The strange comfort

I can’t stop gaping at my sent messages. The number seems to rise without a reply every day these days. I look back at some of the older messages wondering when I made that first introduction. I spot some messages dating back a few weeks ago and even more still a few months ago. I look at my dating inbox to see if I missed any replies. I never have. I don’t think that I will, either.
I go hunting for new dates anyway because I hope that I will spot someone who I have not assaulted with my genuine nature. The browse page fills up with so many familiar profiles; I feel like an expert on every one of them. I know that Tommy corrected a spelling mistake on his page a few days ago. One that he had up there for years. I know that George updated his favorite books after I suggested a few to him because one of my suggestions appears there. Still, I hunt for someone new.
Maybe it’s because I am desperately hunting that I don’t hear the beep. It’s an earcon that tells people that they have a new message. When I look at my inbox, though, again…there’s an unread message. It’s from a guy I messaged months ago.
“Hi!” it reads, perhaps with a sigh, perhaps not. “I’m Jamie. I’m sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I was debating if we were going to be a good fit, even.”
I value his honesty more than anything, and I begin to compose a novel about how I don’t know what I am even looking for anymore because people are afraid of genuine behavior. So, if he didn’t want to date me, go out with me, or even talk to me, that I’d appreciated it if he just blocked me and moved on because all I want at this very moment is a hug and for someone to tell me I am special, even if it’s not true.
His reply comes back quick as a flash. He says he values my honesty. He says he doesn’t get a lot of replies because of his height; he is six foot six and his skin. Apparently, he’s black. I guess I will just have to take him at face value.
We continue to send novels to each other. I tell him about the dance party I attended where I swung my hips with such vigor that a hurricane manifested in downtown Chicago. He explains he missed the disaster because Netflix kept his attention that night. He was watching House of Cards. We reveal how lonely we are and how we have nothing in common with one another. He hates intellectual conversation and loves small talk, and I don’t understand his love of bugs and ants. He doesn’t like my voice, and I don’t like his. Still, we pour our hearts out to each other on the phone and through email. Neither of us knows why.
Soon after a heated exchange over the phone, one afternoon, I ask him if he can come over and we could argue in person about something. To some people, this seems wildly bizarre, but I have always been a blue traffic light in a world of green and red traffic lights. Nothing is normal to me anymore. When he says that he will visit me in my apartment, I am elated, not terrified that a man who towers over me is going to be in my apartment all alone. My blue traffic signal can’t stop pulsating with anticipation.
He arrives at nine that night and bends over to hug me. Even though I can’t see him or what he looks like online, I picture him as a Denzel Washington clone. His height doesn’t quite fit my mental image, but I figure adding a pink traffic signal to my arsenal won’t hurt the economy any more than normal people will.
When he sits on my bed, the mattress sinks a little. Even when I sit on his lap, I still must look up at his voice to face him.
We start off by talking about our dating accounts. As we talk, we realize that we may not like each other in the slightest, but we are both in the same boat. We are lonely outcasts in our own gaggle of brothers who want a lot of things like; for example, love, marriage rights, and someone who’s true to who they are. I wish  they knew how to say all they want is someone who you can have sex with and never look back. As we talk, we become even more heartbroken and emotional and worried.
His arms shake as his voice trembles with the desperate cry for answers that I am sure we all asked ourselves at some point, “is there someone out there for me?”
“I have no freaking idea,” I say and hug him back. We hold each other, and we wish the world was better about being honest. We argue about what honesty is. We argue about other gay men. Even though we are not getting along, we need each other, just for tonight. I take his face in my hands and gaze up at his heavy breathing. We continue to hold each other until, finally, his annoying voice and loving embrace steps towards my apartment door. Before he leaves, though, I grab his arm to say a final goodbye. Something weird blurts out of my mouth instead.
“We just can’t give up,” I say. I tell him that there’s someone out there for everybody, even weirdoes like us.
“I hope you’re right.” He says.
“I hope so too,” I answer. I don’t know how loudly our weirdly colored hearts are beating at this moment, but I’d like to hope that someone, somewhere, notices they exist.


The Grieving Gorgeous

My body is gyrating to the pop music that is blaring from the giant speakers in this packed house. Everybody around me is dancing with just as much zest as I am. My moves don’t quite go along with the music but I keep on dancing because I am incredibly lonely and I am here to fulfill some desire that I can’t get rid of, let alone deduce. The people dancing beside me are way better at it than I am, and possibly carry less baggage than I do, but, I am a man who does metaphorical things because I read a lot.

When the dancing stops I make my way around this party to meet and greet various men of various statuses. There’s a guy who’s in a relationship but he is here because his sex life is quite dull and his husband will never know, besides. Not to mention, they have an open relationship because of course they do. There’s a lesbian who thinks that I am straight, asking me what on earth I am doing at a gay party. There’s a couple who understand my loneliness and they offer me words of encouragement about my flailing limbs. They tell me I didn’t dance that badly before walking off to slow dance with one another.

I am here at this party because there just has to be someone who will not let me down. My mood has placed me here, amidst a sea of people who understand me and know nothing of my existence. Many friends have let me down so often in the past week that I figured going to bed with a total stranger would solve all of my problems.

As I make my way into the kitchen I spot a very tall guy with a yellow shirt on playing with his phone at a table. I sit down across from him, wishing I had a mobile phone to play with. His ebony finger massages the screen with such speed I assume he’s playing a modified version of Flappy Bird. He looks up upon hearing me sit down.

“I figured you’d sit down eventually.” He says and this causes me to cock my head.

“I’ve never seen anyone dance so much in my life. I figured you would get tired or something!”

“I was dancing because, basically, I’ve just had a bad couple of weeks and I just needed to let go of a few things in my life.” He puts down his phone and folds his buff arms on the table. His muscles are enchanting, but his gleaming white teeth are what utterly captivate me. Why, oh, why does it always have to be the great teeth!

“I hear you dude. I came here because the same thing happened to me. My whole family was killed a few days ago, and, so, I figured the best thing to do would be do the dumbest thing possible and go to a party where nobody knows you and you can be whoever you want to be.”

“Are you serious? This seems really weird, doesn’t it? Like, shouldn’t you be morning right now? Not here where there’s a bunch of fun happening?”

“That’s the thing though. What if I don’t want to grieve right now. What if I want to be somewhere where nobody can see me even though I am standing in the same room as them.”

“You’re weird.” I say and he laughs. I don’t know why I feel the urge to treat him like any other person, why I shouldn’t say I am sorry for his loss, but I get the feeling that isn’t what he wants or even needs right now. Mark introduces himself to me very quickly and soon, we are lost in sorrowful chemistry. His plight is so much worse than friends letting you down, so, what better thing to do than make the worst jokes possible. We joke about the nice things people say in funerals, never meaning anything they say. We joke about religion, he’s an atheist too, and the afterlife, but we never poke at any dead people. With so much death of police officers and fellow members of the LGBT community, somehow, this seems like the best kind of medicine we can give each other at this moment.

Mark is a man with a darker sense of humor than mine but he is very kind. He asks me why I am single and I tell him I have no idea why I am single.

“Why do people always tell you that you will find the one you need if you just do your own thing and never look? That seems like a poor excuse to say that, maybe there’s nobody out there for you.” I blurt.

“I disagree.” Mark says, fixing me with his intense brown eyes. “there’s someone out there for everyone. You just have to try a little more. You know?”

“But then if I try, I am not doing my own thing, right? I am searching. Isn’t that what people are always saying we should not do is search?”

Some people, yes, but you have to understand that there’s a personality type for everybody. You just have to be aware that there’s something out there and keep your eyes, or, in your case, ears open.”

“Do I have fat ears?” I suddenly blurt. He looks closely at each one, standing up and coming over to me, holding me close as he studies my ears in mock intensity.

“Nope. Your ears are cute!” A slow song starts up then and we look into each other’s eyes. To be accurate, since I can’t look anywhere, he gazes into my eyes.

“Since we bonded over making fun of funerals, do you want to do something normal, like slow dance?”

“Sure!” I say, “but can we get cookies afterwards? Do you have a car?”

“I have a car!” He says, and guides me onto the floor in the living room. There are non-dead couples dancing beside one another, swaying to the song that’s playing. I have no idea what it is but it’s a song about some guy who ran over this woman’s dog yet she still loves him. We dance, with his hands wrapped tightly around me. I feel as if I am his life support tonight. The more the song plays the tighter he holds onto me. Just as the song is about to end, I feel blotches of something wet hit me on the head. I think it’s rain at first so I don’t even notice the smell until I lean my face up to kiss mark. When I catch the smell of tears and it registers in my brain, I take him into my arms and wipe his tears away as another song invades our lives. He doesn’t need to say thank you. His embrace is enough.

The pick me up

The man sitting before me hates cats, and he also loves to smile. I believe that I am going crazy. To make matters worse, he’s holding a Fudge Sunday towards me, begging me to relieve his slender fingers of the chill. It’s funny how fate works. First, I step unwillingly into a friends house where he told me there were going to be a host of dancing bodies galumphing across his floor to the song Party in the USA. I figure that everyone else needs to see how pale and unshaven I am so I agree to go. I vow to take a cab back quickly, as I still have a phobia of parties because of what the last one did to me.

I arrive and instantly I feel like an ant who’s lost in the colony. Gay boys splatter the small apartment as if they are awaiting a neck massage from God, or some other good looking man. I am the cloud to this sunny dance fest because I immediately want to retreat to the kitchen where I am alone. I’m still not used to this many people in one place. I want to go home straight away but soon warm up to the mass of gay boys flashing their smiles at me as if they are police badges.

I make It to a corner that has a table in it and sit down but stand up soon afterwords to introduce myself to a few people. All of the guys who approach me comment about my cane and about the fact that I am cute, even in my current unshaven state. Many come right out and tell me they want to know if I am a sexual freak in the bedroom. I trip them as they walk away, causing many to spill their drink.

I don’t meet anyone really stellar so I sit and hang out at my table. Soon, however, a fellow catches my attention. A tall brown boy sits in a chair opposite me. He’s holding the fudge Sunday. Soon, we’re off to the races talking. He opens with the very abrupt,

“You look like you seriously need some chocolate. You look so lost I’m worried you’d never make it home.” instead of letting a sarcastic retort fly, I give him a sad smile. I feel very vulnerable and I am not even sure why. I slowly reach out and take the Sunday, giving it the third degree by drilling my eyeball all through it’s contents, just in case. I look up at my mystery chocolate man and cock my head.

“Is it really that bad? I mean, noticeable?”

“Yes.” my face must have changed to one of pure despair because his eyes suddenly grow as wide and as sad as I feel. He doesn’t say anything however, he just watches me gingerly make progress with the Sunday. that’s good because I don’t want to talk right now. I have clammed up but he doesn’t push or prod. Instead, he appears to be fighting back the urge to hug me. His arms lay on the table, with a look flickering on and off his face during my Sunday bliss. He looks like he’s arguing with himself to hug me.

“How did you know I needed this?” I ask him, gesturing to my empty cup. He smiles.

“Didn’t you kinda ask that question just a few minutes ago?” this makes me grin a bit.

“Well, I am getting old after all so I need to double check on these things.” he beams. He seems to become much happier now that he’s retrieved a smile from me. Without realizing it, my hand is resting on the table. My eyes, however, are glued to his face. He has a brown complexion, with a boyish smile and thin cheek bones that surround really expressive eyes. His buzz cut only makes his eyes spring to life with their expressive nature. His shirt is bright yellow and his toes touch mine under the table. I can tell he’s very tall sitting down.

My comment causes his pearly whites to gleam with his beaming smile. I suddenly feel much better than when I arrived here. The neat thing is that Mr sweets notices this too so he keeps the conversational ball rolling with,

“Double checking is always good, but I noticed you guzzled that Sunday down quick!”

“That’s because I thought you slipped in some IQ enhancing substances in there,” I smile. He beams even more before he morphs into a serious train of thought.

“I could just tell that, one, you needed someone to just get you, two, that you had a bunch of bad things happen recently, your face is like a neon sign, by the way, and, three, it makes me sad to see other people sad. It really does.”

“And yet, you hate cats?” I grin.

“Indeed, I hate cats!” his face shifts into serious mode again. “do you want to talk about it?” I am glad he asks because I don’t want to talk about it…

“No. I’m not ready to talk about it yet, but you know those times where you just want to have someone hold you, and bask in the silence?”

“Yeah. they’re the worst. Especially when you expect your friends to do it because they are supposed to just get you but they push away instead.”

“Yeah! Well, that’s the circle of life for you.” instead of replying, he reaches over and grasps my hand with the caution of a kid on a tricycle. It feels so welcoming I forget where I am even though I remember who I am with.

“I bet you’re a very kind person.” he softly says.

“Why are you willing to take such a big gamble?” I quip.

“Your eyes tell me everything I need to know. That, and, well, I just have a hunch.” he squeezes my hand and I squeeze his. He knows he’s having an effect on me and he appears to treat me with even more tenderness. Suddenly he starts to get up. I don’t want him to go so I hold his hand and try to pull him down again but he gently pulls away from me.

“trust me, I’ll be back.” a few minutes later, I am working my way through another chocolate Sunday as he holds my other hand and just talks to me. He talks to me about the social work classes he’s taking at DePaul, he tells me all about the work he does as a vet’s secretary, and he just rubs my hand with his thumb as he relishes in my brief bliss. He listens to me as I ramble on about the complex facets of life and he poses questions to get me to explain what I mean or to pose a different point of view. He tells me that he’s stuck on the latest LEGO game and I give tips because I’ve beaten the game several times.

Soon, a slow song comes on, and we both stand up as if we were conditioned to strut to the center of the room. People must sense somethings happening because everybody vacates, leaving us to slow dance to a female singer. It’s so wonderful the song ends in seconds. Soon, it is time for me to leave. My mystery man takes me outside to wait for the cab. He beams as he helps me into my jacket. I can’t help it, I can’t stop beaming. Outside, he turns to face me.

“You know how people usually say that someone is a beautiful person, and they usually mean, like, models and stuff?”


“Would it be corny of me to say I think you’re a beautiful person?”

“You know what? I don’t know!” I grin and he beams again.

“You really do have a wonderful smile. It’s contagious.” I smile again, just before his face shifts to serious mode again.

“I’m gonna ask you a few questions…”

“Just so you know, I can’t even answer third grade geography questions.” he beams before placing his hands on my shoulders, and slowly moving them to my face. Soon, we’re staring right at each other.

“First. What’s your name?” I giggle. I start blushing.

“Robert. What’s yours?” his hands feel like clouds on my face.

“Rodger.” he answers. I grin up at him. His hands slightly tighten as he swallows.

“so, Rodger, what’s question number two?”

“Robert, he says. Can I kiss you?” a dozen replies rush into my brain but I quickly settle on one.

I did it, reader. I let him kiss me.

The Realistic New Yorker

We are both at a Holiday Inn, standing in my bathroom, looking at each other, wondering what the other will say next as conversation flows like a gushing waterfall.

We both are visually impaired, which probably makes the conversation flow even more. He’s a total, and he is dashingly handsome. To make matters even better, he is talking about the human perceptions next to a towel rack, while I am just a few feet from the toilet.

I’ve decided to meet him even if there is no sexual attraction to him. It would be nice to dive head first into a calming, collective, discussion. Jose, the effervescent charmer has me from the first phone conversation I have with him a few days before I fly away from the Windy City.

There’s a different kind of attraction to Jose than other men I’ve encountered. When he asks me questions, I feel as if I am making my life better by providing him detailed answers about myself and my thoughts on love and relationships. It’s a good thing he has yet to ask me what my favorite ice cream is, because, I am sure that would halt the evolution of mankind.

When we meet there’s flirtation, there’s learning, there’s verbal chemistry. My ears are locked into his articulate explanations, his attention is honed in on me as if his eyes are sniper scopes who have pegged a good catch. I can tell he’s genuinely interested in what I have to say. When I am giving a long explanation about the fallacies of Chicago Politics, his head cocks to one side, his mouth slowly slides into a peaceful grin, and his eyes nestle into a peacefully intense gaze.

When he talks, telling me about his dashing friend from the UK who’s straight but has so many gay mannerisms he could make a documentary for educational purposes, my hands, somehow, automatically rest in his and I listen with rapped attention. Everything I am experiencing is so calming I feel like I am chatting with an old friend, not someone who I just met a week ago.

Two hours pass by in a matter of seconds. He soon has to leave due to the late our. I have an event in the morning and really should be getting to bed myself. Before he leaves, we kiss. I don’t know what it’s like for him, but for me, it’s a tender smoldering of friendship.

He, however, must be getting a bit more excited than I am, because his lips become just a bit too eager. Perhaps if I weren’t so tired, I might give in. I am tired however, and want to go to bed. As he kisses more passionately, I pull away. I don’t want to look up at him but I do, registering the understanding on his face. He’s a bit disappointed, but he isn’t boiling mad.

There’s also something I haven’t told him, and I want to tell him now.

“I have something to tell you.” I say. I watch as his face questions my next sentence.

“Yes?” he says in his hypnotizing accent.

“there’s this guy that I’ve been talking to for five years. We’ve made such a connection over the phone that we both call each other once every day. I’ll get to see him soon. I don’t want to take this further than it is now, OK? Besides, I am tired. His name is Greg, and he’s a really wonderful guy.”

I can’t believe what I’ve just said. I’ve turned him down for a passionate connection over a phone line that I will meet for the first time, soon. I don’t know how to explain that I don’t want to do this with Jose because, well, I am waiting for something. I don’t know what that something is, but I know that something will be great.

As if to test my body, he checks my crotch to see if I am, indeed, hard. I’m not. I want to go to bed, but I wish that he could record an audiobook for me as well, just talking about his life and what he’s done. Perhaps I am the nut case. He could be a really great guy in bed, but I don’t want to find out. This is really weird for me, because usually, I am curious, at least. I am waiting on Greg. Poor Jose. I must be a complete buzz kill.

I show him out, and immediately want to follow him to make sure he gets home OK. I don’t make it very far however, as my tired body plops onto the bed for a quick rest.

Soon, the sun wakes me up, where I realize that, man, I had a wonderful night. I feel as if Jose has taught me something very profound but I don’t know what that is. I just want to hop in the shower and have some bacon.

The Kiss

We slowly draw closer in the enveloping blackness. My porch light illuminates his chocolate face as we draw closer, collapsing the distance of our feelings. Crickets cheer us on in this game of chance. The warm air places a heavy blanket of absolute around us; our breathing becomes one breath as we clash lips. Our lips rest lightly on clouds, no longer rooting us. A new kind of fire erupts between our locked passions, igniting our experience with a feverish fervor. We burn down any doubt in our minds with this towering flame of refuge. The sounds around us conduct the perfect beat for this pleasant song. My small lips gently continue to communicate urge with his. His fiery candles instantly kindle my soul. The sounds around us stop abruptly to give us privacy. Way off in the distance, violins play in both of our fantasies, never wanting this testament of love to end. We both are blankets rapping up our adoration for the past, present, and future. We pull away, letting the flame dwindle slowly. We gaze at each other knowing the imperative message that we just told each other. The fire crackles and pops but it never fizzles out, even years later.

The Boy on the Bus

Usually, I work from home, where a bathroom trip equals twenty steps and the effort it takes to pull my pants down and sit on the porcelain throne.

Since I started my new internship, however, I’ve become just as adventurous as a new prostitute. I suddenly decide to take the bus to work one day because I’ve always wanted to experience a catastrophic success.

It’s a Monday when I step onto the CTA bus that carries me to my work. As soon as I sit down I can feel someone staring at me as if I am a new kid of tongue depressor. I look up and about the small cabin where people clamber as they await their destinations, wondering where the other is going, as every head fixates on a mobile device.

My eye finally spots a dark face looking at me to my right. Immediately, I wonder if he’s going to give me an Xbox One, because that would be the only logical conclusion an attractive black boy is staring at me, inches away from me.

His shirt is a dark blue shirt with white buttons on it, complete with a collar and speckles of wrinkles. His shirt looks as if it had been ironed by a depressed kangaroo. his face however, is drop dead gorgeous. Big brown eyes rest on a friendly open smile. He has thin cheek bones.

“hi,” I say, instructively. I wonder if he’s as observant as his shirt illustrates. To my delight, a smile creeps on his lips and he scoots closer to me with a hand outstretched, determined to pump up my attraction.

“hi there sir!” a powerful voice bellows, sounding like a weatherman announcing a storm of kittens, “the name is Jason, yup, it’s Jason. What it do my fine fellow!” the bus lurches over a pothole in the sidewalk, causing our hands to bounce in each other. I take the ear-buds out of my ears because I figure he can tell me the weather instead of the internet radio. His smile is infectious, and his nerdy voice intrigues me slightly.

“you know,” he questions, staring at me as if I am a confused meteorite. “I’m a curious feller. I always have been, so, my fine looking person, what are you listening to?” I decide to open up to him and show my propensity for nerd culture.

“A Star Wars radio drama.”

“really? As an MP3 or on an actual FM frequency.” as he talks I am conscious of other people looking up from their mobile devices to smile at us. They think, either, we’re deranged ice cream robbers or a very cute couple. His interest in what I’m listening to excites me, and his powerful voice captures my attention as well. We both know the other is gay. There’s a flash in his eye as he scoots closer to me, the wrinkles in his shirt disappearing as he slides closer to me. For some reason, being around him makes me want to watch the Weather Channel.

“as an MP3. Duh! they provide a good alternative if anyone hasn’t seen the movies, and can’t see, or, a bit extra for a nerd like me.” he pops one ear-bud out of my lobe and listens without asking me. Somehow, he looks utterly cute. Since I’m staring at his face, I notice that his ears are regular sized, resting on a balled head. Immediately I feel sorry for him, because in a minute he will have to deal with my weird way of flirting.

“you know what there dude?” he says, sounding exactly like a white surfer with no black accent, “these are the same people who played in the movie. They sound the same, anyway.” I confirm that he is correct, and he beams, and this makes me lose it. To my shock, he holds out a bud to a woman who’s tapping her IPhone like she’d tap a candy depressor, or something else.

“check this out! The drama is even more impressive when you’re wearing headphones! Ain’t it cool how the characters bring more life into the drama than on screen?” she listens with a smile, stretching my cord to it’s limit.

After a few minutes, we’re laughing and giggling as if we are little schoolgirls. Our interests lie in almost everything the other is into. We like video games. He likes Pokemon. I like Star Wars. He loves Shrek. I love books. He loves audio books. Whatever we like, the other likes as well and this makes conversations soar. What’s more, he works for Dell. Today, he has done something very strange to see if anyone will call him out on it.

“I decorated my office like the inside of the first Death Star. I don’t think anyone will notice, but it was definitely a blast doing it!” his energy is infectious. I want to kiss him right here, right now. As the bus lurches to a stop, however, he rises slowly, as if this is the last scene in a horror movie.

“this is my stop.” he informs. I blurt out, without thinking, “do you have a car?” my heart skips a beat waiting on the answer. He smiles, leans in close, and says with a twinkle in his eye,

“nope. I fly to work on a privileged society. I use the power of the white man to propel myself to work every day.” his sense of humor is really wonderful. I love it.

“Well,” I admonish. “Don’t trip on oppression.”

For days, I ride the bus, meeting James on the same route every day for a hole week. He brings me hot tea one morning, I bring him a doughnut and a classic paperback book another morning. Roots, of course. He loves my sick humor.

Soon, it’s as if we have our own routine. we settle down side by side, day after day, being nerdy and brightening others day with our lively conversations. He isn’t possessive, which I love, and he isn’t needy, which I love even more. He even suggests we go out for sodas one afternoon, and this makes me swoon that he just gets I’d rather ditch alcohol for a soda. My eye gleams when I say, “on the bus? I take it? Or using the power of the white man to propel ourselves to a food court in a mall. ”

He usually wears T shirts and nicely ironed pants, which accentuate his muscles resting on his thin arms. I like the fact that he doesn’t offer to take me to a bar. He seems to just automatically understand I’d say fuck alcohol, even on a good day. One morning, he wears a batman T shirt, and a Graphic Audio T shirt after that. This makes me want to marry him even more, and I’m scared of marriage.

Our rides turn into daily meetings, where we laugh, talk about things that bother us, debate, even causing people to root for one or the other, and enjoy Graphic Audio titles together. Soon, however, my CP is too much on me, and I have to stop riding the bus.

On my last day on the bus, I get on expecting to see Jason. Instead, an old lady who smells like carpets occupies his seat. She glares as I sit in the designated handicapped seat. She pokes me with her cane, telling me to move, but I scan for Jason. I don’t see him or hear him the whole way to work. This causes me to ride for a few more weeks until my legs can’t take it. I don’t see Jason again.

One afternoon, there’s an announcement over the intercom saying that my ride is here. It’s a good twenty minutes before I clock out, so I am amazed they are even here on time. I pack everything up and head down to the lobby, ready to endure another evening of Chicago touring on the short bus.

Instead, I bump into a dark skinned man standing by the elevator.

“I’m sorry,” I mumble as I fixate on where I’m going.

“that’s OK dude!” a familiar voice sings. I look up, daring to hope. Jason stands there with a big grin, his stance straight as an arrow. I fleetingly notice his shirt with the Grinch on it. I can’t believe it.

I am so happy to see him that I hug him in the lobby. Straight people be damned. Fuck all them homophobes. I begin to ask how he knew where I worked but remember he seen me get off here when I rode the bus.

“you done riding the bus?” he asks.

“yes. I’m done.” I say.

“really? That totally sucks… worse than the directors of Star Wars explaining the Force.”

“ditto, but my CP won’t let me handle it.”

“I think I have a solution, captain nerd!”

“what’s that?” he fixes my backpack before jutting his elbow in my direction. I presume he’s going to take me to a jet pack store, so I eagerly follow him.

Instead, he takes me to a car. A black Mercedes parked outside. I grin as my eye rests on the image on the side of the car. It’s the Star Wars X wing fighter, taking off. He goes to his side of the car and opens the door, before queuing a song on Spotify. It’s the Power Rangers theme song, the heavy metal version.

“well, you gonna get in the front, or the back?”

naturally, I choose shotgun.

The Target Employee

It is a Monday when I arrive at the Target store. I have a goal in mind, as every shopper has before they get sidetracked by the deals Target displays like a new kind of cure for cancer. I am here to get some clothes and some electronics, and I will not be distracted by anyone or anything in this store. I want to get back in my warm apartment and continue bonding with my email client before I bond with my Microsoft Word document and then my Netflix account. I make my way to a place that I have to go to before anywhere else; the customer service desk so I can have an employee guide me around the store.

Arriving at the customer service department takes a while because very helpful people point and tell me that its back “that way.” I assume it’s further than over there. Eventually I walk along until I see the glaringly white sign overhead. I stand behind some teenagers who are not much younger than I am. The two teens look as if they have taken a recent ecstasy pill as they tell the clerk that their DVD player they bought here really did break and they need to, like, kind of return it brotha!

After 20 more minutes of standing there they finally realize I won’t take as long as them and let me go ahead of them. In a few minutes a Target employee falls out of heaven and steps up to me. This hunk is definitely eye candy. Standing at a whopping six feet he wears good body physique like a new kind of skin. He’s thin, yet a bit muscular. He’s wearing a short sleeve shirt that gives me a clear view at his lean arms. His skin looks like it has been dipped in a vat of dark chocolate and his voice is a soothing trance that has me from the sentence “I’m josh. It’s so wonderful to meet you. I’ll be helping you shop today.”

I can’t grab his sturdy elbow fast enough when he offers it. His skin is very smooth – the effects of frequent lotion and showers. At least I know that hygiene is one of his priorities. This deduction is emphasized the longer he smiles at me – a hypnotist’s secret weapon. His demeanor is so friendly Chucky Cheese would give him a standing ovation.

It’s a chore to remember my shopping list as we stroll on a private yellow brick road together, me grilling him with all sorts of questions just so his gentle syllables can give me an auditory massage for the rest of the day. The shampoo, deodorant, and items I’m supposed to be getting all seem very unimportant as I learn that his favorite hobby is watching Sherlock on Netflix, he cooks because he likes to test his creativity and he reads books because he’s a book whore. Since we’re both bibliophiles, I ask him who his favorite authors are.

Josh rattles off J. R. R. Tolkien, George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, John Steinbeck, Christopher A. Hubert, and Philip Pullman along with many others… as I clutch his firm elbow with a death grip I try to see if he has a ring on his finger. I don’t see one on either hand so my hope springs even higher. I’m not sure how to ask him if he’s gay though. This isn’t a gay hub so I can’t waggle my flirtation around as if it’s a salacious bootie. When we are choosing underwear for me I ask if he has a girlfriend. He tells me no, but I don’t want to ask if he has a boyfriend. Josh doesn’t have a lisp and I don’t have good enough site to pick up any stereotypical visual cues. I ask, instead, if he lives alone. He does. Out of sheer desperation I ask him which pair I should get, the name brand or a cheaper brand. He gives me a professional opinion.

After I check out my various items I learn that he loves video games as well and he has two cats at home. I still have no idea if he is gay or not and the wonderment is chewing my sanity to bits. He’s such a catch, but I don’t know how to ask if he’s gay in a public place when he’s on the job, for fear of the employees who say hi to him will overhear the answer. What if he is gay but isn’t out at the workplace because his boss is a homophobic twat?

My cab is late and this gives us even more time to bond. I even pose a few sarcastic quips that make him laugh heartedly. I learn that he works very hard. He learns that I’m a journalist that writes for various media, including the Windy City Times. When I say the Windy City Times, the largest gay paper in Chicago, there’s hesitation. I immediately want to know if he is, in fact, gay. Just as I begin to ask if he is gay, the cab pulls up and the driver barks at us from the driver’s seat, adding insult to my wishful thinking. When we walk to the cab, I imagine that we’re walking slower. When I get in, he makes sure I’m buckled in, and then leans in the window.

“It was very nice to meet you Robert.” He says with a smile that would give any model competition. I smile back, wondering if he does this to all his customers. There’s no way for me to tell. I hope I develop a reason to come back in a few days. I hope he’s still here. The cab driver barks at me in such broken English it’s a wonder his syllables come together, asking me where I’m going. All of a sudden josh goes to the driver’s side of the cab. All I hear is the driver saying yes. The two converse in Spanish. This makes me want to Mary josh even more. He comes back around to say goodbye to me and then we race back home, the cab slightly swerving the entire way.

When we reach the apartment complex I fish out bills for the cab fare.

: no.” the driver barks at me.

“Huh? What do you mean no?”

“No. no money. You no money.” I’m confused so I continue to press him.

“I don’t understand what you’re telling me at all.”

“You no pay.”

“Why? I don’t understand.” The driver speaks in a mix of English and Spanish, so I ask again.

“Target guy pay for you.” to my shock he places a wad of bills in my hand to demonstrate his meaning. I don’t know what to say, so I smile, and thank the driver. Josh paid for my ride home, including a little extra. Feeling as if I’ve been granted a mansion, I step out of the cab in a bath of bliss. The smile doesn’t leave my face, even as I lay in bed that night.

The Vanishing Soul

If someone approaches you and says, perhaps with a gob full of French fries, that surprises are the worst thing that can ever happen to you, they’d be sorely wrong. Surprises can do much more than cause a new reality TV show worthy of MTV schedules or cause a new viral video to saturate syndicates. They can teach you things about yourself and even teach you something.

On a gloomy Wednesday afternoon I am on my dating site, absently scrolling past people that have rejected me or people I have rejected, suddenly realizing that something I am doing is not working because I have to eliminate the aforementioned in order to come upon a new face and this is a task all on Its own. With each click that hides the rejections from my search result I’m beginning to picture myself in a bar telling someone that, yes, I do play the stock market, and you were the only one that showed up in search results because I had wheedled through all the rest! I’d ask them if they want to go see the LEGO movie and then they would run away with a possibly misspelled tweet a few minutes later about how they wish they could just find a cool “brotha” to chill with.

Just as I’m really getting into my fantasy, even to the point where there’s music in the background, a picture dominates my attention. It’s so inviting that I have to click on it to see what lies beneath the enchantingly intense brown eyes.

The picture is a clear face shot showing his face in center frame, something that’s so rare on this site a dating consultant would use it as an example. A dashing gaze rests in the forefront of a slightly golden backdrop. The gaze in the picture is attentive and inviting, all the more enhanced by the depth of his brown eyes. His skin is brown, or so it appears to be. There are not any ghastly piercings that would make a dog snort with derision nor a tangle of escaping tendrils people call dreadlocks ruining his face.

It’s hard to tear away from this face because everything about the picture is so calming and inviting It’s utterly spellbinding. Even his mouth is set in a casual position that illustrates his relaxed collected demeanor. Everything about the picture begs for attention and I am certainly under its spell. I’m clicking into his profile in a matter of seconds and I am swelling with positive vibes reading about his wide array of interests including TV, books, music, and movies sprinkled with declarations of travel and culture appreciation.

There’s definitely a difference in tone to his writing even though he writes the same interests as everyone else. It’s utterly refreshing and I am soon sending him a novel telling all of my faults and personality traits. I have made the complete transformation into a madman when I look at my dating inbox an hour later to see if he replied to me. Somewhere, a dog is snorting with derision.

It takes him a few days to pop into my dating inbox but when I see his face populating my unread messages tab I click into it immediately. I fear that he will follow the stereotype of slang sentences and punctuating every thought with the word “nigga,” performing a case of ethnicity confusion. I am utterly surprised because he actually responds to every subject I have written about in the Email, unlike the frequent games of tennis where people tell me about themselves as if we’re having a competition of interests. Instead, he actually responds to what I have to say rather than slamming interests back at me.

He agrees with me about Buffy and the connections to real life parallels before telling me why he thinks the way that he thinks. He disagrees with me that fish is the most disgusting food on the face of the planet before asking me why I feel the way I feel. Every Email back and forth is an actual conversation. I’ve never had a fully fledged conversation on this site before so I’m enchanted by every point he makes, agreeing or disagreeing with me or asking questions. It even takes 12 messages of discussion before we ask each other’s names. His, is Jason. I have learned so much about every facet of him I feel as if we’re friends already and I punctuate that thought by obsessively checking my inbox daily because I want to see his reply. He is the first person I spill my diary to, as well, and he pours his right back at me. We make each other feel good, console each other, and correct each other. We develop textual chemistry in a matter of weeks.

I am getting so used to our conversations I begin to expect it to continue for a long time but after a month of conversing I get a message that I never expect.

Hi. I’m good, Thanks! How are you? I’m actually thinking of deleting my profile, sadly. I’m so thankful I met you and had the opportunity to read your kind, and beautiful words. Your a beautiful person with a beautiful spirit. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit insecure and kind of sad when I think of my dating life and these online dating websites. I think it would be best for me to just delete them and find peace. I’m so thankful you messaged me, you were the very few people that did and I feel special because of that. Hope you are doing great! I will continue to follow your blog! Peace and love

I absorb the message feeling as if someone has just shot him rather than he choosing to find peace and happiness within himself. I want to comfort him but I can’t. He has provided me with his Email, though, so I send him an Email before trying to look him up on social media. He is nowhere to be found, not even on Skype.

Months pass and I don’t hear from Jason again. His profile has been deleted. His kind eyes no longer greet me when I open my inbox because I kept his final message like a last hug. Soon, the message is gone as well and I can’t help but thinking I’ve lost someone dear to my heart. I scan the pictures wishing that there were more people like him. I have the inability to be as wise as he has been. My accounts still remain open. I think that says something about my own peace. I try a few more times to find Jason again with the Email he provided but he has vanished. I wish I could tell him how smart he really is.

A few days ago a friend and I are at the mall in a bookstore debating over what audiobook we should get and listen to together. She has a sack of CD’s in her hand before she suddenly stops and grabs my shoulder.

“Oh my god! Turn around,” she says. I obey to see a brown skinned head looking away from me choosing a book. We’re a few feet away so he has not heard what amber has said.

“I think that’s Jason!” she gushes. “go say hi! He looks JUST like him!” as I watch the man, who is actually a bit taller than me gather a few paperback books and move away to the counter I start to take a step towards him. When he tells the desk personnel his name, Jason, I can’t believe it. I don’t move, however, I listen as he jokes with the personnel before leaving. I approach him and tentatively say hi. I suddenly blurt out,

“I’m Robert Kingett. Remember? It’s so nice to finally meet you!” he looks at me with a sad smile and clasps my shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Robert, but we have never met before. You have the wrong Jason.”