I Read A Lotbylill_street_writer©
Thanks to everyone who read my first story. I decided to get this started in chapters as a way to keep the ball rolling.
I read a lot. It's not what people expect when they first meet me, but I can't totally control first impressions, so I gave up trying a long time ago. For a bookworm, I'm kind of big and rough looking: tallish and a little burly. I exercise enough to keep in shape and relieve stress and I even play on an Ultimate Frisbee team to try to stay social. But mostly I read.
When I'm bored, I read adventure. When I'm sad I read comedies. When I'm feeling lonely, I'll even read love stories. Most of the time though, I read fantasies: magic, wizards, epic love, power struggles, archetypes of good and evil.. All the stories are huge, elaborate imaginary tales of great quests or generations-long battles for principles greater than one person. In the stories I really enjoy, characters are willing to give their lives, sacrifice their needs for the good of something bigger than themselves. There's love, romance, maybe a little sex, and everyone is gorgeous and the right people always fall in love. With all that, why bother with reality.
I can totally relate to people who get hooked on video games and movies. Often fantasy is much more compelling than real life. Who wouldn't rather be a strong knight questing for ultimate truth rather than a forty-hour-a-week guy who scrapes to pay his student loans. A battled-hardened hero struggling to free the weak and oppressed is so much more rewarding and exciting than remembering to take out the garbage and call your Mom on Sunday nights. While video works for some people, I like to read my fantasies. And I seem to read almost all the time.
Still, I'm a pretty normal guy. I work, exercise, hang-out with friends. But when I'm not doing those things, I dive into a world of my choice.
Lately, I think I must be a more than just lonely, because my fantasies of choice have been a little more graphic in nature. When I get like this, instead of looking at porn, like I imagine most men do, I read of course. There are raunchy porn stories about anonymous partners in risky places, loving romances with life-long partners, fraught angst-ridden pieces about guys who think they might be gay but aren't quite sure until they find the right guy. But it's all a fantasy, and I greedily consume it all, depending on my mood.
These stories have some things in common: all the guys are good-looking; one of them is usually mostly hairless, except for a perfect treasure trail leading down to his above-average sized cock. It nearly makes me laugh that everyone has a huge dick. If everyone's package is so huge, then that means that average is huge, right? But that's the fantasy part: just suspend my disbelief, and all the boys are gorgeous and available-at least in print. And each man can come at least twice, if not three times night. A man can come without even touching his dick, if his lover is good. And his lover is always that good. Cum shoots off at the same force as a geyser, spraying everything in a three mile radius. And in porn, everyone can find their prostate and everyone swallows.
If I think about it too much, it just makes me laugh, but since thinking is the last thing I want to do when I'm reading, I usually love it all.
After a week of sitting in my cubicle I like to reward myself with a trip to the library or bookstore. Like an addict visiting his dealer, I need to load up to get my fix all week. Since I had just gotten paid, I decided that this week I would head to the bookstore. A book I'd been waiting for was just released. A new book, a quiet chair, a yummy coffee drink and maybe some surreptitious scoping of good-looking eye candy would suit me just fine.
This week, the trip to the bookstore was turning into a total bust. With the parking lot crowded and the rain coming down, I was forced to park so far from the door that I was soaked by the time I finally pulled open the door and walked inside. The place was packed with folks who obviously had the same idea as I had, except that these people were all the middle aged Moms getting away from their families on Mommy's Night Out, or something. I'd been hoping for some intellectual hottie to gaze at and all I got was women who reminded me of my Mom. Add to that, my book wasn't on the shelf. Not on the regular fiction shelf, not in Sci Fi, and not in fantasy. I wandered around new releases and finally realized that it just wasn't there. This wasn't turning out the way I had expected at all.
At least the coffee was tasty.
I sipped my drink for a while and finally decided I would ask someone for help. This is not a thing I do lightly, since it usually just ends up with me being even more frustrated than I was before. Most customer service workers aren't any smarter than I am. I mean, a company doesn't look at its most prized employee and decide 'Hmm, I think you would serve us best by helping idiots who can't see what's in front of them.' So when some high school student just looks on the same shelf where I just looked and tells me they don't have what I'm looking for, I sometimes have a hard time not ripping their puny head off.
My attitude toward CS workers isn't something new. In general, I don't like talking to strangers and I avoid it whenever I can. Those self-serve check-out lanes at the grocery store are the best invention since voice-mail. The only problem is when you have to weigh stuff and you don't know the number. The last thing I want to do is go over and ask someone for help with a price code. So I fixed that by peeling the stickers off the fruit and putting them on my list next to item. Apple, apple sticker: easy solution to aggravating social communication.
The fact that I was ready for what was inevitably going to be a frustrating and pointless exercise just shows how desperate I was for this book. What a total nerd! Anyway, I walk over to the little desk where the book store plants its best and brightest and wait my turn. Behind the desk is a blond guy who looks a little too tall and a little too thin to be called good-looking. He's helping a Mom find the newest Oprah pick. I hope my sardonic snort isn't too loud. Tall-and-thin walks over to a table not twenty feet away and hands her the book in a friendly way. How can he be so nice, I wonder? It's a good thing I work with computers, where no one expects me have manners.
He's back and it's finally my turn to either be disappointed or to feel like an idiot, but before I can even get out a word, I'm interrupted. Up stalks a vision of intellectual geek, just like I'd been hoping to study. Medium height with lightly curling hair, his glasses have that cute-nerdy look to them and I'm afraid my mouth might be hanging open, drool spilling out. That reaction didn't last long, because then he opened his mouth.
"Hey Gabe, I heard you got stuck with CS tonight." He leaned on the other side of the counter and, I swear, batted his eyes at the guy who must be Gabe. Obvious much?
"Hi Rob. Yeah, but I don't mind it. The people are pretty nice and when it's slow, I can read. Better than unpacking boxes." Gabe shrugged and brushed off Snot-Nose's comment.
"Well, I brought you a white chocolate frappe-thing, as sustenance. Hang in there." The nerd smiled and flounced away.
Gabe took a long slurp of the frappe and sighed in content as he turned to me. I'll admit that while he was sucking on that straw, I was starting to get a few impure thoughts. And there was at least a possibility that the guy was gay. Since the snot-nosed nerd had opened his mouth and ruined my fantasy, I thought I might see if I could crush on this guy for a few minutes.
"How can I help you?"
I explained myself and waited while the man punched his computer for a few minutes.
"Well, that book is due to be released on the third of this month." Gabe still looked at the screen and talked to me at the same time.
"Yeah, I know." In my head I was thinking, 'Tell me something I don't know.' "That's why I came in tonight. I didn't think you'd be sold out of them already; the author's not really that popular."
Gabe turned and fixed me with amber colored eyes. Amber, not just light brown. I thought I might pass out, his eyes were so gorgeous. The mystery of the flirting nerd was instantly solved. He spoke, and I had to focus to hear his words. "We have plenty of copies, but they won't go on sale until tomorrow. Today's only the second." He looked a little apologetic.
"Oh." Who's the dumbass now? Not only do I screw up the date, but I do it in front of the cute CS guy. Since when had I decided that he was cute? God, this was utter hubris. My Karma must have totally sucked if I couldn't even read the calendar. With the way my luck was going at this instant, Gabe wouldn't even be gay.
"If you'd like," he said in a kind voice. "I could hold a copy for you to pick up another time?"
Now I was too embarrassed and I just wanted to get away. "No, that's okay. Sorry for wasting your time," I managed to stammer before walking away. This so served me right for thinking I was smarter than other people. I guess I'm just smarter than most people, but not that night.
To assuage my hurt pride I wandered around until I found another book. It wasn't the one I really wanted, but it was filled good characters a few interesting plots devices. And I was just sure that no one in the book has difficulty using a calendar. I took the book and went over to the café. Once I sat down with the book and my coffee, I was soon launched into my own little world and I started to relax.
After a while, maybe eighty pages or so, someone blocked my light and didn't move. I glanced up, a little distracted to be back in the real world. It was the CS guy, Gabe.
"Hey, I tried clearing my throat a few times, but you seemed pretty involved in your book and didn't look up. Mind if I sit down for a minute?" Gabe said all this while he looked at me with those lion eyes.
"Yeah, sure." I was barely articulate, but I at least pulled out a chair for him. "I'm Tom. Are you on break?" What was he doing, sitting down by me?
"Yup. You seemed really disappointed when you left the Info Desk and I felt kind of badly for you. I mean, it's really easy to mess up the date and get confused about that stuff. It happens all the time."
Gabe spoke so softly, that I found I had to lean in a little just to hear him. This made me feel close to him, almost like we knew each other, and a warm feeling crept over me.
"It's really okay. I had a hard week at work and I think it messed with my brain. I'll just come back some other time and get it." I noticed that I was speaking softly too. I had the urge to touch Gabe's hand to set his mind at rest. I wanted to reassure him that I was fine, that he shouldn't worry about me.
It was then that I noticed Gabe's large hand was on the table and a book was under it. His hand was large enough to nearly cover the book, obscuring the front. "Well," he said. "I thought I could maybe make it up to you." He moved his hand and revealed the book I had been asking for.
"Wow." I gasped a little in surprise. "I never thought you might have connections. I must have looked pretty crushed for you to take pity in me." I looked up at him and smiled.
"Kind of like I kicked your dog," he laughed and put us both at ease. "I brought the hold form for you to fill out. If you come back tomorrow, you can take it home tonight. I'll be in from 10 until 4 and I can 'sell' it to you then."
I looked at him askance. "If I report you to management, do I get a reward?" He laughed again. "You're really just a reprobate, aren't you?"
"Guilty as charged," he smiled and said. "I'm just a petty criminal looking for the little score."
It was my turn to smile. I filled out the form and slid it covertly across the table, leaned back and gave him a conspiratorial wink. "Happy to do my part, Gabe. Can I ask why I can't just buy the book now, since it's here?"
Gabe shrugged. "The codes for new releases don't get downloaded until midnight. That helps prevent us from selling anything ahead of the date. I don't think anyone really used to care, but when the whole Harry Potter craze hit, this just became the procedure, I guess. It helps keep unscrupulous guys like me in line."
"It was a pleasure doing business," I said. I reached my hand across the table to shake with Gabe. His handshake was firm and his fingers were longer and slimmer than mine.
Gabe made to get up. "It was nice meeting you, Tom. See you tomorrow."
After that welcome interruption, I tried to get back to my book, but I kept being distracted by thoughts of Gabe and our short conversation. Was he gay? Possibly. Did he flirt with me? No, but he was friendly. Have I ever seen eyes that beautiful before? Definitely not.
I read a few pages of the story I had already started then my imagination got to work again. In gay romance, the couple always feels some frisson of sexual excitement or pending attachment when they first touch. I was sure that hadn't happened. Of course, I wouldn't mind it if it had, but it hadn't. We had shared a normal handshake, no frisson. In truth, the whole frisson-thing always makes me laugh. The only time I ever read the word was in those sexual-romantic stories and I always imagined it would feel like being hit with a mild taser – not exactly pleasant.
Coffee done and the book at a slow point, I chucked my white paper cup and headed out into the now drizzling weather and started for home. Now I had two books and eye candy to think about. The trip to the bookstore had turned out better than I had hoped.