I seem to be stuck on short fiction, so that’s what we get this week, as well. Hope you enjoy this bit of nonsense.
|Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
Hem and Haw
I’d known Hem forever. That wasn’t his real name, of course. It was Jimmie. But everyone called him Hem. My name’s Karl, but to our world, I was Haw. We earned those monikers honestly from the time we were kids by constantly playing the old “After you, my dear Alphonse” routine. That started years ago and continues today. To wit: yesterday when we decided we needed a treat from the summer heat, we started our usual humdrum.
“You wanna go to the diner or the malt shop?” Hem asked.
“I dunno. You?”
A shrug. “I dunno. Milkshake would be good.”
“Malt shop makes them better.”
“You think so? Diner makes good strawberries.”
“Yeah,” I came back at him, “but I think chocolate shakes are better at the shop.”
“Which one do you want?”
Now it was my time to shrug.
I’m not exactly sure how, but we ended up at the malt shop with chocolate shakes.
The day I noticed how Hem's broad shoulders stretched the polo shirt he wore, the way I thought about him changed. But it wasn’t something I could talk about to him or anybody else. If I opened my mouth about that, he’d give me a black eye and never speak to me again. The black eye, I could take. Never speaking to him again… no way. So I held my tongue and being around him became exquisite torture. The only thing worse was not being around him.
We were equal in age—almost to the same month—but the mirror told me I lagged far behind him in physical development. Life wasn’t fair. First time I reached that conclusion. I guess I lived a sheltered life.
About six months after my epiphany, we were sitting on the floor in my family’s basement game room with a chessboard between us, concentrating on the game. At least he was. I was admiring anew his shoulders and his pecs beneath the thin shirt and the V of his torso. When he shifted position and spread his legs, I couldn’t help it. My eyes went right to the fly of his walking shorts. I swallowed hard and glanced up. His eyes bored into mine. I’d been flat-out caught eyeing his basket.
“I been thinking about it, too,” he said.
My mouth dropped open and my heart rate soared. “A-about what?”
“Come on, man. I saw where you were looking.”
“Was not. I mean, you didn’t. I mean—” Sweat trickled down my sides.
“I’m not blind. You were studying my crotch,” Hem said
“I… I….” I hawed.
“That’s okay. I’ve checked out yours a couple of times.”
“Sure. You interested?”
“Like I said, been thinking about it. You?”
I watched his face as I answered. “Sometimes. I mean… yeah, interested. I guess.”
“Me, too… I guess.”
“What do we do?” I asked.
“Dunno. This is new to me.”
“Me, too. But what do we do now?”
“Hell, I don’t know. You sure you want to do this?
“Yeah… I guess.”
Did Jimmie and Karl… uh, Hem and Haw, ever get together? What do recollections from your own past tell you?
Please take a look at my novels, Cut Hand and Johnny Two-Guns. Amazon permits you to read a short passage from the books. I also believe the STARbooks published River Otter, Echoes of the Flute, and Medicine Hair are still up. I sure would like to get the final book in the Cut Hand Series, Wastelakapi… Beloved, published, but it’ll take some help from readers to get Dreamspinner interested.
My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:
Website and blog: markwildyr.com
The following are buy links for CUT HAND:
And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!
Until next time.
New posts at 6:00 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month.