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Friendship Contemporary Gay

Are you coming tonight?” This is the message Dan has received from Michael in the middle of the day.

What I am going to do? Am I going out tonight? Dan is on the edge of his decision. He misses his friends very much, but something still keeps him locked inside his apartment, inside his soul.

Then, he starts dressing with slow movements. A T-shirt and a pair of new trousers are waiting for the future moment of going out, the expected moment of leaving the house and of him. But now he feels he cannot wear these foreign clothes.

It’s enough that I go out. Let’s not stress me anymore adding something unusual!

This seems to be the thought that urges him to take from the back of the armchair the same shabby jeans and the dull gray T-shirt with which he did his shopping in all these months of restrictions.

*

Dan, Simon, and Lawrence have been sitting in the garden of a restaurant in the city’s heart for several hours. From the outside, passers cannot guess what an oasis of peace hides behind a tedious facade. In a small perimeter, gutters with clean water are playing as if in a space flooded with greenery. A weeping willow stretches its green-hair strands towards the spot where three turtles now lying on top of each other in a kind of playing known only by them. A fourth one started a walk on the beige floor tiles, with a foot up like a ballerina. It climbs a wall of the gutter and seems to look insistently at the boys.

Girls in black clothes, covered with white aprons, slip like shadows between tables trying to cope with customers who slowly, slowly multiply in this warm evening of July.

The barely visible moon’s rays discreetly caress the inner garden. The sky reveals an almost round, bright, and thoughtful moon.

A young woman with molded trousers on her well-shaped feet appears at the entrance; she wears a tight blouse in a knot under clearly silicone breasts, at how naughty they push the yellow blouse with the popcorn. The trousers, already torn from the shop into thin strips reveal large patches of tanned skin, from below the groin to the knees and beyond. Her hair falls in disarray on her forehead, ears, and shoulders; a slender and yellow hair. She looks under her eyelashes, somehow from above, at the diners she meets along the way. Then she winces to see the three young men at the table hidden in the shade of an old cart, with wheels that seem to have hit many roads with powder.

The woman recognizes Dan. She can’t remember exactly his name, but she knows for sure that he is that unbearable guy who didn’t fall into her trap. More than this, he played as being the smartest, seemingly elegant. She felt humiliated because she can’t stand being put against the wall; usually, she is the one who puts others in indecent situations.

The Blonde is together with another insignificant creature, with black strands of dirty hair carelessly flanking her cheeks and hanging over her shoulders.

“What’s happening Bea, why are you having this sour face doing to you? Did you see any pickles?”, the brunette woman asks.

“Yeah! I’ve just seen one who pretends to value like two, but I don’t think he has equipment for a poor half one!” The woman chuckles. Ugly!

“Why, girl? Did you check?”

“No, he didn’t fall, damn it! That’s why I’m pissed off!”

“Hah, what happened to you? Were you interested?”

“He looked like having some money. Yeah, I think I was wrong. As I can see the looks pathetic.”

The blonde shows with a quick movement of her head the three boys who sit in the back of the terrace, next to the cart.

“Oh, which one?” asks the brunette with a grimace.

“It’s that blonde guy, wearing the shirt with blue plaid. It’s a second-hand one, for sure.”

“Who, the guy or the shirt?”

“Both,” Bea laughs, revealing a string of beautiful white teeth, contrasting to the ugliness of the laugh.

Dan notices out of the corner of his eye that the two girls are looking at him. The lonely turtle is staring at him, as well.

He feels knows the blonde from somewhere, but he doesn’t remember where from, at all. She looks acceptable: an artificial doll, like many others, but something tells him that beyond the physical is a huge nothing. And the brunette is downright pathetic. Anyway, he doesn’t care.

The other boys don’t seem to notice the female pair. They focus on their discussion. Lawrence struggles with his turmoil, Simon with his bursts. Dan, himself, carries the burden of his own perplexities that are second nature to him. He cannot understand the surrounding people. He doesn’t understand Lawrence either, even if he admires him for his mind or he even loves him, in a way that is confusing.

*

Dan tried hard and initially persevering to develop relationships, tried to be like everyone else, but he has never loved a woman. Simply he couldn’t overcome the status of a good friend for women. Deep inside, he really thinks he’s like everyone else, except because no skirts have tempted him. Maybe, more probably, he felt the wish to wear them. He remembers that Christmas of childhood when he and his cousin prank, dressed as gypsy-girls and went caroling their aunt’s neighbors in the countryside. God, he loved that moment!

While all his colleagues were wondering how to hang on to some interesting girls, he was their best friend. The boys, at first, hated him for it. Then, as he could talk freely with the girls and they were all confident, guys took him as an ally. And he helped them dearly. Despite enjoying being around boys but he felt somehow different from in the company of girls. Some boys often intimidated him. He couldn't understand why.

When Emma, his colleague, approached him as a woman during their last year of high school, he was so scared that he didn’t know how to escape from that situation. Again, his big question was why? It took him a long, long time to understand. And when he did, he was terribly frightened. He never had the courage to talk to anyone about it, and years passed. His sister suddenly asked him one Christmas Eve:

“Bro, don’t you really have a girlfriend?”

It froze. He didn’t know what to say. She looked at him insistently, and he looked away.

Over the years, he kept avoiding any women’s eyes. And now he does. He still avoids any attack from the fair sex, desperately or carefully avoids it. His natural elegance, his silence, and his quiet way of connecting with people always helped him.

*

He’s scrutinizing Lawrence, and he’s really sorry for him. This boy doesn’t have a relationship either, but Dan has the conviction that not for the same reasons as him. L. is forever immersed in his profession. It’s a kind of obsession. Dan’s smiling. What he feels for Lawrence is a mystery for him. His feelings are an amalgam, a mixture of tenderness, of care in the face of problems that always seem to bother his friend, of indignation when he sees him so crazy for work without the force to admit it. A need for tenderness that he pushes with fear in the depths of his mind and soul as soon as he detects it strangely completes his set of feelings.

A bunch of young men surrounds Dan at work and in the house where he lives, but none of them arouse such feelings in his soul. Or maybe he refuses to know about it. After all, Mike, his neighbor, seems to draw his attention in a special way. It’s just that Mike has had a constant girlfriend for some time, a tall girl with legs up to her arms, with a short haircut, as a boy, and walking as a teenager, ready for pranks. She’s also Dan’s good friend. However, something signals for Dan a kind of envy towards her, and even if he refuses to think about it, he doesn’t quite understand why, where this resentment comes from. Or if he were to understand, he refuses to do so anyway.

Dan shuddered. Lawrence’s hand rests on his shoulder and he feels his shirt catch fire.

“Where are you, brother? Did you go abroad with your thoughts?”

Lawrence.’s voice and face convey so much kindness, friendship, peace, and Dan feels like he’s melting.

“Well, I was thinking, I don’t know...,” comes out of his mouth in a pathetic murmur.

“To what, brother? It’s like you’re on the moon!”

If you knew, smiles sadly Dan’s mind. But no, he can’t make the mistake of letting L. find out the guilty thoughts. She would lose him as a friend, for sure, and he can’t hope for anything else. Lawrence, even immersed into the profession, had some pretty stable relationships with a few girls, relationships for several months, even two years. No way!

At his company, all the men are engaged, either with or without a ring, but none of them were alone for more than a few weeks, between shifts”. Dan never understood how relationships can appear and disappear with this speed.

 Well, you’re in love, be honest. You are silent, deaf, and mute from Mother Nature, but today the silence is screaming around you.”

Dan blushes, like a virgin - he says to himself with fear, especially since he is close to the truth.

“Damn it, don’t make me embarrassed by being mad!”

“Yeah, what’s wrong, is it a murder to fall in love?” A pause engulfing by surprise appears. Yes, really, brother, who are you with? You’ve never revealed to us?!

Simon and Lawrence suddenly seem to pay special attention to this issue. They realize this truth, exactly when it became clear, openly expressed. They knew nothing about Dan's love life. The young man feels panicked. A different panic than when a skirt makes him think badly. He became accustomed to those situations. This one, instead, is brand new!

Dan is a handsome boy, tall, slender, with an elegant gait, always dressed neatly. Before this last year of isolation! His dark blond hair surrounds his forehead, scalp, and nape, with soft curls. Long, artistically arched eyelashes shade his coffee-colored eyes, in which nature seems to have dropped drops of gold to bring his soul to the light.

It’s just that his soul has so many hiding places. He doesn’t know them all, either, or rather stubbornly refuses to scrutinize them. Fear of unknown sources torments him whenever he faces challenges that arouse strange thoughts when the girls rush to him. His behavior becomes atypical for him, who is usually friendly and fickle in the presence of women. In this situation, either he becomes a hedgehog with spikes as big as the swords of medieval knights, or an ostrich that euphemistically plunges its head into the sand and pretends not to be in the landscape.

Only once he took courage and manifested himself as a (fake) fan interested in a woman, but not interested in the specific woman as a person. Thus, he tried to remove the genuine cause of disinterest from his own “garden”. The woman was exactly the nymph who has just entered the terrace this evening. Dan remembers the episode; how he gently pulled the woman’s arms away when she threw them lasciviously around his throat. He put his index finger on her chin, ignoring her breasts that were naughtily pushing the silk blouse, and said softly: no doll, no, I’m not interested, sorry. He then turned calmly and left with an elegant step towards the exit of the bar where they were. His knees were trembling, a tremble that was coming from his embarrassment to cope in such situations. He can’t remember exactly how he was left alone with the blonde. He always avoided this lonely company of a woman, almost subconsciously, as a defense mechanism. Not even with his good girls-friends, with whom he had never sexual intentions, he remained alone. Together with his girl-friends were usually in groups of three, four. Is it genuinely an unconscious measure of protection? Yeah, now he wonders for the first time.

For some time now, he has been feeling the acceptance of his condition, not like something wrong or to be ashamed of, but like a genuine reality. This acceptance is slipping through the back door of his mind and nestling with a kind of the beginning of peace in his soul. Eventually, maybe his soul could become calm. For so long it has been troubled, wondered, denied, and driven away. A strange hope arises that one day he will receive himself in his own existence. Together with this hope, a kind of happiness flooded his body and soul.

Dan looks at the boys. They are still waiting for an answer, looking somehow amazed at this so helping and soft, warm, and devoted friend about whom, only now they realize they know little.

Dan sees Simon’s raised eyebrows and Lawrence’s scrutinizing eyes with wonder and a kind of fear.

What to answer them? He looks away, then, in a low voice he hears himself say:

 “What can I tell you, bro? I really don’t have an answer. I’m with nobody. I can’t be! I’m just with you... guys.!”

In his voice, a wave of pain, bitterness, and fear vibrates with a force that the two perceive and leave them speechless. Silence envelops the table, rises in ever-increasing rolls to the sky, and then seems to trickle down on the leaves of the branches of the weeping willow, to break in a perpetual whisper through the waters of the artesian well.

The girl in the black uniform and white apron takes the notebook with the payment silently placed by Dan between its covers, while Simon and Lawrence still seem paralyzed. Fragments of events in their life together, details ignored, minor gestures bursting from the depths of memory gain new meanings. The eyes of the two meet for a second, and both of them seem to run away from the thoughts behind them. Lawrence snatches himself from the amazement of a discovery he doesn’t want, can’t accept, shakes his head, and then, with a wide smile, gets up from the table.

“Come on, boys, it’s time for us to leave.”

Simon follows him mechanically. Dan remains stuck to the hard chair, watching with his eyes the two friends who seem to have already forgotten him. They disappear onto the gangway leading to the street. The young man remains alone, helpless, confused by the revelation of the truth that has been grinding him for years, a prisoner in his own body, in his insecurity and fear. He stands up with difficulty, ready to hide in the darkness of his studio, and crawls out to the modest entrance guarded by a hideous dwarf. He’s trembling.

In front of the gate, his two friends are waiting for him silently, but with clear eyes.

“Come on, old man, let’s move on. Life is life and we each live it as we can, as it is given to us.”

Lawrence speaks clearly and firmly. They both have friendly, open hands for him.

Dan shakes their hand with the warmth of a friend who finds his way back. Only his mind is still wondering about the proper direction.

Dan feels a kind of relief understanding that always or, at least for a long time further, they will go out together.

July 28, 2021 20:58

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1 comment

Anna Kerr
22:19 Aug 04, 2021

Interesting story! I liked how you formatted it, you were very descriptive of what the man was feeling!

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