When I asked Dan out for drinks, I didn’t have any more in mind than just that. A beer or two. Some nibbles. I’d had a bad day, a bad week. First I’d heard that the promotion my boss had more or less promised me wasn’t going to happen. On top of that, she’d given me a tongue-lashing for not having the right attitude. And then, the guy I’d thought might just be Mr. Right had dumped me. Over satay tofu and noodles. My favorite dish, at my favorite resto.
Anyway, come Friday evening, all I wanted to do was forget the week, forget work, forget everything about my fucked-up life.
I paid for the first round. He liked VB. I preferred niche brews, so I ordered a Holgate. I stood close, but not too close, as we drank our beers. Dan is married. Was married, then. Isn’t now. I could feel, faintly, the radiant warmth of his skin. I could smell the scent of the cigarettes he smokes. Used to smoke. Things have changed.
We chatted about the redundancies, the boss, what had happened at work. The first beer disappeared quickly.
I was starting to buzz a little. I realized I’d made a mistake coming here with him. I liked Dan so much. He was kind, funny, generous, tolerant, a good father, a good husband. He wasn’t much to look at, but that didn’t matter. After a while, you stop noticing. His hair was starting to recede, but his head was a pleasing shape. He kept his bristly hair cut short. I wanted to rub my hands in it. Like caressing a dog. He was no bodybuilder, but his stomach was nice and flat. His bum was… well, let’s say I wanted to caress that too. His lips were straight from a medieval portrait, sweetly curved, sexy, beautiful.
Normally it was OK. I could keep my desires under control. Dan was my friend. My straight friend. I didn’t need to touch him. I didn’t want to. Not if it meant I lost my friend. Not if it meant I saw contempt and disdain – or worse, pity – in his eyes.
But with a beer or two in me, I had to force my hands into my pockets to stop them touching him. I wanted to feel his skin with my hands. It glowed a little, honey and sunshine, in the half-light of the bar. I knew it would feel good – warm, with fine downy hair, sending thrilling electric shivers up my arm, connecting us.
He was laughing easily at a joke I’d told him. His grey-green eyes sparkled with amusement and good humor. His face was turned to me. His lips curved, wet with beer. I closed my eyes for a moment, imagining my lips on his, my tongue inside his mouth. When I opened them again, his smile was forgiving, gentle, knowing. He’d turned to face me. I turned too, towards him, leaning my right side against the bar.
I took another slug of beer. I couldn’t speak. My throat was too tight. I simply looked, inspecting his face, his beautiful eyes, the lines incised around his mouth, the warm pink tip of his tongue. His eyes met mine. And he smiled, and I suddenly knew he knew. And he didn’t care.
I touched him.
He started to stroke my hand with his thumb. I looked down at his gold wedding band. I looked up again, looking deep into his eyes. I was melting, drowning.
“You know I go on long bike rides some weekends? I leave on Saturday afternoons, spend the night in a motel or campsite, come back Sunday morning.” Dan had a 929 cc Honda Fireblade, not the least of his attractions. “Like to come along? “
He smiled a little. “Cool,” he said.