The Pellegrine

Soul Lark

Book VI
Magi at Work

Chapter 6
The Bar

© The author reserves all rights to this work.


This story is of an adult nature. It is not intended for minors nor for those whose law in their land forbids them to read this material.
This story is entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental and unintentional.

NB: Words found between asterisks (*) refer to words exchanged in psychic or telepathic communication.

Date: 12 February 2674, Thursday

Heath brought me to a different part of the planet. It seemed less boisterous and more sedate. That’s not to say that it was a boring place. It had its charm, but it seemed less of a night spot than The Pink Flamingo.

The bar was a regular drinking hole except that the clientele was mainly men. When we entered, I could sense many eyes gazed at our direction. I knew for certain that they were looking at Heath. If they looked at me, it would probably be puzzled looks as to how a beautiful man like Heath could end up with a blob like me. Well, I felt a little conceited that I was with Heath. That was for just a split second for I remembered why I was here with that young man.

He seemed totally oblivious to the attention he was drawing. He walked up to the bar counter where there were two seats empty. I asked for beer. Heath asked for scotch, which he downed without a second thought. The bartender poured him a second shot.

“How could he do this to me?” he asked. His voice was trembling with emotion. I could see tears in his eyes.

“Do what?” I asked.

Heath's answer was highly charged with emotion. “Go out with Chuck? Who is this Chuck anyway? What does he have that I don’t have?” He didn’t look my way. He seemed to be speaking to himself.

I placed my hand on Heath’s shoulder, “Heath, don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill. Chuck’s just a friend. Perhaps if Jacques knew how you felt, he wouldn’t have even considered Chuck.”

I had hoped that my words would calm him down but it seemed to have the opposite effect. Heath gulped down his whiskey and asked for another. The bartender looked questioningly at me.

“His last,” I whispered.

The bartender gave a half shrugged his shoulders, and with a face that said I guess you know best, poured out another shot of whiskey for my blond-haired companion.

“I’m useless.” he said despondently. “I can’t even tell the person I love that I love him and now he is off with another guy.”

With my hand on Heath’s shoulder, I shook him a little. “Heath, listen to yourself. You don’t even know if Jacques is gay. You don’t even know if Chuck is just a friend. Stop making speculations and start thinking how you’re going to come out to Jacques.”

“Listen to him, son,” said the bartender. “You shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions without the facts.”

“I’ve all the facts,” Heath said angrily. He counted off with his fingers as he rattled off a list, “He is with another guy; I love him; I’d do anything for him … but he doesn’t even care,” Heath said, breaking down.

I realised that he was feeling the same way I felt when Rick told me about Didi. “Heath, you’ve got to pull yourself together. I know how you feel, really I do,” I tried to reassure him.

“How would you know?” Heath asked defiantly. “You’re so confident of yourself. How do you know what it’s like to be loving someone from afar? How do you know the fear of telling the man you love that you’re gay? How do you know the heartbreak of seeing the one you love going off with another man? For all I know, you’re probably the one who does the heartbreaking.” He gulped down his whiskey again and reached out his glass towards the bartender.

I placed my handover the mouth of the glass. “I know because I was there. I wasn’t always so confident. You’re the first person to have told me that I am so. My first love was with a straight man who treated me like a little brother. I never told him he was gay because I didn’t know how he would’ve reacted. I know what it feels like because he started going steady with a girl.” There I said it. I suddenly felt lighter as if a burden has been lifted. Yet, the weight of the sadness was still there.

Heath gave a half-sneer. “I find it hard to believe. You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

“Look Heath, I’m telling you the truth,” I said, trying to sound earnest.

Heath didn’t really believe me. “Then how did you end up so confident?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I lied. “Maybe it’s because I’m over this guy. Perhaps it’s realising that Rick wasn’t the only guy around. Perhaps I realised that Rick wasn’t my life.”

“But I can’t get over him, Max,” he said, dragging his fingers through his hair. “I tried to tell myself that Jacques doesn’t love me but that didn’t take away the love I have for him.” I could tell he was trying not to break down again even though the tears in his eyes were freely flowing.

“Heath, in the first place, he’s not lost yet. You’ve got to come out to him. I don’t know if he knows you’re gay. If he knows, things may be different. Even if he rejects you, you’re still young. There’ll be others that come along. Don’t end up like me, sulking in the corner until age catches up and those who are available are too young and not interested in an old man and those who are around the same age are already attached.” I made another revelation. The feeling of lightness increased.

“What do you mean?” Heath asked. He had stopped crying.

“After Rick, my first and only love in my sad life, I kept away from relationships, afraid of being hurt again. I buried myself in work and didn’t take care of myself,” I explained. “I’m now overweight and old. I must admit that I’m attracted to you but I realise that you won’t have the least bit interest in me because I’m old and ugly.”

Heath broke into a small smile, “You mean that you’d make love to me if I wanted it?”

“What are you saying?” I asked.

“If I threw myself at you, you’d fuck me and make love to me?” he asked with a cheeky smile. “Why don’t we go home now and fuck ourselves silly?” His face was flushed. The whiskey was doing the talking now. He was getting inebriated.

“No, Heath.” Heath’s face fell a little. I was afraid that he might create a scene and so I added quickly, “As much as I want to,” I continued, “and I’m very attracted to you, I know what we’d be doing was wrong. You don’t love me, you love Jacques. You’ll just be prostituting yourself to me. There’d be no real feelings of love. In the end, I’ll hurt you more than you’re now.”

“I guess you’re right,” said Heath sadly. “But I don’t know what to do!” He buried his face in his hands.

“Don’t give up. Jacques may still respond to you yet,” I tried to encourage him. “Remember that you’d do anything for him. I think he takes for granted what you like and what you don’t. If he realises that the things you don’t really care for, like dancing, is something that you’d do for him, he’ll realise how much you really do love him.”

Heath brightened up a little. His face was still flushed but his eyes told me that he wasn’t too drunk.

“Look, Heath, after I leave for the resort tomorrow, you’ll have to come clean with Jacques. I’ll call you tomorrow night just to see how things are. I’m sure things will work out fine.”

“You really think so?” he asked.

I didn’t give him an answer. I merely smiled and patted him on the back of his shoulder. I knew I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted to hear. It was all fifty-fifty. While I didn’t want to raise up his hopes, I didn’t want to see him discouraged.

My actions seem to satisfy Heath. “Wow! I feel silly all of a sudden,” he said. “I gulped down three shots of whiskey in three minutes. My stomach’s feeling mighty warm. I think I’d better get to the toilet.”

“In the meantime,” I said as he got off his stool, “I’ll get you something to clear your head.” I turned to the bartender and asked, “Do you have anything to help my friend?”

“I’ve just the thing,” the bartender said. He returned with a glass filled with a creamy light green mixture. “This oughta do it.”

“Thanks,” I acknowledged and picked up my beer.

A man sitting on my other side remarked, “You did well.” I turned to see who was speaking. He looked a little embarrassed, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but it was difficult not to listen.”

I turned and smiled at him. He was a man, around my age, who also was a little flabby. His face showed the wrinkles of age but I was sure that he was good looking when he was in his twenties. He had brown hair with a few strands of grey thrown in. He was dressed in a dark blue suit.

“I hope I didn’t give him too much hope. It’ll crash if Jacques rejects him.”

“No, I think you told him exactly what he needed to hear. I wish I had someone like you to tell me what to do when I was his age.”

“It’s never too late,” I told him. I had a very strange feeling. Here I was telling people not to give up, first Heath and then this stranger, when I had already decided to give up.

“Boris Lobka,” he introduced himself.

“Max Cole,” I said as we shook hands.

“I certainly hope that it is not too late to become friends with you,” Boris said. I saw his eyes getting a little wet.

“As I said before: it’s never too late,” I said as the strange feeling I had before returned.

He lowered his eyes, “You may think I’m crazy but I need to tell someone this. You were such a good listener to the young man that I want to tell you what I’ve been keeping inside. I hope you don’t mind.”

Well, I thought to myself, if my last hours of my life was meant to be like this, then I shouldn’t refuse. I’m not really dreading this. In fact, I think I like being treated as if I knew what was happening.

“Of course not, but I’ll have to go the moment my friend returns and finishes that,” I said, pointing to the concoction the bartender had made.

“I’m gay,” he said with his eyes still lowered. Then he looked up, “You’re the first person I’ve said this to.” Then he quickened his speech as he continued speaking, “A case of unrequited love caused me to deny my sexuality and it is only in recent years that I’ve begun to start accepting who I am again. I started coming to places like this because I thought that I could make friends with people who are gay like me. I ended up with several sexual encounters and that’s all. Everyone wants to have a quickie and than leave.” He paused at this point and continued at a slower pace, “When I heard how you refused to go to bed with the young man, I knew that I could trust you not to be just another sexual encounter.”

“Look at me Boris,” I said, not believing my ears. “I’m old and ugly. At least you’ve got some looks. No one would give me the second look. I accepted that a long time ago. Who’d want to go to bed with me? Heath? He was on the rebound. He just wanted to throw his life away because he found little meaning in his life right now. I wasn’t about to let him do that.”

“You’re not ugly,” Boris said with a smile, “and you care. I hope that I can meet with you more often.”

That last sentence frightened me. “I’m just here on holiday. If you intend to meet me more often, you’d have to live on Earth, where I live.” I tried to sound indifferent but I could sense my heart beating as I spoke.

Apparently, he didn’t notice anything amiss. “I’m on a business trip here. I spend a few days every month here. My company deals with silicate fuels and I have to come here to see how the mines are doing and report back to HQ, which is on Earth.”

What have I gotten myself into? I asked myself. I wasn’t going to go back to Earth! I’d be giving this man false hope if I said yes. I’d be crazy to tell him my plans on the resort! I didn’t know what to do. I was glad when I saw Heath emerge from the washroom.

“Take this information,” said Boris producing a business chip. “It has my particulars, both company and personal. Call me when you reach home. I’d like for us to be better friends.”

I thanked him for the chip. He stood up, put on his breathmask and walked out of the bar. I turned to see the bartender giving Heath his concoction. “Let’s go home,” I said to Heath.

When he finished, I let him pay the bill and we walked out of the bar.

When we reached the vehicle and had gotten in, Heath turned to me with a grin. “Who was the guy you were talking to?” he asked.

“Just some guy,” I replied.

“Well, he gave you his personal chip, that sounds serious,” teased Heath.

“Grow up Heath,” I said, “this is reality and I’m forty-two years old. I’m not some teenage gay boy looking for his life mate.” Heath had suddenly changed from devastation to smart aleck.

“Forty-two?” Heath asked, “You sure don’t look it.”

I nodded. “I know I look older. My paunch and balding hair don’t help much …” I resisted the urge to touch my head and my belly.

Heath looked surprised. “No, I mean you look younger. I thought you were late thirties.”

I was secretly pleased. “I shall take that as a compliment but you’re too young to be guessing ages. Besides, you’ve got your eyes only for one guy.”

Heath became silent. I realised that I had just helped him to get back into his depressive mood. I wanted to kick myself. I was so close to getting him motivated to try to get Jacques back.

Oure 90-second journey in the vehicle was made in silence.

“Heath, what are you going to do?” I asked when we finally got back to the apartment.

Heath looked unsure. “I don’t have the courage to talk to Jacques. I guess I’ll just have to live with the fact that Jacques will never notice me,” he said, ending with a sigh.

“Stop that! Heath. If you don’t try, you won’t know for sure. You’ve got to talk to Jacques,” I encouraged him.

I could see the anxiety in his eyes as he asked, “If he says that he only wants to be friends? If he says that he has no romantic feelings for me?”

“Life goes on,” I said. “It’s his loss. You’re young. I’m sure that you’ll get over Jacques and find yourself someone worthy of you.”

Heath’s voice quivered. “I can’t contemplate life without Jacques. Max, I think I’ll die if he rejects me.”

“If he rejects you, it’s his loss,” I reiterated. “You’ll live, believe me.”

“I don’t think I’d want to live,” with a tone of despondency.

I put my arm around his shoulders and gave him a squeeze. “Don’t say that Heath. You’ve your whole life ahead of you. Don’t waste it because someone doesn’t recognise the love you have. You just have nerves. Telling and knowing sure beats not telling and not knowing.”

That bodily contact actually gave me a semi-erection. I had always yearned for physical intimacy with another person but never had the experience. I felt a little ashamed for reacting thus. The situation got worse when Heath gave me a full hug. He must have felt me but he didn’t pull back suddenly. He hugged me for at least half a minute before releasing me.

“I believe you when you say that you’re attracted to me. I felt you,” he looked down, which made me feel hot in the face. “You’re a real friend, Max. You could’ve taken advantage of me but you didn’t. Thanks.”

I was so embarrassed. There was a frog in my throat when I said, “Heath, promise me that you’d sleep on what I’d said.”

“I will,” he replied before we got to our separate rooms and called it a night.

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