Bankers' Hours(7)

By: Wade Kelly

“Interesting. Usually you react right away.”

“I know.”

“Maybe it was because the smell came off a really hot guy?” Mel goaded.

“Stop. He’s probably straight anyway, so speculating over things that would unnerve me is unnecessary—good and bad smells included. I think he was just being nice because I’m the new guy.”

“Maybe. But you better promise to call me if he turns out to be gay. I want to know if this odd scent is particular to his hands or found on other parts of his body.”

I chuckled. “You’re so incorrigible.” Mel was a great friend, but I needed to change the subject. “So, how about you? Are things progressing with you and that girl you saw working at the chicken place?”

“Boston Market,” he corrected. “And nah, I’m still hesitant about saying hello, let alone anything else. What if she doesn’t accept me? I think I’ll wait.”

“Really? You’re not even going to take a chance? You could start with going there to eat every week and see if she notices.”

“Maybe, but you know I want to wait to date until my scars heal and I figure out my next step in the process. I want to feel more secure about myself before I face my fear of rejection, especially from a girl as pretty as Cindy.”

“Mel, you know I love you, but just like you pushed me toward independence, I need to push you a little toward dating.”

“I know. Just… can you keep your fingers crossed for me? I’ll try going in for lunch and see if she looks at me. Okay?”

I nodded, but then realized he couldn’t see me. “Yes, of course. I’m here for you.”

“Thanks. I’m here for you too. And if Mr. Carr, the auto mechanic, turns out to be gay, I’ll be here for advice on how not to screw it up. The next guy you go out with will be the one, I’m sure of it!”

“I hope so. My internal clock is ticking.”

“Grant, you’re twenty-six, not fifty-six. You’ll find the right guy to marry and settle down with. I promise.”

I sighed.

We said our good-byes, and I set my phone on the end table. I hoped Mel was right. I was tired of being alone. There had to be a guy out there who would tolerate my need to iron my boxers and group my shirts according to color. Other people had to despise it when their food touched on their plate, right? Or when restrooms only had air-drying machines instead of paper towels? I was not a freak. I was a somewhat nice-looking gay man cursed with an unusual personality that repelled men. I was special. I would find someone eventually who appreciated my quirks.

I went to bed thinking about what my second week of work would be like. This weekend I would do laundry and clean my three-room house. On Monday I could worry about the cougar woman Jessica had warned me about, and the auto mechanic who’d winked at me for no apparent reason. Because even if he was gay, he’d never want to take me to bed, so I was better off playing it cool and being his friend.

Friends. My mother had told me I needed to make some.

Chapter 2: Making Friends, Moving On, And That Squishy Feeling In Your Belly When A Guy Says Your Name

HIS SWEATY body pressed me against the wall. I felt a sting as he sucked on my neck. He lifted me off my feet and helped me wrap my legs around his waist. His long, hard shaft ran under my balls and pulsed with need. I gasped and cried out….

“Tristan!” I cried, bolting upright in bed. I looked around at my empty, dark room. “Oh, jeez.” I flopped back down on my pillow and panted in my residual dream euphoria. That was the most vivid dream I’d ever had.

AT WORK on Monday, I decided it was time to get to know the people around me. Sure, I knew most of their names, but I didn’t know them like I had known the people at the other branch. I had worked there for four years. It wasn’t like making friends was difficult, but as I’d gotten older it seemed more tedious. I guess in high school, making friends was a given. When you saw the same people day after day, it made sense. In college, the group of people I hung with had gradually diminished. At the bank, those people in my daily life had shrunk to a smaller group that still fed my relational needs. And then my workplace sanctuary had closed.

When forced to relocate, it puts relationships to the test. Were they really my friends, or was it a nominal thing because we worked together every day? Well, so far it appeared to have been nominal, because the only person I talked to consistently was Mel. I rang Jenny and Mary, but they sounded busy making new friends and getting settled in their new positions.

I needed to move on like my friend Laura had the day she left. I hadn’t heard from her in months. Again, our friendship must have only been nominal. When would I make friends with someone who wanted to brush our dentures together or play chess in the park after we retired? I didn’t want that permanent fixture in my life to be my mother. How depressing.