Friday, May 30, 2014

Return to Winthrop St. - Part 13

Atwood ended up at a relatively new bar called Buff Chrome. No one asked for his ID at the door and the bartenders didn’t seem to mind serving drinks to anyone who could pay. Buff Chrome was slick and shiny. Dance music infused with disco rhythms and house beats thumped as colored lights swiveled and swirled over the dance floor. Amidst all the shiny newness however there were plenty of dark corners in which to get lost or be found. Atwood drank it all in as he sidled up to the bar and ordered a Jack and Ginger.

“That’ll be $10,” the shirtless muscle god bartender said in a voice raised to be heard over the pulsing music.

Atwood pulled a $20 bill from his front pocket and slid it across the bar. The bartender returned quickly with his change. Atwood left $2 on the bar. One dollar for the service and another because the bartender was just so damn hot he couldn’t help himself. He laughed to himself, as he turned to watch the crowd, for tipping a guy just for being hot.

It wasn’t long before the warmth of the whiskey was working its magic. Atwood was loosening up, relaxing into the atmosphere. From his prime location at the bar he continued to people watch. From his vantage point he could see all types of people. Buff Chrome seemed to mostly attract people similar to himself, but there were dottings amongst the twinks of preppy guys, bears, 40-somethings, daddy types. That’s when Atwood noticed the handsome man sitting next to him was staring. He smiled then turned his attention back to the room.

“Nice smile,” the man said as he leaned in Atwood’s direction.

“Thank you,” Atwood responded as he turned toward the only person in the place paying him any attention.

“I’m Nick.”

Atwood drank in the Nick’s face. He was olive-skinned with dark hair and light green eyes. Atwood thought he might be middle eastern, but there was no accent to confirm his thought. When Nick smiled he revealed teeth as perfect and white as an actor in a toothpaste commercial. Atwood guessed he was probably in his early 30s, but it was hard to tell with the dim lighting illuminating the bar. 
“I’m Atwood,” he replied turning to fully face his admirer. It was then that he noticed the sturdy chest hidden beneath the yellow v-neck t-shirt. The face and chest were definitely enough to peak Atwood’s interests, and the fact that this man seemed to be interested in him.

Atwood finished his first drink and turned to find another he hadn't even ordered sitting on the bar. He looked at Nick whose eyebrow gesture and grin indicated that he had ordered the drink as well as another for himself. 

The two of them continued to talk about nothing and everything, Atwood seemingly unaware that he was answering any and all questions divulging information rather than getting any. He was happy though. He realized he was smiling and laughing, enjoying himself. The drinks, the attention. This was just what he needed. 

"I need to pee so bad," Atwood said when their conversation had hit a lull. "Do you know where the bathroom is? I've never been here."

Nick smiled as he said, "Sure. At the end of the bar make a right then a left at the wall. Walk straight down the hallway. You can't miss it."

"Thanks. I'll be right back."

Atwood followed Nick's directions weaving unsteadily on his journey to the bathroom. He concentrated on walking and staying upright, placing his hand on the wall here and there to steady himself. He was really feeling the affects of those two drinks. He hadn't eaten anything in a while so it made sense to him that he would be floating in the buzz field between rational thought and blissful abandon. 

Peeing had never felt so good. He stood in the stall hidden behind it's closed door for what felt like an hour, his stream full and steady to the end. When he stepped out of the bathroom Nick was waiting in the hallway. 

"You were gone a while. I got worried about you."

He flashed his smile at Atwood. 

"Really? It did feel like I was peeing for, like, an hour." Nick's concern made Atwood feel wanted and that smile just made his stomach flutter. 
They retuned to the bar where Atwood found two glasses filled with a greenish liquid. 

"What's this?" asked Atwood. 

"Absinthe," replied Nick. 

"I've never had Absinthe. Isn't it, like, illegal or something."

"No," Nick replied, his voice smooth and sensual. He had his hand on Atwood’s leg gently caressing his thigh. "Otherwise they couldn't sell it here, right?"

Atwood thought about it for a second then smiled as he said, "I guess you're right." He looked down at Nick's hand and consciously moved so that the hand was closer to his crotch. 

"Is it safe to mix absinthe and whiskey?" asked Atwood.

"Do you think I would lead you astray, baby?" responded Nick. "I won't let anything happen to you."

"What's it taste like?" Atwood asked, tentatively. 

“Some people say it’s bitter. Some say it tastes like licorice.” Nick responded motioning for the bartender. “I like to drink it as a shot. So the taste hardly matters.”

The bartender placed an ornate slotted spoon on top of each glass then placed a sugar cube on each spoon. Atwood watched as the bartender lit the cubes on fire. His eyes lit up with childlike fascination. The look was not lost on Nick as he watched the flames dance in Atwood’s golden eyes. The bartender then turned the spoons over dropping the cubes into the green liquid, which then turned into a glass of floating flame. 

“Whoa,” said Atwood as he jumped slightly back from the bar in amazement.

“It’s okay,” Nick said as he silently motioned for the bartender to finish the concoction being created in front of them.
As the bartender poured ice water into the glass the liquid began to cloud from crystal green to mint green. It was almost milky in its look. The flame was immediately doused. When enough water was added Nick said, “Thank you, Jeremiah.”

The bartender acknowledged with a smile and a nod then went back to helping other customers.

“You ready?” Nick asked Atwood who looked up from the glass to Nick. He stared into Nick’s bright green eyes and full lips. Attraction and the desire to be desired can be a blinding pair.

“Yes,” he said as Nick gave him the glass of Absinthe.

“Bottoms up,” Nick said with a smile, clinking his glass to Atwood’s. 

With a flutter of trepidation Atwood raised the glass to his mouth and drank the liquid down as quickly as he could. He shuddered as the last bit rolled down the back of his throat.

“It’s both,” said Atwood.

“Both what?” asked Nick.

“Bitter and licorice.”

“It’s the sugar that helps diffuse the bitterness.”

“It’s interesting, but not my favorite.”

“It’s not my favorite either, but there’s more to it than the taste,” replied Nick as his hand found its way back the Atwood’s upper thigh. “It’s kind of magical.”

“Magical?” Atwood replied, curious.

“Let’s dance. You’ll see.” Nick said as he stood up from the bar smiling slyly, beckoning Atwood to join him.

∆∆∆

Atwood didn’t know where he was when he opened his eyes. As the ceiling came into focus he was confused. He looked at the brown sheets on the bed that wasn't his own. He looked at the bedside lamp and the clock next to it flashing 12:00 on repeat. He looked over the side of the bed and felt a sense of relief to see his clothes in a pile. He swung his legs over and placed his feet on the floor, sitting up and rubbing his eyes with his hands. He then heard the floor creak.

He looked up and saw a man entering the room. He was naked and wet, drying off from a shower. When he saw Atwood he smiled and said, “Good morning.”

If Atwood had no idea where he was, he had even less of an idea about who the man was.

“Good morning,” he said as he sheepishly turned his face from the man’s exposed body and reached down to pick his jeans up from the floor. He stood and began putting them on. The man came toward him and leaned in to kiss him.

Atwood recoiled before the man’s lips could reach his own. He looked at this stranger confused, anxious.

“So, I’m good enough to put my dick in your ass, but not good enough to kiss you, huh?” The man seemed hurt by Atwood’s unwillingness to be kissed and lashed out at him verbally in what Atwood viewed as harsh and bitchy. The words were unexpected and hurtful.

“I’m sorry.” Atwood’s response was a mix of apology and distraction.

“Whatever,” the man replied as he walked to his dresser and pulled out a pair of underwear. “You didn’t mind me kissing you last night,” he said as the elastic of his Calvin Klein’s snapped around his waist. “You didn’t mind me doing a lot of things last night.”

Atwood couldn’t bear to hear the words. He didn’t know what he’d done the night before. He wondered if he’d used protection. He wondered if he’d let the man cum in his mouth. He wanted to cry but couldn’t allow that much vulnerability in front of this stranger that he’d let use him last night. 

He grabbed his shirt, shoes, and socks and ran from the bedroom. There was only one way to turn once entering the man’s hallway and from that turn he saw the door. His exit to freedom. The first step to getting away, the opening to shutting out this moment, the opportunity to cry, or vomit. 

His insides were suddenly rumbling. Was it fear, nausea? Nausea. He was almost overwhelmed by it. He had to reach the door. He pushed himself to take the steps and get out of the man’s apartment. This man. This stranger. Nick. His name was Nick. The green eyes and beautiful smile of the man sitting next to him at the bar came into focus. Drinks, more drinks, Absinthe, dancing, kissing on the dance floor. He didn’t remember leaving Buff Chrome or arriving at this place, but flashes of Nick’s toned, smooth, olive-skinned body pressed up against his moved through his memory like electric shock pulsing behind his eyes. He remembered the groping, the hint of manly musk that hit his nostrils as he began to suck Nick’s cock. He closed his eyes hard against the memories trying not to remember.

As he reached the door, he turned and saw Nick leaning against the doorjamb of the bedroom. A flash of the last time he saw Bobby. Nick was watching Atwood race down the hallway. As Atwood turned the knob of the door, he stomach released its contents. The sound filled Atwood’s ears and the splatter hit the floor and the wall. 

Atwood turned the knob and bolted into the building’s hallway. He looked in both directions for an elevator or stairwell. He located an exit sign. As he ran from Nick’s apartment toward that exit sign he heard Nick yelling, “You better run you fucking little bitch twink.”

Those words pierced his ears as the door to the stairwell closed behind him. He ran down two flights before stopping to vomit again. A splatter in the apartment, a splatter in the stairwell. His head was pounding. He wanted to crawl into a hole and die, but he had to keep moving. He had to get out of the building and get home. He had to get home. He wanted the darkness of his own room, his own bed. He wanted to be locked away where no one could find him. Where only people he knew and trusted knew him back.

As he burst through the door the sun hit his eyes making him squint in both directions. He found himself standing on a sidewalk that he was unfamiliar with. He felt his insides relax. His breathing slowed. He stepped to the side of the doorway, leaned against the building, and breathed. He put on his shirt, but didn’t button it. He was mentally aware enough to know that he didn’t need to be walking down the street without his shirt and shoes on even if he was in California. He put on his shoes without his socks. He started to stuff the socks into his pockets, but decided to throw them into the trashcan on the corner instead. 

He leaned against the light pole on the corner next to the trashcan continuing to squint as he tried to figure out where he was. He reached into his pocket for his phone, relieved to find it and his wallet still there. He pulled the phone out and pushed a button for his speed dial. As he waited for the ringing to stop he couldn’t help but realize how dramatically his life had changed since he’d left Ryland in August. It had become moments filled with sex or drinking or smoking or all three together. If he wasn't having sex or searching for sex he was watching sex on the Internet or in a back room booth he’d discovered in a local bar three weeks ago. His thoughts snapped back to reality as the person he was calling answered. He couldn’t stop the flood of tears that were released the instant he heard her voice.


“Mom.”

©2014 Michael Rohrer