Chris – Erick’s boyfriend
Eugene – Erick’s neighbor friend
Mitch – Erick’s ex-boyfriend
Cole – Mitch’s boyfriend
Grayson – Erick and Chris’s friend
“You’ve been quiet tonight,” Chris whispers to Erick.
“I’m sorry. I guess I have been a bit inside my head,” Erick explains.
“Are you okay?”
Erick nods. The nod is deceiving as his mind is consumed with thoughts of Eugene, who is sitting across from him at the table of a West LA diner. Everyone had already eaten and the bill had already been paid, but the group was lingering to kill time before heading over to the nearby Nuart Theatre for the weekly midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Eugene hadn’t made much eye contact with Erick all night but spent the last five minutes rubbing his foot against Erick’s leg.
On a recent hike with Erick, Eugene revealed some long-held feelings and asked if he ever had a shot at being his boyfriend. The rest of that hike had been silent and awkward as Erick, to his own surprise and concern, had no immediate answer.
Erick was quite happy with Chris so he wasn’t necessarily considering that possibility, but there is something about Eugene and their history that Erick continues to find intriguing. After all, Erick and Eugene have known of each other a lot longer than they’ve actually known each other.
Five years ago, the two met in an online chat room. Despite their mutual interest, timing was not on their side and multiple moves on both their parts kept them from meeting in person until last year. But by this time Erick and Chris had been dating for several months. While Chris developed a harmless crush on Eugene almost immediately, Erick squashed any possible feelings or romantic thoughts he could possibly have. In his mind, that ship had sailed and sunk so there was no need to jeopardize what had already developed into a really good thing with Chris.
But joint curiosity about Eugene eventually did get the better of Erick and Chris a few times – especially once he moved down the hall from Erick.
“I don’t know if any of you have noticed or not, but Erick’s been working out too. I’ve been training him,” Eugene says.
“Yes, I’ve been his guinea pig for his personal training business,” Erick adds, somehow managing to have kept up with the conversation while still deep in thought.
“Welcome,” Mitch teases.
“Welcome to what?”
“Welcome to the conversation. That’s probably the first thing you’ve said all evening.”
“That’s not true. Just earlier I was telling everyone about a documentary Chris and I watched a few days ago.”
“I hadn’t gotten here yet.”
“Maybe not but you still stand corrected,” Erick retorts with a smile.
“What was the documentary?” Cole asks.
“We Were Here,” Erick answers.
“Changed my life,” Grayson adds.
“You saw it?” Cole asks.
“Why are you surprised? Straight men can’t watch a movie about the early AIDS crisis?”
“Of course they can. It’s just surprising when some of them do.”
“I’ve been to gay bars too. And I’ve slept with Chris.”
There’s a collective gasp at the table. Eugene, Mitch and Cole’s eyes all fall on Erick. Erick looks at each of them and then over at Chris. Chris smiles mischievously.
“It wasn’t that kind of sleeping,” Grayson adds.
“It was a Ross and Joey type of thing,” Chris explains.
“We used to take naps together.”
“It helped us sleep.”
“But only one of us got aroused.”
“It was usually Grayson,” Chris deadpans.
Grayson wraps his arm around Chris, pulls him into a headlock and kisses him on the top of the head. “Someone’s thinning up here,” Grayson chides.
“And growing down there,” Chris chides right back.
Grayson lets Chris go and pushes him toward Erick. “I forgot how easily that happens for you.”
Chris playfully punches Grayson. “I was referring to my midsection. I think it’s funny that Erick is looking really good while I’m starting to belly up.”
“Erick called it the great irony of your relationship on our last hike.”
Chris turns to Erick. “So you’ve noticed?”
“So We Were Here changed your life, Grayson?”
“Don’t bring me into this.”
“Well then did anyone notice that group of guys sitting at the table across from us?” Erick asks.
“What about them?” Cole asks as everyone steals looks at them – except for Grayson, who simply shakes his head.
“They’re all straight. And we’re all gay. Well, except for Grayson but I’m not counting him right now.”
“Why not?” Grayson asks.
“Because it throws the balance off if I do -- unless there is a lone gay guy over there.”
Everyone sneaks another look at the other table.
“I think it’s the one in the middle,” Mitch says.
“What makes you say that?” Cole asks.
“He’s the cutest,” Eugene interjects.
“No, that would be the one on the far left,” Cole replies.
“Not with that nose ring,” Mitch says.
“His tattoos look good though,” Eugene observes.
“Do you think they can tell we’re talking about them?” Chris wonders.
“It’s possible,” Mitch responds.
“So which one of them is gay?” Eugene asks.
“Statistically, neither one of them has to be,” Chris states.
“It’s the one wearing green,” Grayson whispers.
“How do you know?” Cole asks.
“He’s been staring at me since they all sat down.”
Everyone sneaks yet another look at the other table.
“Are you sure?” Erick asks. “You straight guys tend to think all gay guys are staring at you.”
“I’m quite sure. He’s even more obvious about it than you guys are.”
“I never would have pegged him as a gay,” Mitch says.
Cole laughs. “Remember when David Sedaris said that to those guys in front of us at that book signing?”
“That was so funny. That’s why I said it.”
“How funny would it be if they were talking about us like we’re talking about them,” Eugene wonders.
“It’s moments like this that I think social progress was a mistake,” Grayson says.
“April’s worse than we are,” Chris adds. “She just behaves when you’re around.”
“Well they didn’t stay long,” Mitch observes as the guys at the other table all get up to leave.
“You probably scared them off,” Grayson states.
“We should have set the green one up with Eugene,” Mitch suggests.
“He’s not my type,” Eugene responds. “Plus, I have my eye on someone else.”
“Do tell,” Mitch replies as everyone focuses their attention to Eugene. Erick raises an inquisitive eyebrow.
“There’s not much to tell except that it’s complicated and potentially damaging.”
“Which means the guy is well-endowed but in a relationship,” Cole jokes.
“Which also means there’s a LOT to tell,” Mitch presses.
“I’m just going to say that he’s a potential client – and I’m going to leave it at that.”
Chris checks his watch. “We should head over to the theatre before the line gets too long.”
“Maybe those guys from the table will be there,” Eugene says as he, Cole and Mitch slide out of the booth.
“They don’t seem the Rocky Horror type,” Cole replies.
“Neither do we,” Eugene responds.
“Well, Erick has cross-dressed before so he’ll probably fit right in,” Mitch adds.
Erick slides out of the booth behind Chris and Grayson. “That was for a school play when I was sixteen.”
“And you enjoyed every minute of it.”
“I also enjoyed every minute of my break up with you,” Erick retorts in mock victory as he follows everyone out of the diner. “Bazinga.”
Original Fiction from a Sitcom Mind > The Halls of Shambala > I Am Erick Davidson - An Original Short Story Series >