In honor of Halloween …

… gay men’s Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year’s rolled into one, here’s an edgy short story from my “Basic Butch” collection. (For more on my erotic gay fiction visit rpandrewsgayfiction.com).

My story’s entitled “Best Buds,” and it’s about a guy living, where else, than in Fort Lauderdale, who thought spending the Labor Day weekend in Orlando with a new friend Jack might give him the chance to show Jack how he really felt about him. Instead, Jack became his own private nightmare.

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It’s been a month now since I’ve taken a shower or left my apartment. There’s nothing left in the freezer and I’m down to only a handful of canned stuff. Not sure what I’ll do after that.

Here, I could have still been teaching my future Social Security checks in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, cavorting the catwalk of Christopher Street, and playing spin the bottle with some fellow Manhattan faggot. Instead, I’m stuck in this ground floor condo off Fort Lauderdale Beach with the vertical blinds drawn. It’s dangerous being on the ground floor, you know, but asking the landlord to change apartments would mean I’d have to leave this one.

And I can’t.

Not now.

You see, I’m waiting for Jack.

Waiting for Jack to find me.

I should start by telling you that I was pretty much of a loner as a kid. Dad worked 60 hours a week in the factory, and mom never let me play with other kids – she was always afraid I’d get hurt. I couldn’t even have a bike. So I grew up not equipped with the usual social skills which was O.K. by me until I was faced with student teaching in my junior year of college. Frankly, I was scared shit to stand up in front of some crazed, oversexed adolescents – you know, it was like that final scene in “Suddenly Last Summer.” I even consulted a shrink who said I was mildly paranoiac and agoraphobic and pushed the pills. But after I observed some of the other, more seasoned teachers in action in the faculty room and saw there were bigger shit-heads than me around, I got over my shyness on my own, thank you, very much.

Coming out a year later in the butch bars of the West Village, I realized the only way to rise above the masses of reasonably in-shape, decent looking guys was to go shirtless. I might not have been the tallest, hunkiest or prettiest guy in the place, and as the years went by, not the youngest either, but my hairy chest and muscular arms seemed to be enough to get people looking. Even if some queeny clothes horses giggled in ridicule, I had gotten them to look.

After all, wasn’t that all that counted?

After half a lifetime spent in cold and snow and a having new principal at my school who was one son-of-a-bitch, I woke up one bleak November Monday morning after almost twenty years of teaching the little bastards in New York City and decided that it was time for a change. I had nothing to hold me, no lover, no great pool of friends, just a small, well established coterie of fuck buddies all within walking distance of my upper West Side apartment and all of whom had gotten – well – boring. The one good thing was that I was a high school teacher – English – and that meant it would be easier for me to find a job elsewhere than most forty year olds. Plus my apartment with the leaky tub and drafty windows was being destabilized in a few months which meant the rent would be going through the roof.

I had vacationed in sun and fun Fort Lauderdale a few times and one day, for the pure hell of it, I combed Careerbuilders.com for a teaching job down there. There was a mid-year opening at a high school in Hollywood – some new-right-out-of-college teacher couldn’t deal with the kids throwing their desks at one another – and I grabbed it. After teaching so long in City schools, playing boot camp bastard had become second nature to me.

I got myself a nice little ground floor rental a few blocks from Fort Lauderdale Beach, and over the next year I blotted out my aloneness – I say aloneness because, again, I rarely felt truly lonely – with an ample dose of sex. But Lauderdale is a tourist town and fags in particular – me included – were always waiting for new meat – so I found it increasingly impossible to re-establish the little fuck buddy network that I had had back in New York.

One night in late July – I was off for the summer – I decided to hit Lenny’s Hideaway, a place where young guys hooked up with daddies. With its 3-for-1 drink specials, it was the only place in Lauderdale on a Thursday night guaranteed to have a crowd. Going against the grain when it came to acceptable Lenny’s attire – T, tank or polo – I walked in with an open shirt.

For awhile it seemed like it was going to be one of my typical nights at the place where I got stewed on the cheap alcohol and ignored by the endless cliques of chicken-shit young things and transplants from the neighboring bear bar when he saw me across the bar and smiled. A short guy like me – 5’8” at most – a well built, gymnast body evident under his tight white pullover. He had a shaved head, no facial hair, and oh, that smile.

I waited a few minutes, then walked past him. He had been talking to this guy old enough to be my father, but he turned away for a second from his conversation and looked my way. Close up, he looked real young – thirty at most. Maybe I was tired, or maybe not just buzzed up enough, or maybe I figured the old man was somebody to him, so I decided to leave that Kodak moment alone and call it a night.

As I walked to the parking lot, I heard someone yell out, “Wait a minute.”

I turned around. It was him. He introduced himself. Jack was his name.

“I just gotta tell you, Fuzzy, you got one beautiful chest,” and he slide his palm across my sweat.

Nice manly voice. Nice manly feel.

He brushed his hairless chin against my mustache as if to kiss me, then stopped.

“And you’re one good-looking guy,” I replied. Then I smiled and we went our separate ways, I to my car, he back to the bar and, I guess, his old man.

Two weeks later, I was at the baths, lying in my room, with my jockey shorts and work boots on, and who walks by but Jack. No body hair and one of those tight, no fat specimens of manhood that looked like he had been sculpted out of clay. He stopped.

“Just get here?” I asked, trying to stay cool.

“Yea, Fuzzy,” he replied. He sounded a bit buzzed. “But I’ll be back.”

Ten minutes later, he was.

“So I’m a top,” he announced matter-of-factly, shutting the door of my room. He ran his hand vigorously across my furry chest.

“So am I,” I replied, trying to keep the grin on my face but figuring, after all this cock teasing, I would lose him.

“So what do two tops do?” he asked.

We figured it out quickly enough. Standing there by the edge of the bed, my legs straddling the floor, Jack gently stroked both our dicks – I was slightly bigger at seven inches – until first he, then I came. I let him wipe up the mess with my towel, and then he left my room and I left the bathhouse not wanting to see whom he played around with next.

A month later, I ran into Jack at the new sex club. I never forget a dick and caught his six and half inch piece of meat hanging out of one of the glory holes. It wasn’t drooping for long, though, and I made sure to suck him dry before I let on it was me. He was surprised, but happy to see me. This time, I decided to take it to the next step.

“You interested in going to Orlando for Labor Day – you know, just as buddies cruising for ass – I never been –“

“Sure,” Jack replied, genuinely excited by the prospect. “That sounds great. Just as long as we don’t do Mickey Mouse. We can stay at the Marlboro Motel Resort. Never been either. I’m a low maintenance guy, Fuzzy. Give me your number.”

He went one step better and at the front desk, got paper and pen and took down my number and address, too.

Had I known what lie ahead, I would have given him the number of some cousin in Alaska.

Tomorrow: Driving to Orlando.

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