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Gay LGBTQ+ Drama

This story contains sensitive content

Content warning: tobacco use and sensuality.


I saw him dancing in the colored lights. Red, then green, then blue, they moved like he did. Knees bending, torso swaying, neck thrown back. His hands caressed his body for no one but himself. All around him other people were oblivious to this personal riot.


Every night I would come to this bar and every night I would leave alone. I would stand there watching, waiting, the ice would melt in my drink and the heat from all the bodies shifting together would leave my eyes burning. It’s not like I didn’t want to dance, it’s just that no one ever asked me to.


I made my way to the exit, hurrying to get away, bumping into shoulders, a thousand “sorrys” lost in the sound. No one was really listening. Not really. I felt like a tornado leaving a rampage, limbs pushed back from the force of my sudden departure, heads turning, liquid splashing out of their cups.


“Where are you going?” His hand grabbed mine as I reached the edge of the dance floor. He turned me to face him, his beard glistening, glittery, sweat dripping down his neck.


“Home,” I said, not caring whether he heard me above the noise. I yanked free from his grip and my cup clattered when it hit the floor. His hand reached for mine again and I took a step back. The way his eyes ate me up made me avert my gaze. He stared at me more closely.


“Come dance with me,” he called out. He started to shuffle backward. Soon he would be consumed by the writhing mass behind him and he would disappear from view. He stopped just before contact.


“No, I better go.” My scarf and coat were close by, hanging on a rack near the door. I couldn’t wait for the cold air outside to shock my senses, to smoke a cigarette and to feel the burn at the back of my throat. Inhale, exhale, breathe in, breathe out.


“You come here every night, don’t you?” He bit his lip, revealing a gap in his two front teeth. I wanted to stick my tongue between it just then. Kiss him. Do something reckless and impulsive.


“No. I’ve got better things to do,” I said. He didn’t seem convinced. He just stood there grinning, his eyes blinking rapidly.


“Let me get you a drink?” He gestured to the bar where the bartender was vigorously shaking a tumbler, then smoothly pouring it into a cup. The bartender handed it over to an eager customer who laid down a wrinkled bill on the countertop. He took the drink and headed back toward his friends on the dance floor.


“You don’t mean it. You don’t want me.” I could sense these things. I knew it. 


“I mean everything I say.” He reached out his arm again, extending his hand, unfurling it to me like a drawn out tapestry. He grinned and nodded his head in the direction of the dance floor.


I followed him, my feet heavy, one foot, then another, then another. He didn’t look back, not even once. As we moved to the center of the floor, the people around us suddenly seemed aware of his presence as they hadn’t been before. They moved out of his way. Like waves, they parted and his biblical power drew me in too, making me pick up my pace until we stopped face to face. I waited.


At first he started out slowly, moving his hips, dancing with the lower half of his body. I tried to mimic him, but it was a poor imitation of what he did. He seemed so effortless, so sensual. He added his arms, his hands, his neck, his head. This part, that part, this one, that one, soon his whole body was moving comfortably to the pulsating beat. I could only do my best to follow, but I felt awkward. 


He took my hands in his. They were warm, big, damp, and he put my hands on his chest. He moved them up and down very slowly and very carefully. Gently, gently, gently, I could feel his muscles through his shirt. We were moving back and forth, back and forth and I couldn’t help but wonder then what it would be like to touch other parts of him. I wanted to lean in closer, to wrap my arms around his shoulders and to feel my chest pressed tightly against his.


“Are you okay?” His words were barely audible. I had stopped moving. He let his hands go, mine stayed on his chest. I was shocked. I took them off then, quickly, and the look on his face was full of disappointment. 


I left him standing there without a word. He’d understand. He would have to understand. He’d regret this in the morning. He’d get over it. He’d find someone else to spend the night with and forget this ever happened.


“Wait!” The crowd morphed and gave way around him as he chased me out, jealous glances bobbing up and down, up and down, in the sea of the crowd. Someone reached out to touch him, to claim him for their own as he went past but it was like there was something protecting him. He ducked out of reach.


The door slammed shut behind me. I felt like crying. I felt like going to bed. I decided I wouldn’t come back for a week, maybe two. I fumbled in my coat pocket looking for my cigarettes and lighter. The door opened letting out a blast of warm air. It was him. Flick, flick, flame, inhale, and I was off, crossing to the other side of the street. I couldn’t keep hurting myself like this. It was just too much. 


“Hey! Wait up!” He moved quickly. He was distracted though and a horn honked as he narrowly missed getting hit by a car. I had made it to the other side. My head was swiveling back and forth and I was taking quick puffs of my cigarette. I tried to decide which was the best direction to go to make an escape. But he caught up to me. I took off running. 


“I said wait up!” he cried out. He started to run, but I was faster. I tried my best to avoid anyone walking on the sidewalk, but every time I passed someone their heads whipped around and they angrily shouted at me to “slow down” or “watch where you’re going”. I took one look back, and picked up my feet, faster, faster, faster and faster. I felt the wind push my hair back, legs burning, arms pumping. I smiled.


When I had finally made it several blocks, I ducked into an alleyway and pressed my back against the wall. I laughed, stomach shaking. I had lost him. He must have given up.


“There you are!” He was right beside me. He had caught up somehow. He was bent over at the knees taking long drawn out breaths and looking like he was about to be sick.


“What a waste of a cigarette,” I said. It had broken in half during my run. I had caught my breath, but he was still hunched over. Through his puffer jacket, I watched his back rise and fall. I lit up my broken cigarette again, and I blew the smoke in his direction. I felt sorry for him. 


“Can I have one of those?” He looked me in the eyes as his back straightened up. He was as serious as could be. 


I hesitantly pulled out the pack and handed him a cigarette, and he took it delicately between his teeth. I went to hand him the lighter but he cupped his hands around my cigarette, still pressed to my lips, already smoldering away, dangerously short, and he used the end of mine to light his. He blew the smoke out of his nostrils and immediately flicked it to the ground. 


“Horrible habit. Let’s go.” He started walking off briskly. His gloved hands were swinging by his sides.


“Where are we going?”


“You’ll see,” he said.


He took me to a retro diner.


“If you’re such a good dancer, then why was no one dancing with you?” My question made his eyebrows raise. I placed my hands on the table. They were red and chapped from the cold. I tried rubbing them, blowing on them to warm them up.


We were the only two there, huddled in a tight vinyl booth, drinking the coffee we ordered when we first arrived. We were waiting for our meal. The walls were yellow, bright yellow, and entirely covered with artwork, pictures, license plates, memorabilia, and little knick-knacks on shelves that hadn’t been touched in years. A jukebox sat unused in one corner, and in another was a dusty old pin-ball machine that played tinny music through its speakers.


“I don’t let them. Other guys, I mean.” He took a sip of his coffee. I took a sip of mine. 


“And why’s that?” The warmth of the cup felt good in my hands, but I set it down.


“I don’t let them, that’s why.” He set his coffee on the table, the steam floating up and disappearing before reaching his face.


“That’s not an answer.” I shook out a sugar packet, tore it open, poured it in my cup, dissolved it with my spoon.


“Do you really want to get into this?” He reached over and grabbed not one, not two, but three creamers in the tiny wire holster that housed the ketchup and other condiments, opened them, and dumped them into his coffee.


“I asked, didn’t I?” I took one creamer, peeled the lid off, poured it into mine and watched the dark brown color be overtaken with a swirling cloud of light brown.


“Because there’s this expectation.” He sipped, sipped, sipped at the coffee.


“What expectation?” I said. I took a long drink of mine trying to savor it slowly. 


“To be touched. Everyone wants to touch me when we dance. And I just don’t like to be touched,” he said.


The waitress hobbled over with a plate in each hand. She set them down swiftly in front of us. 


“Is there anything else I can get you?”


“More coffee?” He took a big slurp of it, finishing it off before presenting her the empty cup.


“Be right back. Let me get a fresh pot ready for you.” She hobbled back the way she came. She went through the kitchen doors, which flapped on their hinges.


He dove into the food the second she was gone. Two sunny side up eggs, crispy hash browns, and a piece of buttery toast. Through a mouthful of food he tried to speak to me, but then started chuckling, covering his mouth before swallowing noisily.


“You’re scared of me. Why is that?” He said. He dabbed his toast into the runny, orange yolk and took a big bite.


“You know what you want. It’s intimidating.” I looked down at my shoes under the table, my food still uneaten.


“And if I were to say I wanted you, what would you say to that?” He had stopped eating, and now he was making little circles in the air with his fork.


“You can’t have me.” I forcefully took a bite of my scrambled eggs.


“That hurts my feelings.” His mouth was full of hashbrowns, his fork still moving in circles in between bites. 


“You barely know me. How could you want me?” I poured syrup all over my pancakes, drowning them in it, feeling my face grow hotter and hotter.


“I know your type.” He said matter-of-factly.


“And what type is that?” I scoffed at him.


“You push away anyone who tries to get close to you.” The fork stopped circling. He didn’t take a bite, he just watched me closely, his steely blue eyes assessing my face.


“You’re really starting to irritate me, you know that, right?” I said, not knowing whether I wanted to slap him, or kiss him, or both.


“Good. Eat your food.” He had completely demolished his and pushed his plate to the edge of the table. I felt something brushing against one of my feet. Underneath the table his right foot was playing with mine. 


The kitchen doors swung open just then and out came the waitress, making her way to us, her hips swishing, coffee pot in her hand. I glared at him and he smiled back, revealing the gap in his two front teeth. She filled his cup up and when she went for mine I put out my hand to stop her.


“I’m just fine, thanks,” I said through gritted teeth. His foot was still rubbing up against mine. 


“Fill it up for him, he’s not done eating. Gotta have something to wash it down with.” He motioned for the waitress to do so and she shot me a worried look.


“Not often you bring boys in here, sweetie” she warbled to him.  


“Not often I find one I like,” he replied. She went to pour me more coffee but I quickly grabbed it and chugged the rest. It had gone lukewarm.


“No, really, I’m fine. I was just about to leave, anyway. Thank you.” I took out my money, threw it on the table, and slid my way out of the booth.


“Now look what you’ve—” The door closing muffled the rest of the waitress’s words. It was time to go home. I had had enough. Something stopped me though, a longing feeling deep in my gut.


I found myself wandering on the pier, my mind lingering on him. I imagined I could feel his touch, him taking off my shirt. His lips on my neck, kissing me over and over again. I’d touch him back: his back, his shoulder blades, his sides. I’d ask him if he liked it, if that was okay, where else could I touch him and where else could I put my hands? He’d say “here”, and “here”, and “here”, and I’d memorize every place for the next time. But there would be no next time. There never was.


When I made it to the end of the dock, I looked out at the water. It lapped at the wooden posts below. It crashed, it swelled, it crested and once again I could feel myself growing numb. I was exhausted. I was tired of being alone. I was tired of feeling like this. 


“Mind if I join you?” He asked. He came up beside me and rested his hands on the railing. I had lost track of time, unsure of how long I had been there. He turned to face me, but I kept staring out, wondering if this was real.


“No one stays,” I replied. I looked at him then, tears forming in my eyes. They started to run down my cheeks, and he went to wipe them off but I moved farther away. His hands found their way back to the railing and so did mine.


“I’d stay.” His hand inched closer to mine.


“Neither of us know that. Not for certain.” I moved my hand closer to his.


“We’ll never know unless we try.” Our hands were close, so close they were almost touching now.


“What about in the morning?” I placed my hand on top of his, lacing our fingers together.


“I won’t regret it. Not for a second,” he murmured. He took me in his arms, and I started sobbing uncontrollably. 


“I’m sorry I’m like this. No one ever touches me. Not for real. Not like this.” I could barely get the words out.


“Come on. Let’s go,” he said soothingly. He held me close as he walked me home. So unafraid and not caring what anyone else on the street thought. I was jealous.


He led me up the stairs to my apartment steadily, took the keys out of my hand and unlocked the door. He ushered himself inside. 


He turned on the light, brightening up the living room around us with a warm glow and I saw him standing there, really standing there for the first time. Still, unmoving, untouched.


I went to kiss his lips.

May 11, 2024 02:42

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3 comments

Tanya Humphreys
00:08 May 24, 2024

Your writing is really good. I felt I was back in a club again like back in the 80s and 90s. I don't like the story though, because I need a more solid 'protagonist seeks something, some excitement, then an ending that makes me go 'wow'. In other words, it's boring. But you have potential! Great mastery of grammar and punctuation. (You won't believe how many stories I have to read that don't have that.)

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Alexis Araneta
17:00 May 16, 2024

Will, this was such a lovely first piece on the site (Welcome, by the way). The way you used descriptions was so vivid. Great flow to the story too. Lovely work !

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Will McAtee
17:16 May 16, 2024

Thanks, Alexis! So nice to be welcomed here. Everyone who has read this story always seems to like the descriptions. Must be a strength of mine when writing. Thanks again!

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