markwildyr.com, Post #63
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Back to fiction this week. There follows part one of a two-part story about being gay in a small town in the Oklahoma Bible Belt. Hope you enjoy it. By the way, this story is posted as two guest blogs on dontravis.com.
I’M MY OWN MAN
My name is Joshua Scrivener. I’m eighteen, and I clerk full time every summer in my father’s grocery store.
To some people that was all there was to me. Those three things constituted me. My papa probably looked upon me more as a grocery clerk than as a son. But I was more. Lot’s more. I was human with human feelings and I had thoughts about things besides lettuce and ham and olives and… Well, you get the idea
My problem—my emancipation you could say—started the day Toby Wolfson strode into Scrivener’s Groceries. He took my breath away and sparked thoughts about things you never give voice to in this little bible belt town of Wadlow, Oklahoma. I tried not to gawk, but there was no way to avoid noticing his broad shoulders and heavy chest struggling to break through the thin shirt that covered them. Or the way he tapered to a narrow waist. But it was the face that made me blush and stumble over my words. Dark and hawkish, it proudly proclaimed his Choctaw blood. I instantly lusted to see him—Lord forgive me—naked. Stark naked.
The bemused smile on his broad mouth let me know he knew he flustered me. Did he understand why? I blushed at the thought. Toby paid for a couple of bales of hay, and said his pickup was already at the storeroom delivery dock. He accompanied me back and helped pile the two heavy bundles into the bed of his truck.
He thanked me before introducing himself and offering to shake. He held my sweaty hand in his for a long moment after we exchanged names. His onyx eyes locked onto mine.
“How about a beer sometime?”
I swallowed so hard that I gulped. “I-I don’t drink.”
“That’s okay. Don’t think we need alcohol for what’s between us. I drink strawberry. Bet you drink Coke.”
He grinned, making me weaker in the knees. “Same thing. See you soon.”
With that, he dropped into the back of the pickup and vaulted over the side with such manly grace that I almost gasped aloud. Moments later, he drove down the alley and turned left onto Main Street.
I closed my eyes to capture the imprint of his handsome, laughing face on the back of my lids. What did he mean what was between us?
My dad’s heavy voice startled me. “Joshua, what you doing standing around back here. The canned bean section needs restocking.”
“Yes, papa. I just helped—”
“Yeah, yeah. I saw. Come on, get moving.”
As I rushed to grab a case of lima beans, I wondered if I’d ever see Toby again? Oh, Lord? Did I say that aloud?
In fact, I saw him that very night down at the Arrow Theater a couple of blocks from our store. Me’n my next-door neighbor Charlie were seated on the aisle near the back of the auditorium when Toby and a pretty, dark-haired girl took seats a few rows ahead of us. So Toby dated girls, did he? Course, he did. Just like the rest of the male world. My stomach fell away when she settled against his shoulder. That coulda been me. The lights dimmed, and the film started, but my eyes were glued to two dark heads nestled against one another. I ached by the time the lights came up. Literally ached.
A week later, my idol walked through the doors to Scrivener’s Grocery. Fighting a case of Toby-induced vertigo, I managed to understand he needed hay again. I took his money, and we walked back to the storeroom where he helped me load his bales. Then he transfixed me with those startling eyes.
“How’d you enjoy the movie the other night?” he asked.
“Okay. Saw you… and your girl. She’s pretty.”
“Thanks. She’s okay, but we’re not that tight. Let’s just say she likes me more’n I like her.” His slow grin made me back against the wall of the stockroom in order to remain upright. “He moved in front of me, invading my space, but I didn’t mind even though it made my mouth go dry. “You and the dude you were with are bud-buds?”
“I-I don’t know what that is.”
Toby laid a hand on my shoulder. “I can show you, if you want me to.”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
He leaned into me and put his lips to mine. I think I groaned. He opened his mouth and invaded mine with his tongue. I about slid to the floor. He pulled his head away, still pinning me with his body.
“Does that help you make up your mind?”
He cut me off with another kiss. I closed my eyes and felt my soul stirring. Birds twittered, or maybe it was a ringing in my ears. I know I moaned this time.
He reeled backward, his eyes wide. It took a moment to realize papa had him by the neck with one hand and by the belt with the other. In a second, Toby flew through the open dock door into the back of his pickup.
I got to the door in time to see him scramble to his feet and start for the dock.
“Toby!” I shouted. “Don’t. Please.”
His smoldering look softened as his gaze shifted to me. Unclenching his fists, he hopped out of the pickup bed and jerked open the door.
“And don’t come back,” my father yelled at the retreating truck before turning on me. “You… you’re disgusting. What was you letting that fellow do to you? What comes next? He screw you on the hay bales? Pervert!”
He turned and stomped back into the store. My face burning, my innards strangely hollowed out, I tore off the green apron I always wore and stalked out the door.
The moment I bailed out of my old Chevy in our driveway and entered the house, I knew Papa had called and ratted me out. Mama stood in the kitchen, baking flour dusting her hands as she looked at me through haunted eyes. “Oh, son,” was all she said. It was enough. I packed my bag, hugged her, and drove away without saying a word.
Can you feel Joshua's pain and uncertainty a fear as he drives away from the home he's known for eighteen years? Let's see how he recovers in the next segment.
Please take a look at my novels, Cut Hand and Johnny Two-Guns. Amazon permits you to read a short passage from the books.
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Website and blog: markwildyr.com
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Until next time.
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