Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Straight No More: Free Excerpt

I recently submitted a short story to German publisher, Bruno Gmunder, for an anthology that was titled Straight No More. I'll post more about that in the future, and I'm posting a raw excerpt below, but I thought the title was interesting from a gay for you perspective.

I couldn't help wondering whether or not straight no more is anything like gay for you...or if they are both the same thing. I tend to think they are related in many ways, and I enjoyed writing this story because I don't usually do things like this.

In any event, my story is about a young gay man who meets a recently divorced man who married his high school sweetheart and had two kids at a very young age. This divorced guy never really examined his sexuality, and whenever he felt gay urges he pushed them to the back of his mind and ignored them for years. But the marriage suffered and the wife wound up frustrated. She initiated the divorce, and not because either one of them cheated. She just felt trapped in a loveless marriage. Even when she asked him for a divorce he tried to reconcile with her because he was so afraid of his true feelings. And when he meets this young gay guy after the divorce, he finally feels comfortable enough to let go of all his fears and be the person he's been running away from all his life. And he's not straight anymore.

Excerpt (before edits):

While Landon was in his bedroom getting ready for his date with a new guy he’d recently met, his best friend who lived across the hall walked into his apartment without knocking and asked, “Hey, buddy, can I borrow a bottle of vodka. We’re having Sidney’s mom and dad over for dinner tonight and I just realized we have no vodka.”

            Landon glanced into a full length mirror and adjusted the new pair of low-rise skinny jeans he’d purchased for this date. They hugged his slim hips and made his butt round exactly the way he’d been hoping they would. He smiled at his own image and said, “Sure. Take what you need. But why on earth didn’t you buy vodka if you knew your in-laws were coming to dinner.” Although Landon’s best friend, Carl, was happily married, Landon knew these dinners with Sidney’s mom and dad tended to freak Carl out. And that’s because Sidney’s mom and dad tended to be judgmental and they still hadn’t accepted the fact that their son was gay and married to another man.

            From the kitchen, Carl said, “The vodka isn’t for them. They don’t drink anything but tea and fucking milk. The fucking vodka is for me. If I don’t slip some booze into my cup of tea I’ll lose my mind.”

            Landon smiled and checked his skin tight black V-neck sweater. It hugged his torso and made all those long arduous workouts doing bench presses worthwhile. Then he checked his short dark brown hair and adjusted the little turned up wave above his forehead that was always so tricky to get just right. Before he turned to leave the bedroom, he glanced into the mirror one last time and removed the black leather choker he’d placed around his neck. He’d always been a huge fan of the campy old saying, “A lady should remove one thing before she leaves the house.” In this case, he chose to remove the black choker. He thought it made him look too cheap. As it was his clothes were tighter than usual that night, and he hadn’t bothered to wear any underwear.

            When he walked into the large open concept living area of his apartment, he found Carl sitting at a bar stool near the kitchen area sipping vodka right from the bottle. He sent him a glance and asked, “Aren’t they going to miss you over there?” He wanted Carl to leave before his date arrived. He had his reasons. This wasn’t a typical date for Landon.

            Carl laughed and said, “They won’t even know I’m gone, trust me. Sidney’s parents only focus on Sidney when they come over, and they pretend I’m nothing more than a roommate from college. I’ve been sucking their son’s dick for the last ten years and they treat me like I’m the hired help. Let me tell you, that can’t get to a person after a while.”

            Landon smiled and crossed to a closet near the front door to get a black leather jacket. It was mid-May in New York, but much cooler than normal and he wasn’t certain where he was going to end up that night. He didn’t respond to Carl because he didn’t want to encourage a deep discussion about Sidney’s mom and dad. He knew Carl would start talking…rambling…about them and never stop.

            Carl took another vituperative swig of vodka and put the top back on the bottle. He placed it in a white plastic bag to conceal it form his in-laws and crossed to the middle of the living room area, while Landon put on the jacket and looked into a small mirror next to the closet door. “Where are you going tonight?” Carl asked. He spoke with a tone that suggested intrigue. He seemed to be lingering longer than he should have.

            Landon smiled and said, “I have a date. Well, sort of a date. I’m sure yet.”

            “Oh,” Carl said. “I didn’t know you were seeing anyone new. You never mentioned anyone new to me.” Carl and Sidney had been together for ten years and they’d reached that point of married life where things had settled down to a nice even routine. Even though Carl considered himself happily married, Landon knew he tended to enjoy Landon’s stories about single gay life as if he missed being single himself sometimes.

            “I only met him yesterday,” Landon said, crossing to the table near the front door to pick up his keys and his wallet. “I stopped into that garage on 31st Street because I heard a strange noise in my car and he checked it out for me.” Landon did the opposite of many people he knew: instead of living in New Jersey and commuting to Manhattan, he lived in Manhattan and commuted to his corporate sales job in northwest New Jersey. This is why he kept a car in Manhattan and paid a steep monthly fee to a garage around the corner. The black Jeep Wrangler he drove also came in handy during the summer on long weekend excursions to Provincetown.

            “A mechanic?” Carl said, leaning forward with his lips parted. “You’re going out with a gay mechanic?”

            He said this as if he were saying a dirty word. Landon flung him a backward glance and said, “Yes. I’m going out with a mechanic. But I’m not certain he’s gay. I’m not even sure it’s a date.” He didn’t want to discuss this with Carl, so he tried to change the subject. “What are you serving for dinner tonight?”

            “Fuck dinner,” Carl said. He followed Landon to the kitchen where Landon opened a drawer to get a small pack of breath mints. “I want to know more about this so-called date with a mechanic you just met who isn’t even gay.”

            Landon popped a breath mint into his mouth and offered Carl one. When Carl refused it, he shoved the mints into his jacket pocket and said, “I didn’t say he wasn’t gay. I said I wasn’t certain he was gay. There’s a difference.” This didn’t even sound rational to him, but he didn’t know how else to explain it.

            “If he’s not gay then why did he ask you out on a date?” Carl asked. His face had twisted a little by then, and his head had tilted to the left.

            “He didn’t ask me,” Landon said. “I asked him out. Well, I didn’t really ask him out on a date exactly. I asked him if he wanted to check out that new movie with Bradley Cooper. And he said yes before I even knew what had happened.”


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