Pittsburgh, June 2016
“You know, Brian,” Garrett said, glancing around the main room at Woody’s. “This is the first time I’ve ever been in a gay bar.”
Brian raised an eyebrow quizzically. “You’re shitting me, right?”
“Oh, no. I’m quite serious. On a trip to London, Simon and I discussed going into one that had been recommended by one of my students, but once we arrived at the spot – some off-street in Soho or thereabouts – we decided to revise our plans. The men going into the place did not look like they would appreciate a pair of interlopers.”
“Interlopers?” Brian smiled to himself. Garrett was unbelievable! “You two were queers. What more do you need to go into a fucking gay bar? A passport?”
“Well…” Garrett shrugged. “They were so much younger. And more muscular. And their heads were shaved. Simon quipped that we had stumbled into a skinhead rally disguised as a disco. So instead we ate a meal of Chinese food and went happily back to our hotel.”
Brian laughed. “Jesus! What a waste of London!”
“Oh, it wasn’t wasted at all,” Garrett insisted. “The next day we went to the National Portrait Gallery. I bought some lovely postcards and Simon got a tote bag. Then we had a cream tea at Harrods and took the train back to Newcastle.”
Brian gazed at Garrett. Amazing! The guy was 40 and he was like a virgin waiting to be ravaged. Yes, Brian had done that a number of times, but always very carefully. What he really wanted to do was to rock Garrett’s world. Freak him out. Loosen him up in ways he’d never been loosened, or dreamed of being loosened. This seemed like a project to alleviate his summer boredom.
“You’re really ripe for corruption, aren’t you?”
Garrett stared at Brian. “Beg pardon?”
Brian leaned across the table. “I said that you are ripe for being corrupted, mate. It’s about time. And I’m perfectly situated to do the job.”
Garrett winced. “I sincerely appreciate the offer, Brian, but…”
Brian held up his hand. “Don’t say no just yet. What have you got to lose at this point? You’re free, over 21 – well over – and way too sexually inexperienced for an out gay man. Telling me that this is your first time in a gay bar – which I refuse to believe, by the way – is the last straw. Your education, Professor, is about to begin.”
Garrett felt himself go cold and then hot. Too hot. He was excited, but he was also terrified. “What… what exactly do you mean, Brian?”
“Don’t worry,” said Brian. “Nothing radical. I’m not planning to take you home and put you in a sling right off the bat.”
“A sling?” Garrett tried to imagine what that was.
“Don’t worry about it. Maybe we’ll start with a few toys.” Brian licked his lips. “How would you like to fuck me? With a 10-inch dildo?”
Garrett looked horrified. “A… a dildo? I thought that was for women? And haven’t we been… fucking?” Garrett felt uncomfortable simply saying the word.
“Yes, we’ve been fucking,” said Brian. “But I’ve been fucking you, which I assume is what Simon did, since you rolled over immediately without any discussion the minute we got into bed. You seem like a natural bottom, but that’s not necessarily always the way it has to be. I like a little versatility in my sex life. Ron and I were both basically tops, which is usually a deal-breaker in a relationship, but we made it work by being versatile. We did what felt right at the moment. Or we planned out what we were going to do, like a date night for fucking. Or we, um, surprised each other. That kept things interesting. See what I mean?”
Garrett shifted in his chair. The music suddenly seemed much louder. Too loud. The beat was thumping in his ears, his head. His heart was also beating too loudly.
When Brian suggested going to a bar, Garrett hadn’t known what to say. Bars were not his favorite place, especially not American bars, which he found noisy and crowded. There had been a pub not far from their flat in Newcastle where he and Simon occasionally stopped for a pint, but it had been a regular local, not a gay bar, not a disco, not anything out of the ordinary. It had been a quiet place, even dull. In other words, perfect.
Woody’s seemed fairly normal – no one in leather, no skinhead types with multiple tattoos, no noticeable drag queens, or any of the other clichés he associated with gay places. But he still felt uneasy. And now Brian’s suggestion – was it a test? Or a way of scaring him away without having to actually break off their relationship? If this was, in fact, a relationship.
“Yes,” Garrett gulped. “I see what you mean. But it sounds… complicated. I’m not a complicated person, Brian. Trust me.”
“Give yourself some credit. If you don’t like something, you don’t have to do it. But how do you know until you try it?” Brian put his hand over Garrett’s on the table. “Don’t freak out. It’s a good thing or I wouldn’t do it. Sex is supposed to be fun. Playful. A blast. If you open yourself up to it.”
“Hey there! Brian Kinney!” came a deep, sexy voice. “Where the hell have you been, man?”
“Holy fuck!” Brian exclaimed. “D’Wayne! I haven’t seen you in years.”
“I’ve been around,” said the man, pulling up a chair and sitting down. He was tall and dark, in his mid-thirties, a white tee shirt stretched tightly over his muscular chest. But the arresting thing was his eyes – they were a deep blue, which contrasted startlingly with his brown skin. D’Wayne knew the effect they had and he didn’t hesitate to use them. “Where’ve you been?”
“L.A.,” said Brian. “I just moved back into town a month ago. Are you still working for the airline?”
“Naw,” said D’Wayne. “I got sick of the jet lag. I work for an insurance agency. I’m on the executive track. Nice paycheck, too.”
“Sweet,” said Brian. “By the way, this is Garrett. Garrett, this is D’Wayne. If he has a last name, I never knew what it was.”
D’Wayne laughed. “I remember you weren’t big for formal introductions back in the day. My last name is Walker. Not that it matters. Pleased to meet you, Garrett.”
“Hello,” said Garrett. “Pleased to meet you as well, Mr. Walker.”
“Oh! An Englishman!” D’Wayne looked at Garrett with new interest. “I worked the North Atlantic route many, many times. I love an Englishman! You and Brian a thing, girl?”
“A… a thing?” Garrett was now officially overwhelmed.
“He wants to know if we fuck,” Brian explained. “The answer is yes, but we aren’t in some exclusive relationship. This is Garrett’s first time at Woody’s, so we’re taking it kind of slow.”
“Slow is always good,” D’Wayne drawled, but the way he said it sounded dirty. Very, very dirty. “I like it slow and I like it fast, but slow is better, I think. Ask Brian here.”
“Speaking of good fucks,” said Brian. “You ever see Dijon? The two of you used to hang out a lot, if I remember.”
“I remember the two of us hanging out at that loft of yours,” D’Wayne laughed. “You still have that? With the big bed? And the funny light?”
“Yup,” said Brian. “I still have it. Actually, I sold it when I left town, but then I bought it back later. But it’s pretty much the same – especially the big bed.”
D’Wayne grinned. “Yeah, man! The ultimate fuck pad! Dijon is still flying for Liberty Air. We get together whenever he has a layover in town. We’re both still footloose and fancy free. Like you, Brian.”
“Funny you should say that, but I was in a relationship for ten years. We even got married,” said Brian.
“Not Brian Kinney!” D’Wayne exclaimed. “Not with this dishy Englishman here?”
“Oh, no!” said Garrett. “I’ve only known Brian a short time.”
“I see,” said D’Wayne, staring at Garrett with growing interest. “It was the blond, right? I remember him. He had a booty that wouldn’t quit. Wasn’t he the King of Babylon one year?”
“Yes, Justin,” said Brian. “No, we broke up before I moved to California. It was another guy. You wouldn’t know him.” Brian glanced at Garrett, shaking his head. He didn’t want to talk about Ron. Not here.
“Lucky, guy, whoever he was.” D’Wayne suddenly stood up. Someone at the bar had caught his eye. “I need to get myself a little drink. Maybe I’ll talk to you gentlemen later. Or whatever.”
“Maybe,” said Brian.
D’Wayne ambled away, glancing back and winking at Garrett.
“He likes you,” said Brian. “Did you notice?”
“How could I not notice,” said Garrett helplessly. “He was licking his lips at me!”
Brian sighed. Garrett was so skittish. It was cute, in a way, but also irritating. It would be so much easier with Justin. D’Wayne would come over to the table, they’d talk for ten minutes, then head for the loft for an interesting threesome. D’Wayne could fuck Justin while Brian fucked D’Wayne. Then they’d switch around a bit. D’Wayne had a big uncut cock, too. That was always fun. But he’d probably have to anesthetize Garrett to get him to relax enough for a threesome.
“He wants to fuck you, mate. A lot of guys in here want to fuck you. Look around.” Brian swept his arm out, gesturing at the room. “You’re a good-looking guy, and the English accent is like fucking catnip. I have a friend, Emmett, who would lie across this table and want you to fuck him right here the minute you opened your mouth. He’d probably want you to say, ‘Pip pip, cheerio, old chap,’ while you plowed his ass.”
Garrett swallowed. “This is all very confounding to me, Brian.”
“I know it is,” said Brian. “If we wanted to, we could invite D’Wayne back to the loft and play with him. He’s hot and he’s a good fuck, I can guarantee. But I know you aren’t comfortable with that. Maybe you’ll never be comfortable with it. But I want you to know the possibilities that are out there.”
“You want to corrupt me for my own good,” said Garrett. “But would being corrupted make me happier? I was perfectly happy with Simon without needing another man in our bed. Or a… a dildo. Or a sling… whatever that is. Is that what you need to make you happy, Brian?”
Brian looked away. “I don’t know. Maybe. It used to be. But then…”
“Love,” said Garrett. “If you had real love all of those other things wouldn’t matter. With Ron, those things didn’t matter, did they?”
“Not really,” Brian admitted.
“And I didn’t need them with Simon,” said Garrett. “Perhaps one day you’ll feel that way again. But in the meanwhile… your friend D’Wayne seems a very nice chap, but I have no desire to go to bed with him. But if you want to, I can find my way home with no great difficulty.”
“Fuck no,” said Brian. “D’Wayne will find someone else in five minutes.” Brian looked over at the bar. To his surprise, D’Wayne was standing with Emmett Honeycutt. They were laughing together and Emmett was downing a cosmo. “He’s already found someone. Let’s go before they see us.”
“Is that a friend of yours?” Garrett asked.
“Yes. Which is why I don’t want to talk to him. If he sees us, we’ll never get the fuck out of here.” Brian guided Garrett away from the bar, around the pool table, and out the door without Em seeing them.
“Are you planning to begin my… my education, as it were, tonight? At the loft?”
“No,” said Brian. “I have to work tomorrow. It’s getting late. Let’s go back to the house.”
“One day you’ll have to come to my place,” said Garrett.
“With those mutts of yours?” Brian laughed. “No fucking way! That’s all I need is dog hair on my dick!”
“My place isn’t covered in dog hair,” Garrett protested. “Not completely.”
Brian reached over and picked a hair off of Garrett’s shirt. “Oh, no? It isn’t sex that will break us up – it’s those fucking mutts and their fucking hair!”
“How can we break up if we aren’t in a relationship?” Garrett asked, suddenly serious.
“I don’t know,” said Brian. “I just don’t know. But that’s nothing new. I never know.” He paused. “I never know anything – not until it’s too late.”
Garrett slid his arm around Brian’s waist. “It’s not too late. You simply have to be patient.”
“Patient?” Brian whispered. “Not so simple after all.”
They got into Brian’s Lexus and pulled out onto Liberty Avenue, heading north.
But neither of them saw the black Jeep that was parked a few spaces behind them. Or Justin, who sat quietly for a long time after they left before he started up the Jeep and drove back to his apartment.