Thursday, 17 March 2011

Excerpt Day - Anything for You © Ethan Day

Excerpt

 

Chapter One

 

In conversations with my parents, sister, and co-workers, I'd say it to myself while we were talking, as if it were a grammar rule from high school. Jason, don't forget to drop the he and insert she, like I before E except after C. I never realized how much work it was until I finally decided to stop doing it. How could something so simple be such hard work, so taxing on the mind?

 

Slowly, it began to suck the life out of me. Not so much that I noticed it on a daily basis, but just enough to make me lose that edge-you know-the sharpness and clarity we all seem to have an abundance of in our twenties, only to wake up at thirty to discover it's gone.

 

I could never agree to bring her home for Sunday dinner, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, because she was really a he with nice abs, a tight ass, and really great lips. I could never say, "Oh sis, it was the best date I've ever had. When I kissed him goodnight I swear my knees went weak and I had to grab onto the porch railing to keep my balance."

 

At some point, I began to feel like a liar for inserting she for he. I'd convinced myself that if I used we, us, and they, then I wasn't really lying. This was the beginning of what I now refer to as The Androgyny Files. We went to the lake this weekend. They asked me to dinner. The two of us took in a movie. As if the people I dated, kissed, and laid naked in bed with had no sexual identity.

 

In some cases, my reasons for not coming out to certain people were a mystery-my sister Annie, for instance-who was an out and proud lesbian. Mom and Dad as well. Mr. & Mrs. Miller weren't what I would ever call ecstatic about the fact Annie was gay, but they never stopped loving her. Which to some might make it seem like a no-brainer. They'd already gone through it once and survived-the way had been paved.

 

What the hell was I so afraid of? It made no sense, even to me. Maybe it was a fear of the domino effect that kept me from confiding in Annie or my parents? If I were to tell one person, I might not be able to stop. Maybe if Annie hadn't beaten me to the punch with regard to the P's, I wouldn't have felt so much pressure to be the Great White Hope-the only supposed good shot my parents likely had at spreading the genes, so to speak. Of course, all these reasons might simply be nothing more than a smokescreen, the bullshit I told myself because I didn't want to face the fact that at the heart of it all...I was just chicken.

 

I knew that at the very least Annie likely suspected I was gay. I mean, despite my outward appearance of complete and total butchness, most of my friends were confirmed homos. Don't laugh, people. I had that sexy, blue-collar thing going for me-even in a suit. Annie took after our mother and looked like a princess...only Annie had the mouth of a sailor. I was a carbon copy of my dad, who looked more like my mother's handyman than her husband.

There were even times when I could have sworn Annie was dropping little hints, like she was attempting to give me the opportunity to speak up and tell her the truth. Unfortunately my fear of opening up was like my singing voice-I refrained from sharing it with others.

* * *

I danced through my small, two-bedroom apartment housed on the fourth floor of an old renovated hotel in Middleton, Missouri. The entire downtown area had benefited from a revitalization project which had begun long before I'd moved here, fresh out of college. It had been the trendy place to live back then. Now, thanks to the economy, it was becoming a lot more family oriented as more people were looking to rent as opposed to buying.

 

I shimmied across the wood floors in my tube socks, singing along with the music, and I wondered what the queens would have done in the seventies had there been no Donna Summer.

 

I spun around, startled by the loud buzzing from the intercom. Placing a hand over my heart in an attempt to stop it from jumping out of my chest, I chuckled under my breath, somewhat embarrassed over being so jumpy.

 

I sighed, resting a hand on my hip, hoping whoever was downstairs would go away if I ignored them long enough. Going back to my singing and dancing, I shut my eyes, allowing the dance riff to take me over once again.

 

"Gah!" I scowled, hearing the buzzer go off a second and third time. Oh goody...make that four times.

 

Realizing whoever the rude motherfucker was, they were determined to get in. I discoed toward the door dressed in nothing more than my Abercrombie and Fitch boxers, wearing a slightly irritated smile.

 

"Yes?" I asked, pressing the button.

 

"It's your sister. Buzz me in," Annie fired back.

 

Shit – between the landline, cell phone, e-mail, and texting, would a little notice have killed her? Hell, as many ciggies as she went through, she could have, at the very least, sent up a smoke signal or two. "What a surprise... Come on up."

 

Damn it, there's nothing worse than a last minute de-gaying.

I buzzed her in and grabbed the large basket I kept next to the front door for just such emergencies. I zipped through the living room, scooping up the pictures of my friends, all of whom I'd deemed overtly homo, the collection of male nude sculptures I purchased at that flea market down the street, the Out and Advocate magazines and International Male catalogs on the coffee table, and my gay movies. By gay movies, I'm talking Torch Song Trilogy, not Handsome Ransom 2; one would never be so tacky as to leave Handsome Ransom 2 lying around in the first place.

 

Running into the kitchen, I gathered up the fliers announcing local gay and lesbian activities and snagged my Closets are for Gowns, Darling magnet off the refrigerator-it was a gift! I made a quick pass through the office, snatching up my Men of Malibu calendar and the Erection Connection mouse pad.

 

Rounding the corner, I headed down the hall, making a small hop before sliding across the wood floor and into the spare bedroom. Opening the closet, I could hear the knocking at the front door. I dropped the basket on the floor, slammed the door shut, and ran back into the living room.

 

I hunched over for a moment, resting my hands on my knees in an attempt to get my wind back. I shook my head a little, listening to her grumbling on the other side of the door. Annie was a hairdresser with zero manners and little to no filter. She lived and worked in the next town over, which was a lot smaller and only about thirty miles away. I got in one last deep breath before my sis took to banging on the door with her clenched fist. I rolled my eyes, begging for mercy, before standing up straight. I made one last quick survey of the room to make sure I hadn't missed anything before reaching for the doorknob.

 

"Hey Annie, what are you up to today?" I asked, opening the front door.

 

"Is this the clothing optional apartment?" she asked, brushing past me, smelling like nicotine and reeking of perfume.

 

She was wearing a black leather jacket, a white T-shirt, jeans, and a pair of kickin' black platforms. Annie had large brown eyes, straight black hair, and enough combined attitude to power at least three drag queens.

 

"Been shopping?" I asked, considering she smelled like a department store.

 

"Don't get me started." She crossed the room and flopped down on the brown leather sectional. "Why are you all sweaty and out of breath? Got a girl up here, Jas?"

 

"I was on the treadmill," I offered, taking a seat across from her. "Had you called before coming, I could have been dressed for you."

 

"We're family. I don't have to call first." She rummaged around in the satchel she called a purse and pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights. "Ashtray!"

 

Rolling my eyes, I got up before heading into the kitchen to retrieve one.

 

She sprang up off the sofa and headed toward the bookshelves. "I'm going to turn down Donna, if you don't mind."

 

"Like that would stop you," I mumbled.

 

"What a fucking day," she called out as I came back into the room, following her back to the sofa. "I just came from Newberry's. They were having a huge sale and I found the greatest pair of brown suede boots. They were like four hundred percent off or something ridiculous like that and they were the only pair they had left in my size. I beat this squeaky-voiced blonde bimbo chick by mere seconds for them."

 

She lit a cigarette and inhaled hard as I deposited the ashtray on the coffee table for her. She then flopped back down onto the sofa, quite dramatically. Having a feeling that a very long and detailed story was about to unfold, I reached across the coffee table, snagging one of her smokes before settling back into the armchair.

 

"You have a nice bod, Jas." She looked directly into my eyes, seeming slightly evil. "I can't understand why you don't have a girlfriend."

 

"Isn't it enough that you have one?"

 

She rolled her eyes at me, exhaling as if she were completely over me already.

 

"I'm just saying...maybe if you put yourself out there a little more-"

 

"Thanks, sis," I interrupted, ready to change the subject. "So what happened at Newberry's?"

 

"Holy whores, I forgot." She scrunched up her forehead like she was trying to remember where she'd left off. Recognition swept across her face and she smirked, looking all surly again. "I went up to the counter to pay for my new shit kickers and of course there was a line from hell. I don't understand why they can't hire more help." Taking another drag, she added, "Yes, I would love a glass of wine, thanks for asking."

 

"Oh, sorry." I got up and headed back toward the kitchen. "Keep talking, I'm listening."

 

"So, I'm like next in line at the register and I set the boots down on the floor so I could dig my credit card out, and when I reached down to pick them back up, they were fucking gone."

 

I recorked the already opened bottle of red that had been sitting on the counter and picked up the two glasses. "This can't be good."

 

Annie scoffed as I came back into the room. "Understatement of the year, asshole."

 

I shook my head at her. "Christ, you're rude."

 

"Thanks," she said, reaching up and taking a glass from me. "So I turned around, and the blonde bitch from before, who only had one box of shoes when she got in line, miraculously now had two boxes."

 

"Oh God, what did you do?" I asked, though I was extremely fearful of the answer.

 

"I went ballistic...told her if she didn't give them back, I'd rip her pancreas out with my teeth."

 

"Shit, Annie." I laughed, feeling slightly embarrassed. "I am so glad I wasn't there."

 

"Of course she got all defensive and whiny, acting like she didn't know what I was talking about." She put down her cigarette and sucked down the entire glass of wine. "Why yes, I'd love another glass."

 

Shaking my head at her, I put out my cigarette. "How about I just bring in the bottle?'

 

"That would certainly put an end to the rude way you constantly keep getting up and leaving the room," she said sweetly, as if it were a suggestion she offered in hopes of making my life easier. "Anyway," she continued, brushing her hair behind her ears as I ran back into the kitchen, "the hag behind the counter called security and they attacked me! The goddamn security guard didn't believe me, like I would be standing in line to make a purchase with nothing to purchase. The stupid hetero meathead couldn't keep his eyes off her tits. Despite the fact that they were indeed really nice tits, I was hysterical by that point, and he told me that if I didn't stop screaming, I was going to have to leave."

 

She lit another cigarette after I returned and refilled her glass.

 

"I stormed out of that place cussing up a storm, got into my car, and pulled up so I'd be able to see her coming out of the store. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew I was going to scare the living shit out of this bitch."

 

"Annie, please don't tell me you ran her down." I leaned across the table for another smoke.

 

"Well, you won't believe this," she said. "The chick comes out of the store and walks to her car, right in front. She was parked in a handicapped parking spot! She must have been too spent from all of the thieving she'd been doing. That pissed me off more, imagining some sweet little old lady having to hobble along in her walker because Bambi the bimbo stole her parking spot!"

 

I was silently praying that whoever this chick was, she wasn't now legally entitled to handicapped parking thanks to my crazy-ass sister.

 

"So when she opened her car door and reached in to pop her trunk, I eased the jeep out. Then she walked around to put my shoes in her trunk, and so help me, I hit the gas and drove right into her car door." Smiling from ear to ear, she added, "Ripped the goddamn thing right off."

 

"Wha...are you out of your unstable mind!?!" I got up out of the chair. "What happens if she took down your plate number?"

 

"Please," she said calmly, "people in shock never think clearly enough for shit like that. I knew I'd done the right thing when I looked in my rearview and saw her screaming, arms flailing about like a maniac. It was better than the multiple orgasms I get from that girlfriend of mine."

 

"Oh yeah, she's the maniac," I said. "I can't believe we're related. Maybe I was adopted."

 

"You wish," she said, laughing. "I wish you had the balls God gave me. Hell, even one of them. You're so fucking guarded about everything. What do you think would happen if you let the walls of Jason come tumbling down? I wish you felt like you could confide in me."

 

I shivered slightly from that thought. "I'm not guarded."

 

She pointed her finger at me. "Lies and deceit!"

 

"And I tell you everything," I added, lying through my teeth.

 

"Yeah right." She smiled. "We're real tight. But I love you, even though you're a big wussy."

 

"Aw...I love you, too." I poured the last bit of wine into both of the glasses. "Now give me another fucking smoke. You've completely wigged me out."

 

© Ethan Day

 

Anything for You

Author: Ethan Day

Publisher: MLR Books

Genre: GLBT

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Jason Miller is still in the closet. He's never found a reason to kick the door open, walk into the light of day, and tell the world he's gay. At least that's what he keeps telling himself -- along with a multitude of other solid arguments. As an ad man, he's used to hawking a bill of goods, he just never imagined he'd fall victim to his own hype.

When ex-activist/coming out guru, Chad Wellington came along, he was the one thing Jason never saw coming. Like a moth to a flame these two opposites ignite leaving Jason to decide if he can handle the heat

2 Speak To Me:

Chris on 18 March 2011 at 03:29 said...

And I'll be reading this one, too.

Lily on 18 March 2011 at 13:14 said...

I'm looking forward to reading this one.