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Cupcake Kissin’ 36 – Alex Ankarr
That’s something new in his experience of the place. He’s explored the whole premises a couple of times, with Mack’s permission and once in his company – company that’s still a little awkward, now. But there’s nothing to suggest that Mack or any of his guests are regular indulgers in anything beyond margaritas and the odd bottle of Chardonnay. Celebrity lifestyle, Caspar supposes, shrugging. (Student lifestyle, it seems more characteristic of. And not characteristic of Mack at all, somehow. He’s uneasy as he gets closer to the source of the reek, closer to the master bedroom, wondering who or what he’s going to find there.)
Then he’s less uneasy, and more surprised, when it does turn out to be Mack after all. Mack, lounging across the sideways length of his bed, roach teetering between two long, strong fingers as he reaches both arms up above his head, eyes closed and expression… what? Sad? Resigned? Whatever it quite is, and Caspar isn’t sure he can identify it, he sure as heck doesn’t look happy.
But when he opens his eyes, at the creak in the doorway, and sees Caspar, he smiles a smile that puts a much more cheerful expression on his face. ‘Hey, it’s Caspar. Caspar, come and sit down here with me, buddy. You want some?’ And when Caspar hesitates, even stepping back a half-step in the sudden instinct not to go beyond appropriate customer/businessperson bounds here (or not further than they’ve already gone on occasion, anyway), Mack pulls himself up onto one elbow, then both. (And looks in some danger of setting the fancy plush designer coverlet on fire, so that Caspar almost trembles forward into motion, before Mack lifts his burdened hand up a little.
His face is insistent, and his voice too. ‘No, come on, buddy, come on Caspar, you come sit down here with me. Because I could totally use some company right now.’
God damn, sometimes Caspar hates how weak he is in the face of a plea or a request from a friend. (Which he supposes Mack almost is, now, or after a fashion.) It’s the do-gooder in him coming out. He’s just not good at self-preservation when someone else claims hurt or injury or sadness, or when there’s a good cause to be supported, or when a hedgehog needs assistance crossing the road. Whatever it is, if there’s a wound to be stanched anywhere in the world, then he’s invariably the sucker coming running with bandages and antiseptic. Public service, he was intending to do with his engineering skills, not surprisingly.
So, against all of his better judgement, Caspar joins Mack on the bed – sitting a little distance away from where Mack is still slouched, but not flinching when Mack reaches out and pats his arm firmly. And he honestly tries to say no – or at least initially – when Mack tries to share his joint, but Caspar guesses, from general appearances, that he really needs the sense of fellowship and communal solidarity, the relaxation and the loosening of his tongue. ‘Go on, go on,’ he urges, and Caspar does. (His aversion isn’t just based on a fairly strait-laced life, now he’s out of college, and a busy schedule that doesn’t allow for a lot of indulgence and frivolity. He also never cared much for weed in any case. It unloosens his tongue a sight too much. He likes his inhibitions firmly in place, thank you.)
But he takes a drag anyway, and then another, and ten minutes later he’s listening to Mack talk about how come he comes to be stoned in his own bedroom in the middle of the day, and about his parents, and about Adam. It’s all very enlightening. He hopes to remember some of it later.
‘…and some friend of Sara’s left a baggie under the guest room bed pillow, can you believe it, when she had them over last week. It’s been a while, man, it’s been a long while, but I felt so down today and they cut shooting because of the hailstorm and…’ Mack doesn’t usually indulge much either, that much is clear. Caspar, mind wandering, wonders if he doesn’t usually drink much either, if that was a factor in the kiss during their halfway disastrous supper. It’s not an especially flattering thought, although neither was being treated as a casual conquest. But it’s not hard to let the hurtful thought drift away.
Then somehow they’re onto Mack’s parents and their reaction to his coming out as bisexual in his early twenties. ‘…and they were fine, man, that’s the thing. I’d tied myself up in knots about it, I’d been in so much angst and indecision about telling them, and then, jeez, they were fine. It was like, totally a non-issue. So I breathed a sigh of relief, and I completely thought that the issue was over and done with.’ Mack’s handsome face is screwed up, dissatisfied and more unhappy than it was to start with, and somehow he’s got himself squashed up into a ball on the bed, up near the bedhead, curled in on himself and sneaking the roach back from Caspar.
‘That’s good, though, right?’ Caspar asks, puzzled. ‘My parents were good about it too. They were fine. It wasn’t any kind of issue.’ Thank God. They had been good.
‘Yeah. I suppose.’ Mack pauses, closes his eyes and sighs ‘Except every time I took a guy home, or mentioned one in a call home…’
‘They didn’t like it?’ Caspar guesses. It seems like a reasonable assumption, going by Mack’s face.
Mack nods, doleful. ‘Well. It wasn’t flagrant, or anything. It was just, if it was a girl I turned up with, it was all approval and, ‘Oh, she’s delightful honey!’ and four-course home dinners and… They couldn’t do enough, you know? And if it was a guy…’ He wrinkles up his nose, and it says plenty.
‘Not so much,’ Caspar says, with one raised eyebrow. It might be two raised eyebrows. He’s not perfectly sure of how complete his eyebrow-raising control is right at this minute. This stuff is strong.
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014
No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.
Photo credit: Lyn Whitfield on Flickr, public domain.