,” he growled recognizing the sweet, naïve face.
“I’m not gonna hurt you. I just want-”
“Me to suck your dick, right?”
“Excuse me? No…” Wallace trailed off; the bloody mess of a man in a white-blonde wig crumpled on the floor surrounded by tubes and bottles of makeup and cracked glass was that thing -the drag queen that had serenaded him. “Shit.”
“Fuck off straight boy. I don’t need your fucking help.” Ross tried to stand, put his hands on the wall to pull himself up only to feel a sharp pain dart up his arm so fast and sudden that he had to clench his thighs together to keep from pissing on himself.
“Come here,” Wallace sighed. “ Easy now, I got you.” He pulled Ross up, led him to a chair. “You gotta get to a hospital man. There’s a lot of blood here…do you like…have anything…I mean, your blood…it’s on my hands…”
“What, AIDS? Because all faggots have AIDS right?” Ross spat laying his head down on the table. “No. I don’t have AIDS. Hate pink too. Shocking I bet.” He laughed dryly closing his eyes. He felt tired…so god damn tired.
“Hey!” Wallace smacked Ross’s face gently. “Hey…Ross…look at me. Oh shit, I gotta get you to a hospital.” Wallace stated, a mild panic setting in as he wrapped his arms around Ross’s waist. “Come on dude, keep your eyes open.”
“No, get off of me!” Ross yelled mustering the last of his strength to push Wallace away. “I’m not going to a hospital. I don’t have insurance…” and the rest of Ross’s words faded away as his world went black and Wallace scooped him up in his arms.
Ross woke up thirsty. The kind of thirst that made your tongue feel as dry as parchment paper and your throat bare and tight. At first he had no clue where he was, but then the sickly sharp acidic scent of rubbing alcohol and bleach wafted around him practically punching him in the gut. He opened his eyes squinting and blinking fast trying to clear away the yellow and white spots of his vision. He was in a hospital. He coughed, looked around for a pitcher of water. Weren’t they supposed to keep stuff like that around handy? He pressed the call button beside his bed, waited a full five minutes before he pressed it again and no one still arrived. He could tell he was in some shabby community hospital just by all the noise going on outside. That and how dingy the room looked, like everything was three years older than they should have been, including the mattress that felt too stiff under his backside.
“Oh, you’re awake.” An older woman with a pleasant smile and delicate, aged features spoke walking into the room.
“What happened? Why am I here?” Ross asked his voice barely above a whisper. Sitting up a little he expected to feel pain, but surprisingly felt nothing. It was like he was numb, his body coated with an almost tingly frozen sensation that made him think that if he wanted to, he could probably just jump out of bed and go home.
“Take it easy, you had surgery. You were beat up real bad. Your brother brought you in. Now I’m Nurse Shelly and if you need anything, you just give me a holler. There’s gonna be some cops who are gonna wanna talk to you.”
“Wait…surgery…cops…my brother?” Ross asked, his thoughts swimming in a sea of confusion.
“Settle down sugar. I know you’re thirsty let me get you some water. You’re on a lot of pain medication right now and some blood thinners, try to take it easy.”
“Why,” Ross paused to take a greedy sip of water. As he swallowed, the chalky aftertaste of blood and gauze made him cringe. “Do the cops want to talk to me?”
“Because you were the victim of a hate crime. That’s illegal son.”
“What are you talking about hate crime?”
“Oh sweetheart, I know you’re scared. It’s okay to be,” Shelly smiled. “But what happened to you just wasn’t right.”
Ross looked at her, green eyes open wide with alarm, full pink lips hanging askew.
“Hate crime? No. I think you got it all wrong. I was in a fight, but nothing like that.” Ross coughed, taking another sip of water before continuing. “You said my brother brought me in?”
“Yeah. He’s right outside, been pacing around like a fretting rooster in a hen house all night.”
“Eric? My brother Eric is here?” Ross asked. It just didn’t make any sense. He hadn’t spoken to his brother in almost as long as he hadn’t spoken to anyone else in his family and Eric had made it quite clear five years ago that having a queer brother was just as good as having a dead one.
“Eric? I think he said his name was Wallace. Give me a minute sugar, I’ll send him in.”
Ross closed his eyes easing down into scratchy sheets. Whatever medication he was on must have been strong enough to knock out a mule because every time that he blinked he was sure he’d fall asleep.
“Hey,” a voice stated knocking on the door.
“I suppose I should say thank you.” Ross sighed not bothering to open his eyes and give Wallace a proper hello.
“No.” Wallace replied gruffly.
“Good. I’m not. Lord knows how much this hospital bill is gonna cost me.”
“It’s a free hospital,” Wallace sighed walking over to the bed. “I don’t think you gotta pay for anything.”
“Frat boy, everybody gotta pay for something somehow, someway. Didn’t your mother ever teach you that?”
“You know what, I think I’m gonna just go. I don’t need this shit from you.”
“Hey buddy, ain’t nobody here stopping you from leaving.” Ross opened his eyes that time looked up at Wallace coldly. Their eyes held for a moment, Wallace staring down at him curiously, blue-green eyes squinted, peaked with curiosity.
“Can I ask you something?”
“What? No, just go on and let me sleep in peace.”
“Whatever.” Wallace mumbled walking towards the door. “By the way, the doctor said if I wouldn’t have brought you in, you would have bled to death within an hour. So yeah, you’re welcome,” he threw over his shoulder. “Sleep in peace.”
* * *
“I can’t believe he did this to you.”
“I’m fine. Really.”
“I’m so gonna kick his ass -no, I’m gonna get Tiny to kick his ass and then I’m gonna kick his already kicked ass!” Michael grunted pursing his thin lips together in one straight line. He glanced down at his best friend, the man he thought of as a younger brother laying bruised and battered on a ratty hospital bed, countless stitches threaded through the skin on across his shoulder like tiny cords of barbed wire.
“I’m fine, would you please just sit down? You’re making me nervous.”
“I’m sorry Rossy-boy. I just…look at you.” Michael placed his hand on Ross’s bruised cheek, swallowed down the thickness in his throat that made him want to cry. “He really worked you over this time.”
“I’m finished with him Mickey, for good this time.”
“I do. I swear. Never again. Never again.”
“For the love of god I hope you mean that because if you don’t…he’s gonna kill you. Mark my words that man is gonna be the death of you Ross Peters.”
* * *
“Hey, at least he’s okay. I mean if he died, then that would have sucked ass.” Jimmy smiled sipping his beer.
“He was just so rude. I mean, hell, I drove him to the damn hospital, he could have at least said thanks.”
“Correction, I drove him to the hospital. You carried him in. And I had to clean the blood out of my backseat because you wanted to spend all night in the waiting room for a stranger.”
“Whatever,” Wallace mumbled flipping the channel. Today was just another lazy day around the frat house and whereas most of everyone else was still sleeping off their hangovers, Wallace and Jimmy had been awake for hours. They were the only med students in the house and their gross anatomy class started at six. “All I’m saying is he could have been a little appreciative is all.”
“I get you. I wouldn’t worry about it, at least your conscience is clean -oh yeah, as I was scrubbing blood out of my leather, I found his wallet. Think we should give it to him?”
“He was wearing a dress. Where the hell did he put a….you know what, never mind. How are we gonna find him? Should I just drop it off at the hospital?” Wallace asked truly perplexed.
Jimmy laughed, “We have his wallet idiot. His address is on his I.D.” Jimmy stood, left the room for a moment only to return with the wallet and tossed it in Wallace’s lap.
“Ross R. Peters.” Wallace read the name slowly, his tongue tracing over each word like fingertips to leather. “He looks normal.”
“He probably is normal -god, you Texans are such bigots. Back in New York, we don’t give two flying fucks who or what you fuck as long as it’s over eighteen, doesn’t shit in grass and says yes.”
“Well things work a little different down here in Texas.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Jimmy rolled his eyes. “Oh shit. I got a physics test today. Shit! I gotta study man!”
“Hey, what am I supposed to do with this?” Wallace asked calling out to Jimmy holding up the wallet.
“Just drop it off. He doesn’t live too far from campus, you can walk over.”
“What if I don’t want to.”
“Then I guess the poor guy not only got beat up, but he lost his wallet too.” Jimmy grinned retreating up the stairs.
* * *
The doctor told him he needed at least two weeks rest, which meant no working and no money from work. He’d been put on blood thinners with strict orders not to do any heavy lifting or strenuous or he could run the risk of developing a blood clot.
Ross tossed and turned in his bed for close to an hour, but he couldn’t fall asleep, not with J.D. calling him every fifteen minutes. It was bad enough when Jeffrey Dean sent flowers to the hospital with a little ‘I’m sorry, I love you,’ card attached, but he had the nerve to actually call Ross’s house too saying a thousand different whispered promises and murmuring a myriad of apologies. No matter how sweet and genuinely sorrowful Jeffrey sounded on the answering machine, Ross swore to himself that he wouldn’t give in, that he wouldn’t take him back. No, not this time, not ever again and the throbbing pain in his right shoulder only made him swear it all over again as he slipped a Percocet across his tongue.
The phone rang again, loud piercing through the quiet hot June afternoon and like the twenty calls that preceded it, Ross ignored it holding an icepack to his cheek. He got lucky and didn’t have a black eye, but the fist-sized plum stain on his cheek told a chapter in the tale of what happened.
The buzzing of his doorbell made Ross jump. No. It couldn’t be. Surely Jeff would know better than to show up on his doorstep. Still, the thought that he had made a fear seize up in Ross’s chest and he sat stone still, too afraid to move as he heard the bell ring again.
“Hello, anybody up there?”
That voice wasn’t Jeff’s. Ross breathed easy.
“Who’re you looking for?” Ross yelled down through the window. He couldn’t quite see who was downstairs, his vision of the porch obscured by the flowerbed sitting on Mary Jacob’s windowsill.
“Ross Peters! I have his wallet!”
“My wallet? Come on, I’ll buzz you up.” Ross wasn’t sure just what compelled him to glance in the mirror before opening the door, but something did. God, he looked horrible. His face all bruised up, his arms cut and bandaged. He needed a haircut and badly at that, his dark blonde almost brown hair inches too long on the top and too shabby in the back. He was a sight only made for sore eyes.
He took a calming breath and opened the door.
“Hey,” he said softly, his eyes not meeting Wallace’s. He hadn’t realized that Wallace was so tall and yet so unthreatening in, loose blue scrubs, awkwardly shifting from one foot to the other, his hands twisting his baseball cap firmly on his head.
“Hey…um…found your wallet in my friend’s car.” Wallace’s tone was distant, kind of cold and Ross couldn’t say that he blamed him, after all the last time they spoke Ross was yelling for him to get the hell away from him.
“Listen…about before, in the hospital,” tentatively Ross looked up. “I should have um…should have thanked you for, you know, what you did. I kind of didn’t realize all that you did.” Ross found himself laughing nervously, holding his door open wider. “Can I get you like a drink or something.”
“Um…I don’t know. I’m kind of in a hurry.” Wallace paused, took a closer look at Ross sizing him up. He was small, not too small, but definitely four or five inches smaller than him and easily thirty pounds lighter so feeling confident that if Ross tried something that he could take him, Wallace shrugged his shoulders and walked inside. “Got a beer?”
“Yeah. Coronas okay?”
“That’s the only thing I drink.” Wallace replied glancing around Ross’s apartment. It looked so…normal. The walls were painted white, the furniture was regular and not flashy and full or sparkles and with gold lamee throws draped across it. No paintings of naked men hanging on the wall or pornographic magazines sitting on the coffee table. No, in fact, there was a bible sitting on there.
“Yeah, me too. Can’t stand nothing else and you know in Texas just about everybody drinks Lonestar. Can’t much stand the stuff myself.” Ross replied walking into the living room handing Wallace his beer. “You can sit if you want.”
“Yeah, yeah sure.” Wallace replied quickly uneasily taking a seat on Ross’s couch. Ross sat as far away from Wallace as he could, unsure as to why he even invited him in the first place. Surely the medication was just getting to him, making him act without thinking.
“Yeah…like I said before, thank you for helping me.” Ross looked away, took a sip of beer, his eyes darting around his living room before glancing back on Wallace. He was surprised to find Wallace’s eyes on him, almost like he was watching him, studying him and something nervous fluttered between them and they both looked away. “Why um…why did you drive me?”
“What do you mean?” Wallace took a swig, but didn’t look at Ross.
“To the hospital. I mean, they said you drove me in. Why didn’t you just call an ambulance?”
“I don’t know…just figured I could get you there quicker. I wasn’t really thinking,” Wallace laughed. “There was a naked dude in a dress bleeding in my arms. Kind of messes with your thought process.
Ross chuckled softly. “Well thanks. You had my friends worried though. Said they came in, saw blood and broken glass and no me. Thought I’d been murdered until I called them the next day.”
“Sorry about that. The exit was like right there and I just kind of left. Like I said, I had a man in a dress bleeding in my arms. Wasn’t really thinking.” He smiled.
“Well thanks again. Sorry I was such a dick to you.”
“It’s cool.” Wallace nodded his head. “Hey, can I ask you something?” He continued, turning all of his attention back on Ross.
Ross’s body tensed and his guard flew up. “Depends,” he said slowly.
“Why do you wear dresses?”
“What?” Ross laughed.
“I mean, you’re gay right?”
“Yeah, are you?” Ross asked sarcastically.
“No way, not me!” Wallace yelled and then blushed, lowering his voice and looking away. “I mean, it’s just you look…you look normal, like the way you are now. Like a guy. You want to be a girl or something?”
“Are you serious with this question?” Ross laughed and Wallace’s blush deepened.
“Yeah…I mean, I’m just curious and you totally don’t have to answer.”
“Oh god,” Ross laughed harder. “This is rich! No darling, I don’t want to be a girl. I love being a man far too much to want to cut anything off.”
“Then why the dresses and the makeup?”
“Because it’s fun. It’s like acting. Every time I go on stage and perform, I’m not me -Ross, I’m whoever I’m singing. I can be Tammy Wynette or Taylor Dayne. It’s all acting and I love to act. It’s a performance.”
“So why don’t you just be a real actor?” Wallace asked and if Ross didn’t see the simple, sweet naivety to Wallace’s face and the dimples in his cheeks that deepened every time that his lips moved, then he would have kicked him out quicker than a cow blinks out the August sunshine from his eyes.
“How old are you kid?”
“How old do I look?” Wallace asked sharply..
“You look fourteen with that baseball cap on.”
Wallace grinned, took off his cap, his long dark hair spilling down his face, the ends curling up just above his chin in tiny little loops of thick brown hair.
“Now you look twenty.”
“Twenty-one.” Wallace smiled.
“See, you’re young. You haven’t realized yet that sometimes what you want out of life may not always be what you’re given and for those of us who are smart enough to know how to make do with what we get, we just do.”
“Okay,” Wallace laughed. “I guess that makes sense. And I’m not all that young.”
“Younger than me.”
“Yeah, by only a few years.” Wallace countered smiling at him. “I saw your I.D. You’re only twenty-six. And I’ll be twenty-two in a few weeks. Not a kid.” Ross smiled back and their eyes held for two seconds too long. “So…um…” Wallace stuttered looking away. “What happened to you? Why was that guy beating you up?”
“That guy…was my boyfriend and let’s just say he doesn’t like it when I talk back.” Ross replied harshly, his voice becoming dark, green eyes shadowy and faraway.
“Oh.” Was all that Wallace managed to respond.
“Now I get to ask a few questions. Why were you at the Pit Hole?”
“The Peach Tree. What, you and all your little frat boys looking for a queen to beat up?”
“No, we were just…getting a drink.”
“You’re lying.” Ross sighed leaning his back against the couch narrowing his eyes at Wallace.
“Okay, it was dare night. We got dared to go in.”
“Ah, I see.” Ross nodded his head.
“Listen, I’m sorry about what I said…you know, the whole blowjob thing…” Wallace trailed off, looking away.
A moment of silent passed between then as thick as a pulled velvet curtain before Ross found himself chuckling softly.
“What? I’m being sincere!” Wallace argued throwing him an incredulous look trying as best as he could not to smile.
“Shut up and drink your beer.”
Wallace grinned. “That apology was from the heart.”
“Okay,” Ross took another sip. “I have another question. Why did you tell the hospital you were my brother?”
“Because they wouldn’t tell me how you were doing until I did.”
“Why did you care though?”
“What do you mean why did I care? I don’t know. I mean I thought you were dead or something. You looked pretty dead.”
“I looked pretty dead?” Ross teased and Wallace blushed.
“No, not pretty as in ‘pretty’ dead -not that you’re not pretty -WAIT, not that I like find you pretty, but…”
Ross laughed. “Shut up frat boy. Anybody ever tell you that you talk too much?”
“Anybody ever tell you that you’re kind of rude?” Wallace threw back with a grin.
“Okay. That makes us even.”
“Well we’re even then.”
“Fine!” Wallace laughed smiling as he brought the amber bottle to his lips.
“Well okay then!”
“Well all right!”
“We’re gonna do this all day aren’t we?” Ross sighed and Wallace smiled wider.
“I’ve been told I have great stamina.”
“And he makes joke too. Aren’t you Mr. Perfect?”
“Far from it,” Wallace laughed. “But I come damn close.”
“So you got to UT?”
“Yeah, third year medical student.”
“My brother’s a doctor.”
“Yeah. Last I heard he was working down in Galveston.”
“Last you heard?”
Something sad crept into Ross’s tone and he sipped his beer opting not to elaborate with nothing more than a ‘yeah’ before changing the subject.
“What kind of doctor do you want to be?”
“A pediatrician,” Wallace smiled. “Everybody always makes fun when I say that, but I don’t care.”
“You shouldn’t. Gotta do what you love and I think that’s nice. I remember my pediatrician. Dr. Blake. He was this funny old man with big, white hair, used to draw faces on balloons and give them to me whenever I didn’t cry. Best thing about being a kid-doctor is the kid’ll never forget you if you’re nice. Worse thing is he won’t forget you if you’re mean too.”
“I never thought of it that way before, but yeah…I guess you’re right.” Wallace smiled at him, their eyes once again locking and neither man looking away until the ringing of Ross’s phone shook some sense back into them.
“Fuck, not again.” Ross groaned
“No. That would be my ex, I believe you met him after he beat my face in.”
“What does he want?”
“For me to take him back.”
“Well you’re not are you?” Wallace asked.
“Anybody ever tell you that you’re nosy?” Ross smiled.
“I’ve been told that too.” The ringing stopped and Ross breathed a sigh of relief only to have that relief snatched right up out of him when it started up again half a minute later.
“Good lord!” Ross grunted.
“I’m gonna do you a favor and you’re gonna owe me another beer for this.” Wallace announced standing and answering the phone. “Hello….no, this is his boyfriend…no, what’s your name….don’t call here again…oh yea….I’m gonna kick YOUR ass….fuck you….no, fuck you….”
“What did you just do?” Ross asked eyes open wide as Wallace slammed his phone down.
“Fixed your problem. Now give me another beer.
* * *
Wallace had no clue as to why he stayed so long. The first hour just seemed to fly and the second, third and fourth just breezed. Ross was so easy to talk to, so normal and funny and…just really nice and he hadn’t even realized the day had gone away until the evening news came on and the blue tinged orange glow of nightfall had began to settle the earth.
They had made plans for dinner the next night. Actually, Ross offered to cook Wallace a thank you dinner. You know, thanks for basically saving my life. And it wasn’t a date because Wallace…he wasn’t a queer and Ross wasn’t his buddy because Wallace wasn’t friends with queers, but…it was just…just something to do and it completely slipped his mind that he had already made plans with his sort-of-kind-of girlfriend Sandy for sort-of-kind-of the same night until he got back to the frat and Jimmy told him that she had called.
“Shit, I forgot all about the opera.”
“You’ve been gone all day dude,” Jimmy stated throwing his book bag over his shoulder.
“Yeah. That Ross dude…he’s pretty okay. We were talking for a little while, guess I got caught up.”
“For eight hours?”
“It hasn’t been that long.”
“Oh, sorry, my bad. Seven hours.” Jimmy threw Wallace a curious look, but said nothing as he walked out of the door.
* * *
“Why do you always fall for straight boys?” Michael sighed flopping down on the couch twisting the black beanie flat against his baldhead. His skin was pale, but smooth, his lean body looking heavier than normal under the bulk of his t-shirt and baggy shorts.
“Come on Mickey, it’s not like that. I’m just gonna make him dinner. He did practically save my life.”
“But whose gonna save his life when he chokes to death on your food. Did you forget that you can’t cook?”
“Shut up. That’s what take out’s for.”
“I know that look Ross.”
“What look?” Ross laughed rolling his eyes.
“That look that says you like somebody. You can’t like him!” Michael groaned. “He’s in a frat! He’s straight -wait, he might not be so straight if he’s making dates with faggots!”
“It’s not a date!”
“Yeah. You can lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to me. And I just want to make sure that you are aware that I think this is a bad idea.”
“Are you finished yet?” Ross asked folding his paper.
“Not yet.” Michael paused, took a sip of his coffee. “It’s a bad idea. Now I’m finished.”
* * *
“…and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a doctor. That and the fifteen dollars I had in my pocket. Kept me in candy for two weeks.” Wallace laughed shoveling another spoonful of mashed potatoes in his mouth.
“At least you’re honest about it!” Ross laughed cracking open another beer.
The mood between them was easy, lazy and jovial. They had been talking and laughing for hours again. Time just seemed to fly. Wallace sure could eat a lot, was working on his fourth plate and Ross was just sitting across the dinette table watching him eat.
It was odd. They had so much in common from their family life growing up to even their hobbies. Wallace would have never pegged Ross to be a basketball fan and Ross would have never thought Wallace was into folk music. That’s not where their similarities ended, that’s only where they began. They both were middle children -an older brother and a younger sister ironically the Sanchez kids and the Peters bunch all had the same initials from their brothers to their sisters to each other. Both had scars just below their left knees -Wallace from an old basketball injury, Ross from a skiing accident when he was twelve. The list could go on and on and after fifteen minutes of basically comparing life notes, they decided that in some other life, they for sure had to have been dogs from the same kennel.
“You’re a pretty cool dude.”
“And he calls me pretty again, how sweet.” Ross laughed clearing the plates away.
“You know what I meant.” Wallace rolled his eyes yawning. “God, this was great. Where’d you learn how to cook like that?”
Wallace shifted nervously in his seat as he took a swig from his beer. “What…he like your boyfriend or something?”
“…or something.” Ross teased motioning for Wallace to follow him into the living room. “The gay thing still makes you nervous don’t it?” He continued and Wallace remained quiet and looked away. “He’s the Italian place down the street,” he laughed. “Yeah. Me? I TOTALLY can’t cook for shit.”
“You sly dog you.” Wallace chuckled playfully pushing Ross in the shoulder.
“OUCH!” Ross growled grabbing his arm, his face twisted in pain.
“Oh shit, I’m sorry! I forgot!” Wallace brought his arm around Ross’s waist, led him to the couch helping him sit.
“Do me a favor. Get me that bottle over there on the counter and some water will ya?”
Wallace got the bottle, read the label, but refused to give it to Ross. “You had a few beers tonight. If you take one of these, it could fuck with your stomach. Not to mention kind of kill you in you take too many.”
“I’m not gonna overdose on pain pills ya idiot, now give me my damn bottle!” He grunted.
“I can’t. Not in good conscience. I took an ethics code you know.” Wallace grinned.
“Fuck your damn ethics you’re not even a real doctor yet! Give me my pills!”
“No. You got whiskey? Whiskey’ll take the pain away.” Wallace stated plaintively.
“Ah, I fucking hate you!”
“See now a minute ago, I thought we were shared a kennel.”
“Well a minute ago my shoulder didn’t feel like it was about to fall off,” Ross growled. “Look in the damn cabinet. There’s some Johnnie Walker Black. And I hope you don’t have class in the morning because I don’t drink alone.”
“Lucky for you,” Wallace smiled. “I don’t.”
* * *
Ross wasn’t drunk, but he was damn near close to it. Everything that Wallace said seemed to be funny, even if it wasn’t all that funny, it still made Ross laugh. However, Wallace was drunk, properly announced it as he kicked off his sneakers because he said his toes needed to breathe. This sent Ross into a fit of hysterics, made him fall off the couch in laughter and then grimace, groaning loudly withering on the floor.
“My shoulder,” he half-cried, half-laughed. “I hit it. It hurts. Fuck.”
“Get up. You need to lay on something soft. Doctor’s orders.” Wallace grinned reaching down to pull him up. Only Wallace didn’t quite factor in that he had to make his feet move when he walked and clumsily tripped over his feet, falling flat on his ass beside Ross.
“You’re an idiot.” Ross chuckled through his pain closing his eyes hoping that the Johnnie Walker Black would do its job and numb him.
When Wallace didn’t joke back, Ross turned his head, glanced at him, found Wallace staring at him, his blue-green eyes intense and focused.
“What are you looking at?” He laughed.
“You have a nice mouth.” Wallace said dizzily.
“What,” Ross laughed as Wallace rolled onto his side. He hadn’t even been aware that their faces were so close until he felt Wallace lean in, quickly brush their lips together before pulling away.
“Sorry.” He said anxiously looking away.
“It’s okay.” Ross’s voice was small, weak. He felt a thrill rush through him, skitter down his spine as his tongue traced over his mouth, reliving the press of Wallace’s mouth. “I don’t mind if you want to kiss me.”
Wallace looked back over at Ross, his face reading a twisted array of confused, troubled emotions.
“I’d better not…” He whispered leaning in.
“Yeah…maybe not…” Ross trailed off feeling Wallace’s mouth press against his only harder this time, less sure.
Ross placed a shaky hand on Wallace’s cheek, parted his mouth urging for Wallace to kiss him deeper.
Wallace was cautious at first, his tongue only tentatively meeting Ross’s before he breathed into Ross’s mouth, allowed himself to slip under the spell of soft, moving lips, kissing until it grew too sore to continue. And when that happened, they just slide their tongues together. Wallace finding himself rolling onto his back, Ross rolling on top of him, his body feeling light and tender against his lap as Wallace groaned, feeling the push and pull of Ross’s fingers clawing at his neck as he straddled him.
“Wait,” Ross sighed pulling away. “What the hell am I doing?” He stood shaking his head and closing his eyes.
“Maybe I should….I should go.” Wallace replied drunkenly grabbing on to the coffee table pulling himself up.
“You’re too wasted to go home. Just…just like sleep on the couch or something.” Ross sighed. His southern hospitality had worn thin and he didn’t even offer to get Wallace a blanket or a pillow, he just hightailed it out of the living room and into the safety of his bedroom where he slammed the door shut and struggled to catch his breath.
He had just found that place. That place that allowed him to breathe again without a hitch when Wallace came knocking at the door.
“Just go on to bed Wallace.”
“Can I come in? For a sec?”
Ross took a deep breath, opened the door and before he knew what hit him, Wallace’s mouth was back on his. His hands like claws, scratching at his shirt, desperate to feel skin.
“What are we doing?” Ross asked ripping his shirt off.
“I don’t know.” Wallace whispered unbuttoning his pants.
Wallace’s mouth suckling Ross’s collarbone.
He tasted like salt and lime Wallace decided as his tongue licked a trail up from Ross’s neck and back to his mouth. His skin was smooth too and soft and even though the room was dark, Wallace imagined counting the freckles along Ross’s collarbone, envisioning how gracefully they must look falling down his spine.
There was a bed and Wallace couldn’t tell you how or when they found it, but they did and Ross was wrapping his fist around his cock once they landed on top of sheets.
Wallace stopped breathing, gasped into Ross’s mouth and whimpered as he felt Ross’s grip tighten, his fingers pressing into the smooth, pliable skin of the tip of his cock.
“What…” Ross moaned, his breath hot and sticky against Wallace’s tongue. “Do you want to do?”
“Whatever you want...” Wallace moaned the words barely above a whisper. The need in his body made it hard to think, made it hard to speak and when the warmth of Ross’s skin disappeared only for a moment long enough to reach on the nightstand for a condom and a small packet of lube, Wallace was desperate to have it back. Maybe it was because he was wasted, but he felt like he needed Ross near because if he wasn’t then Wallace just couldn’t breathe without trying to.
The sound of foil being ripped open by teeth made Wallace’s heart thump in his chest, the beats only increasing as he felt the tight latex of a condom sinuously being rolled over his cock with long, graceful fingers.
This was a bad idea. That’s what Ross thought as he kicked away his pants, his body hovering over Wallace’s naked lap. He gripped Wallace’s cock, held it steady in his hand and before he sunk down, he thought that he was making a mistake. He was living in the moment, a moment he shouldn’t because Wallace was straight. Wallace was just another horny straight guy looking to get off. Ross had dealt with his share of that already. Always assholes that were nice until they got what they wanted and then complete dicks afterwards. What was he doing? This was wrong. It was all so wrong and just as he made up his mind to end things before they continued, Wallace’s hands were at Ross’s waist and he was begging Ross to touch him.
“Please…please…” Wallace moaned closing his eyes.
Ross eased Wallace in slow, careful. Wallace wasn’t huge, but he was a nice, thick size that needed to be taken in with caution.
They both gasped, Wallace from the tight, delicious warmth of Ross’s insides and Ross from the way Wallace’s nails dug into the skin of his hips. He imagined the tiny red crescent moon shaped marks that he’d find drawn into his flesh in the morning.
They were slow at first. Ross’s eyes closed, lips parted as the deepest of moans erupted from his throat like rolling tumbleweeds, a raspy and jagged sound. He raised his hips, pushed back down with a slight force, the sound of skin-to-skin contact rich in the air.
The only thought on Wallace’s mind was that he wanted to feel Ross’s mouth against his. He leaned up on his elbows and in two, sloppy, drunken moves pulled Ross’s head towards his, his tongue parting Ross’s lips. He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t breathe because their kissing was tight, almost frantic and Ross was raising his hips again only to slam down a little harder and Wallace groaned, his fingers digging into Ross’s cheek, his free hand gripping Ross’s backside urging him to faster and faster and faster…
He didn’t see stars or anything else when he came, just the thick blackness behind his closed lids as he hissed, expelling his seed into thin latex followed by an inaudible groan get tangled somewhere between Ross’s tongue and teeth as he too came, his cum shooting in four lightening quick bursts against Wallace’s stomach and thighs.
Their lips met again, this time with a hard, quick and rushed calmness, their limbs shaking, breathing something that took a few moments to feel natural again.
* * *
Ross could deal with the hangover. He was used to those, but what he wasn’t used to was the smell of bacon frying unless he was cooking it. He groaned, the decision to drag himself out of bed made for him by his growling stomach.
“And he cooks…” Ross smiled, crossing his arms against his chest leaning in the doorway watching Wallace stir a pot of grits.
“Yeah right. I can make three things that don’t burn: eggs, bacon and toast,” he smiled, stared at Ross taking in the sight of him dressed only in boxers, his light brown almost blonde hair tussled over his head, the bruise on his cheek having faded to a deep, barely there, but still noticeable pink. He had to look away, had to fight the urge to tell him that he looked good. What was going on with him? He was still drunk. Yeah, he’ll blame it on the booze. That’s what any normal guy would do if in this situation.
“I gotta say, I’m surprised that you’re still here.” Ross stated honestly taking a seat at the small dinette that only sat two.
“Why?” he asked putting a plate down in front of Ross.
“I just figured you’d freak…leave.”
“I am freaked.” Wallace replied honestly scrapping eggs down onto Ross’s plate.
“So why are you here?”
“I really don’t know,” he laughed.
“What exactly do you want from me?” Ross’s voice wasn’t exactly cold, just chilled and guarded. He’d been through this before…too many fucking times before to even want to count them all.
“Nothing…I mean…last night was…fun.”
“Yeah, we fucked. Now answer my question,” Ross shoveled a forkful of eggs into his mouth. Jeez, they were good eggs. “What do you want from me? I’m not gonna be your little fuck buddy.”
“Did I ask you to be?”
“No, but I know your type. Big straight boys into fucking a queer, but won’t admit to being one.”
“I’m not gay.” Wallace grunted eyes narrowed.
“See. That’s what I mean,” Ross sighed throwing down his fork, the scrape of stainless steel against metal almost deafening. “Get out of my house.”
“Because I’m not gonna do this. I don’t even know you-”
“But you fucked me. Do you always fuck guys you don’t know?” Wallace threw back sharply and Ross set his jaw firm, glared at him and stood.
“Get out of my house.”
“Dude, fuck you.” Wallace growled standing. “I’m outta here.”
* * *
Timothy Washington was an asshole Wallace thought as he watched him from across the room, Wallace’s arm slung across Sandy’s shoulders. Sandy was this tiny, pretty little brunette with olive skin and big brown eyes from Sigma’s sister sorority Delta. She was sweet, but a little too clingy Wallace thought as they made their way through the crowd. Tonight was another mixer, guys who were set to pledge in the fall had been invited and Tim was taking great joy in humiliating them. He had one guy doing body shots off the crack of another guy’s ass and Wallace had spotted at least four young men wearing cut off shorts and fishnets serving drinks.
“Guess what we’re doing tonight?” Tim cheered, throwing his arm around Wallace practically knocking Sandy to the ground.
“Getting your stomach pumped?” Wallace asked sarcastically recoiling from the almost poisonous cocktail of bourbon-beer-jager wafting from Tim’s throat.
“Yes,” Tim laughed, his tall, thick frame slouching sloppily. Tim wasn’t as tall as Wallace, but he was definitely more muscular and older, doing his third senior year on a football scholarship that Wallace was quite sure he still shouldn’t have been eligible for.
“Fuck that bitch! She’s off somewhere, probably getting fucked up her ass! But fuck her…” Tim slurred. “Guess what we’re doing tonight?”
“I don’t know Tim, why don’t you tell me.”
“Okay, but you can’t tell anybody. If you do, I’ll kick your ass cuz it’s a secret.”
“I’m here, how is that a secret?” Sandy asked and Tim rolled his eyes at her.
“Shut up bitch. When I want you to talk, I’ll tell your boyfriend here to tell you to.”
“Whoa, easy Tim. Don’t talk to her like that.” Wallace grunted pushing him an arm’s length away.
“Dude, you gotta learn how to control your chick!”
“Excuse me?” Sandra rolled her eyes, clicked her tongue putting her hands on her hips.
“It’s okay. Why don’t you go and get us some drinks, let me talk to Tim for a sec.” Wallace interjected and Sandy glared at Tim, but smiled up at Wallace and nodded walking away.
“What a bitch.” Tim hissed once Sandy was out of hearing range.
“Because you’re drunk, I’m gonna let that slide, but you need to watch how you talk to her.”
“Fine bro, whatever,” Tim scoffed taking a step back. “You know what, forget it. I don’t think I want you coming tonight and spoiling my fun. You can stay here with your little chick, let the men go out on the town.”
“Well at least you had sense enough to tell him to leave.” Michael stated liberally applying blush to his cheeks.
“Yeah, but I didn’t want to.” Ross groaned leaning his hip against the makeup table. A part of him wished that he was getting ready to perform tonight, but the sharp ache still prominent in his shoulder made him think that waiting another week was probably for the best.
“Why do you always go for the bad ones?”
“I don’t know. Stupid I guess. Jesus Mickey, I liked him too. He was funny…cute…tall and could fuck like you would not believe!”
“I can’t believe you had sex with him on your first date,” Mike laughed. “Slut!”
“Shut up.” Ross laughed throwing a tube of fire engine number nine at his head.
“Easy now Rossy-boy, if you make me smear my rouge, I’m gonna put my Jewish foot up that tiny little Irish ass that you like to give away so much.”
“Hey Ross,” Brenda popped her head inside of the dressing room. “The sheriff is looking for you.”
Ross tensed. “Jeff’s here?”
“Yeah sugar, said he needs to talk to you. Said it’s important.”
“Tell him I’m not here.”
“Goddamn it Brenda, would you please just tell the sheriff that he ain’t here?” Michael growled.
“Oh good lord, fine! God, I gotta get a new job, you queens are so temperamental.” Brenda sighed closing the door.
“What the fuck is he doing here? I DON’T want to see him!”
“Calm down! Take a breath darling. Just wait in here. I’ll do my set and then we’ll leave together, you can crash at my place.”
“He’s not gonna ever leave me alone is he?” Ross sighed, his chest squeezing tight with a hurt and anger so far and deep that he didn’t know which urge were stronger, the one to punch a hole in the wall or the one that made him want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over his eyes.
* * *
“Wallace, I need you to come down here,” Jimmy whispered into his cell phone. “The Peach Tree -that gay bar we went to. Get down here and get down here fast!”
“What for?” Wallace yawned into the phone. He had just gotten into bed and now Jimmy wanted to him to get back out.
“Dude, Tim and Duncan are crazy! They’re talking about killing a guy in here just for the sake of killing him -dude this is not cool! Not cool and they won’t listen to me!”
“Whoa, slow down,” Wallace stated sitting up. “They’re talking about doing what?”
“Dude, get down here now and help me get them out of here before they do something stupid!”
* * *
Michael loathed them, despised them, and hated them. Hated their catcalls as he did his best Pasty Cline lip-synching ‘I Fall To Pieces’ better than any other queer could in a three hundred mile radius. He was fierce. The one guy kept giving him the eye, the guy with the bright blue eyes and the lazy drunken smile and dark brown hair that feel into his eyes like a pound puppy. There was something evil about his face that made a chill run down Michael’s spine when their eyes met, like someone was walking over his grave.
* * *
Ross sat as quiet as a church mouse, his stomach tight in the kind of knots that earned boy scouts patches. He knew that somewhere out in the club J.D. was there. Oh fuck what Brenda told him, Ross knew Jeff well enough to know that he wouldn’t leave until he had seen for himself that Ross wasn’t there. A part of him wanted to see Jeffrey Dean, not to talk to him, but just to look at him, see his face, see him smile. Ross shook those thoughts out of his head.
Sometimes he could be his own worst enemy.
“You can’t go back there!” Ross heard Tiny’s deep voice roll like thunder behind the closed door.
“I’m the sheriff son, I can go anywhere I please and if you don’t let me back here, I’m gonna have to arrest you for interfering with a police investigation!”
Ross froze in fear as the door opened, his eyes locking with Jeffrey Dean’s.
“Ross, “ he smiled. “I’ve been looking for you.” The smug self-satisfaction etching its way across J.D.’s face made Ross cringe.
“Ross,” Tiny chimed in through the doorway. “You want to talk to him?”
“He doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. Now, if you would be so kind as to not continue to disrupt my investigation and let me talk to him…alone.” Jeff stated, his eyes focused intently on Tiny. Jeffrey Dean Tillman was not a man who showed fear or backed down and he stared Tiny down with a fire in his eyes until the three-hundred pound bouncer walked away.
“Ross…Ross, Rossy,” Jeff sighed, his back to him. “You disappeared on me this last week.”
“I didn’t go anywhere.” Ross whispered, hating how his voice shook.
“So you were just ignoring me then, huh?” Jeff laughed turning around smiling. The dimples in his cheeks made him look sweet, but there was a shadowy darkness set deep in his eyes that made Ross’s blood run cold. “That’s not really nice to do to someone you love.”
“Yeah, well neither is beating their face in.” Ross closed his eyes as he felt Jeff walk further into the small, cramped room.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered placing his hand on Ross’s cheek. “I love you baby.” He leaned down, pressed his mouth to Ross’s. His tongue was rough, stating ownership with violent flicks and strokes. Jeff’s right hand was tight around Ross’s jaw, his left working steadfast unzipping Ross’s fly, pulling his cock out. “I missed you,” he sighed his mouth on Ross’s jaw. Jeff slid to his knees, his fingers stroking, pulling skin, his tongue gingerly licking along the shaft of Ross’s cock.
Ross came hard, angry and recklessly without protection, Jeff wiping a bit of spilled semen from his mouth with the end Ross’s t-shirt.
“I love you baby, nobody’s ever gonna love you as much as I do.”
“Leave me alone,” Ross whispered angrily, hating himself for loving Jeff so much, for loving the way his heart fluttered inside of his chest every time that they touched. “Just go away.”
“I get off work around ten tomorrow night, I’ll stop by your place around then.” Jeff smiled standing, adjusting his hardened cock through his beige, sheriff’s uniform.
* * *
Wallace was hesitant to get out of his car. The music blasting from The Peach Tree was something techno, a sea of men and women flooded from the outside onto the sidewalk like glittered cattle. It wasn’t that he was afraid of them, no, he was afraid of running into Ross. What would he say to him if he did? Realizing that he had better put his own fears aside, he pushed away his apprehension and dialed Jimmy’s number.
“Dude, come on, help me drag those assholes out of there!” Jimmy grunted ushering Wallace inside.
The club was packed; sweaty throngs of people dancing to their own grooves flooded the floor with a plethora of flesh. The mood seemed so light, so jovial and it chilled Wallace down to his very core knowing that amidst the joy there was something dark and violent lurking.
“Tim, let’s go.” Wallace hissed, pulling Tim by the arm.
“Wallace, you came through buddy!” Tim smiled hugging him, the alcohol on his breath so dangerously potent that Wallace cringed from the stink.
“Get the fuck off of me! We’re going home.” Wallace grunted pushing him away.
“Naw, I can’t. We got some business to do first.”
“Tim, this is retarded!” Jimmy yelled. “Let’s just go!”
“Not until I do what I came here to do! And I found this perfect little thing in a black dress. I’m gonna get him good!”
“I don’t know Tim…maybe we should go. I mean, it was just fun crazy talk, right? Nothing serious.” Duncan’s words dragged like smudged ink.
“Finally, somebody with some sense.” Jimmy sighed, “I’ll take you home buddy -Wallace, and take care of Tim would ya?”
“Oh man, fuck you cowards! I’ll do it by myself!”
“Tim, would you listen to yourself! You’re acting crazy!” Wallace grunted pulling him by the arm to stand.
“Get off of me bro! Come on, I’ll show you the one I want. Real freaky looking thing -looks like Patsy Cline, only not really.” For a drunk man, Tim walked fast, got lost in the sea of people quicker than Wallace could blink. He followed him through the crowd and down a narrow, dark corridor, at the end sat two doors, one a dressing room, the other an exit. He knew this place, knew where it lead and when he heard someone yell followed by glass breaking a moment later, he was hit with déjà vu and found himself barging inside, the scene of a week earlier replaying over in his head.
Inside, Wallace found Tim passed out on floor, his pants hanging around his ankles in the most comical of fashions.
“You know,” Michael sighed hanging his wig over the mirror. “I’m really sick of you frat boys coming into my place of business asking for blowjobs. This isn’t that kind of place. Try Harley’s out on Route 121 for that bullshit. I take it this is your friend?”
“Yeah…I’m sorry…I’ll get him out of here.” Wallace stuttered picking up Tim. “Jesus he’s heavy,” he grunted dropping him.
“Well if you wait a second for me to kick off my heels, I’ll help you get him out.” Michael offered and Wallace smiled thankfully and took a seat watching as Mike wiped his makeup off. “What, never seen a man take off makeup before?” He teased.
“What? Oh no, I’m sorry,” Wallace blushed. “You just reminded me of somebody for a second.”
“Everybody’s got a familiar face to somebody else.”
“Yeah I guess…hey, do you know a guy named Ross? Ross Peters? He works here….”
Michael stared at him cautiously. “Why?”
“He’s…a friend of mine…kind of want to talk to him.”
“What did you say your name was?”
“My god, you’re the straight boy,” Mike laughed. “Well at least you’re cute.”
“Nothing. Ignore me. I’m old, sometimes words just come out and I can’t stop them. Anyway, yes, Ross is my friend and no, you can’t talk to him.”
“Wait, run that by me again.” Wallace asked confused scratching at his head.
“I said you can’t talk to him.” Mike continued staring in the mirror wiping away his makeup with alcohol pads.
“Yeah, and that’s why you can’t talk to him. Look, I’m not about to tell you the man’s life story because frankly, he’d probably kill me if I did,” Michael paused, turned in his seat to talk directly to Wallace and not at his reflection through the mirror. “But boys like you ain’t nothing but trouble for boys like us, so why don’t you just do yourself a favor -and Ross and leave him be. Stay in your own world and stay out of ours.” He wasn’t mean or nasty, just honest and straight to the point.
“But…” Wallace trailed off unable to find the right kind of words to explain himself, so he sighed and sat quietly watching as Michael wiped the rest of the gunk off of his face.
“Okay, let’s get your little touch-me-tease-me friend outta here, shall we? I swear, what is it with you college boys? Looking at us like you want to kill us when you friends are around and then get one of us alone and you’re begging to see the twig and berries. Honestly, closet cases disgust me.” Mike muttered stepping into his sneakers. Wallace was slightly amazed at how normal and how much of a man Michael looked like without the dress and lipstick. He wisely kept that to himself as he grabbed Tim’s arm hoisting him up.
“Wallace?” Ross asked puzzled walking into the room taking in the sight. “What’s going on?” He asked eyes flying over to Mike’s.
“Long story. I’ll tell you over coffee in the morning.” Michael sighed.
Wallace stared at Ross, his lips curling into a smile. It had only been a few days since he had last saw him, but somehow, it felt like it had been a lot longer.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Ross asked suspiciously.
“I’m not like stalking you or anything.” Wallace threw back.
“I stalked a guy once. He had a nice car.” Tim drunkenly chimed in before passing back out.
“Ross, you and me will talk in the morning. Wallace and his friend were just leaving, right?” Michael grunted eyeing Wallace and intensifying his grip around Tim’s arm.
“Yeah….we were leaving…”
Wallace and Ross’s eyes locked for a moment before Wallace looked away, leading Tim out of the door. Maybe Patsy Cline -Mike was right and they’d all be better off if they just stayed in their own worlds.
* * *
“What? Why didn’t you tell me that?” Ross grunted glaring at Mike from above his newspaper.
“Because Ross, you said it best yourself. You know his type -we know that type.”
“Fuck Mickey, fuck! Well what else did he say?”
“Well he didn’t say that he was in love with you or anything if that’s what you want to know.”
“Not funny asshole. Not funny.” Ross grunted stepping into his shoes. “I look okay?” He asked smoothing down his blue collared shirt.
“You look straight if that’s what you want to know.” Michael sighed indifferently.
“Come on. It’ll be okay.” He smiled grabbing his bag.
“I still think this is a bad idea -Ross, it’s been almost ten years since you saw the woman -hell, since you’ve seen practically anyone in your family.”
“But that’s just it. She’s my family. I…I’ll give her a second chance if she wants one.” Ross’s voice fell to a whisper, as he looked across the room at Michael, watching as his best friend gave him a sad, almost pathetic kind of smile.
“Honey, sometimes I think you want love so bad you’ll compromise yourself just to get it. Just be careful. I know she’s your mama, but don’t forget she kicked you out of her house when she found out that you were gay. She turned her back on you, hell, all of them did.” Mike stood, crossed the room and took Ross’s hands in his. “You’re like a little brother to me and I love you, but sometimes I’m worry that you don’t love yourself. When you gonna start doing that, huh?”
* * *
“So you’re gonna just move out, leave me stuck with all of these boneheads alone?” Jimmy grunted throwing himself down on Wallace’s bed.
“You could always leave with me. This place it just…it just doesn’t feel right anymore. Too much bullshit and booze. I’m sick of the whole scene and truth is I only pledged because it’ll look good on paper when I apply to med-school.”
“If I leave, my dad would kick my ass. He was Sigma, his dad was Sigma and fuck, I think even my grandfather’s father was Sigma. If I leave, I’ll like be breaking the chain and in the Diller family, that’s just not cool.”
“Suit yourself, but I’m out of here.” Wallace grinned stuffing his backpack with clothes.
“Will you write?”
“Dude, I’ll be thirty seconds away from you in campus housing.”
“Ahh, don’t go!” Jimmy grunted. “I’m gonna be so bored! Who’s gonna talk about stupid science stuff with me? These assholes don’t know the difference between a Carotid artery and a submandibular gland.”
“I don’t even know the difference.”
“See, that’s why I’m gonna be the best surgeon ever and you’re gonna be dealing with chickenpox and measles’ rashes all day long, but that’s beside the point. I’m gonna be bored here without you -dude, if my brain starts to bleed from listening to another drunken rager, it’ll be all your fault.”
“Here, what if I leave you my pillows. Would that make you feel any better?”
“No,” Jimmy paused, sat up and gathered the pillows off of Wallace’s bed. “But it’s a start.”
* * *
She had gotten old. That’s what Ross thought as he stood, staring down at his mother observing the crow’s feet that pulled at her eyes. Her once bright blonde hair was darker, weathered by strands of ash-gray and her skin had blotches of red and stains of yellow around her temples. She looked sickly.
“Hi mom.” Ross stated unsure as to if he should bend down and hug her.
“Ross?” She sighed, her voice as light as a feather. He wasn’t expecting for her to start crying and when she did he felt something drop in his stomach and he reached down, wrapped his arms around a woman he hadn’t seen since he was sixteen years old.
“Don’t cry.” He whispered feeling the impending threat of tears looming behind his closed lids.
“You’re so big. You look so different. Oh baby, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…” She continued, holding him tight clenching as if he were her lifeline.
She felt thin, Ross’s mother felt thin, too thin, the tips of his fingers rolling across the bones of her back as he dislodged himself.
“Are you okay?” He asked pulling out a seat. Café Sage was practically desolate, the lunch rush still three hours away and the only patrons outside were an old couple sipping coffee and doing a crossword puzzle.
“I am now. I’m in remission…had the cancer,” she started and Ross felt a myriad of emotions tangle through his gut, the most prominent one anger, anger because no one had even told him that she had been sick. “I’m all better now and I…” she paused, looked away briefly before grabbing Ross’s hand and looking him straight in the eye. “I was wrong. It was wrong of me to…to let you go off the way I did.”
“I didn’t go off anywhere!” Ross yelled snatching his hand away. “You told me I HAD to leave if I didn’t want to go to that stupid camp to, as you said, ‘fix me’!”
Donna Peters closed her eyes and sighed, “I’m sorry. At the time, I didn’t know what…I wasn’t sure what a lot of things were…god this isn’t easy. I was wrong okay? Your daddy and I were just plain wrong and not a day has gone by when neither one of us have regretted it. We’re sorry Ross baby, we’re so sorry.”
“Where is dad anyway?”
“He didn’t know if you wanted to see him so he’s back at the house. Says to tell you that he loves you.”
“Yeah right,” Ross laughed bitterly. “Do you have any idea what I went through? Do you know all the shit that happened to me because I had nobody?” He found himself yelling, hot angry tears spilling down his cheeks. “I had nobody mama! I had nobody for three years! It was just me! And now you come back and say sorry? Like that’s supposed to make it all better? You don’t know what I’ve been through! Drugs, rape, getting beat up on because I looked at someone the wrong way or said the wrong thing and you know what, even after all of that, even after every fucked up thing that has happened to me, none of it…NONE OF IT hurt as bad as what you and daddy did. None of it!”
“Oh baby…” She began to cry. The kind of crying that makes it hard to breathe. The kind of crying that only a mother could do mourning over her dead child because in some sad way she knew that her actions ten years earlier had, in a way, killed her baby boy and for that she’d hate a part of herself until the day she died.
“You made me feel like I wasn’t worth a thing,” he lowered his voice, reached into his pocket for a cigarette. “And for a long time mom…for a good long time I really thought that was true, I mean hell, if my own parents didn’t even want me, then who would?”
“Ross. I’m sorry honey, I truly am and I’m not asking for you to forgive me. Your daddy and I know we were wrong. We know it, but at the time we were only trying to do what we thought was right because we loved you and I’m not trying to make any excuses, but that’s the truth and we’re sorry. I’m sorry. Please just…just…”
“What?” Ross inhaled holding the warm smoke inside of his lungs for a moment before exhaling.
“Can I be your mama again? God has given me another chance to make right all of my wrongs and I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to lose you for a second time.” She was nervously fidgeting with a napkin on the table, her gentle brown eyes staring across a vase of lilies at him pleading, begging, and hoping for a second chance.
“No,” Ross sighed. “Not yet,” he continued placing her hand in his. “But for now, I’d like for you to be my friend.”
* * *
Ross had just stepped out of the shower when he doorbell rung. It was half past ten on a Wednesday night and he knew who it was. It was J.D. and a fear struck him right in the gut. No. It wasn’t going to happen again. He wasn’t going to just let Jeff come back around with an easy smile and a few careless touches. No. Ross had to be firm; he had to say no and get Jeff out of his life for good because that man was nothing about headache, trouble and bruised ribs.
Ross opened the window. “You can’t come up,” he yelled down.
“I just want to talk to you for a second.”
The voice wasn’t J.D.’s.
“Wallace? What are you doing here?”
Ross cursed Mary Jacob and the flowerbed on her windowsill.
“I want to talk to you. Can you buzz me up? Please?”
“Whatever.” Ross sighed in resign. He unlatched the lock on the door, held the white terry-clothe towel tightly around his waist as he let Wallace in. “Go on. Talk.”
“You know, if this were a movie, I’d just tell you to shut up and kiss you.” Wallace laughed nervously.
“Okay, well while you play make believe in your head, I’m gonna run and get some clothes on.” Ross sighed walking into his bedroom.
“About the other night. I’m kind of sorry about it.” Wallace called after him taking a seat on the couch in the living room.
“And you were kind of right. I don’t really know what I want, but…see…the thing is I kind of like you and I…I just do…”
“Um hum.” Ross sighed stepping into a pair of shorts.
“And I was kind of stupid before…like, really stupid because I’ve always had…had this…kind of confusion that I thought went away until I met you...”
“Jesus, can you at least come out here and say ‘um hum’ to my face! This isn’t really easy for me!” Wallace grunted in frustration.
“Easy cowboy, I’m listening in here just fine.”
“You know, anybody ever tell you that you’re kind of rude?” Wallace asked walking into the bedroom.
“Anybody ever tell you that you talk too much?” Ross threw back pulling a wife beater over his head. They stared at each other, faces etched with a fierce seriousness for only a moment before Ross found the corners of his lips curling into a grin.
“And he smiles too.” Wallace grinned.
“Baby I’m home! Get on out here and give me some sugar!” Jeff’s voice rung out, breaking their moment, the slamming of the front door loud and possessive.
“Oh shit,” Ross grunted. You wait in here, let me get rid of him. He slid out of the bedroom, closing the door softly behind him. “What are you doing here Jeff?”
“I came to see you. I bought you a present.” He smiled holding up a small black velvet ring box.
“I don’t want your gifts, I want you to leave. We’re over.”
“Now you shut that pretty little mouth of yours before you make me angry.” Jeff’s voice dripped with a warning that made Ross’s body tense.
“Just …just leave. I don’t want to-”
“Stop saying that!” Jeff yelled grabbing Ross’s arm.
“Fuck you idiot, my shoulder!” He growled flinching from the pain that shot across his shoulder and down his arm like a bullet through the earth.
“You watch your tone with me, ya hear?”
“Hey!” Wallace yelled marching out of the bedroom. “He asked you to leave so I think you should leave!”
“Who the hell are you?” Jeffrey Dean eyed him down.
“I’m his boyfriend!” Wallace yelled and Ross almost wanted to laugh at how proud Wallace looked of himself.
“You the little punk I talked to on the phone?” Jeff asked snidely taking a step towards him.
“If you mean am I the one that set you right in your place then yeah.” Wallace replied, eyes squinted, fists clenched.
Jeffrey took another step towards him. “I don’t know what you and my boy have going on over there, but whatever it is, it’s a ‘was’ cuz me and him…we got this little thing and there ain’t no room for you in it buddy!” Jeff pushed Wallace in his shoulder, glaring practically daring him to take a swing.
“Tell me something,” Wallace glanced down at Jeff’s badge, “Sheriff Tillman, does the department know about your little ‘thing’ with Ross? I bet they’d be just thrilled to know.”
“Is that a threat?” Jeff laughed. “I own this town.”
“Oh no, I don’t make threats. I simply state facts.”
“Okay, Jeff you need to leave. Wallace is not my boyfriend, but that doesn’t change the fact that you and me are over. I’m serious.” Ross grunted coming between them. “We are through okay, I mean it and if you come back around here I’m gonna call your wife and your pastor and your boss and tell them how good you deep throat.”
“You mind your voice-”
“HEY! You heard the man, get the fuck out!” Wallace growled. Jeff clenched his fist, snarled at Wallace and took a step back.
“Fuck this. The bitch ain’t worth the trouble. I’m out of here.”
“Leave the key on the table.” Ross called out after him. Jeff kept his back to him, reached into his pocket and threw the house key to the floor before storming out of the apartment.
For the first time in a year, Ross breathed easy.
“I totally would have kicked his ass.” Wallace smiled.
Ross turned around and rolled his eyes. “Oh shut up. The man is a black belt. He would have had you on the floor in seconds.”
“Black belt,” Wallace gulped. “You didn’t tell me that.”
“I also didn’t ask you for help.” Ross sighed walking into the living room. “You know, just so we’re clear, I DON’T need a hero and I DON’T need you to be my knight in shining armor. Keep the god complex for your patients…when you get them.”
“A thank you would be nice or maybe a beer or something.” Wallace grunted as he watched Ross take a seat on the couch.
“Fridge is in the kitchen. Get it yourself.” Ross looked up, the faintest of smiles easing onto his face.
“Anybody ever tell you that you’re rude?”
“Anybody ever tell you that you talk too much?” Ross countered standing up playfully pushing Wallace in the shoulder.
“Well okay.” Ross laughed.
“What if I don’t?” Wallace teased and Ross leaned in, his breath warm and sweet blowing across Wallace’s mouth as he stood on the tips of his toes to even the playing ground.
“Maybe I won’t kiss you.”
“But that’s… so high school cliché.”
“No, high school cliché would be if I told you that I loved you and then asked you to move in. I don’t do roommates and I certainly don’t love you -and while I think you’re a big closet case, tonight…I’m feeling liberal.”
“Anybody ever tell you that you’re-”
And Wallace’s retort died in his throat as he felt the soft push and pull of Ross’s tongue flickering into his mouth for only a second before he pulled away.
“Dude, do me a favor and don’t talk for like twenty seconds, okay?”
Madison Aysha Dante © 2007
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