Brad’s Search : Part 15


The alarm clock rings especially early today. It’s my first day as project manager - at least I have something to look forward to.

First, a quick recap: Mom’s plane landed safely in Denver. Gary, Harry, and Gina made it back safely, too. Now Kelly on the other hand - no response to my texts, calls, or voicemails. Oh well.

I put on some running shorts. Hopefully a quick run will clear my mind.

It’s another gorgeous day - we don’t get many of these in December. I head to Volunteer Park to run a few laps, all the while unable to shut my mind up. I finish up and head back home, take a quick shower, then it’s off to work.

I run into the nearby Starbucks for a coffee and wrap, then head into the building and head to Eric’s office.

“Morning, Eric.”

“Good morning! How did your weekend go?”

I just look at him, with a you-so-did-not-just-ask-that-question expression.

His cheerfulness faded away. “Oh, that bad, huh? I’m sorry.”

“It was awful.”

“I guess that’s the last time you take a girl to the mountains for a weekend.”

“You can say that again.”

“Well, try to take it easy, I guess. Keep an optimistic attitude. You have this new job and all.”

“Yeah, I’m trying to focus on that.”

“Good, good. Well, let’s get started, then.”

* * * * *

Eric and I spend the next five days going over applicant upon applicant. There’s lots of great talent in this area, so it doesn’t look like it’ll be a problem filling in the developer and testing openings we have. We’ve been pretty much joined at the hip this whole week getting prepared for hiring, so on Friday we run to a place downtown for lunch together.

“Eric, mind if I ask you something personal?”

“I never do mind.”

“I know you’re married with kids and all, but is that always how you imagined life?”

“I suppose; I never really thought about it. Getting married and having kids is sort of what society expects you to do, if you’re straight, that is.”

“Well, I guess what I mean to ask is, did you ever think about it going differently?”

“Differently than what? If I were gay?”

“Yeah.”

Eric sits, silently contemplating for the next few seconds. “Well, this is obviously the first time I’ve entertained even the thought of such a possibility.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, Brad, it’s fine. I can’t say I’ve ever imagined myself living as a gay man.”

“Never been attracted to any men at all?”

“Nope, I can safely say I haven’t. Wait, does this have something to do with last weekend?”

I can feel the guilt all over my face.

“It does, doesn’t it? You looked way too suspicious last week for Kelly to have been just a friend.”

“OK, you caught me.”

“So now that that’s on the table, how did it go?”

“You know, I’m surprised how far it actually went. It was only supposed to be just a dare from my best friends to see if I would go ask a girl out.”

“It always starts as only a dare, doesn’t it?”

“Well, I could feel part of me falling in love, or at the very least, caring for her. Here I am, big gay Brad, falling in love with a woman. Do you think that’s possible?”

“I guess if you’re open to the possibility, anything’s possible. As for me, I guess I just grew up in a different time. Sex wasn’t as much of an open subject as it is now, so I probably would have laughed if one of my guy friends came on to me and not given it a second thought. But who am I to judge? As long as you walk away from an experience with more help than hurt, I don’t see it as a bad thing.”

“I think it’s too early for me to tell.”

Eric pats me on the shoulder. “Give it time; you’ll figure it out.”

* * * * *

If there ever was a need for alcohol, it is now.

I decide to give Gary a call. “Hey, do you and Harry want to hang out tonight?”

“Sorry, Brad; Gina and I are staying in tonight.”

“What, I can’t drop by? She’s never minded me coming over before.”

“Well, she kind of wants to steer clear of you for a while because of what happened last weekend.”

“Seriously? And she’s not mad at you?”

“Oh, she’s mad at me, too. She has every right to be. I’m trying to fix things, though. Just give it time.”

“Yeah, people keep telling me that.”

“Harry’s busy with Julia, too. Sorry. I’d love to hang out, you know that, but I already made plans to stay in with Gina.”

“It’s OK, Gary. I’ll deal.”

“How about we grab some Starbucks tomorrow morning? We can sit and talk then.”

“That’s a good idea. Thanks, Gary.”

We say our goodbyes and hang up. Best friends are preferred when going out, but not necessary.

* * * * *

I arrive outside of one of the many gay bars Seattle has to offer. I don’t frequent them much, but the situation calls for desperate measures.

I head inside and find a seat at the bar.

“Whatcha havin’?”

“Lemon drop, please.” How predictable.

At least the music they have playing is pretty upbeat. The bartender hands me my concoction, and I take an oh-so-very-satisfying sip.

I look across the bar and see a man leaning against the wall - a man who is very attractive, and, for some reason, also faintly familiar. Looks to be in his late 20s or early 30s, perhaps. I glance up at the TVs on the wall, not really paying attention to what is on them. I glance back at the man. He gives me a quick nod, as if to say, “What’s up?” I nod back. I down the rest of my lemon drop as he makes his way over and sits next to me.

“Can I get you another one of those? You look like you could use it.”

“Thanks; that would be awesome.”

He gets the bartender’s attention and orders another lemon drop. He looks back at me. “So, what in the world could be bringing down such a sexy guy like yourself? And don’t give me a shitty excuse like, ‘the world is ending,’ because that actually was supposed to happen today and didn’t.”

I chuckle at his comment. “Why does it matter?”

“Because I care. That’s why it matters.”

“You just met me.”

“I just know that everyone needs someone to talk to every now and then. And who better than someone who doesn’t know you, hasn’t formed their own opinions, and comes to you with an open mind?”

The bartender returns with my drink, and I take a sip. “Fair enough. I’m Brad Palovich.”

“James. James Briscoe.” He flashes the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.

I shake his hand, and instantly recognize whom I’m speaking to.

I glance down at his knees. “Looks like you got those grass stains out.”