Mark and Barry Ch. 02bysam8©
The second week of "the gay play" rehearsal began with an evening that was unusual even for veteran actors.
Mark and Barry had gone over the kissing scene the Thursday before, and the straight young men had found that relief from their frustrations could be found in each other's hands. The cast rehearsed again two days later, with surprisingly no drama and no awkwardness between them. The next rehearsal was on Monday night.
Mark was the second to arrive, and found Donna in a petulant mood. The tall blonde was frowning at nothing in particular, and ignored him until the others arrived, which struck him both because usually she was so talkative, and because the cast had already grown rather close. It left him a little off-balance, a little unsure.
Ms. Mahoney returned to the subject of the gay kiss at the heart of the show. "It's not that it's wrong," the director said of the lead actors' approach, "we just want to explore different methods, different moods, different emotions. We find art when we search for it."
So first Mark practiced snogging a Barry who was acting passive and unresponsive. Then Barry practiced kissing Mary's neck, jaw, ear, before finding his mouth. The boys tried a fast, almost violent kiss a few times. And then an achingly slow one that caught everyone by surprise with its passion: restrained, and then unfolding, with caresses and breath, into the blossom of desire.
Donna sat stone-faced.
Sherry, watching, was speechless. She had no opinions one way or the other on gay men and their acts of love. She didn't know any gays. They were going to do their thing without her, and she hadn't thought to notice.
But the strength of the man before her, harnessed in gentle ministrations to another man, suddenly seemed the sexiest thing she'd ever seen. Her gaze darted from Barry to Mark and back. And she couldn't help picturing the both of them making love to her.
So Ms. Mahoney's next assignment caught her off guard.
"Thank you, boys. Very well done, very good. Let's keep this going. I want you to keep searching for your craft.
"And I want the rest of the cart to help you. Each of you, line up, that's right.
"I want you to share your ideas with Mark and Barry. And if you remember from our last lesson, we're going to practice nonverbal communication amongst ourselves.
"Take a moment to think what you could or would bring to the role for this scene if you were one of our leads. Then show it to first Mark, then Barry. We find art when we search for it. Help them search. Let them sense your guidance, your insight.
"Sherry, please start us off."
Sherry stepped forward, a little wobbly.
"You mean... ah... kiss them?"
"That's right," said the director. "If you prefer," she added, with restrained emphasis to indicate disapproval, "you can participate by leaving your mouths apart a few inches. But I would hope the whole company would be willing to participate in any exercises already required of any particular cast members, and of course you will communicate with effectiveness by direct contact."
Sherry gulped. She'd just been asked to kiss two young men she barely knew.
Heart still beating fast from the arousing demonstration she'd watched, she stepped forward to Mark first. A smile, a stifled giggle, then lifting her hand to his neck. Her fingers, the color of chocolate, glided over his pale skin, edging into his wavy dark hair, as she lifted herself onto her toes and tilted her face to meet his.
He bent down. The clean scent of a man intoxicated her. A hint of breath, and then his warm mouth was on hers. The soft pressure of his lips parted hers. She sighed softly as his hands cupped her cheeks, his body leaned into hers. Her hands slid into his hair and gripped his back, and her heart beat fast, with this moment of heat drowning out the rest of her day.
The young woman kissed him back. She forgot herself for just a moment, leaned into him, and kissed him back hungrily.
And then the moment was over. And then she kissed Barry, which was nice. And made everything seem rather mundane.
And the rest of the cast lined up and, one by one, kissed the boys. No one argued, not Sherry, Zac, Jon or Donna. They had done all manner of improvisational exercises and ... was this just one more?
Boys kissing boys was not supposed to be a problem, and so it wasn't. Mark and Barry -- and Zac and John -- experienced in turn the scents of the other college men, their presence, the manner in which they stepped forward to give and receive a kiss. The odd feeling of vulnerability and macho, together, swapping places.
Then Donna was the last to kiss Mark, and her pursed lips and narrowed eyes told him what was coming before they stepped into each other's embrace. A closed-mouth pressing, held for a beat, and she moved on.
It felt like a rejection, but Mark shook it off and went back to work. She'd seemed almost disapproving. Had he done something to offend her?
The next exercise was completely verbal, something Ms. Mahoney called "synonym call-and-response," but the cast was in an autopilot daze from the kissing.
Definitely one of the more bizarre rehearsals any of them had ever attended.
The two boys walking home together. At the door to Mark's dorm. A pause while someone walked into the building, then the discussion of the secret on their minds.
"So, you get hard?"
"A little. You?"
"I'm really glad I adjusted. I don't think they saw."
"I think I'm engaged to Sherry now."
"Ha ha. Nice. So... shit, do you wanna..."
"I don't know. Let's see how Wednesday goes."
Wednesday night came and went. Mark grew a little stiff in his boxers but he didn't think it showed.
Barry was doing fine until the last kiss, when a finger on the back of his neck, or something about the moist heat of a sigh caught him off-guard. He was glad to sit cross-legged with hands hiding his bulging shame. He tried to think about everything but the memory of Mark's...
Mark's wet fist...
They still had no girlfriends, no release for the sexual tension building in each of them. Brought to a boil every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. For the next six weeks.
What the hell were they going to do?
What the hell else could they do?
They walked a curiously-friendly Sherry home, then parted, again, at Mark's dorm. They didn't have to say it out loud.
Sexual frustration was making rehearsals more and more challenging. They figured they were both going to sport raging hard-ons in front of everyone on Saturday.
Hard-ons in class? Every boy's public-humiliation fear. Now with the twist of looking both desperate and ... well, gay. The cast would whisper it to friends. They'd never have another girlfriend who could see them as a real man.
Unless they once again released the pressure before a rehearsal.
Did they not want to spill each other? Their men's bodies, strummed to tension and completion by another man?
Did they just not want the other to know?
Were they just delaying the inevitable?
Friday night, both Mark and Barry had plans.
Mark's dorm had a mixer in the basement. "Mixer" meant party, and it was the term of art for a beer keg that the college officially didn't know about, in exchange for a designated-pourer and no-one-drives policy.
He put on a nice shirt, ran his hands through his hair in the mirror, checked his breath, and went downstairs.
The music was just a little too loud, but not oppressive. Mark stood with a half-full plastic cup in his hand, sipping periodically. He wondered how there could be so many people in his dorm who he'd never even met.
He'd meant to meet a friend there. Not exactly a wingman situation, but a friend makes it easier to mingle. His friend never showed.
The music went retro-dancey and Mark briefly wondered whether he should walk up to, hmmm... the hot smiley blonde girl who poured him his beer, or... the focused, stripey-haired DJ who looked a few years older.
That DJ was all long limbs and smooth lines. Sharp eyes. And he thought he'd seen her somewhere before. Was that enough of a conversation hook? She was older, out of college. That'd make her more experienced, right? He could deal with that.
The beer girl was wearing a belly shirt and shorts. Most girls whose tummy was a little pudgy like that, he supposed, might not try to pull off a bare belly. But he thought it was cute. Her eyes sparkled and she grinned at everyone. Wow, she filled out that shirt really well. She reminded him of his first girlfriend.
On second thought, he realized, both of them are busy actually doing things. They're the least approachable girls in the entire room.
Get serious, Mark thought to himself. Who else is here?
Barry had gotten a bar invite from an old friend. "Xan," as he now called himself, had been Christopher through high school. Instead of college, he'd discovered he was good at driving cars very fast. He was making what he claimed was a living both towing his own dragster to competitions, and piloting a couple of friends' sprint cars around in circles when schedules allowed.
"I can't go alone, man!" he'd said on the phone. "Two girls, and I told them double date. I told them how cool you were, they're dyin' to meet you. Two hot blonde girls, they are fuckin' models, models at the track. This isn't that good-personality shit, these girls are fuckin' hot and I am doin' you a huge favor to call you so don't fuck this one up, OK?"
Barry stood outside the bar for ten minutes, idly wondering if he should take up smoking. Wondering if he even still liked Christopher.
Xan came around the corner with an arm around each girl, sporting a swept-blond haircut, straight white teeth, and the attitute of entitlement Barry had tolerated for years. A bro handshake and a loud introduction, and the four of them went inside.
Sitting on the couches, Barry sized up the girls. Both tall and blonde. Tanned, and toned.
Betty-Ann had a sweet dimpled complexion, with big eyes and a loud laugh. Hair in two short braided pigtails.
Her T-shirt had something written in Japanese, concealing her big young breasts, but showing off their lovely shape -- and a pair of nubs, her nipples, that Barry feared might be quite distracting.
Marilyn (or was it Mary-Lynn?) had the body of a stripper, thin and hot, and -- now that he had a chance to really look at her -- she was really unbelievably gorgeous. Flawless face, wow. Pretty hair. She wore an off-the-shoulder black dress, and the contrast with the naked skin of her shoulder made her seem exposed.
Her exotic beauty was only accentuated by the darkness of her eyebrows, proving she wasn't a natural blonde. That gave Barry a moment's thought about the patch of dark, or maybe bare skin, that only her lovers would explore.
Was she out of his league?
He should probably, he realized, be talking with the three of them and not lost in thought like a moron.
Chris -- Xan -- had been talking up Barry's football plays to the girls, who were turning to nod at him, even if they didn't have a lot to say. It's true that he'd pulled off a few great plays in the clutch. Good memories.
"That sounds exciting!" said Marilyn. She had a refined, low voice, with just enough of a Southern accent to sound sexy and natural.
"Yeah," said Barry, thinking: I've had a life since then. It's been four years, let's not talk about me when I was a kid.
The busy ponytailed brunette brought them their beers and Xan started a tab. Betty-Ann, kiddy-corner from him on the other couch, turned to him.
"Do you play football still?"
"No, I dropped that when I got to college. Too much work, I wanted to focus, you know? It's not like I was going to play football for the rest of my life."
"What year are you?"
"I'm a senior." Lurking was the question of whether Betty-Ann was in college. She was the right age. But she didn't look like a girl who'd attend college.
Was that sexist or something? Would it be rude to ask? Shit, this question kept coming up and he still didn't know the answer. He didn't ask.
"You better have fun while you can! You gotta start workin' soon!" she dimpled.
Barry liked her. It had been a while since he'd been out and met someone he felt he could connect with.
"What do you do? Do you have fun?" he asked. Did that sound bad, he wondered. Was she going to think he was asking if she did drugs or fucked on the first date or something?
Her smile faded but only a fraction. "This and that, you know. Right now I'm filling in at this coffee place, but that's just for now. I got other stuff I like to do."
"I'm good with my hands, you know? Been thinkin' I might want to be a carpenter or something like that. All winter I worked with these other guys to restore an old pipe organ, it was real fun. I like doin' stuff like that."
Barry was impressed. He hadn't pictured this round-faced cheery girl with dust in her hair and grease on her hands. Maybe there was more to her than he'd thought. Anyway they had something to talk about now.
He smiled back. Let's see where the conversation goes, he thought.
"Hey you!" shouted the girl he'd just bumped into.
"Hey... you," said Mark, not having any idea who she was.
The mixer didn't offer much to do, except drink, sit, watch TV, or try to dance on an unimpressive attempt at a dance floor. Talking was challenging over the thumping, yelling music.
With no particular destinations to move to, and no one with him, Mark had no real excuse to do anything at all. So he'd been walking aimlessly around, through crowds of his fellow students, hoping to run into someone.
He had, but he didn't remember her.
"It's Em," she yelled, "we had Chemistry together last semester!"
His Chemistry 1 class had had 180 students in it. Em wasn't ringing a bell. But she was someone to talk to, an attractive someone at that. She was a largish girl, not plump but rounded, and an engaging demeanor.
She leaned forward to Mark, talked into his ear, stepping just far enough into Mark's personal space to heighten his awareness. "You had a girlfriend, right? Is she here?"
Oh! He leaned in. "No, we broke up. I'm a single guy now!"
Her hand on his shoulder. "Hey, awesome, I have someone you should meet. You wanna meet someone? She's super cute, and I bet she'd like you. Hey stay here for a sec, OK?"
With a squeeze of his arm and a flashed smile, she was gone into the crowd. That was fast! Having thought for a moment that Em was herself interested, Mark felt vaguely rejected. She had seemed fun. But hopefully...
She reappeared, trailing behind her a pint-sized Indian girl. "Hey Mark! This is Geena. Say hi, you guys!"
Geena was beautiful. Straight, dark hair framed a big smile and big eyes. She wore a peach and brown dress that swirled around her ankles. It looked very natural with her latte complexion. He was being set up with her? What luck.
"Hi, Mark, sorry about all this, Em gets crazy ideas sometimes." With the hand that wasn't holding a beer, she gave her friend a shove. Her sexy eyes flashed from mock-serious to amused.
"Hey, Geena, no it's totally cool, great to meet you."
Em grinned and excused herself.
"Crazy ideas? What was that about?" asked Mark. Geena was a foot shorter; he bent down to talk to her. He hoped he wasn't yelling in her ear too loud.
"Oh, it's -- it's kind of a dumb thing that's all. Hey are you from this dorm? Why haven't we run into each other before?"
"No idea... I think I'd remember if we had!"
Geena's eyes sparkled. She mirrored his smile and laughed. She wasn't shy. "You want some more beer?"
Betty-Ann was talking, and Barry was concentrating hard on looking in her eyes. That wasn't hard -- she was a pretty girl. Real pretty.
But a couple of beers had gone down, along with a shot of something or other, and that made a good excuse for him to take in the tightness of her T-shirt and the simple curve of her seated hips.
Which he did, but only using his super-power of peripheral vision.
Her breasts were a perfect shape: big, round... smooth... the T-shirt a sculpture around them. The stretched cotton showed so much of the contour of the underside of each breast, and he could almost feel that bulging fabric yielding to his thumb, or his tongue.
"So that was it, that's when I told them, you are so not going to ruin it for me. And I got up and left!"
"Yeah, that's..." struggled Barry. The story had been a long one, circumnavigating her roommate and roommate's friend, and he'd had trouble remembering who was who. Understanding the complex dynamics of their relationship as the dramatic event unfolded was well beyond him.
"And of course I took Ella with me. Can you imagine the nerve, the two of them thinking they were going to be taking care of her now! I tell you, I just am sick of people sometimes."
Ella was her cat, he knew that much.
"I'm with you on that," he said, sincerely. "I had this cat ever since I was a little kid. He just died two years ago. That was rough, you know?"
Betty-Ann's eyes widened a fraction. She leaned in and put her hand on his tenderly. "I am so sorry. I didn't... well, I didn't figure you were a cat person. You seem a little... well not like a cat person, you know?"
"It's okay. It was a while ago. He was a really great cat, though. I mean, I loved that little guy."
Barry really had loved his cat. Also, he got the hand squeeze he'd hoped for.
"Marilyn!" said Betty-Ann, turning to her friend on the far side of the couch. "Barry is a cat person! Would you ever have thought it?"
Marilyn was pulled from a conversation with Xan that was, judging by the distance between them, a little intense. As Barry looked over, he couldn't help notice her hand resting on Xan's knee. She'd turned towards him, and one lovely leg extended out in front of him, short-heeled pump resting between his shoes, shins touching. A more possessive posture would be hard to imagine.
How did Xan do it? Marilyn was one of the most gorgeous girls he had ever seen, and here she was practically throwing herself at him.
"That's sweet, hon," she said mellifluously to Betty-Ann, who let go of Barry's hand. Her next words were drowned out by Xan's saying loudly something about Barry being a pussy, or getting some pussy. It didn't really matter which. The goodwill of the cat moment was lost. Barry tried to catch Betty-Ann's eye again, but she and Marilyn were both trying to talk to Xan about how insensitive he was.
Xan smirked and, just as Marilyn was telling him he was "so" something, he signaled to the waitress, calling her "doll" as he ordered another beer for himself and a wine cooler for his "pussy friend." The girls giggled. Barry smiled graciously at the impassive barmaid and declined it, wondering again whether the whole idea of hanging out with Xan was just a bad one.
Betty-Ann turned back to him. "Anyway," she said, dismissing the rude race-car driver, "I think it's great that you love animals."
"Did your cat jump onto everyone's lap? Because Ella is always jumping onto laps. Doesn't it just drive you crazy when they walk back and forth, and stick their tail in your nose? I swear Ella does that on purpose!"
Barry figured he had the skills to eventually bring the conversation back from the hell of cat comparisons. It was just a matter of time. Betty-Ann obviously liked him. That was obvious. Pretty soon they'd be talking about ... well, anything other than cats.
Geena was dancing, of sorts, holding her beer up as she sashayed and stepped rhythmically, dress swaying side-to-side. The rapper was rhyming "kitty" with "titty" as she worked her way through the thinning crowd back toward Mark.