STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any coincidence
to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read
this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do
not read if you are underage according to the laws in the
country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township
where you live. There is, or will be, sex between males. You have
Author's Note: I wrote this story primarily as a romance. So, it may take a while to develop. If you are looking for fast relief, perhaps other stories in the Archive will suit your needs better. While there will be sex, it may be a while. There will be no intergenerational sex. However, if you stay with the storyline, you will be rewarded.
Matt was exhausted. He hadn't slept well in weeks, he wasn't eating right, and was drinking too much. Too much stress, too much fighting. A job change, and now he was moving back to the Chicago area. It was home. He felt comfortable about it, still, he wished it was over. He wished he had a time machine that could project himself into the future. Just a few weeks in advance to a point where his life could resume some semblance of normalcy.
Matt gazed at himself in the mirror. His handsome face was
marred by the dark circles under his eyes. Matt would never admit
he was handsome. His dark hair and brown eyes were evidence of
his Italian heritage. His hair was currently longer than he would
have liked, especially during the summer. His face was anchored
with a smallish nose. His lips were full. His light olive skin
tanned easily during the summer without burning.
But none of these physical characteristics did Matt notice
this morning. All he saw was the tension and pain, and hoping for
Matt first met Andy on he eighth floor of Manchester Hall.
Matt was the Resident Assistant and Andy was a resident on the
floor. Manchester Hall was one of a pair of 17-story residence
halls on the northeast corner of campus. They were traditional
dorms - rooms in long, echoing halls.
Matt was in charge of fifty-two residents. For the most part, he enjoyed the job. He had a variety of personalities on the floor, and for that he was grateful. He wouldn't have enjoyed the job as much if there hadn't been at least a few eccentric oddballs. To be sure, there were the typical brainless jocks; those stupid, loud, beer-guzzling jackasses who were pretty to look at but boring company. To these residents, he was cordial if not chummy.
Matt actually liked the underachievers, the different, the
eccentric. And Eight Manchester had a reputation for all these.
Matt had a resident who dressed all in black --all the time. He
had several studious eggheads, some musicians (one with a
menacing mohawk) and a few actors. There were also quite a few
gays. And most of them were actors. Illinois State had a
well-regarded, highly competitive drama department. Campus
fiction had it that one of the ways to secure important roles was
to sleep with certain professors.
Andy was one of those residents who didn't fit into any molds.
He was also a senior -- most upperclassmen, unless they had good
reason, moved off campus as soon as possible. Andy was from a
small town in southern Illinois. He was a journalism major. He
had medium brown hair, blue eyes, and his face was covered with
freckles.. And he was gay.
Matt left the door to his tiny single room open as much as
possible when he was there. It was a way of making himself
available and accessible to his residents. And it was like
opening the stage curtain. All the characters in the ongoing play
would wander in. Ten o'clock seemed to be the cue. By this time,
everyone was ready for a study break, and MASH was on. On this
tiny, black-and-white TV, Matt could pick up stations from
Peoria, Decatur, and Champaign. MASH could be viewed on various
stations for an hour and a half.
Mike, the guy with the mohawk, was usually the first to wander
in. He would usually bring popcorn. Greg was a regular, as was
geeky Howard. John was a occasional visitor who always brought
his own Pepsi. Then Andy would arrive, always late, with his own
mug. Matt made a pot of tea and they chatted in a low tones
during the commercials.
Andy not only arrived later, he stayed later after the others
had gone off to study again or to bed. It was during one of these
late night chats that Matt noticed Andy's deepening interest.
Since the door was still open, Andy's affection was limited. And
it was always carefully cloaked in the normal shifting and
jostling in a small room. Matt noticed that Andy always sat next
to him, whether on the bed or the floor. If Andy got up to use
the rest room, he'd lean on Matt's shoulder or knee. During funny
lines or suspenseful plots, he'd touch Matt's thigh. If reaching
to get more tea or another handful of popcorn, he's exert
pressure with his arm.
This obvious interest was a little confusing for Matt. He was
still coming to terms with his own sexuality, even though he's
known about his gayness since junior high. He still hadn't had The
Talk with his parents. In the back of his mind, he held out
the possibility that he might be bisexual. Although all his
sexual contacts, and there were quite a few, had been with other
men. Matt found college was a good place to experiment sexually
away from the scrutiny of his parents.
This continued for several months. Matt was definitely
interested, and very horny, but he was scared to make a move.
After all, he was an RA and could get fired if he made sexual
advances toward a resident. The Office of Residential Life didn't
care if it's Resident Assistants were gay, only if they had sex
with the students.
It happened on a warm October night a week before Halloween. Midterms were over; so was Fall Break. It was an unusually warm night, and Matt had the windows open. The warm breeze blew in the dusty smell of the falling leaves.
Thursday night was the traditional party night at ISU, since
so many students went home on weekends. Many of the MASH regulars
were gone for the weekend or attending off-campus parties. So
only Howard, Greg and Andy attended the MASH ritual that night.
Andy was looking particularly good in his fashionable, new black
Right after MASH, and without explanation, Greg and Howard
"I have some new peppermint Celestial Seasonings," Matt said.
"Great," Andy smiled a dazzling smile.
Andy's intense blue eyes sparkled with mischief. Suddenly, Andy planted a kiss on Matt's lips. The first kiss was tentative, cautious, almost polite. The one that followed was more serious. Matt closed the door.
That was the beginning of the relationship between Andy and Matt. Andy spent most of his time in Matt's room. They ate meals together, went to the library together and watched MASH together.
When they went their separate ways over Christmas Break, Matt felt the pain of separation. The pain brought Matt to two decisions. First, RA or no RA, he was going to pursue a relationship with Andy. Secondly, Matt decided that he was never going to be dependent on any man.
Matt student-taught in the town and was offered a job at the same school when he graduated. Matt accepted. It would mean moving away from Chicago, but his Mom and Dad were having problems with their marriage. In fact, his mom had told Matt that they were getting a divorce after over twenty years of marriage. Matt wanted to avoid the whole situation, and staying in Bloomington was a way to distance himself from the mess. It was also a chance to become independent and adult. He still had lots of friends in the Chicago area, but he could make new ones in Bloomington, and, of course Andy was here.
Andy also got a job at the Pantagraph. It was a low
level stringer job, but there were opportunities to move up in
the company. They moved into an older house in Bloomington, not
far from Franklin Park. It had once been a glorious home, but now
it was subdivided into small apartments. they occupied the first
floor. There were hardwood floors an some leaded glass windows.
Matt and Andy spent the rest of the summer feathering their
little nest. They scoured garage sales and bought a few items at
Pier 1. They painted, scraped and refinished, and as August
approached, the place had been transformed into a very charming
Matt had a tough time adjusting to the rigors of teaching. It
was not as easy as he thought. Like in the movie The Breakfast
Club where the janitor Carl confronts the teacher in the
basement file room. Carl said "You took a job teaching
because you thought it would be fun...then you found out it was
work." There was a constant stream of paperwork; lesson
plans, papers to grade and progress reports to send to parents.
Computers didn't help, because you had to enter the data into the
machine, and that could be time-consuming in itself. Some
evenings, he worked into the night simply getting ready for the
Three years later, Matt was hating his teaching job. The principal who originally hired Matt was gone, replaced by a demanding, detail-oriented bitch. The paperwork, discipline, classroom management and time spent grading papers was beginning to get on his nerves. That fall he got a part-time job at a bookstore in Eastland Mall. It brought in extra money and Matt liked it enormously.
Suddenly, Andy quit his job in December, two weeks before
Christmas. The job wasn't progressing as fast as he wanted. So he
just quit. Matt was very angry about Andy's irresponsibility, but
he swallowed his misgivings and worked. Andy continued to look
for work. He took a series of menial jobs - waiter, salesman, he
even registered with a temporary agency. None of these jobs
lasted more than a few months. Money got tight and the started to
fight. They fell into a pattern of arguments, sullen silent
treatment then hot reconciliations. Still, the relationship
Matt found that he like this part-time job more than teaching.
It scared him. What had he gone to the effort of going to
college? He asked the manager of the bookstore for more hours,
which she gladly granted.
In May, three years after he graduated from ISU, everything converged on Matt at once.
His relationship with Andy was essentially over, they were not much more than roommates. Between teaching and his bookstore job, they hardly saw each other anymore, and when they did, all they did was fight.
His teaching job was a continual source of stress. The new
principal was never satisfied, and never made clear her
expectations of what she wanted. She only voiced criticism to
Matt, and it was wearing on him.
Matt discovered that the Assistant Manager of the bookstore
was leaving, so he made a choice about his employment. He would
apply for the job. If it came through, he would do that for a
while. If not, he would apply to other districts over the summer.
In his interview the store manager told him, "You are the
one I want to be assistant." Matt informed the principal of
his school that he was not returning the following year and she
told him she didn't intend on renewing his contract anyway. The
store manager held the job open for Matt until he finished school
the second week of June.
The transition to retail was easy, although the hours took
some getting used to. Teaching had trained Matt to be good with
paperwork, details and managing several tasks at once. And Matt
found that when he worked evenings, he could accomplish a lot in
the mornings. He could do housework, pay bills, or just watch
Phil and Oprah. The laundromat, bank, and grocery stores were
empty on weekdays. Andy was gone during the day, and Matt didn't
ask where he went.
Roxanne, the store manager, saw lots of potential in Matt. Unlike some managers who were threatened by good assistants, she knew that a good assistant who was promoted to manager was a favorable reflection on her. So she trained Matt as if he were going to be promoted. He was a fast learner, conscientious, honest, and very personable. And the company was still in expansion mode - opening stores as quickly as new malls could be built. So there were lots of opportunities for Matt.
Andy and Matt hardly saw each other that summer, and when they did, they fought. In his mind, Matt named each argument for the incident that started the fight. There was the VCR Fight, the Cooking Fight, The Housework Fight. They grew in frequency and intensity so the Matt began to question whether there was something wrong with him,
Matt held his emotions in check until one morning. The flood
that broke the dam was the old movie I Remember Mama. It
was on a cable channel (the bill had not been paid, but the
service had not yet been disconnected) and Nick recorded it was
I Remember Mama is a wonderful, old, sentimental movie
and Matt had seen it before, but not for several years. It it
about a Norwegian immigrant family in turn-of-the-century San
Francisco. The simple family situations and emotions brought in
focus how unhappy Matt was in his current life. His teaching
career was over after only three years. His first serious
relationship was also over. Why can't problems solve themselves
as easily as they do in movies? How did his life get so
complicated? He began to cry, and once the floodgates were
opened, he continued until it was time to get ready for work.
Matt went to work that afternoon and every day after that with
a will. He would bury himself in work to avoid dealing with the
problems between himself and Andy.
Matt moved out of the bedroom and slept on the daybed in he
living room. Now they rarely spoke to each other. Matt arranged
his schedule at the bookstore so that he worked the evening shift
and most nights thereby avoiding contact with Andy. Andy
disappeared most mornings - he certainly wasn't job-hunting - and
Matt didn't care anymore. Matt surmised he was out cruising the
bathrooms at ISU or perhaps even at the Mall. But it didn't
matter. He was getting out. He just needed a way to accomplish
About a week later, the company announced that they were opening a new store in Oak Ridge Mall. Oak Ridge was a mainly blue-collar suburb south of Chicago. Matt had some aunts and uncles who lived there. Matt could go home.
"Roxanne, I'm interested in this manager position. How do I go about it?"
Roxanne's face split into a wide grin. "Do you think you're ready for it?"
"Yes, I think so."
"I'll recommend you to the Chicago District Manager. In the meantime, there's some other things that I have to train you to do."
One Tuesday morning before work, Marty called.
"Girlfriend, where have you been?" Marty demanded.
"I've called a couple of times, and there's never an answer. You really must invest in a new answering machine."
"I know. I've been working a lot of evenings lately."
"Where's Andy? Isn't he at home eagerly awaiting your return?"
"I honestly don't know where he goes. He's probably out fucking around."
"Uh-oh. Trouble in Paradise?"
Matt lowered his voice, though he wasn't sure why. "More than that. It's over."
"I'm sorry Matt, I really am. But I have to say...." Marty paused dramatically, "I told you so. He as a darling child, but you remember the time I met him. It was at Donald's party. He made several passes at me and even grabbed my crotch at one point."
"He was quite drunk." Matt recognized immediately that he was defending Andy.
"I know, darling. But still I took you aside in the kitchen and told you that I thought he was irresponsible and that it wouldn't last."
Matt frowned. He hadn't liked the fact that Marty's prediction had been correct.
"So, what are you going to do?" Marty asked the obvious.
"Move out, I guess. Maybe back to my parent' house. I'm interviewing for the manager position at a new store that they're opening in Oak ridge mall. I really don't have the money to move out on my own, yet. I've been carrying Andy financially for over a year, and I don't have anything saved."
"You're going to move back with your parents? After, what, three years on your own? Not counting college. Yuk. I'd rather set my hair on fire. Why not move in with me?"
"Are you sure?"
"You've never seen my new apartment, have you? It's in Blue Island, right near the 129 Club."
Matt chuckled. "I remember meeting you there." They had gone to the same high school, but Marty was three years ahead of Matt. They had known each other distantly, they ran into each other in drama activities, and each had suspected the other was gay. But, teenage paranoia and insecurity prevented them from discovering each other. Then, one cold night between Christmas and New Year's, when Matt was home from college, they spotted each other in the 129 Club. They renewed their common past, and established a bond that bridged time and distance.
"I remember it well. You approached me and...."
"I still had hair," Marty interrupted. "God, don't remind me. We could have so much fun. And this place is huge, positively cavernous. And I pay a pittance for rent. Seems the Yuppies haven't discovered Blue Island yet."
"I'll have to see how this all turns out. I'm not sure I'll get the job."
"Of course you will. Keep me informed. Now, in the meantime, how about clearing a weekend so you can come up and visit?"
For the next few weeks, Matt was on pins and needles. At home,
he made preparations to move tentatively. He wasn't sure he had
the manager job, although Roxanne assured him that he had the
inside track. But there was an element of superstition about the
process. He didn't want to tempt fate. He didn't want to pack and
then be disappointed.
He also didn't want to arouse Andy's suspicion with packed
boxes. So he packed cautiously and put the filled boxes in a
closet. When the closet was full, he asked for, and received,
permission from the landlord to put more boxes in a corner of the
basement. In that conversation, Matt had to explain his plans and
assure him that the company would buy out the rest of his lease.
While at work, Matt tried to busy himself with as many tasks as he could. He dusted, shelved, straightened, changed displays--anything to keep his mind off the decision the district manager was making. Every time the phone rang, Matt jumped like one of Pavlov's dogs. Could it be Gary, the Chicago district manager? Each time it was a customer looking for a book.
During this time, Roxanne was doing her best to prepare Matt,
She hated to lose such a good assistant manager, but she
understood the desire to have one's own store. She taught Matt
how to order books and accessories, scheduling, and how to
complete obscure forms.
Toward the end of July the phone rang and Roxanne called him; "Matt, the phone's for you. I think it's Gary."
"Hi, Matt. This is Gary Johnston. I'd like to offer you Store 933 in Oak Ridge Mall." Matt was floating so high, he almost missed the details about moving and opening the store.
"You're leaving?" Andy screeched, the panic rising
in his voice.
"The company will pay for the rest of the lease. There's only two months left on it anyway."
"I can't fucking believe this. You're leaving just like that?"
"What do you mean just like that? We haven't had anything to do with each other for months. Did you really expect me to continue living here forever?"
"I at least expected some notice. I don't think this is fair!"
"That's what I'm doing now," Matt said reasonably, "giving you notice. I have two weeks until I move, then you can live here on your own for two months or find another roommate."
Andy wouldn't accept the change. He ranted and raved and cried and carried on, but Matt was too excited to sympathize. Matt was off to a new adventure. He was beginning a new life. And Andy wasn't. Maybe that's why Andy was so upset.
Matt had a week to move, get settled, and start his new job. Matt packed his own belongings; clothes and kitchenware and other things he had purchased. Most of the furniture he planned on leaving. He found that he had to talk to Andy more than he had in several months. There were many decisions to be made, and Matt was surprised by Andy's cooperation. Matt had accumulated a lot of books. Very few belonged to Andy. And most of those, Matt had purchased for Andy or given to him as gifts. This puzzled Matt -- how could a journalism major be so disinterested in reading? And how could he have lived with someone who didn't read?
Marty's apartment was as huge as he had described it. And
Marty did pay minimal rent. Marty was not an attractive man. He
had a long, pointed nose and thin lips. His cheeks were
pockmarked from teenage acne. Marty was four or five inches
taller than Matt; that would have made him about 6' 2". He
was thin, almost skinny. He reminded Matt of Ichabod Crane.
Marty's hair was naturally brown when it wasn't dyed, tinted or
highlighted. It was also thinning and Marty tried every dream and
spray and had even gotten a prescription for Rogaine. To say he
was vain about his hair was an understatement.
Yet, he was one of Matt's best friends. He had a wicked sense
of humor. He was generous and loyal. He would give the shirt off
his back to a stranger. And he was completely trustworthy. Matt
could tell Marty anything, and he knew if the information was
properly labeled as confidential, it would go no further.
Matt sighed with contentment as he collapsed in a chair in the living room.
"Whew," Marty panted as he mopped his forehead with a dishtowel. I haven't had this much exercise since my last trick. How about a drink?"
"Thanks, a beer, please. And thanks for helping me carry this stuff up."
"Don't mention it, cupcake." He handed Matt a Pabst Blue Ribbon Dry. "Hey, did you ever have fantasies about Al Wagner?"
"Did I? I used to jack off every night thinking about him. Wasn't he gorgeous?"
This is going to be fun, Matt thought, Living here with Marty. Matt was opening a new store and opening a new chapter in his life. He was getting a new start. The poorly written part of his life that included Andy and teaching was now over, and Matt was more than ready to turn the page.
And Marty was very helpful in the healing process, too. He helped Matt sort out his feelings and fears, and gave him confidence to write the next chapter. It was the perfect beginning to the new decade; the last of the twentieth century.
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