Disclaimer: The following story contains relationship and sexual act between young men. If material of this nature offends you, or it is illegal in your jurisdiction for you to view it, DO NOT READ any further. Although this story is loosely based on my real life experience, I have changed people's names in order to protect their privacy. Other than that, any similarity between real people or events is purely coincidental.
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"I might be out and gay, but don't equate that with easiness." David pretends that he is taking offense, "I only grant homosexual experimentation when the individual is at least 7 out of 10 when it comes to look."
"Wow, and I'm not?" Charley plays along.
"Well, let me work on my scale. Never had to use negative number you know." With that David bursts out laughing.
"Really, I thought with your Asian half, you had to equip that on your scale." Charley shoots back without batting his eyes.
"Ehmm, why?" David doesn't get it.
"How else would you measure your private part then?" Now it's Charley's turn to laugh.
"Man, good one!" David is really happy that Charley is so open minded and equally sharp witted. He really starts to enjoy their verbal repartee.
(End of Chapter 4)
By Sean Lee © 2009
"You hungry?" David pokes his head into Charley's new room, "I'm thinking of making some sushi, if you want."
Charley is still checking his email on his precious Mac. Obviously excited, he turns around quickly and raises his fist in the air, "Yes! I've been craving sushi. You are a freaking mind reader!"
"Well not just any sushi, I'm gonna make some Oshi-zushi." David brings this rectangular wooden box to the front.
"It literally means Pressed Sushi, and it's the most famous Sushi style from Kansai area of Japan. Wanna help out making it?"
"Count me in man. Always want to learn how to make Sushi." Charley gets up from his chair. He's one of those "annoying" people that gets high just on life. And David adores him for that, as it reminds him so much of Mike. It was also Mike that taught David the recipe. He picked it up when he was in Osaka during a summer exchange program back in middle school.
On the marble counter in the kitchen, David starts by putting the Oshi-zushi mold (aka "Hakozushi") into a sink-full of water. He then turned around and picked up an omelet pan. "Ok, you think you could handle make some thin omelet for me?"
"Sure, Chef" Charley rolled up his sleeves and spits in one of his hand before rubbing it in with the other hand, comically.
With a raised eye brow, David instructed, "First, wash those slobber covered paws before I catch some of your nasty VDs. Then ¡K, ewwww!" As he is interrupted by Charley starting to lick in between his stretched out left index and middle finger with his eyes closed.
"Or we can just skip the dinner, since you've just obliterated my appetite for the week." David half threatens Charley. Seeing him obediently washing his hands, David continues on, "Gently beat the eggs and season with sake and salt..."
Charley, cocks his right eye brow up slight and says, "Beating thing is one of my fortes, you can count on me Chef!" while mimicking masturbating with his right hand.
"Could we not make everything sexual, PLEASE!" David is trying his best not to laugh at Charley's incorrigibility while seriously considering badgering the cast iron pan into Charley's apparently thick skull.
Detecting David's waning patience, Charley raises both of his hands in surrender and backs off on his jokes, for now.
"Lightly grease the pan and pour in just enough egg to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. When the egg has set, remove from pan." David continues on.
"Don't put too much sake in the egg mix and keep the element on low." David is seriously worried that Charley will clown around and burn down the apartment. With a death stare to Charley, he turns around to start on some preparation with other ingredients.
Trying to lighten him up, Charley asks, "What if I put too much sake and accidentally put the heat on high?"
"Then you have egg flambé." David tells him without even turning his head, "And I will roll you into some Nori seaweed paper and cut you into Maki Sushi!"
"Wow, that's probably the most delicious threat I've ever heard." Charley is impossible to take anything seriously. "Although, without rice wouldn't that be Sashimi?"
David can't help but chuckling at Charley's lame attempt of make him laughs. In defeat, he fishes out a remote from one of the side draws. He points it to the receiver of the Bang & Olufsen audio system in the living room. Hoping some relaxing jazz could stop himself from actually hurting Charley.
"Corcovado", like a cool summer breeze, glides in from the built-in speakers around the loft. Should there be satin covering all those speakers, you will see them lifted by the flirting melody and dance.
David moves on slicing some fresh Shiitake mushrooms and soaking them in a saucepan filled with clear pork bone soup his family chef had cooked for him couple of days ago. David lives mostly on various kinds of delectable soups that are full of nutrients while mixed with traditional herbal boosts that are suitable for the season. His new love for soup is by and large cultivated by the brilliant Chef Chan, whom has worked for his maternal family's main estate in Shanghai for the past 25 years. He is from Southeastern region of the country, where soup making is a form of art.
Finishing with the Shiitake, David covers up the saucepan and turns around checking up on Charley. David is pleasantly surprised by his cooking ability. The thin omelet is developing quite nicely. Just when David is about to ask Charley to pick it up, Charley holds the pan up slightly, and with his other hand, he shocks the handle sharply. With that the omelet becomes unstuck completely and neatly from the pan.
David is quite impressed, "You know how to make French Omelet, don't you?"
"Summer job in a fancy hotel's buffet will teach you that." Charley shrugs, while executing a perfect mid-air flip of the omelet.
For the second time David is mesmerized with Charley's intensity. Just like in the Jazz bar two days ago, David can't stop staring at him.
After almost 30 seconds, Charley turns around with the omelet, "Now what? Chef?"
Unlike last time he got caught, David has nothing with which he can hide his blatant violation of the politesse. David rubs his right eye brow awkwardly and stuttered. "Strip, I mean ... cut them into thin strips." Purple, that must be the color of David's blush now.
"Well, I wouldn't mind stripping, the music is surely very suitable." Charley starts to sway his hip from left and right together with the Samba like Bossa Nova Jazz. With his free hand snapping along the rhythm, he closes his eyes and shakes his head slightly.
Instead of laughing at Charley impromptu performance with a piping hot omelet pan in one hand, David feels as if something just gripped his heart. Memory of Mike comes rushing back.
It was right after their prom night. David and Mike were still discrete about their new found love, so they invited 2 of their good friends from girl's finishing school. They had a pretty good time at the prom, after all, most of the school are French or Francophone students. They may be universally disliked for various reasons, the ability of throwing a good party is definitely not one of them.
David dropped both of their dates back to the girl's school after the prom with Mike. It was a beautiful early summer night with silver full moon in the sky. David let the windows down as he drove down hill back to their boarding school. His right hand leisurely rested on the gear stick of the standard Discovery he rented for the week. He felt Mike's hand wrapped itself on his right hand. He turned to him and grinned. Turning his attention back to the road as they approaching a fork.
He felt Mike leaned over and with a slight peck on his cheek, he whispered very close to David's ear, "Let's go to the hotel's terrace instead."
David stopped the car at the fork and looked at Mike wondering what he had in mind. The moon shined through the windshield and gave Mike's smooth and angular face an alabaster quality. His dimples were there, as usual.
"I think we still owe each other a true prom date." Mike grabbed David's hand up gently and kissed it. So courtly, as if he was asking for a dance.
Hotel Albert, was a quaint little 4 star resort hotel that operated by the luxury chain of Relais & Châteaux. It's practically up the road from the campus. And like the campus, it also faces French Savoyan Alps and the Lake Geneva below. It has a sizable Terrace on one side of clay tennis court on which David and Mike spent a lot of weekend afternoons. The hotel was closed for the week in preparation of the impending summer rush. Since David's family owned the hotel, he did have the master key and security code.
They parked the car next to the terrace and David went ahead onto the stone terrace. Looking down, the Lake Geneva maintained her typical calm. The moon sat right on top of the mountain range across the lake and rendered a wide column of silver glitters on the lake. The usual emerald Alps was, then, inky black. She stood in the back, brooding, majestically.
David was feeling equally gloomy. Mike was leaving for Nice soon to meet up with his parents in their ancestral home. He was supposed to go to Japan and joining his family for a long planned Hot Spring retreat.
After that, universities, in two different cities and two different countries.
Yet again, thought David, this could be the end. Unlike the relief he felt last time in Paris, the uncertainty of losing what they have was slowing crushing him. It weighted over David like a curse. This supposedly serene quietness only made it more consuming. Pine trees' incessant chattering under the sway of Switzerland's famous warm Föhn wind, while normally soothing, was simply irritating.
Then, out of the blue, Astrud Gilberto's sleepy yet flawless alto voice poured out of parked Land Rover's powerful speaker. Although in Portuguese, David knew its English translation well.
"Quiet nights of quiet stars, quiet chords from my guitar
Floating on the silence that surrounds us ..."
David felt Mike's head on his shoulder and his warm embrace ensued.
"Why the melancholy?" Mike said rather than asked.
David enjoyed Mike's comforting presence while slightly turned on by his steady breath next to his left ear. Like magic, all the stress just evaporated.
"This is a bitter tragic joke, don't you think?" David quoted part of the lyrics in English.
Mike held David tighter and said, "You are the meaning of my existence." He turned David around and with the same determination, his stormy gray bored into David's soul. "Doesn't matter how far we are apart, doesn't matter what happens, I will always be with you. I promise."
David felt tears glided down his own cheek. Same feeling of elation and reassurance enveloped him just like last time he had cried. Mike press David's head back into his embrace and cooed. "Don't cry. You still owe me a dance. Remember?"
Under the bright summer moon, engulfed by the Föhn and accompanied with soothing Brazilian Jazz, they started dancing with the melody and befitting lyric.
"... Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams
Quiet walks by quiet streams
And a window that looks out on the mountains and the sea
Oh how lovely
This is where I want to be here with you so close to me until the final flicker of life's ember
I who was lost and lonely believing life was only a bitter tragic joke, have found with you
The meaning of existence, oh my love"
"David, David! You there?" Charley is stilling holding the omelet pan. With a concerned look, he shakes David gentle out of his thoughts.
Realizing he's got tears on his cheek, David turns his head aside and tries to wipe it off with his sleeve. "Sorry, I was ..." Then he does not know what to say, no more cover-ups now. Nothing at work should induce tears.
"You dancing with that song reminded me of someone that's no longer ... with us." David spills the bean. However little it is, David feels a little sense of relief.
"Verbalization does help I guess." David thinks to himself remembering his therapist's advice.
"You want to talk about it?" Charley offers.
"Ehmm, maybe another time ..." Looking at Charley, David suddenly has the understanding that Charley really cares. That realization brings a little grin to his face. "But thanks for offering."
They finally finish preparing the Sushi. David opens a bottle of Daiginjo Sake from Aomori, Japan and cleans the counter for dinner.
"I know you don't drink, but you should really try this." David offers. "A good friend of mine from the Japanese Consulate brought it from his home town. Supposedly one of the best sakes there is."
"Just one shot I guess." Charley is evidently not in a habit of turning down new experience in life.
With a grin, David pours two shots for themselves.
"Shouldn't you heat this up before drinking?" Charley asks.
"Look at you, a non-drinker posing as a pro." David teases, "You would be correct normally, especially given it is winter right now. However for this kind of ultra premium sake, it would be a sacrilege. The heat would kill the aroma and the flavors."
David sniffs the sake quickly and relishes in its almost Orchid like fragrance. "Unlike wine, the ¡¥bouquet' of Sake is not common, only in the best grade you will have this." David says.
With that, Charley sips a little from the shot. It was not kind of explosive impact he was expecting from a rice wine. However the presence was full. And it does not possess a lasting taste in his mouth.
"Isn't it in wine, the longer the lasting taste, the better the wine?" Charley asks, "This almost has no after-taste at all."
"Right again, I guess you are from California after all." David is now quiet impressed with Charley's knowledge of wine. "Yet in sake, an instantaneous-vanishing Kire, or tail in English, is more sought after."
They start with the Sushi while chatting about their takes on the current affairs. The stunning rise of Obama in the Democrat's primary has so far been quite surprising to David.
And Charley fills him in with how much success has he been, using technologies and relatable messages to excite the younger generation and consolidated his support from the left.
"You are such an old-school New England intellectia wannabe." It's now Charley's turn to tease, "Hillary might be smarter than Obama, but she does not inspire people the way Obama do."
With an imperceptible grin, David refills Charley's sake shot -glass. "Now, now, one shot and you've already started with the name calling. Obama is very little known to me before. I'm just surprised by this new phenom, that's all."
"Stop, man!" Charley touches David's hand trying to stop his refill, although David detects not much conviction in his voice, "Are you trying to get me drunk."
"Don't think I need to try," David looks at him with a smile, "You, my dear, are drunk already."
"Well, fine, I guess once in awhile wouldn't hurt." Charley lets go David's hand and returns to his Sushi.
Two hours later ¡K
After light hearted debates on the future of the US, Sushi enough to feed 4 people and an entire bottle of the Sake. Charley is completely smashed and lies on the sofa facing the balcony, enjoying the view quietly.
"Come on drunkie, before you fell into sleep out here again. It's not good for your neck" David tries to convince Charley, knowing that he won't be able to carry him into his room.
"David, you are such a nice guy." Charley murmurs, "I've never met someone as nice as you are before. Scout's Honor"
"Flattery will get you anywhere." David winks, "Maybe I'll reconsider your experiment request." After a pause, "Although a brown bag might be required for me to complete it"
"Ha, let's not get ahead of ourselves." Charley feints indignation in his drunken state, to the great amusement of David.
He reaches out to give Charley a hand. But instead of pulling him up, David gets dragged down into a bear hug. David feels this unexpected shock.
This is the first embrace he receives in exactly a year from another man. The fact that Charley looks like and feels like Mike only accentuates the burn on his skin and the dull ache in his heart.
Even in his intoxication, Charley senses David's change in mood. He searches David's saddened eyes for an answer. Behind all the miseries, he could also see yearning.
"I don't know what happened to you before." Charley says with all the sincerity he could muster. "I want to help."
He moves his head closer to David's while still looking at David's smoldering hazel eyes as if asking for permission.
David is now completely in a system shut down. He knows this is wrong, but Charley's approaching face intermittently replaced by Mike's image petrifies him entirely.
Just then he realizes that the Audio system is playing "Corcovado" again. And in his head, he could faintly hear Mike's voice "Doesn't matter how far we are apart, doesn't matter what happens, I will always be with you. I promise."
Then he feels lightness in his body spreading from the top of his head. Only after several seconds does David realize it was Charley's lips that triggered that sensation.
All the repressed emotions that David's therapist tried in vain to unearth, erupted. Disregarding all his inhibitions, David kissed back, with a passion that only Mike could have roused.
In his head, the line between reality and memory, a new budding friendship and a long departed love, desire for what is not possible and despair for what has been lost is distorting, and finally, blurred into this blinding sense of joy and fulfillment.
(End of Chapter V)