Bankers' Hours(10)

By: Wade Kelly

He nodded slightly and smiled as he walked away.

My legs nearly gave out, and I steadied myself. I swallowed hard and grabbed a few deposit slips to fan my face. Jessica turned to look at me and asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Oh, nothing,” I said, setting the deposit slips down and flipping the three pens back over. If I was supposed to act businesslike at work, then the customers needed to stop turning me on with a glance.

I HAD an hour for lunch, so I sat in the break room and removed my peanut butter and jelly sandwich from my paper bag. It seemed like a lunch for ten-year-olds, but I didn’t exactly make a load of money, and I preferred spending it on redecorating my new place and then maybe on clothes. I could handle cheap lunches.

Mel and I used to eat lunch together, so sometimes we’d go out, but since I’d been eating alone this past week, my pathetic sandwich choices would have to suffice. Maybe I could splurge once a week and eat at a local restaurant, if I could find someone to go with me. I didn’t want to be one of those sad guys who dined alone.

My phone buzzed. How are you, dear?

I had done well over the weekend. I’d only texted my mother twice. Fine, I replied. Working here has been seamless so far. It’s the same computer system and setup, so I’ve been happy with it. And I like Westminster, btw. :)

Good. Have you made any new friends?

Sort of. I’m working up to personal information with a girl named Jessica. She thinks I’m cute, knows I’m gay, and told me to stop flirting with the customers.

Flirting? That doesn’t sound like you. Unless you’ve learned to loosen up since I last saw you.

Mother! How many times do I have to tell you I’m not uptight?

Oh, really?

I huffed. No one was in the break room to sympathize with me. Seconds ticked. Was I really uptight? I texted back: Fine. You win. I’m uptight and repressed.

Just remember you were the one to use the word repressed—not me.

I made a face, fake-laughed, and stuck out my tongue at my phone as if I was making fun of her behind her back. It irked me how well she knew me. I’ll admit I blushed, but I swear it was only because of this one guy that came in. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned him, but I never had learned how to keep my mouth shut when talking to my mother. It was just her and me, so I guess normal filters had gotten overlooked.

Oh? What guy?

An auto mechanic who owns his own shop. He is very… nice looking. I downplayed my assessment. I thought he was fucking hot, but I didn’t feel the need to say it like that to her. I suppose I did filter things with my mom… sometimes.

Hmm. A business owner sounds promising. Only, be careful not to make the same mistake as last time. Remember what happened with that flower shop owner. Best to find out if he’s married first.

She had to remind me! I will. Next time I’ll check for a wedding ring. TTYL.

I ended the conversation before she brought up all the gory details. The shop owner, Raymond, was probably the closest I’d gotten to an actual boyfriend, even though we’d never kissed and one date had been enough. We’d flirted at the bank for several weeks, and when he finally asked me out, I’d jumped at the chance. But then, while on our date, his wife showed up and made a scene. On top of the obvious reasons she’d caused a scene, she hadn’t known he was gay. I’d felt extremely small, sitting at the candlelit table while they yelled at one another.

You’d think I would have been the one to end it, but he beat me to the punch, saying, “I just don’t think I’m ready for a relationship yet.” Understatement of the year! At least with Raymond, the reason had been legitimate given the display over dinner. That had been eight months ago.

Westminster, though, was a clean slate. I could start over. People in this town didn’t know me. I could be as outgoing and congenial as I wanted. I could like sports or skydiving. I could flirt and ask a guy out and have wild sex in the parking lot. I could be or do anything!

My mother texted again: Be careful.

My high hopes came crashing to the ground. I wasn’t all those things I thought I could be. I was Grant Adams, magnet for sob stories and losers.

My special guy was out there—he had to be. I believed there was someone perfect for everyone. Sometimes people went their entire lives never finding their soul mate, but I was not losing hope I’d find mine. My Prince Charming was out there!

Maybe he’d like fixing cars and have dark blue eyes.

I shivered. It was too idealistic to be real. My fantasies always promoted heartache. If I never indulged myself, I wouldn’t be so let down.