I frowned. I was setting up for the work day. I stood up, my eyes looking at this newbie who I hadn't met before. He was tall, a strawberry blond, and apparently loved his bracelets.
"I'm not little where it counts," I replied.
I should have known then we were going to be nothing, but trouble.
WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT...
I wasn't even looking.
It wasn't that long ago that Glenn and I came back from my birthday weekend at E.D.C. (Electric Daisy Carnival) in Las Vegas. i was on a spiritual high. I came back to my mundane life in Little Rock, determined to find answeres from Hillbilly.
I considered those weeks dark and full of despair. There was yelling, crying, and regrets. But...life went on.
Hands grabbed my shoulders and squeezed.
I was rolling silverward. It was a recurring problem at my job. No one appeared to want to roll it. Or worse no one rolled enough. Team player that I was, I was in the kitchen...rolling.
So lost in my own thoughts I had not realized that anyone had been behind me. And they had a really nice firm grip. Hands tightened on my shoulders and proceeded to give my back a much-needed massage.
I had to bite down on my tongue. It had been a while since anyone had touched me. After all as a gay black man who was usually attracted to gay white men, who would? I knew how people were where I lived. And here was a guy I just met...who didn't know me at all...touching me and giving me a massage.
It felt good.
But I was at work.
There was a time and a place. And work was not the place. Especially when you were surrounded by people who didn't like you.
I looked at Redhead real funny. Then I sent him on his way. I continued to roll silverward.
Over the next few weeks, the tension built. It always seemed that I would be bussing on the side Redhead served on. There would be a quick squeeze of the shoulder from him. There was the fact that he never called me by my ACTUAL name...so much so that I worried if he knew my real name.
Questions ran through my head. Was this guy who only knew me as 'Lil Bit' even gay? Was he interested in me? Was I interested in him?
All I really knew was that he made me smile. For the first time since Hillbilly, I had found myself looking forward to work. Redhead did that for me.
I knew what I had to do.
Apparently...so did he.
AND THEN...THERE WAS THE EXPECTED.
It was two parted.
'What' had been Glenn's text response. He had been actually shocked. At what?
I ask Redhead for a ride.
Like it was kismet, we had been let off wok early. After a little bit of flirting, I walked up to him and asked.
He said sure.
Part Number 2 came when we finally made it to my house. Rather than go straight to the house, Redhead decided to take the scenic route. I had nothing planned for the rest of the day so I simply rolled with it. As I got ready to get out, Redhead pulled out a pen and a paper. He wrote down his number. Then he asked me out for tonight.
I said sure.
Inside, my stomach did flip-flops.
Was this for real?
Apparently, it was.
AND THEN...THERE WAS THE STRAIGHT UP PREDICTABLE
And that's how it started.
We hanged out. There was drinking. There was movie watching. There was even singing. Most of all, there was talking.
I loved talking. A person could learned so much by talking.
Redhead had kids. Late coming out guy, he had managed to find a relationship. But they broke up. The pain in his eyes and his stiff body language told me it was a nasty breakup.
Was he ready for anything new?
I was cool with that.
And one night Redhead finally got the nerve. He got the nerve to ask me if I was gay. I stared at him funny.
"You can't tell?" I asked.
Nice to know I was masculine in appearnace. Duh, but still...
So...Redhead and I got comfrotable on his couch. We still talked about work silliness and life. However, he sat more comfortable next to me on the couch. Relaxed. So did I, leaning closer. Now that he knew I was gay and I knew he wa gay, would anyone make a move.
"I guess it's time to drop you off," Redhead announced.
I looked down. "I guess so."
I put my shoes back on. He started on his own. And I...leaned in and kissed him. I pulled back.
"Uh...I wasn't expecting that," Redhead said. "I...I've never done it with a black guy before."
"Oh," I uttered.
"Not that I wouldn't be down with that," he continued.
"No worries," I said.
"I really--" he started.
"Look," I said, cutting him off. "You don't have to explain. I know how this game is. I--"
He shut me up real quick with a kiss. We rolled around on his couch. After more kissing, he grabbed me up by my butt. I wrapped my legs around his waist. Then he carried me to his bedroom. We proceeded to tear off each other's clothes.
That would be how I described that Redhead. From always touching me to nothing at all. That was how Redhead acted after our hookup. It wasn't bad so I knew it didn't suck.
Then...he saw me across the room. I was helping out another co-worker, a nice Latino guy. It wasn't unusual for us to be joking around, being touchy feely.
Next thing I knew, Redhead was in my face.
Knew it wasn't a bad hookup.
"Come sit with me."
I was off work early. It was pouring rain. I decided to get some food. Then...Dean had showed up.
Dean was another co-worker of mine. While most of my co-workers loathed him, I got along with Dean due to the fact we were both Cali boys. And he was bored at the house so he stepped out for food.
So...we talked and joked. He talked about hoping to to got to Dallas Gay Pride. I talked about my family. Redhead showed up to talk to Dean.
It became obvious:
1) Dean and Redhead hung out and had gone to the movies...something Redhead and I had not.
2) Dean and Redhead hung out FREQUENTLY...and got messed up. So when he wasn't around me, he was with him.
3) When another co-worker came over and chatted with us, the dynamic changed. Dean was into the new co-worker. Redhead was into Dean. And I picked up on the body language coming from Redhead toward Dean...which was a little tooooo comfortable.
Then my mind realized it.
They had hooked up.
'Oh' was my train of thought.
WITHOUT ME, I KNEW YOU WOULD FALL, BUT...
Then it was just a ping-pong.
One day, Redhead would brag about kicking losers out of his life, being sure to touch my shoulder here or poke my side there. The next day, Redhead was withdrawn, not even talking to me, but mentioning some conquest (?) to a co-worker. He immediately clammed up. But any guy who would get around me, Redhead would get possessive with a touch.
So what was going on? It felt like he wanted me one minute. Then he didn't want me the next. Still, he didn't want anyone to have me.
I tried subtle, a sex joke here. Or if not a sex joke, I would use a vague comment there, a comment anyone would get. I started making more blunt comments, mentioning our hookup. He would get red and embarrassed. However, Redhead still wasn't making intiative.
It was made harder that Redhead never talked to me outside of work. He had gone from constantly texting me to not a peek. From what I saw, Redhead's phone was working.
"Do you want to fuck?"
Nothing subtle about that.
I had fifteen minutes before work. Redhead happened to be leaving work. We sat in his car. I was never one for games, preferring to get to the point. A yes or no question would settle that easy.
"I would have to think about that."
Really? Apparently, looking at him stare about, I could see I wasn't getting an answer.
"I'm not asking for a ring. I'm not trying to marry. I asked if you...WANT...TO..." I continued.
"I met someone," Redhead blurted out.
"See?" I said. "Simple as that." I started to get out of the car."
"Hey," Redhead said. "Hug?"
I looked at him like he said the sky was falling.
"I give all my friends hugs," Redhead said.
I gave him a tight (but quick) hug.
It was the last one I got.
"Where is he?" my co-worker asked.
"Probably recovering from partying at his other job," another co-worker said snarkily.
I looked at him. However, I bit my tonuge and walked away. I was at work to work, not to gossip.
Redhead had gotten another job as a bartender. He happened to be one of several at the watering hole Glenn and I went to. Obviously, I didn't like that.
It was already bad that he had basically been caught stringing me along...which was how I saw it. Rather than have time to heal away from Redhead, Redhead would be my face. Redhead would be there, trying to sabotage any relationship...and has. Rehead would be gaga over his new WHITE flavor of the month...someone honestly I look better than.
And rather than balance has two jobs like an adult, Redhead was now becoming known for showing up for work late...if at all. I passed it on to Glenn. He said it best.
The allure of the bar.
There was one other thing that came to mind. A day when Redhead was working. His cologne was loud. For some reason, it rang a bell in my memory, but I could not placed it. One day he passed by me, and it hit me.
He also had a tendency to wear his colgone strongly. I later figured out it was his way to cover up the stink of his drug use. After all, he was a recovering addict.
I turned around. I watched Redhead walk away, heading for the kitchen. Glenn's words rang in my ear.