The Good Old Boybycarsonshepherd©
“Sean, let’s go out. I’ve got a babysitter tonight and Tom’s working late.”
“But Law&Order SVU’s on,” I protested, finishing my beer. The dark brown longneck bottle felt comforting in my hand.
“You really need to get out of that basement, baby. Come on, we haven’t been out once since you got home, you can’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself forever.”
“Oh yes, I can.”
For the first time in two years I was home, staying in my brother’s basement. My boyfriend of 5 years, Marcus, had just dumped me, right at the time the magazine I was working for went under. I thought life couldn’t get any worse until I slipped in the bathroom one night while I was drunk and broke my arm; there was only one thing a person in my state could do, and that was go whimpering home with my tail between my legs to try to recover something of my dignity and self-respect, or what little I had left from before I met Marcus.
“Besides, I don’t feel like going all the way over to the city tonight,” I whined. “I hate clubbing, Rachel.”
“Clubbing? There are no clubs around here, just bars, and that’s exactly what you need. Get your ass off that couch and take a shower. We’re not going to the city. I’m taking you out bar hopping tonight, and I don’t care if we do run into every redneck we went to high school with, you’re going to have fun if it kills you.”
I hung up the phone, dismayed. When Rachel got an idea into her head there was no stopping her. She was my awesome best friend since ninth grade, and the only person I still talked to from high school. While I lived in the city, seven hours away, we kept up a close e-mail friendship, but until I got here a week ago I’d never met her son or her boyfriend. She’d dropped out of college after a year just like me and also like me, she never got around to going back. She just wanted to party and have fun, she was planning on coming and living with me in the the city but she ended up getting pregnant and having a kid with this much older guy, Tom, who made a lot of money so she didn’t even have to work. Hell, I’d live with him too. When I dropped out of college I’d stayed in the city. I swore I’d never move back home. Funny how neither of our lives were what we expected when we graduated twelve years ago.
Three weeks from thirty. Jobless. Loveless. Arm in a cast. Staying in my brother’s basement, where I watched TV and drank beer all day. Not exactly what I had in mind when I went away to college with dreams of being a famous writer. When I landed the job at Shaft, the now-kaput magazine, and met Marcus, the bastard ex-boyfriend, I thought I’d really made it. As a teenager I used to sit in my room listening to the Cure with the shades drawn, dreaming of a hip city existence, lots of cool clubs filled with hot guys.
Well, I had that, at least till I met Marcus; he wouldn’t let me go out partying with my friends. He wanted me home. And I worked long hours on the magazine, so that I barely remembered what the inside of a club looked like, or what people even did on weekends. Well, all that was gone now; and I missed the job, but I was glad Marcus was gone. I wasn’t dating anybody and didn’t want to date anybody; which was good, because there wasn’t anybody around here for me to date anyway.
I got up and took the shower like Rachel commanded. Upstairs, my brother was having his usual Friday night party before his kids came tomorrow, he was smoking weed and drinking with his friends, all guys I’d known since grade school. I used to hate them; they picked on me and called me weird, and I thought they were shit-kicking redneck assholes, in their camouflage hats and pickup trucks and mullet haircuts, the same ones they’d had in high school. Andrew’s wife Lindsey left him last year and had the kids during the week. I couldn’t blame her for divorcing him, really; he was a dick, but he was still my brother, and he was letting me stay here, drink his beer and smoke his weed. That was the common ground, after all these years. It was only once I started smoking weed in college that I actually starting having anything to do with my brother. Sure, he had his moments, but he was pretty cool, and now that we were all past the bullshit cliques of high school, I liked his friends too. After all I’d known them my whole life.
“Sean, I never knew you were so cool, man. I always thought of you as Andy’s freaky little brother,” someone said in a drunken haze the other night, while we were all watching Pink Floyd’s The Wall on Andy’s bigscreen TV, smoking the biggest doobie I’d ever seen.
Andrew played sports; I was more the creative type. While I went off to find myself, he re-opened our dad’s auto shop, which had been locked up since he died. Also, I’m gay and Andrew’s straight. Other than our new-found common love of smoking dope, the only thing we ever had common before was our ability to fix cars, passed down from our dad; but I didn’t want to stay in this town and work on cars. I wanted something more out of life. I’d wanted the kind of life where you took your car to an overpriced mechanic instead of lifting the hood yourself. Now I was out of work and I could help Andy around the garage with one arm in a cast, but I wasn’t a lot of good.
Rachel showed up in the middle of our non-stop guy party. In high school none of these guys would’ve looked at her but now they were all flirting with her. She was a cute, petite redhead with big boobs, what was there not to like? But they all had kids and wives or girlfriends at home that they were miserable with already.
“You having a party, Andrew?” she asked my brother.
“Does Howdy Doody have a wooden dick?” He was leading all his friends in a toast with his beer raised. “To Lindsey. I’m so glad the bitch is gone.”
“Do they know you’re queer?” she was asking me as we got into her car. It was so dark out here in the country. I was so used to the ambient light pollution of the city I had forgotten how dark it was.
“Yeah, probably,” I shrugged. I didn’t bother to hide it but nobody ever said anything.
“If they didn’t know before, they know now that they’ve seen you in that outfit.”
“You don’t like my outfit?” Except for the bulky fiberglass cast on my right arm
I thought it looked pretty good. Boot cut cords, brown boots, a tight long sleeved shirt, a zip up black leather scuba jacket-- hey, I might be almost thirty, but I’m not dead.
“No, it’s great, baby. It’s just not what we’re used to around here,” she told me, but she was laughing when she said it. Nothing I’d ever worn was what they were used to around here; in school people made fun of my clothes. I was just light years ahead of the times twelve years ago, when I used to dye my naturally blonde hair black and let it fall into my face. Now all that vintage fashion we used to search the thrift stores for could be bought at your local Wal-Mart.
The black hair was gone. The punk rock, cooler-than-thou attitude was gone. All that teen angst, being an artsy gay guy in a redneck midwestern small town where people cruised on Friday nights in pickup trucks with mudflaps, none of it amounted to shit. Here I was back again and Rachel and I turned the radio up really loud and sang along with the Violent Femmes as we drove into town.
“There’s this new bar,” she was telling me. When she drove up I saw the Bud Light sign, the neon reading the name of the place: The Wild Goose Saloon.
“No,” I was shaking my head, laughing hysterically as she led me up to the door. Thank God I was half-stoned and had been drinking most of the afternoon already or I never would’ve believed I was going inside. Sober I probably wouldn’t have, but now it seemed hilariously funny. “Wild Goose Saloon. Hell no.”
Inside it was a far, far cry from the club scene with the overpriced drinks, the hipsters, the DJs spinning in their booths. No, this was a real redneck bar and it was fucking great. I loved the red vinyl barstools, the stuffed-and-mounted geese arranged to be flying on the walls. In the city it would’ve been really hip, really ironic, very kitschy, but this was the genuine article. There were quite a few people here sitting at the bar in their camouflage hats. While Rachel got long-necks of Bud Light I browsed the jukebox, feeding it dollar bills. Bob Seger, Hanks Williams Jr, the Charlie Daniels Band, the Rolling Stones, co-existing with Garth Brooks and some of those other crappy so-called country acts.
“Well, looky who’s here.” I’d cruised the bar while I went over to the table where Rach was waiting. She hadn’t seen yet, but when I pointed, she went pale. Her ex-boyfriend was here, the one she was fucking when she met Tom, and even beyond. His name was Ryan. I’d freaked out when she told me she was dating someone from high school, but he actually was pretty cute in a redneck kind of way. He was sitting at the bar with Nick Innis, another guy I knew from all the way back to grade school; they all three used to hang out together when she and Ryan were dating and actually, Nick was a cousin of mine somehow and Andy and I went to school with him and his three brothers.
“Oh, shit,” Rachel muttered, because Nick just saw her, and he was coming over here and flopping down in a chair at our table with his can of Budweiser. Man, he was drunk. The weird thing was, he looked exactly the same, and so did Ryan; I mean, they looked older, but despite the long hair and the scruffy goatee, Nick had the same cute freckled face I remembered from kindergarten, when he was a grown-up third-grader. He was tall and lean, muscular with the kind of wiry, boyish body that really turned me on. Tight jeans, Hanes one-pocket t-shirt. He was hot. For a good old boy.
“You don’t know me, do you Nick,” I said while he chatted up Rachel. Ryan was over at the bar pretending he hadn’t seen her. Turning, Nick stared at me for a long time, his eyes blank. He looked the same, but I looked really different, and it had been a long time. It took him awhile, but he got it.
“Oh shit. Jimmy O’Brien.”
God, he called me Jimmy! Jim was my dad, I’d been going by my middle name, Sean, since about the fifth grade. Hearing that name on his lips gave me this sudden tingly feeling. His eyes… He had the most incredible eyes, a light green, brilliant, even through the drunken fuzz, not quite focusing on me, smiling. His lips were poutier than they had any right to be, sexy. I shouldn’t have been looking, but I was. Didn’t hurt to look.
“How’s Ryan?” Rachel was asking him in a low voice.
“Ryan, come’ere,” Nick hollered; Ryan looked up but he wasn’t coming over here. I knew everything that had gone on with them, I knew Rachel still had a thing for him. I also knew Tom worked twelve and thirteen hours a day, and when he got home he usually went straight to bed instead of satisfying his woman. Also, he had a small dick.
“Do you need me to kick his ass?” I asked. “’Cause I will.” And I erupted in laughter at the thought that I could kick anyone’s ass, me. Ryan did come over to the table and we all proceeded to catch up on old times and get really wasted. Ryan didn’t know me either at first. Twelve years was a long time. We all had a few wrinkles around our eyes these days, except maybe Rachel; and maybe hers were hidden under her makeup. It had been a long time since I’d let loose and felt this good, this free. Marcus was such an asshole. Andrew and I had something else in common now- I was also so glad my bitch of an ex was gone. Nobody to get home to before a certain time, no cell phone ringing, checking up on me. I drank way more than I needed to, but by the time the bar shut down at 2 o’clock and the bartender made us leave, I was still not nearly as drunk as Nick and Ryan.
“Sean.” Rachel pulled me aside with her eyes serious. “Listen, my babysitter is staying the night and…” She was trying to be kind of subtle, but I knew exactly what she was getting at.
“I don’t owe Tom shit,” I told her. “Tom can take his fucking chances as far as I’m concerned.”
“Baby, you’re the best.”
It was only after she’d driven off with Ryan in the car with her that I remembered she was my only ride; and there were no cabs, no L train to catch home. No, I was out where the buses don’t run, and not just in the figurative sense.
“Shit. I don’t have a way home.”
Nick turned and gave me that unconsciously sexy smile. “Hey, you can crash at my place.”
“No, really, I have my own place, and my brother gave me his old couch, it’s really nice. I was living with my old lady but we broke up and now I have this trailer, right down the street from the school. Remember where that is?”
Like I could forget the grade school we went to. I took the keys out of his hand as he swayed back and forth. “Yeah, why don’t you let me drive.”
It had been a long time since I’d driven a pickup; and maybe I was drunker than I thought because I was so busy looking around for the town’s one police car that I was driving about twenty miles an hour and Nick told me, “I could drive better than this.”
He was telling me about his ex-wife and their two kids. Jesus, he had kids. Everybody had kids. He’d gotten into an accident in this truck and now the driver’s side door didn’t open from the inside, he said, but when I drove up in front of his trailer I forgot to roll down the window so I could stick my arm out and reach the handle outside.
“That’s okay, I’ll get it,” he said.
When he went around to the driver’s side and opened it so I could get out, I must admit: I felt a little flutter. Stupid, stupid. He’s straight, idiot. He has kids. He was a shit-kicking redneck from my hometown. He was my fucking cousin!
A really, really distant cousin, a little voice whispered to me.
In all my life I’ve never seen a cleaner, neater apartment. Trailer rather. I mean it was hard to believe a single guy lived here-- my place in the city was a complete mess, unless Marcus started bitching and made me clean up. Where on earth did he put his mail and his newspapers and his shoes? I found myself wondering as he was getting beer out of the refrigerator. Not even a dirty plate in the sink. Pictures of his kids lined the wall above the couch where I sat down. They were cute and freckled like their father, with pretty lips.
“If you pull the lever, it lays back,” he said about the couch. I did what he said, relaxing. It was a nice couch. He sat down at the other end and flipped on the TV, channel surfing; he stopped on a channel and it took me a minute or two of staring at the screen to realize it was a softcore porn station, and a girl was giving a guy a blowjob in a bubble bath. The girl was nasty and slutty-looking but the guy was buff and young and pretty cute. How interesting, that he’d tuned in to this particular viewing material.
“So exactly how are we related anyway?” I asked him.
“Uhh… I don’t know,” he mumbled, and I was too drunk to remember myself.
“So what happened with you and this chick you were living with?”
Nick wouldn’t tell me who the girl was, which told me I knew her, but I was actually kind of shocked by what he was telling me. It seemed that they had made kind of a deal: she would bring home another guy, or guys, for her to have sex with while he watched, and maybe joined in. In return she was supposed to also bring home a girl for him to have sex with while she watched and maybe joined in. Well… This nameless girl brought home another guy, he wouldn’t tell me who. They fucked. Nick watched. He joined in.
“It was exciting,” he said. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he said this. Maybe I was imagining it, I told myself. “I really liked it, it made me really hot. But when it came time for her to bring another girl home she wouldn’t do it, but she wanted to bring home another guy again for her.”
“I see. It was all about her. Typical woman.”
“Tell me about it. But I love the touch of a woman’s hand. I’m thirty three years old and now I’m really lonely. I love sex, but I have really bad luck with women.” He was really drunk now and he kept saying, “I’m thirty-three years old.” Slipping down, he grinned up at me, eyes glassy. “What about you?”
I smiled deep into his eyes, my chin propped up on my hand across the back of the couch. I wasn’t sure how he’d react, but I didn’t have anything to lose at this point. “Who me? I’m gay.”
“Oh really?” he asked. His reaction wasn’t quite what I expected. He seemed… dare I say curious? “I don’t have a problem with it. Are you, like, dating somebody?”
“No.” I shook my head, still smiling at him.
“What’s it like?”
“What’s what like?” I asked. I was just fascinated, wondering if he’d really say it.
“You know. Being with a guy. I mean… when I joined in that time, I didn’t do anything with him. I wondered what it would be like though. Seriously. How is it?”
“Oh, it’s good,” I answered casually. The way we were talking… his closeness, his green eyes, his pouty lips, they were all giving me a hard on. I guess I never thought about these kind of sexual hijinks going on in my own hometown. I pictured good-old-boy fucking in the missionary position, not hot bi group action.
“Different than with a chick?”
“Oh yes.” I swallowed. “It’s… ah, rougher. Not… all squishy.”
He started laughing hysterically when I said the word squishy. He was really, really drunk, and I was getting really, really horny. I had to cross my legs to prevent my erection from showing through the crotch of my pants. I didn’t want him to see it but I knew he did, I saw his eyes flicking downward.
Thoughts were spinning through my brain with the speed of a tornado. All the lights were green, telling me to go for it, but what if I was wrong? There was a chance I was misreading the look in his eyes, the way he was relaxed against the back of the couch, his lean body welcoming. Should I just ask him? I thought, starting to panic. If I just made a move on him and I was wrong, he might kick my ass.
“Nick, if you, ah…. You know, I could…”
He never said yes. He never said no. He just kind of turned to face me and looked at me with his big green eyes, and when I looked in them I saw complete, utter trust. He did want me to show him, at least a little. Hell, he was probably so drunk he’d never remember it.
As soon as I touched him I felt this intense familiarity. Maybe it was because we used to sometimes play together when we were very little, when my mom would visit his grandma, who we called Aunt Mary even though she wasn’t our aunt, but some kind of cousin. He was family. But there was nothing brotherly in the way I felt when I reached out and let my hand skim over his rough, stubbly cheek. Time and alcohol had marked his third-grade baby face. My left hand ran up his thigh while the other one, the one with the cast, rested on the back of the couch and I knotted my fingers in his long tangled auburn hair. Oh God, oh god. My fingers brushed his cock; I could see the outline of it though his jeans, hard, straining at the zipper. I grinned at him as I expertly flicked the button of his faded blue Levi’s.
He wasn’t wearing any underwear at all. Kicking the recliner down, I slid down to my knees in front of him; I grabbed him by the belt loops and pulled his hips forward to the very edge of the couch. He was still looking at me with that intense, trusting look on his freckled sweet-lipped face. I wanted to kiss those lips but knew that was the last place I should go. Instead I reached up and pulled his shirt over his smooth chest. He lifted his arms as I pulled the shirt over his head. God, I loved that-- it really got me, the unconscious sexiness of that moment when I pulled someone’s shirt off. I peeled off my own shirt and wadded them both up in a heap on the immaculate green couch.
I slid my hands over his smooth chest, his wiry pecs and peach nipples, the lean six-pack abs he got from doing whatever manual labor he did, concrete or something. A thin, unbelievably sexy line of auburn hair ran down his stomach, and I could see the head of his cock peeking though the open zipper, resting lovingly against his stomach. His hands were kind of loosely resting on the couch, but when I yanked his jeans down, they went lightly to my shoulders and rested there.