Scott was bigger than me so I wasn’t sure if I had much that might fit him. My one piece long-johns would do the trick for now. I had pyjamas for myself. I pulled on bottoms too as I usual slept with just the top.
Donnie came up, bumping along the sides of the stairwell as he tried to warm himself by roughly rubbing a towel on his head.
“Stand still. You can’t dry your feet while you’re walking, you know.” I said to keep him from falling back down the stairs.
“I know. Jus’ fix us a good drink, m’son, and we’ll be fine.”
He slumped into the living room and sat heavily in an arm chair.
Scott came up. He had taken a bit more time getting dried off and was pushing a comb through his matted hair. My long-johns weren’t as long or baggy on him as they were on me.
“I feel a little strangulated in these.” He adjusted his balls.
He sat in the other armchair and dropped the towel on his lap.
I brought out a bottle of whisky with three glasses. “Have a quick one.”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
Scott twisted the top off and drank a huge gulp from the bottle. He shuddered a little as it went down. “That’s almost worth getting here. Takes the chill off.”
Donnie did the same before he handed the bottle back to me. He slumped back in his chair, took a few ragged breaths and passed out.
“Some guys can’t take the snow,” Scott laughed.
We sat in silence for a few minutes, Donnie’s snores the only sound in the room. The warmth of the house made me feel sleepy too. After the cold, the longing for sleep was hard to resist.
“So what’s your secret?” Scott threw his damp towel at me.
“Secret? What d’you mean?” There was only one secret and I had made damn sure no one suspected.
“You never seem to get caught up like I do with some bitch.”
“ ’Cause I don’t think of ’em as bitches.”
“Don’t hand me that.”
“You have better luck than I do.”
“Luck! When Suze and I broke up, I wanted to kill myself. Fuck, we’d been together for two years. I even bought the rings. And how long has it been? Three years, now? And I’m still not over her. You know? Yet when you and Cindy broke up after four, it was if she was never there. Know what I mean? She really dug you. Still does.”
I shook my head to clear it. Scott was talking and I drifted out of consciousness.
“Sorry, I must have dropped off a bit there.”
How long had I been out? The room was dim. Scott was talking, but I couldn’t make out what he said. I focused on him in hopes that would keep the room from spinning. His head and face were sort of twisting too.
“What were we talking about?’ I asked.
“Why you and Cindy split.”
“Oh, she wanted kids. I told you guys all this before anyway, didn’t I? I’m not ready to settle down. You . . . ” I reached for my drink. The coffee table was suddenly closer than I expected. The drink darted away from my hand.
“You sure that was why?”
“You mean that other guy? Of course that too.”
“Or was this is what you really wanted?”
He had something in his lap. At first I thought it was his drink. He stood up. Through the haze I realized it was his cock. The foreskin was so tight, the head of it seemed to be bursting through and being choked at the same time.
I fell back into my chair. It was what I wanted, but not from him. I didn’t know what to say. The truth was as always out of the question.
“Fuck no!” I pushed myself up, shoved him away and went to the bathroom. I had to hold myself up along the walls to keep from falling.
I recalled a guy, Greg, at university, and how I had to be this drunk before letting him know I was interested. I knew it was safe because Greg made the first move. We were both pissed but after that first drunken fumble, we were able to meet sober as well. But we had to be careful. Rumour had it that known homos could be denied their teaching license.
Greg was safe because I knew once I left there I probably wouldn’t have to see him again. He was going to teach in Africa or was it China. It was easier to be honest with someone under those circumstances. But that was nearly three years ago and I hadn’t had a man since then. I’d even started seeing Cindy that last year to convince myself that I really wasn’t that way after all. She was the cure for what was just a phase. Only it wasn’t a phase and I was merely pickled not cured.
“You’re pickled not cured.” I sang as I pissed. “Pickled not cured.”
I flushed the toilet and went to my room. The house felt empty as I sat on the edge of my bed. Empty again. What was so right once now seemed miles away and so wrong. To let people know I was queer would change everything. This comfortable life would cease to exist. It wouldn’t matter if I was pickled or cured. I never did hear from Greg after he went to China.
I felt a draft. The guys would be cold in the living room. Even with the heat turned up, that wind always found some way into the house. I got a couple of spare blankets and went back to the living room. Scott was gone. Donnie was still slumped in the armchair.
“Scott?” I looked in the bathroom. “Scott? You dumb fuck you passed out somewhere?”
When I got to the kitchen, the back door was open. I pushed it shut agains the wind.
“You down here?” I went into the basement and his clothes where gone. He had left.
I tossed a blanket over Donnie. Back in my bed I finished off the whiskey. I knew exactly where to put the bottle in the dark so I wouldn’t knock it over in the night.
I woke around eleven the next morning to the smell of bacon frying. My head throbbing, I made my way to the kitchen.
“Have a seat, m’son, and dig in.” Donnie put a plate of bacon and eggs on the kitchen table. “Where’s Scott?”
“Not sure. He was . . . uh . . . here when I went to bed to pass out.” I didn’t know what to tell Donnie. I pick dup a piece of the bacon with my fingers and tried to eat it. “Maybe he went to pull your car out.”
“Fuck. I forgot all about that! I should be there helping them. My coat in the basement?”
“He’d’ve called if he needed your help.” I chewed another piece of the bacon and swallowed it. “Perfect for a hangover.”
It was the end of February and I hadn’t heard from Donnie about a good drink for a couple of months. That wasn’t unusual for us, but I had that thirst myself. I missed the guys but wasn’t sure why.
I saw in the paper that Scott’s band, Pals Of Mine, was at Stoners that night for the pub’s Survived Valentine Blast. Rather than call Donnie, I decided to drop down to surprise them and see how things were.
There were bristle board hearts on the outside windows. They were drooping and the red was dripping thanks to the melting snow. Over the door was a sign that said “Lover’s Leap.” Someone had written ‘on each other’ under it.
The place was full when I arrived. I was sorry I hadn’t taken a few more belts before I left home. That always made me feel more relaxed when I went anywhere. The tinsel tree was still in the corner only now it had hearts dangling from the branches. Donnie and Trish were at a table near the front with another pretty girl. I walked over.
“How’s it going?” I asked.
“Good, Dave. How’s by you?” Trish turned and smiled at me. “We haven’t heard much of you of late.” She nodded to the empty spot at the table. “I was asking Donnie if you’d show up to join us for a good drink. You can make up for the ones I can’t have.” She patted her stomach. “Any day now.”
“Work, you know.”
“Yeah, right.” Donnie scowled at me and glanced up at Scott on stage. Scott scowled back.
“Let’s go over to the bar. I’ll buy you a double.” Donnie got up from the table. “Excuse us, ladies.”
Donnie walked me past the bar to the front door and stopped there.
“Look, Dave, why don’t you do yourself a favour just fuck right off. I know what you tried with Scott. Fuck only knows what you did to me in my sleep. We don’t want no fairies hanging ’round with us. You get that?” He poked me in the chest with a finger. “That kind of shit makes me sick.”
My face burned. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. “What the fuck are you going on about?”
“Something happened between you and Scott. That much he’s sure of.”
“I don’t know what he thinks happened. Fuck, I don’t think there was anything.”
I didn’t know how to make my story convincing. Scott’s cock had become the tip of an iceberg, the iceberg being all the things in my life that I was trying to avoid and hoped would disappear somehow or stay beneath the surface forever. I didn’t know which way to turn without sinking myself.
“Maybe I should talk to him.” I glanced to the table at Scott’s back. He had his arm around the other girl and was nuzzling her neck.
“He’ll kill you. It took me all I could do to keep him from torching your place. Just get the fuck out of here and this’ll go no further. Got it?”
There was enough truth to what he said that I didn’t know how to let him know what wasn’t true. And now I wasn’t sure myself. Maybe something more had happened with Scott. I could remember his hand on his cock and him asking me if that’s what I wanted. I was sure I didn’t do anything.
But maybe I had.
What were my choices? To brave it out? My thirst had left me. There weren’t enough drinks in the bar. There was nothing to tell Donnie that would fix anything. Cindy was right. Who needed those assholes? If that’s what he wanted to believe, then he could go right ahead and believe it.
“I thought we were friends.” I said as he walked away.
I stood in Stoners doorway. It wasn’t as if this was the only place in town where I could have a good drink. I could feel the cool night air behind me, as I watched Jen bring a tray of draft over to their table. Scott’s laugh echoed over the din of the bar.
I glanced at the other tables. Similar groups of couples or solitary guys sat. Arms pulled hordes of glistening glasses towards them, doses of fortifying alcohol that would allow them to float from one moment to the next. That’s what I had been doing, wasn’t it? An iceberg floating from one moment to the next, hoping the surface would remain calm enough for easy drifting.
I walked over to the bar. Hec brought me a double without being asked. Donnie and Scott glared over at me but didn’t move.
“What’s with those two?” Hec asked.
“Pour me another and I’ll tell you.”
Tonight I would drink myself to the truth.
Winter Whisky – Part One: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-39y
Winter Whisky – Part Two: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3fR
Winter Whisky – Part Three: https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3gz
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