Contains graphic depictions of gay sex. Continue at your own discretion.
The Funny Thing Is… Fine is always fine until it’s not quite fine anymore.
There was once a time when Saturdays were about fun. Relaxation, booze and the boys. Hiking, camping, shopping, drinking. You name it and it could be done on a Saturday. And then I had kids.
“Coop, listen up,” Devon said in the checklist drill sergeant voice she’d perfected over the past twenty years. She prattled off without missing a single step in getting her makeup done. “Nine o’clock, I need you to take CJ to karate. Then Lizzy needs to go to the cheerleading tryout at the St. Mark’s gymnasium. It starts at noon, but she’s getting together with the other girls to rehearse the routine at ten. If I were you, I’d drop off CJ, come back for Lizzy, pick up Gil and Katie and take them straight to St. Mark’s. By the time you drop them off, CJ will be ready and hungry, so ya’ll can stop somewhere for lunch.”
“I have my lunch meeting with Mason,” I interrupted. It was important I sit down with my editor sooner rather than later to go over the final edits for my second novel. And other stuff.
“I know,” she replied. “I pushed it back for you from one to two so that you could get everything with the kids done and then worry about your meeting with no interruptions.”
With my entire day laid out before me, Devon gave me a kiss that lacked sincerity or passion, buttoned her blazer and headed out for her third dentistry conference in as many weekends.
I sat there looking at what I had to do for the day, wondering why I was awake at 7:30 on a Saturday and longing for the days when Saturdays weren’t a kiss of death.
Instead of going back to sleep, I put on a pair of jogging shoes and did three miles around the neighborhood. My run clocked in at just under 25 minutes and by the time I got back to my coveted home on a coveted corner in Highland Park, Dallas, it was time to wake up the kids and rally.
“CJ, I really don’t want to hear it right now,” I called as my son protested waking up for his Tae Kwon Do showcase. “You’re the one that wanted to switch from Capoeira to Tae Kwon Do. Well guess what, kiddo, Tae Kwon Do showcases on Saturday mornings, so let’s go.”
The clock ticked as I did what I’d come to do every Saturday. I put bagels in the toaster, CJ’s uniform in the dryer to release the wrinkles, and shaved my stubble over whatever sink was nearest. I knew that Lizzy’s friends would meet at our place before going to cheerleading, so I set out a fruit platter and oatmeal they could heat up when they woke. By 8:40 when I was literally dragging my spitting image into the Volvo I’d promised myself I’d never buy, I was already too exhausted for a Saturday.
I accomplished everything I needed to pre-noon like a well oiled machine. I dropped CJ off at the Dojo to do his thing. When I got home, Elizabeth and her best friends were fretting over their routine for the ninth grade cheer squad tryouts. By 10:00, they were at the gym and ready to go, their social status in high school hanging on the balance and dictated by how well formed their hurkies were. I circled back around, caught the last bit of CJ’s showcase and by noon, I was parked at Chik-Fil-A, listening to my son debrief me on how Tae Kwon Do had gone. He would be a red belt soon, he could feel it.
I dropped CJ off back at the house, changed into khakis and a polo and drove to my office on campus to meet with my publicist slash manager slash right hand man, Mason.
“Hey, Spencer,” I said into my hands free headset as I jetted to University Park and silently prayed I’d find street parking by the English building.
“Tell me you’ll be at Kyle’s tonight,” he said without any introduction. “The thought of standing around and listening to hum drum lawyers make me feel like a jack ass for three hours alone doesn’t excite me.”
“I’ll try to make it,” I said. “No promises though.”
“No, no, Cooper,” my best friend and college roommate yelled into the phone. “You promised you would go this time. I don’t give a shit what Devon has you scheduled for. Cancel it and come. We’re playing beer pong and desperately rekindling our youth after the old farts leave. You have to be here.”
“I’ll be there, Spencer,” I said as I pulled into the faculty parking lot. Close enough, I thought. I trekked passed my old stomping ground, excited to be back and on the other side of the desk this time.
“Professor Carpenter,” Mason said with a firm handshake and a lingering smile. I took a second to look around at my office. My oak desk. My leather chair. My art on the wall. My bookshelf stocked with everything from Alexander Dumas to JK Rowling.
“I never thought I’d hear those words,” I said, putting my hands behind my head and stretching out. “How was the drive?”
“It was good,” Mason said. He hated coming in from Fort Worth, but I hated making the trip even more. He was on my payroll, so he’d drive in when I needed him. “This is the scoop, though. We’re way behind on the edits for The List and it makes me nervous that you’re getting all Dolly Parton-ed up for a nine to five before we’re done.”
“I told you I could juggle it all, didn’t I?”
“You said that,” he replied. “But I’m yet to see you follow through. I gave you that stack of edits two weeks ago and there’s no headway on it.”
“That’s because it’s perfect. That bitch at Knowles Publishing is trying to suck all the joy out of the story.”
“The story is about a boy who has sex with other boys for the first time and loves it,” he said. “It’s chock full of joy. The pages are stuck together with joy. Make the edits and do it now.”
“Classes start on Monday, so it’ll be at least another week before I get to it.”
“Do you not like having your name on a best sellers list? It’s been four years since All Cooped Up and your name is quickly being filed under one-hit wonders, buddy. You’re the Hoku of gay literature,” he added.
“I’ll get it done, Mason,” I assured. “Is there anything else?”
“Not at the moment, Professor Carpenter,” he said.
“That has a nice ring to it,” I said with a wicked smirk.
As if on cue, Mason stood and circled my desk. He sat at the edge with his legs spread around mine and smiled down at me. Without any hesitation, I pulled his zipper down, fished out his already hardening cock and stuffed it into my mouth.
The feeling of having his throbbing dick in my mouth was always a welcome one. It didn’t happen often, but when it happened, I relished it. What Mason lacked in solid PR skills, he more than made up for as a dutiful cock piece. On the rare occasion that I craved the touch of another man, it was easy enough to entice him to swing down I-30 and oblige me.
I sucked him deep, tasting his precum almost immediately. I wondered what his wife would think about the side thing we had going. I knew Devon’s stance on the whole thing.
What she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. We’d been through the drill, time and time, again and we decided that instead of me burying that side of myself, I would take care of things discreetly, carefully and tastefully. She knew my attraction to guys going in, and she understood it now; it had worked for us for two solid decades and things were fine.
It didn’t take an overpaid therapist to know that that was the precise problem, however. Fine. My life was fine. My marriage was fine. My career was fine. There was hardly a spark in any aspect of my life. I was just simply fine. And fine is just fine until it isn’t… well, fine anymore.
15 minutes of intense sucking later, I finally got a mouth full of the sweet and sticky I craved from Mason. He zipped up with a smile and went immediately back to rambling about the book. I’d been down this path before, and it was my least favorite part.
“I’ll get the edits done and the editors off your back, Mase,” I said as I ushered him out of the office. “I’ll call you next weekend?”
“I’m out of town with the kids next weekend,” he said, reading my mind. He slipped his wedding ring back on as he walked towards his car as nonchalantly as he put on a pair of sunglasses, and gave me a quick wave off goodbye.
That night, I bribed my kids to stay in and behave with pizza and an instant download movie of their choice, choosing to ignore the fact that it was Rated R and that Devon wouldn’t have approved in a million years. They were in the seventh and ninth grade, for crying out loud. At 13 and 15, I was watching way worse.
“It’s the ball and chain,” Kyle greeted when I arrived at his high rise bachelor pad in Victory Park, overlooking all of Dallas. He was a stone throw away from the Reunion Tower and the wall to wall windows provided a breathtaking view.
“Shut up and get me a drink,” I smiled. I gave him a hug and scanned the room for Spencer. I was there to keep him company and that was my only goal. I had no intention of rubbing shoulders with Dallas’ elite legal sector.
“Is Sebastian coming?” I asked when I finally found Spencer, two drinks in hand and giving eyes to a bartender.
“He said he was, but I’m not sure. Last I heard, he and Britney were in some sort of fight.”
“As usual,” I replied. Kyle showed up with two Texas Teas.
“Thanks,” I said to him. I guzzled half the drink down in a desperate attempt to erase the day. “Okay. 30 second catch up. Let’s start with you, Counselor.”
“Let’s see, since I last saw you guys,” Kyle began. “It’s been work, work and more work.”
“Tell your brother you’re over it,” Spencer said with a slurp of his drink.
“Working for Jason isn’t the problem,” Kyle said. “It’s working with Winston that’s the problem. We’re both going for partner, there’s a ton of baggage there. I mean, the only way to avoid him is to hole up in my office.”
“And bill 300 dollars an hour,” I chimed in. Kyle could have been partner with one word to his brother, the founding partner and CEO of Wriggs and Streck; however, he insisted on doing things the proper way, and that meant competing with his on-again/off-again lover for the one partner slot that year. It was why he’d thrown two schmoosefest cocktail parties in as many weeks and it was why Spencer and I were supposed to be there mingling and talking him up to the influential powers that be.
“Well my life isn’t quite as glamorous, you’ll understand,” Spencer said. “Since I last saw you guys, I’ve been on two first dates and zero second dates making my dating average a solid zero.”
“At least you have buckets and buckets of money to keep you warm at night,” I said with a smile. Spencer was by far the best off of any of us. After graduation, he’d used his trust fund to invest in a couple of alternative energy companies that sky rocketed and made him millions. He wasn’t the kind of guy that sought out to change the world with it, either. He had fun with what he had, and that was enough for him.
“You’re right, that’ll always be a good conciliation prize,” he smiled. They both looked at me.
“My turn. School starts on Monday,” I began. “Which is nerve racking, but kind of exciting.”
“Awe, Professor Carpenter,” Kyle joked.
“And my editor at Knowles is being a pain in the ass with all of the changes she wants to The List.”
“Why does she want changes? It’s a true story,” Spencer said, standing straight. He was protective of our college sexploits freshman year, and wasn’t a fan of me dumbing it down for the mass media. I didn’t explain that I had made her changes up until the 17th chapter, where working from that point on got incredibly difficult.
I shrugged. I could have gone on and on about my lackluster marriage despite the fact that I was a celebrated relationship expert with a column in the Dallas Morning News and a best selling novel about reinvigorating marriage during rough patches. Instead, I stopped there and spared my friends the details.
“Am I late?” Sebastian said behind me, joining the party just in time to steal the spotlight from my sweating brow.
“Just in time,” I said, ready to pass the mic. “We’re doing a 30 second catch up session.”
“Saved by the bell,” Kyle whispered knowingly in my ear. Of the three, he knew me the closest and he knew that things at home were gilded at best. He could tell with one look at my face when I was leaving something out.
“I take it it’s my turn,” Sebastian said. “I made a pitch about carbon retention maximization at Lockheed this week that I’m sure they’re going to take.”
“You lost me at pitch,” Kyle yawned.
“That’s ‘cause we all know you love to catch,” Sebastian joked. “And Brit wants to get pregnant. Again.”
“Is that safe at her age?” Kyle asked quietly in my direction.
“Aw, Baby Bass is going to be a daddy,” Spencer said. I was always surprised that the nickname Sebastian had hated when he and Spencer first started hanging out, had stuck.
“I dunno. She’s been talking to my mom who always regretted only having one kid, so she’s on this kick now to give Mike a sibling,” he finished.
“Mike is two shakes away from getting his driver’s license and leaving the pooch, he could care less about a baby brother,” Kyle said snarkily.
“My thoughts exactly,” Sebastian replied. “If she keeps talking about it, I swear I’m getting my berry tickle snipped; now someone get me a bourbon.”
Sebastian was the child of two affluent north Texas families and his twenty year marriage to Britney Marks was the natural extension of that. Nevermind that they fought like school children and were never on the same page. None of us had thought it would last this long, but there they were the most committed of us all.
And there we were. Friends for 20 years with our share of ups and down and more baggage than a 747 international cargo plane. I always felt like D’Artagnan when I was around the three of them and they were my musketeers.
I got drunker and stayed out later than I had planned. By the time I made it home to my vanilla house and my vanilla life, my phone had died. I peeked around the house and both the kids were asleep. Devon barely stirred when I pulled the covers over. She had another seminar session in cosmetic dentistry the following day and she was out like a light. Being drunk and horny, I decided to see if she’d wake up for a quickie.
“Hey honey,” I said climbing into bed and spooning her from behind.
“Hey, Cooper,” she yawned. “How was your day?”
“Busy,” I said. “How was yours?”
“Exhausting,” she said with another yawn. Her yawning made me tired and any urge I had to copulate before drained out of my body just by being in bed with Sleepy, the sixth dwarf. I kissed her on the forehead, turned around and counted sheep until I fell asleep.
Sunday was a special kind of awful. I spent the day getting the kids ready for their first day of school while simultaneously trying to prepare all of my crap for my first lecture. Technically, I wouldn’t be teaching anything on syllabus day and I had all of my notes laid out for the first half of the term, but I still wanted to go over my intro to LGBT Literature and my Seminar on Creative Writing. SMU was paying for a celebrity professor and I was determined to deliver the goods.
After a full day of clothes shopping with Liz, supply shopping at Target with CJ, laundry, ironing and calling in a favor at St. Mark’s to get CJ moved to the nicer seventh grade teacher, I was more than exhausted and nothing Devon could have griped about from her seminar would have made me pity her.
I made sure the kids were in bed at ten and then I sat around watching TV in my boxers, determined to stay awake until my wife got home so that we could have sex for the first time in three weeks. Instead, I dozed off to the second round of CNN news updates.
I was awoken by my cell phone vibrating next to me. Thinking it had to be Devon calling to say she was on her way home, I answered it without looking at the front screen.
“Hey babe,” I said sleepily.
“I’ve waited a million years to hear you say that to me,” a familiar voice said on the other line. It wasn’t Devon. The voice belonged to a man I’d almost forgotten about. A man I’d filed away a million years before because he’d broken my heart and never looked back. A man who nagged at the back of my brain every day, without fail.
“Chase,” I said into the phone.
I hope you enjoyed the start of the story. As always, comments, reviews and feedback are greatly appreciated.