tagGay MaleEmerson and the Lion Ch. 01

Emerson and the Lion Ch. 01

bytarzanacide©

Right outside the room I shared with my roommate of six days there was a green tinted glass door that led to a little landing and six flights of white, marble stairs down to the palm covered courtyard in front of our dorm building. No one went out there except at night when they were doing something they didn't want anyone to see. I usually had it to myself to look out over the Arabian city that looks like a puzzle of gleaming, white towers sandwiched between the desert mountains and the blue water of the gulf of Satra. It was a kingdom rich with oil money and I hadn't seen anything up close past the walls.

I shared a tiny room with two single beds and two cabinets for clothes. My roommate, Adam, was also American and also on full scholarship, but he was an unfortunate looking overweight guy who kept to himself and seemed a little angry that the only engineering school to offer him this chance was on the other side of the world from home. He was also messy and disorganized and always searching for something he'd lost. I came back from class or the gym every day to find something on my small half of the small room. I'd try to fold it or stack it and put the mess back on his side. It was a losing battle.

I hadn't explored anything beyond the walls of the university. Americans weren't encouraged to go outside of it unescorted and having just turned 18 with light skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, they specifically told me it wasn't safe unless I went with the group tours. But today was my first day off since I'd landed here from Los Angeles. I was determined to explore.

The scholarship had included clothing which is a little odd. I found my cabinets stocked with two very nice pairs of running shoes, a pair of casual shoes, dress shoes, and outfits to match that were in my size. Everything from workout to formal in size small was left neatly packaged for me on my arrival. I thought it was odd back when I did my orientation at their embassy in LA, but now I was glad they had measured me. I couldn't be anything but grateful.

So how did I get here... One of their sultans had visited LA and seen my high school dance troupe perform at his welcome party. I'd been the one to present the gift to him to thank him for making a generous donation to us. Much to my embarrassment, the dance teacher had filled him in on my "unfortunate" life of losing my parents, growing up in group homes around the San Fernando Valley, and god knows what else she threw in there. She probably even told him I'd never had a girlfriend. He asked me to be his guest at his table for the dinner and he had an interpreter there signing for me. He was a pretty cool guy, but continuously gave me that look of pity.

The Monday before graduation I was called in to the counselor's office and given details of a full scholarship offer. I didn't have anything else and I thought maybe it would be interesting to see what life was like not being known as the poor, pitiful blonde boy.

So now I'm here and I wanted to see the sights. It's supposed to be 44 degrees today according to the paper. That's celsius which I don't really get, but I know it's uber hot. I dressed in the white shorts that went down to my knees and a sleeveless white shirt. I put on a TON of sunscreen and gathered the small money I had saved from my welcome packet. All of the meals were included here, and I don't really like food anyway so I hadn't spent anything at the campus store except buying a sketchbook and some colored pencils.

There is a big gate right behind my dorm, and then a small gate with a guard. He put his hand up as I tried to walk through and said something that I didn't understand. I gave a confused look and raised my palms to which he shook his head and waved me through. Outside the gate there is a little road that leads down to a big shopping street I had watched from the landing. I walked down as many blocks of it as I could while dodging into shadows to avoid the blazing sun.

Everything in this city, or at least this area, was new construction with expensive marble, steal, exotic tile. Every store had some famous label with big glass windows filled with luxury items from around the world. The street was lined with expensive cars and oversized SUV's. These people had money and liked to show it.

Californians should have tans, but I don't tan, I burn. My skin is pretty pale with very light blonde hair and faint blue eyes. So sunblock was something I always grew up with. I'm pale, but pale is better than scorched. I was getting used to being looked at by the occasional person around the university, but out here in public it was a little more intense.

I ducked into the shade of a coffee shop and pushed back my sweaty blonde hair. I must have walked farther than I'd planned and I felt my cheeks getting burned. I looked in the window and saw that they had iced drinks and thought maybe I'd sit for awhile before I headed back. The air conditioning was blasting as I walked in and the place was half-filled with business men on laptops and teenagers on their phones. I don't have either, but I like to people watch.

I got up to the counter and realized that the entire menu board was in arabic. There were a few pictures of different beverages, but nothing written in English except the numbers. The waiter gave me a weird look and then said something. I pointed to the picture showing a green cup with ice and a few kiwi slices around it and gave a big, dumb smile. I hoped those were kiwis. He held up two cup sizes and I pointed to the smaller one on the right. He punched some numbers into the cash register and turned the little display around so I could see he wanted 3. I pulled out a bill that had a 5 on it and handed it to him with a smile.

I was feeling relieved at getting through this situation, but then he pointed at my money and shook his head no and opened his mouth very wide like he was yelling. He looked at me like I was a complete idiot. I started looking around. I had no idea what was going on or why he didn't want the money. I started to turn to go, but I felt a solid hand on my shoulder.

He had on a black dress shirt with a grey tie. He was just a little taller than me, but solid muscle. I felt small as he closed in on me and stood a little too close behind me. He opened his mouth like he was talking to me, and gave a warm smile. I shook my head no and lowered my eyes. I wanted to get out of there and run all the way back to my room. I left the 5 note on the counter and started to walk away, but I saw the hand appear on my chest. He nudged me back against the counter and I smelled a little too much of a masculine cologne. The dude was built like an ox. I stared at his rolex and tried to think of a way out of this.

He put a finger under my chin and raised my head up to look him in the eye. He was a pretty good looking guy with large, brown eyes, a strong nose, tightly trimmed black facial hair around his mouth. His black hair was shaved close on the sides but grown out on top and gelled up in a messy look that probably took an hour to figure out. Everything about him said money, muscles, power, education. He flashed a gentle smile that lit up his dark face and then put his hand up as if to tell me to wait. He took his wallet from his back pocket and handed some different colored notes to the waiter and slipped my five note into the side pocket of my shorts. His hand lingered there, holding my hip. A worker from the back brought up my green drink and the guy nudged me back toward his table. It was half invitation and more insistent push.

We sat and he started trying to talk to me again. I put my hand up and then pointed at my chest and then at my ears to tell him I was deaf. He gave me a sideways look of curiosity. I pointed at his laptop and he nodded and pushed it towards me. He had some email open and I typed out, "ME DEAF." I slid it back to him and his whole demeanor changed. His lips spread into a huge smile and his eyes lit up again. That smile. It made me feel safe.

He moved over to sit beside me and opened up a word file and typed:

"I'm Ali Hamad, but you can call me Ali, or type me or um... what's your name?"

"I'm Emerson Kelly, you can call me Em or Emi."

I made the name sign for Emi, rubbing an M and then an I against my cheek. He mirrored me with an increasingly goofy smile. We then spent the next two hours typing back and forth about my life and his and how I got here and what I liked to do and not do. He said the sultan who had seen me was his uncle. He remembered him mentioning me when he returned from his visit. Ali had been to LA many times himself. He ordered me another green drink which was pretty tasty. He told me that the money I had was only valid on the campus and that "dumb service people don't know anything about the walled off university."

He told me he was 24 and worked managing his family's oil and land deals. His father was a doctor and his mother worked as a lawyer in Europe, something not available to her as a female in this country. He lived with his father and younger brothers. He was the middle of 5 boys. I started to tell him about my life back in LA, but after telling him my parents were both gone and I had no family, he got that pity look, so I focused only on happier things like being state ranked in track 3 years in high school and my friend Caleb and his family who took care of me.

I showed him how to fingerspell his name and he took out his business card and showed me what my name looked like in Arabic. He was so nice and it had been so long since I'd had any real communication with anyone other than my university sign language interpreter who was an older woman taking odd jobs to travel the world. I was hungry for communication. A pretty girl would have been better, but this guy in a suit was ok. He would alternate his left hand between typing to me and resting it on the back of my chair. Guys here sure were touchy with each other.

My fingers started to hurt and the sun was beginning to set. I typed that I should probably start walking back, but Ali typed that it wasn't really safe and he wasn't sure how I'd gotten this far outside the university without someone harassing me. I asked him what he meant by that. No one had bothered me other than stares.

"You can't be out alone. You are exotic here, light-skin, beautiful face, small body, soft hair, innocent spirit, and silent lips to not call for help. My country is filled with powerful men who would take advantage of you just to show their power over a little cub. You have a disability they would see as a weakness. You shouldn't be out of the university walls without a lion to look after you. To go alone here means you are unclaimed, unprotected."

It was the first time he'd looked at me with sadness in his eyes, that pity look I hate. I shook my head no.

"I am NOT disabled! I can take care of myself. I have for all my life," I typed.

"The rules are different here, little cub. This is not a land where everyone gets justice. You are a lone cub here. You need a lion to watch over you."

He insisted on driving me back to the campus and ushered me out to a large, black sportscar. I'm completely capable of taking care of myself, but the heat was still heavy in the air and I didn't really want to chance walking in the dark if it was as dangerous as he said. The inside was soft leather and the dash was filled with crazy gadgets and a big touch screen. I felt the heavy beat thumping as we pulled away.

We got to the big gate of the university and he pulled over and talked to the guard who opened it for us. He must have known someone important since I hadn't ever seen that gate opened. He parked right in the courtyard beside the building and pulled out his phone and hit a button that spelled out his speech:

"Give me your phone. I can put my number in so we can text. I want to show you around my city in a safe way. You need a protector here."

"I don't have a phone," I typed back and suddenly felt very, very poor.

"I have an old one. I'll send it tomorrow. I know it can be lonely in a strange place and this probably all seems very foreign to you," he typed back, unfazed.

I typed back that I couldn't accept it. He had already bought me drinks, but he didn't want to hear any of that. I was ready to get out and go upstairs to pee. I was out of patience for arguing. He just kept smiling at me and studying my face. He reached up to pet the back of my hair. It was a little strange, but I had read that these Arab guys don't think it's weird to be touchy feely with each other. Not like kissing or anything, but they just have less sense of space. So I decided it was ok. But I also decided it was time to end this for the night. I typed that I needed to go pee and thanked him for everything.

I laid in bed that night as Adam kept the light on while typing away furiously on his cheap, old laptop. He probably had the radio on. He liked having a deaf roommate just for the noise factor. For the first time I felt like I had a friend here. I hadn't felt that since I'd left LA, left Caleb, my best friend since 5th grade. I rolled over to face the wall and hugged my pillow and drifted off thinking I was going to be ok here. I dreamt of living amongst the lions.

******************************

The next morning I woke up and felt Adam poking my arm. He looked annoyed and handed me a small blue shopping bag. He pointed towards the door and then made a knocking motion with his hand and then a sleeping motion pressing a palm to his cheek. I guess the delivery had woken him up and he wasn't happy about it. But he wasn't ever happy about much.

Inside was a box containing a brand new phone. It was gold and had an apple on the back and still had the little plastic protectors over the screen and the back. The back had an inscription that said, "Emi's Phone." and then below it was etched 8 numbers which I guess was the phone number to it. This was definitely not Ali's "old phone." I pressed the button and there was a text message from him. He had programmed in his number. It said "text me when you get this, please."

Over the next few weeks, we hung out every day. He showed me the views from the cliffs, took me to walk along the white sand beaches on the crystal blue sea. He dropped in after work to have dinner with me in the dining hall. A few times he even came by early in the morning to work out with me.

My daily emails to my best friend Caleb back home told all about the crazy new experiences I was having. Caleb was always suspicious of everyone, and Ali's presence raised all kinds of alarms with him. He had always been a little protective of me too since I was the one who taught him sign language.

We'd been friends since the 5th grade and graduated together. I kind of got the feeling he was a little jealous. I'd always been the poor, deaf friend he brought home to dinner with his parents who took pity on me. They even took me in for my last year of high school. I knew when he took me to the airport for me to come here that things between us weren't ever going to be the same again. I think my emails about Ali brought that realization to him as well. He thought I didn't need him anymore, but I did. He was the only family I had.

Working out with Ali was intense. The first time I saw him show up in small shorts and a tank top I got to see all of his muscles. This was a guy that wasn't playing around in the gym. He followed me through my normal routine and gave me suggestions on ways to do things better. He took my measurements of height and weight and had me strip down to my briefs to see what muscles I should work on.

"Let's get some bigger muscles in your legs and arms, but not too many crunches, you're a boy and your tummy is flat and perfectly toned. You don't want abs until you're ready to be a man," he typed.

I blushed at that. I definitely felt small in his presence.

Everything was ok until one Wednesday night I was going crazy finishing a project and texted him that I didn't have time for dinner. He kept trying to come over and bring me food and offered to help, but I needed to focus. He wasn't happy about that.

"Ok," he texted, "Tonight you work, but tomorrow starts the weekend and you will spend it at my home with my family."

I said ok just to get Ali to stop texting me. I really kind of wanted some time alone, and maybe to find some friends on campus this weekend. There was going to be a coffee get together for the 4 deaf students on campus. But he was so nice to me and kept buying me things. I couldn't say no. I finished my project and uploaded it just before the midnight deadline. I passed out on my bed without brushing my teeth.

The next morning I woke up with his warm hand brushing back my hair. I knew his touch. He always kept one hand near or on me. I opened my eyes and smiled up at him and then looked over at Adam who was giving me death eyes as he crawled back into bed. Ali's knocking must have woke him up. I'm a pretty sound sleeper even when it comes to vibrations like that.

This hulking muscled Arab man was sitting on my bed smiling down at me. I stretched and yawned. His right hand laid against my chest and he gave my tummy a rub. I smiled from the tickle sensation, purred like a cat, and rolled onto my side and then sat up. I went down to take a shower in the restroom pods and put on some shorts and a tshirt with the university logo. I wasn't sure what we were going to do that day, so I texted him to ask what to pack. He said he had clothes for me and to meet him down at the car.

We drove through the city and up into the hills. Ali had installed an app on his car's infotainment screen so that it would pick up what he said and turn it to text. He told me all about his city and it's history as a small village until the oil was discovered and everything changed. His family dated back over 800 years in this kingdom.

We wound up streets that increasingly narrowed as we left the city below us. Finally we arrived at a large white gate with two guards holding machine guns. They stepped aside as we came up and Ali rolled down his window and spoke to them as they opened the gates. We went up a steep, windy street that had several different houses until the road went through another gate, this one automated, and into a large circle in front of a sprawling white house with all kinds of crazy glass windows and steel beams. He drove around behind it and into one bay of a wide garage.

This house was crazy huge and Ali led me back behind it and around this pool that went on and on back to a small house made entirely of beams and glass. He pointed at it and then to his chest to let me know it was his. In the middle of it, he pushed on a small keypad and a large glass panel slid to the right. Inside there was just one big open room covered in white marble. In the middle was a living room with white leather couches and a glass coffee table. Up a step to the right was a kitchen area with a long silver bar area. To the right was a small glass table and three silver chairs with white leather seats. Up a step to the left of the living room was a huge bed with a grey comforter and matching pillows. On the wall across from the bed was a huge flatscreen tv.

Ali showed me around the areas and then into a large bathroom behind the living room. It had a glass walk-in shower and a tub big enough for three or four people. To the right there was a huge closet that was organized to look like one of those pricy men's boutiques in Beverly Hills. There were displays for the clothes and shoes and cubbies for folded shirts and pants.

He took me to one side with drawers and opened up the two center ones. He put one hand to my chest and then used the other to point to the clothes inside. He nudged me forward to look and kept a hand on my back. There was a stack of colorful underwear, socks, shirts, pants, belts, and pajamas. He put his hand to my chest and then back to the clothes and mouthed the word, "You." It all looked really expensive and everything had a brand label on it. He took my hand and put it on the shirts and then the pants and shorts and underwear. It was all super soft and touchable textures, just like he usually wore.

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bytarzanacide© 4 comments/ 15190 views/ 24 favorites

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