Brad’s Search : Part 16

James looks like he just had an epiphany. “That’s why you look so familiar! You helped me up after I took a fall trying to catch that damned Frisbee.”

“Yep, that would be me.”

“So if I can make an ass of myself and not feel embarrassed, you should have nothing to worry about with me.”

I give him a look and tilt my head to the side. “I guess we’ll see.”

He takes a swig of his beer. “So, do you go running in Volunteer Park often?”

“I go occasionally. I was there Monday for a quick run, but I don’t think I saw you.”

“No, I haven’t been this week. My Frisbee guys have been a bit flaky.”

“They all have their own boyfriends?”

“Yes - well, all except one, but he’s straight, so he doesn’t count.”

“So that makes two of you without boyfriends, including yourself?”

There’s that smile again. “Yes, I guess you could say that.”

“And why would that be?” I take a sip of my lemon drop.

“I take the time to get to know someone - really get to know them. My friends have a tendency to jump into relationships way too quickly. And just as fast as they jump in, they crawl out.”

“So you haven’t found anyone suitable in a while?”

“Right. I’m hoping to change that tonight.”

I can feel myself start to blush. “Me too.” I then start thinking about Stan and all of my other boyfriends, but I really focus on Kelly. That memory is far too fresh.

James must have caught the sad expression on my face. “Is that why you’re looking so down? Some callous fucker broke your heart?”

“You guessed it.”

“Sacrilege! What’s his name?”

Oh boy - er, girl. “Kelly.”

He gives me the same look that Eric and Rick did when I told them about my weekend jaunt.

“Kelly? Well, I guess that can be a guy’s name.” James looks deeper into my eyes, and a few seconds later, says, “It isn’t a guy, is it?”

All I can do is down the rest of my drink.

“To tell you the truth, I wasn’t quite expecting that.”

“So why aren’t you running away?”

“Running away would be extremely hypocritical of a gay man, don’t you think? Here we are, demanding that mainstream society accept us for who and what we are. It wouldn’t be right of me to not give someone else the acceptance they deserve after demanding it for myself.”

I just sit there and admire him for a few seconds. “Wanna get out of here?”

“I’d love to.”

He drinks the last of his beer and we walk to the door. He opens it and waves me through. Such a gentleman.

We walk down Madison St for half a block before he says, “So, you’re gonna have to tell me more about this Kelly.”

“What would you like to know?”

“How did you meet her?”

“At another gay bar, actually. My two best friends and I went out to celebrate R-74 passing. And this woman just came up to us.”

“Why would she assume you were straight if you three were at a gay bar?”

“Well, my two friends are straight, so she must have thought I was, too.”

“Ah. Guilt by association.”

“So she comes up and flirts a little with us, then she walks away. Next thing I know, my friends have evil, sadistic expressions on their faces. I ask them what’s up, and they remind me of all my past relationships with guys that failed. They make a deal with me to ask her out. I do, and then I feel bad about the whole thing, so I feel obligated to actually go out with her.”

“Wow, with the amount of digging you did, you should be in China. Where did you end up going?”

“This Japanese restaurant downtown. It turned out to be really good. And then we went back to her place, one thing led to another, and she shoved her hand in my pants.”

“And then what?”

“That’s the last thing I remember.”

He glances at me as we keep walking. I give him the best excuse I had come up with so far. “The drinks were strong.”

He chuckles. “Well, if that’s all it takes to get you into bed, then I should have no problem!” I just roll my eyes.

We turn the corner and walk to a small park. We find a bench and sit down. He continues, “So, obviously, something must have gone awry.”

“Yeah. That same night - completely by accident - I invited her to a weekend trip I planned. My mom was coming to visit, one of my friends made plans to go the same weekend, and the other friend joined at the last second. And both of my friends brought dates.”

“Wow, that’s a hell of a lot of people.”

“And add one more - the last person on Earth I’d want to be there.”

“Mitt Romney?”

I snort. “My ex-boyfriend, actually, who I didn’t know would be there until I got there and my friends told me.”

“That’s a recipe for disaster fit for a Paula Deen cookbook!”

“Tell me about it. Everything goes pretty smoothly and I’m almost out of there until I accidentally run into my ex-boyfriend just as we are on the way out. And of course, he makes a big scene and the truth spills out.”

“Well, you had to know it was going to happen eventually.”

“In the back of my mind, yes, I knew. I guess I was just trying to delay the inevitable.”

James takes a very deep breath. “And I really can’t fault you for that. I’ve had moments when little white lies get out of hand. I’ve learned my lesson though: best to live life with everything out in the open.”

I yawn and stretch out my hands. “I think you’re right. Much simpler that way.”

“Did your mom at least take it well?”

“You know, I was worried for a while. She had always been cool about my being gay for pretty much my entire life, but she was very silent after that incident. But she reassured me that she loves me and that the incident hadn’t changed anything between us.”

“That’s great to hear.” I yawn again. James continues, “How’d you get here?”

“We walked from the bar; don’t you remember?”

“No, smartass; how did you get to the bar?”

“I rode the bus.”

“Well, you look tired. You’ve certainly been through a lot. Come on, let me take you home.”

“No, James, that’s OK, really.”

“Come on. If I was in your position, I wouldn’t want to ride a bus home late at night and alone.” He tilts his head and gives me puppy dog eyes.

I give in. “Fine.”

He gives me a big smile. “Great; let’s go.”

We stand up and start walking toward his car.

“So, where do you live, Brad?”

“Near Lake Union.”

“Oh good; you’re on the way.”

“How about yourself?”

“I’m in Fremont.”

“Nice; I don’t get up there too often.”

“Well, when you get the chance, perhaps you can come up to visit me.”

We reach his car; he unlocks it and we get inside. “Really? You want me to come visit?”

He fires up the car and we drive off. “Sure, why not? You seem like a pretty nice guy, and your lips look so kissable.”

“I’m not sure you’d want to kiss these lips. They might still have pussy juice on them.”

He chuckles. “I’ve tasted worse.” I chuckle, too. He adds, “So, where were your friends tonight when you were going through all of this?”

“They already had dates planned with their girlfriends.”

“And they neglected you in your time of need? I’m sure they’re all right, but if I were them I would have stuck by your side tonight.”

“Well, I’m glad we ran into each other then.”

He looks at me and smiles. “So am I. You can tell them you had a date, too - or rather, somewhat of a date.”

I give him directions to my place as we get closer. We eventually pull up outside the entrance.

“Brad, I’d like to go out again - on a real date this time. Here’s my card. Give me a call sometime.”

“That sounds good, James.”

He reaches across and we hug for a few seconds. I say into his ear, “Thanks for rescuing me tonight.”

We pull away, and he flashes that smile again. “You didn’t need rescuing - a boogie board, perhaps, but not rescuing.”

I open the door and step out. “I appreciate it anyway. I’ll give you a call.”

“Take care, Brad.”

“You too.” I close the door and walk to my front door. I unlock it and open the door to head inside. I look behind me and he’s still waiting to make sure I get inside OK. I wave to thank him for the gesture, and he waves back and drives off.

I head inside, lock the door, and turn on a nearby lamp. I glance at his card. It reads: James Briscoe - Law Offices of Briscoe & Feldman.