Wednesday, August 29, 2012

EXCERPT: Galley Proof

To celebrate today's release of the Italian language version of Galley Proof - Solo una bozza (HERE- here be an excerpt from that very work. An online chat between the two leads, the writer Logan and his editor Brock, on everything from writing Logan's new ancient-themed galley ship romance to which superhero would be best in bed:

Brockkimble: Are you there?
LoganBrand: Yes. I’m on. What’s up?
Brockkimble: We need to make your book more gay.
LoganBrand: Huh?
Brockkimble: Yeah. You heard me. We need to gay it up. It’s early yet, so we have plenty o’ time to fix it.
LoganBrand: Fix what?
Brockkimble: Some of these notes and ideas you sent me… they’re all well and good if you were going to write a buddy film. But this ain’t Butch and Sundance. These guys are supposed to be in love, not BFFs. Take something you know about modern gay culture and transport it to then.
LoganBrand: I’ll be honest, I’m not terribly familiar with what gay culture offers. I’ve not really done a lot.
Brockkimble: For instance?
LoganBrand: I’ve never been to a drag show.
Brockkimble: EVER?!
LoganBrand: Don’t yell at me! Yes. Ever.
Brockkimble: What about dancing? Do you go out dancing?
LoganBrand: Absolutely not. Why would I do that?
Brockkimble: You are a gay, right?
LoganBrand: Not every gay man embraces all the clichés. There are plenty of us who are perfectly content to stay at home on Saturday nights.
Brockkimble: That’s a lie!
LoganBrand: It’s true.
Brockkimble: I won’t believe it! I can’t!
LoganBrand: I’m rolling my eyes at you now.
Brockkimble: The next thing you’ll tell me is that you don’t own any Diana Ross CDs!
LoganBrand: Please! If I have to hear “I’m Coming Out” one more time I’m going back in. I prefer Dylan over Diana.
Brockkimble: Downer, party of one. Your table is ready.
LoganBrand: LOL! Fuck off. So, I need to “gay things up,” whatever that means. Fine. Is there anything else, O Mighty Editor?
Brockkimble: Fisting.
LoganBrand: Excuse me?!
Brockkimble: Fisting. Have you ever tried it?
LoganBrand: Hell, no! And why?! And have YOU?!
Brockkimble: I attempted it… once. I chickened out at the last minute. It’s on my “to do” list.
LoganBrand: You are absolutely insane! There aren’t enough drugs in the world to make me want to be someone’s hand puppet!
Brockkimble: Calm down, Sphincter Sally! I wasn’t asking if you wanted to do it. I was just thinking that is the kind of rough sex play that might be appropriate for the prisoners on your galley ship.
LoganBrand: Lots of fisting in ancient times, was there? That’s a bit intense.
Brockkimble: Have you not seen Caligula? My point is, you need to dirty it up.
LoganBrand: Gay it up and dirty it up. So, the reading public is now filled with filthy perverts?
Brockkimble: You got it. So shock me, hooker. Make me think the worst of you.
LoganBrand: I don’t want to do that!
Brockkimble: Ah, jeez! I don’t even know who you are anymore!
LoganBrand: What?
Brockkimble: Nothing. Just a line from a movie. Quick question. Whose ass would you fuck first: Superman’s or Batman’s?
LoganBrand: Do you have some form of Tourette’s where you ask completely inappropriate questions?
Brockkimble: I’d fuck Batman. Superman has all those superpowers. It’s only logical that he’d have an impenetrable bunghole. I don’t want to break the key trying to get it into the lock, if you get my meaning.
LoganBrand: And who knows if you’d ever get your wang back if you did manage to stick it in there, right?
Brockkimble: Now you’re getting it!
LoganBrand: Have I any other choice?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Arvin in Italian

The Italian language version of Galley Proof - Solo una bozza - is out today!(HERE)  As of today I am officially international.!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I'm Melting!

For six weeks a couple years ago I participated in an experiment and/or gift on (or to) myself. The impetus of this came from me wanting to better myself, both physically and emotionally. When I got sick – struck down by a genetic disorder - I was in my prime. I looked amazing. (That’s not conceit; I really looked great.) For a gay man in my shoes – small conservative town, not being truly talented at too much aside from bodybuilding, not particularly well-off, etc., etc., – looks are very important. But then, aesthetics are very important to a lot of folk. I prided myself on my chest and arms and the ability I had to sculpt my body into what I wanted it to look like. My body – for better or worse – became my identity. It’s how I saw myself. I should have known there would be issues down the road, but when you’re that young, who’s thinking of the future?

After my illness, my body faded from its former glory. I’ve been able to keep it respectable looking since, but I will never again have 20 inch arms (though my chest – in scientific terms, my BOOBAYS! – is still doing very well). All my life I’ve had problems, as do a lot of men, with my midsection. I have never had the washboard abs of our lovely Olympic swimmers. It’s just not in my genetics. But I always tried to keep trim and cut so that I would look good in the tight sweaters I insisted on buying. Unfortunately, my illness now limits what I can do, so a lot of cardio is out. And my wrist has been weakened to the point that I only do pulley exercises – no free weights. This has led to a bit of the dread love handles, not too noticeable, but to me they’re ever-present. My body dismorphia won’t let me shrug them off. For a while now, I’ve been trying to figure a way to rid myself of those treacherous things, exercising my buns off and saving liposuction as a last resort. Then I came across Ultimate Lipo at 
Splendid Spa in Louisville, Kentucky. I figured, what the hell. If it will make me feel better about myself, go for it, right? As a gift to celebrate the anniversary of my brain surgery (August 26), I got a package of six visits to the spa.

The idea that you’re going to have the fat melted inside your body like butter is a bit disconcerting at first, but it’s a pretty unremarkable experience. The office is lovely and smells gorgeous. The staff is nothing if not friendly and quite chatty. Any anxiety I had about the procedure disappeared within five minutes. Basically you are asked to lay on your stomach while a technician rubs a cold jelly on the area that’s annoying you and causing the issues with your sexy. When that’s done you’re zapped with a device that looks like it had a past life massaging hearts back to life. This zappy-massagey thing is applied a good 20 minutes to each lovely set of love handles. There is no pain. My only issue was, I’m not a huge fan of masseuses or people I don’t know touching me in any intimate manner.

As far as results, I honestly didn’t expect much. Things that seem too good to be true usually are. But to my surprise it really worked! I lost four inches from my tummy section and two inches from my sides. Were my abs showing through like some Abercrombie model? No. But they never have and never will. Still, I felt kinda pretty again. I’m a pretty girl, momma!

Oh, if I had had a mountaintop I would have gone and twirled about on it tout de suite!…Of course, somebody would have had to help me twirl, otherwise it would have turned into a vertigo-induced disaster: Eric twirling – Eric tripping – Eric tumbling down mountain – Eric laid up in hospital and gaining all that fat right back – Eric cursing God and vowing his revenge.

Eric has a peculiar imagination.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

EXCERPT: "Electronic Love, Australia"

This is one of the Cat/Gael stories from my antho Slight Details & Random Events(available via Dreamspinner HERE). These tales are loosely based on my own life. Here, Gael is studying abroad and converses via email with his boyfriend, Cat, who is still in the States.

Electronic Love, Australia
Eric Arvin

Hey Baby!
From our conversation on the phone after the flight I could tell you were still edgy about my being here. All I can say is that it’s only a year program. I’ll be back soon, and with a masters degree. (I think you’re just pissed that your degree is going to take twice as long. Just kidding.) Please don’t get all sentimental on me like you did when I left ever again. Evan helped me through the first hours of missing you... well, Evan and Starbucks. I’m glad she came with me to Australia. Oh, and about Evan, she thinks you hate her. What’s that about? Please write her and tell her it’s not true. Anyway, better go. Evan and I need to find a hostel while we search for apartments near campus. I’ll e-mail every day. There’s an internet café on every corner here. It’s amazing! You and I both know neither of us can afford phone calls right now. Like I said before I left, though, I promise to call once a week AT LEAST.
Love you and miss you!!

God I miss you! And it’s only been two days since I saw you at the airport! I’m a pussy.... Anyway, no, I won’t write Evan. The fact is I do hate her, the bitch! Just joking (or am I?). I’ll write her as soon as I’m done here. Classes are going okay where I’m at. Cold as fuck, though. I can’t believe it’s summer over there. So weird! I mean, they have Christmas on the beach. Sounds sweet.
I’m glad I got to spend this Christmas with you. Mom really liked you. Thanks again for finding that Willa Cather first edition. She loves it. Valentine’s Day was my favorite, though. You and me in my apartment on the sofa all night. I love that it snowed. GOD, I MISS YOU!
Well, babe, I gotta be getting to class. You’re a day ahead down there, right? So if I want to catch you on Friday night that means I need to call early Friday morning? You’re always ahead of me. Overachiever!
Love you Baby!!

Hiya Dollface!
Been here a week now. It’s so strange. This city is massive! Sydney feels larger than any place I’ve ever been and yet I know Rome has to be larger. Evan and I stick pretty close for fear of getting lost. As I told you in our lil’ weekly phone splurge, the hostel is nice. They say we can stay on as long as we need. Usually there’s like some time limit. A certain length of days and then you’re out, but this is apparently not a busy time for them. Summer is winding down now, after all. The hostel has an internet café located in it, so that makes things easier. Last night Evan and I went to the roof where they have set up a nice picnicking area. We got a couple alcoholic beverages (against the rules, by the way) and watched the planes landing and taking off from the nearby airport. It’s all very pretty, though a bit loud. Tomorrow we’re going to sign up for classes. ( I told you the hostel was right down the road from the University of Sydney, right? In fact our road leads right to the University park.) Afterwards, we’re going to check out some more apartments. I hate having to go through a realtor to find an apartment. I don’t trust them.
Oh! One more thing. I forgot to tell you about this flight attendant on the long flight over. He was checking me out. I mean, really checking me out. I was wearing that black sweater you got me for Christmas. Well, the guy looked more like a rugby player than a flight attendant. He was hot! Anyway, he kept chatting it up with me. He even brought Evan and I a couple of those gift thingy’s from first class. When we were about ready to land, all buckled up, he says to me “You’re very cute”! I didn’t know what to say! I retorted with a clumsy “Thanks.” I just thought I’d pass that on to you. It was amusing.
Who loves you, Baby!
Gael, that’s who!

Are you already forgetting about me?! Keep your pretty gay hands off those rugby-playing flight attendants! You have no idea how jealous I just got reading that. I’ll admit it. I got jealous. I’ve decided that I’m going to come visit you. I have gotta see this place for myself. Don’t know when. I haven’t fixed a date in my head, but it’ll be as soon as I possibly can. I’ll start saving now.
Things here are pretty much the same. It’s still very cold but the weather guy says everything is going to warm up next week. We might even hit a balmy 50 degrees. School is everything I thought it would be. Very, very dull. I’m beginning to think I went into the wrong area of study. Maybe I should just join the army, or (hee hee) the navy like my dad. Mom says ‘hi’. Oh, and do you remember Blake Parcel? Big guy, chubby, really nice but smelled like rotten tomatoes. Well, he sent me the strangest letter today. I’m not sure, but I think he’s telling me he’s gay. Did you ever get a vibe from him while he was my roomie in college? I bet he was trying to look at me naked! Dang homosexual!
Yours truly (who will be calling your ass this weekend to interrogate you on said flight attendant),

Great news darling!
Sorry I haven’t written for a couple of days, but we found an apartment! Actually, we found lots of them but this is the only one the realtor will let us have, and we still had to haggle over the rent. AAARGH! Anyway, it’s a two bedroom second floor apartment in a really nice area. It has a balcony, crown molding, and a security buzzer-upper thing, like on Seinfeld. (Unfortunately, it also comes with what seems to be a very large family of cockroaches. We’re told, though, that Sydney has a cockroach infestation problem. It would be the same anywhere. Yuck.) We are actually located in a suburb of Sydney called Coogee. It was once a resort community. We can see the beach from our balcony. It’s a good spot to sit and check out the surfer boys and sun-tanned studs. There is plenty of eye candy here (though none compare to you, darling :). There’s a nice little café by the beach that Evan thinks should become our morning tradition, and a fitness center right outside our door. It’s all kind of perfect, actually. I can’t wait for you to see it all!
Classes are going okay. It’s so much easier than I thought it would be. I guess going to school at Verona really paid off. How are things going with your classes? Has it gotten a little more interesting? Spring’s just around the corner (for you anyway), just keep that in mind.
We finally got a small cd player so I was able to listen to the CD you made me. I love it!
I miss you! I miss that purty mouth o’ yours. And I miss that ass. I jack off to it every night (wink).
Lata figure-skata!

Sooo happy to hear you like the CD. But then, why wouldn’t you? I have great taste. “Pancho and Lefty” was my favorite song on the CD. Gotta love Townes van Zandt! (Your gal Emmylou does a great cover of that tune, by the way.)
I’m so jealous that you are out on that beach all the time. When I come for a visit I think I’ll be spending most of my time on the sand... well, there and the bedroom (wink wink). But please, I don’t want to hear anymore about the surfers! Enjoy them in silence. As for my own ass which you alluded to, I’m keeping it fit for you. I joined a baseball team. It’s an amateur league here in the city. Nothing big, but it’ll keep me in shape.
Grad school is fucking dull. I hate it! Nothing new to report other than the fact that it’s becoming a little harder. My grades are slipping of late. I’m just not interested in anything they are teaching me. I’m thinking of taking some time off after this term.
Blake and I have been spending some time together. He’s really nervous about the whole gay thing. He’s even more closeted to his friends and family than me. He does look better, though. He doesn’t smell anymore either. He makes me a bit nervous sometimes. I think he might be flirting with me. I don’t know how to let him down easy. I’ve told him about you and me, but he doesn’t seem to care. Don’t worry, though, I’ll keep him at arm’s length..
And get this: Mom is trying to set me up with some girl in her church. The pastor’s daughter!
Anyhoo, gotta git. Talk soon, baby. Love you!
The C-man

Okay. I don’t really know how to ask you this, but my mom is really pressuring me to date the pastor’s daughter. I think she’s getting suspicious. She’s always asking me why I don’t have a girlfriend. What do you say to me fake dating her? Not for real. Just like a show for my mom. Just for a bit.

I get that you’re upset. I tried to call back after you called me but I know you’re pissed off and probably chose not to answer. I’ll try again tonight. We can talk this out. It’s just that Mom is asking all these questions. You had every right, though, to call and scream at me. I’ll talk to you soon, I hope.

Baby! Please answer the phone! Or at least e-mail me again!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! That phone call meant a lot. Finally speaking to me again, huh? It was so great hearing your voice. I realize that breaking that news to you through e-mail was probably not the best way to go. No matter now. I’m going to tell Emily that I’m gay. I did tell you that was the pastor’s daughter’s name, right? Emily. I’m doing this for you, but I have to get Mom off my back somehow. Any suggestions?

I’m glad to hear that Emily took so well to your coming out. I can’t believe, though, that she wasn’t attracted to you. Impossible! Yes, I suppose it would be okay for you to be her show-pony... or she yours. Whichever the occasion calls for. So I guess Rosa is pretty happy then, huh? Her son is “dating” the pastor’s daughter. How long are you going to keep the charade up?
Anyway, been hanging out with some guys from England. They’re all obscenely wealthy and bumming around Australia for a year. They’re a lot of fun. The two I’ve taken a liking to are Ewan and Liam. (How original, right?) All they do is go to the beach and then travel on the weekends. They stay in hostels, but I don’t understand why. They can afford much better accommodations. They play rugby near the beach a lot of the time. Evan and I will go down and watch. They asked if I wanted to play but there’s no freaking way! Those guys kill each other! American football is for out and out wimps now that I’ve seen this game.
Forgive my jealousy and childish behavior over Emily.
Love you!

Blake Parcel killed himself. Heard the news yesterday morning. That’s why I didn’t call. I went and visited with his parents after I heard. Some of the other brothers from the fraternity came to see them as well. I don’t really know how to feel. I knew him, but not extremely well. I lived with him, but we didn’t share too much. In the last couple of weeks we hung out and everything seemed great. He was even talking about putting his pic on one of those internet matchmaker sights. Everyone is puzzled as to why he did it, but I think I know. He was going to tell his family he was gay. Maybe they didn’t react the way he had dreamed they would. Baby, this scares me. What would happen if I told Mom? I’m going to call you tonight.

How was the funeral? Stupid question, I know. Are you feeling any less uneasy? I wish I could be there for you. I’ll call later.
Love you,

Thanks for the pix you attached to you last e-mail! Damn you look good. Down Under agrees with you. I’m in a better mood now. Blake’s death just put me in a deep funk. It’s been over a week now, though, and I think I’m getting back to normal. Went down to visit Verona, our alma mater, last weekend. Walked to he Point and sat and stared at the river. It did me good. The weather’s nicer now. Just sitting there I felt refreshed. You know that Joni Mitchell song where she sings “I wish I had a river that I could skate away on”? It kept running through my head.
Missing our jogs,

Have I got a story for you!
Evan and I went out partying with the Brits last night. Everyone got sloppy drunk and, after the Redcoats had stumbled off to their hostel, Evan and I too went to bed. Well, in the midst of my drunken slumber I am awakened by a figure in my doorway. (I always leave my bedroom door open.) I was terrified at first, but then realized the thin frame to be Evan. She was taking off her clothes! Not slowly either, but as if they were on fire. She then came over to my bed and mumbled something. I couldn’t understand a word. Aside from that her box was directly in front of my face! That’s right! Her naked-to-the-world VAGINA was staring right at me! It was terrifying... and completely shaven. I didn’t know where else to look. How do you avoid looking at something like that? So then she ran to the door of our apartment and tried to open it, all the while mumbling something that sounded like “I know we know, I know we know.” I watched as she ran to her room, then back to the aforementioned door. This back-and-forth went on for about 20 minutes. I was getting very concerned. When I tried to stop her and ask what was wrong she said (finally something coherent) “It’s in my blood.” What?! What kind of nutcase had I agreed to lease an apartment with? “It’s in my blood.” Was she on drugs? Sleep-walking? She finally succeeded in getting the apartment door open and going out naked into the hall. She was ready to climb down the stairs and go outside but I dragged her nude ass back up. Well, after about an hour she calmed down and laid on the couch. I stayed watch for a bit longer, just in case. I covered her up with blankets and went to sleep. The thing is, she doesn’t remember a thing about it. I’m freaked out. Do you think somebody might have slipped her something? Liam and Ewan were with her most of the night. Either of them maybe?
Anyways, how are you?

Hello Lover!
So Evan thinks her lunacy the other night was a combination of mixing her medication for depression and alcohol? Whatever. It’s still a little funny, though. Tell her to take it easy.
Emily and I are the perfect fake couple. Everyone is none the wiser. Emily’s dad, the pastor, is happy that his daughter is dating such an upstanding, moral boy. Emily needs me for show as much as I need her, it seems. She’s had a boyfriend for a while but has had to keep it secret because her father disapproves. I’m in a big, fat cliche but it’s working for me. Mom is ecstatic. She’s already making wedding plans! She’s come down with something. A cold or flu bug, but not even that can keep her from reveling in the fact that I’m dating the pastor’s daughter.
Emily’s show-pony,

It makes me a little sad to think that neither your mom nor mine would be as ecstatic about planning a wedding for the two of us. Everyone says they want happiness for their children, but it’s selfish really. How will marrying so-and-so make the family look, or will they have children for the relatives to spoil. I don’t like this Emily girl. Not one bit. It should me and you, not you and her. Why can’t people be happy for us?
Classes stink. One in particular, Ancient Roman History, is so full of pompous Eurotrash students that I feel nauseated stepping into the room every day.

Cheer up darlin’. Things will get better. You only spend a few hours a day with your classmates then you get to spend the rest of the day with people you actually like, right? And about the wedding thing, it’s a ridiculous tradition. Weddings always lead to divorce and anger. Ask my mom about that.
My classes are almost ended for the year. I’m still debating on returning next term. We’ll see.
I’m definitely coming to visit next month. I put the plane ticket on the old credit card. I’m so excited to see you again! I’m gonna call tonight.

Hey baby.
I’ve been feeling very ill the last few days. I don’t really know what’s wrong. I don’t have a fever but I have the symptoms of the flu. A few of them anyway. It started after I hit my head the other night. Evan and I had the Redcoats over and Ewan, drunk off his skinny little ass, jumped on me. I lost my balance and my head hit the corner of the wall. There was a bit of blood but everyone assured me it wasn’t serious enough for a doctor or stitches. I guess I should have gone anyway. I have gauze wrapped around my head. I’m sure it’ll start a trend.
After it happened, as I sat there cradling the back of my head, Evan and Liam were making out right in front of me. I was a little pissed off! A little concern might have been nice. I actually thought at the time it was a bit more serious than their drunken minds could fathom. I still do. I might go see a doctor.
I’m through with drinking, Baby. Done.
Is Rosa feeling any better?

Sorry for the frantic phone call. Didn’t mean to wake you, but you had me scared. Are you feeling any better? I can’t believe you didn’t go to the doctor right away! I know I reamed you out about this on the phone, but it was a really stupid thing not to do. Oh, and is it okay for me to hate Evan again?
About the drinking prohibition: I agree. I think it’s a good time to stop. Maybe we’ve been drinking too much as it is. Actually, there’s no ‘maybe’ about it. I’m gonna stop right along with you. Moral support.
In other news, I fake broke up with my fake girlfriend Emily. Mom is devastated but she’ll get over it. I’m tired of having to act all lovey-dopey around people. Emily told her dad about her real boyfriend. That’s what broke up our faux relationship. She got angry with her father and just blurted out that she was cheating on me with another guy. I’d say ‘bless her heart’ if I were religious. She took the fall. She’s the bad guy. All I get is sympathy. She doesn’t really give a shit, though. Her and her man are moving in with each other downtown, and they’re happy. Of course, I have to act upset for a while, but at least it’s over now. I can move on to other girls, you know?
Well, take care. Call me tonight. I want to know how you are doing.

God, I feel awful. I thought I’d feel better by now. In fact, I feel worse. I’m sick to my stomach. I can’t keep any food down. I think that’s due in large part to this acute dizziness, vertigo, whatever it is. I lay down and the room just spins. Sometimes it feels as if my eyes aren’t catching up with my head when I turn. Also, I have this loss of strength. My grip and strength in my wrist seem to be lessening. I’m a sight to see, Boyfriend. I hate going out of the apartment because I just get so disoriented. Like I’m lost in the world, like I’m on the wrong planet. Everything has a dream-like quality. It’s a nightmare! On the bus ride home from campus today I lost my balance and fell over on some chick. The driver took off before I could find a seat. She gave me the dirtiest look. I’m not myself anymore. I am completely changed.
Mom wants me to return home immediately. I know she’s worried sick. I want to see if I can fix this and stay here, though. I really like it here. I have an appointment with a doctor at the Prince of Wales Hospital.
Thanks for the daily calls. They keep me looking forward to things. Mom too. She calls every day as well.
Love, and talk soon.

COME HOME!!! You sounded terrible on the phone. I know you love it there but you have got to think of your health. You can come back and get well, then go to school somewhere here in the States. The fact that your leg seems weaker and your ankle keeps giving out worries me. You would feel better back here in the States with people you knew. Those few you’ve met in Oz can’t be of very much comfort. They don’t know you like we do. Evan will just have to find another roommate. Vomiting every morning is no way to start your day. Besides I need you here to help me fend off my mother. She wants to set me up with another girl.
Please come home. I’m supposed to come down in a couple of weeks, but I might see if I can get on an earlier flight to drag your ass back!
Love you and want you home!

I had a CT scan today. I hate those things. I remember my Dad having to deal with them when he got sick. They’re so loud and uncomfortable. I have another appointment with the doctor to discuss them. Dr. Phelps is his name. Nice enough, I guess. He smiles a lot. It makes it seem things might not be that bad. I know that’s not the case, though. I’m still as ill as ever. Vomitous and gross. I haven’t been able to workout and it’s showing. I sleep a lot and try to keep from falling. I’m missing all my classes. I haven’t the strength to travel to class. It takes 45 minutes from Coogee to the university. I don’t really care about my studies anymore. My profs are e-mailing me their worries. I’m missing too much, they say.
Evan isn’t really that helpful. She’s pulled away. I don’t think she deals well with illness. She had a brother who died while she was in high school. He had some disease and lingered for a few years in a coma before he passed away. I don’t really try to ask too much of her. I know how uncomfortable it makes her.
Anyway, I’ll call and let you know about the results from the scan. Talk soon. Keep writing me. It’s the thing I look forward to most every day.

Don’t you worry about me not writing. I’ll write five times a day if it’ll cheer you up. Evan needs to grow up! I know for certain I hate her now. I’ll be coming to see you in a couple of weeks. Have you given any more thought to returning home? I think it would be for the best.
As for my educational adventures, I too am missing classes. My reasons aren’t as acceptable as yours. Simply put, laziness and boredom are keeping me away from my seat in the lecture halls. Also, I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything. You and your dilemma are always on my mind.
I’ll write you later today and I’ll call. How’s that? Something to look forward to, huh?
Keep well and keep your spirits up,

You get your ass back to class! No excuses for you! I’m kidding, of course. I understand disinterest. From our phone conversation it sounds like you are probably just unsure of direction. Maybe a year or so out of the halls of academia would be just the thing for you. I’m off to see the doctor about scan results. I’m a little scared.

Cavernous hemangiomas. I looked it up on the internet. There’s some sites you might want to look into. I’ll e-mail the addresses to you later. Just because your father died from it that doesn’t mean anything, does it? It’s not always fatal like that, right? God, I wish I knew something to say. I’m so frightened for you. How did your mom react? I couldn’t do anything today. I just sat around my apartment and tried to figure this hemangioma thing out.
I quit school. I can’t do it anymore. I got a job as a manager at a GAP. I start this weekend. What are your plans now? I know the doctor said this would work itself out in time, but do you still plan to stay in Australia? I should have asked that on the phone. Write me back ASAP.

Can you get a refund on your ticket? I’m coming home after all. I’ve already booked a flight. I’ll call you tonight with the details. Mom was so relieved when I told her. She’s even flying out to meet me in L.A. Then we’ll fly back home from there. Evan is helping me pack. She’s started looking for a new roommate. I hate to leave but I know it’s the best thing to do. This morning, before anyone was stirring on the beach, I went and sat on the sand. I enjoy just watching the water lap at the shore. I put some of the sand in a little bottle. One of those tiny ones that hold samples of liquor. I’m taking it home with me. I’ll stick it up my ass if I have to. Part of Coogee Beach is coming back to America with me. I’m not going to the beach again before I leave. That was it. Well, I’m tired and I can only type one-handed now (I have no strength or flexibility in my right hand), so I’ll say goodbye.
Later baby.

I’m so happy you are returning! I know you’re feeling like shit right now, but things will get better. It’s the way life is, right? One day it’s smooth water and the next you’ve hit the rapids. I’ll take care of you. I’ll drive down every day to see you. My mom’s sick again too so maybe the two of you can get together and bitch and moan. (Kidding.)
Your mom called me like you asked her to. I’m meeting up with her in Verona and we’ll fly out meet you in L.A. Everything’s gonna be okay, Baby. Nothing lasts forever. Good things will always trump the difficulties.
Can’t wait to see you!
I love you so much!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Looking Back at the Music of 2011

10. Coldplay, MYLO XYLOTO. Nobody writes anthemic rock like Coldplay, and Chris Martin's melancholy voice treats every note just right. The first half of this album is stronger than the second, but any other artist in today's boring pop music world would be drooling to get their hands on Coldplay's throwaways let alone their merely "good" tracks.

9. A.A. Bondy, BELIEVERS. Atmospheric and dreamy, Bondy's newest sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a David Lynch film. Picture yourself driving down a desolate road at midnight with this CD playing low in the background...

8. Bright Eyes, THE PEOPLE'S KEY. Conor Oberst is one of the greatest, most inventive songwriters of the last decade. Some people don't care for his artistic flourishes, like having this album opened and closed by the words of a spiritual teacher who speaks of aliens, but I love it.

7. City & Colour, LITTLE HELL. The haunting vocals alone are reason enough to purchase this album, but with songs like "The Grand Optimist," where Dallas Green ponders his own worth and ghostly sings "I guess I take after my mother", and it's a must have. This was my major new find of the year.

6. Middle Brother, MIDDLE BROTHER. A fun hillbilly/rock group made up of members from Dawes, Deer Tick, and Delta Spirit. Their song "Middle Brother" has one of my favorite, if inexplicable, lines of the year: "I got a dick so hard that a cat can't scratch." What?

5. Over the Rhine, THE LONG SURRENDER. From Cincinnati, this husband and wife team created one of the most swoony, bluesy records I heard all year. Karin Bergquist's vocals are gorgeous, and when teamed up with Lucinda Williams on the track "Undamned"...lawdy. The most touching song of the CD is "Only God Can Save Us Now," centering on the residents of a nursing home.

4. Frank Turner, ENGLAND KEEP MY BONES. Trust me. Once you hear "I Still Believe," a rowdy song about the power of music, you'll be hooked. Turner does rock n' roll with flair, but he also has the ability to pull some heartstrings with songs like "Redemption."

3. Ryan Adams, ASHES & FIRE. Adams' best work since GOLD, but this is an even more thoughtful affair. Those who keep shrugging him off as a has-been are big stupid-heads. His voice at times can be the equivalent of a steel guitar.

2. Emmylou Harris, HARD BARGAIN. A gut-wrenching set of songs. There is the occasional lovely lighthearted meander (the fun "Big Black Dog", which will make you want to go hug your own dog immediately), but this is for the most part a very sad and beautiful album. With songs ranging in theme from Emmit Till to New Orleans after Katrina to the loss of close friends, how can it not be.

1. Gillian Welch, THE HARROW & THE HARVEST. First of all, how great is that title? Gillian is an amazing one-of-a-kind artist. Her voice is recognizable even to people who aren't familiar with her name. Her songwriting and playing is nearly as spare as it gets, but so damn haunting. That's what made her record TIME (THE REVELATOR) an all-time favorite of mine. Here she mines that same familiar territory of lost souls, but offers them some kind of redemption.

Guilty Indulgence: Eric Arvin Interview

Guilty Indulgence: Eric Arvin Interview: Since I’ve been away from the site for so long, we’re doing a Sunday with Sid this weekend too! Tyra and I reviewed Eric Arvin’s “Wok...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

EXCERPT: Gordy & The Vampire

I have a Gordy story featured in Richard Labonte's anthology, Erotica Exotica. (You can get it through my Amazon widget to the side.) It's called "Gordy & The Vampire," wherein our muscled witless wonder takes on a cum-draining demon. The story, with quite a few tweaks (I said TWEAKS!) and a new title, is being turned into a comic book by Class Comics, to be illustrated by Absolutbleu. Here be a scene from the short story that will not be in the comic book version, though. It really needs no explanation other than to say that Bubbles is the name of Gordy's roommate and fuck buddy. Enjoy!

After about ten minutes of staring at a blank computer screen, Gordy gave up on studying. He needed Bubbles for that anyway. Together, they had half a brain. He decided to get dressed and head over to the gym for the second time that day. It was getting on in the evening. He would wait for Bubbles to finish his workout, and then they could talk about Bram. But as he walked down the hall past open dorm room doors, he was stopped by Boo. Boo was a skinny thing with a lot of determination. There was no way he’d ever get as big as Gordy, or even Bubbles, but darn it if he didn’t try anyway. He was the hardest working lost cause on campus.

“Hey, Gordy!” Boo shouted as he strained and kicked out a pull-up on his door frame. “Can you spot me?”

Well, hell yeah, Gordy could spot him! That’s what Gordy did best. So he put down his backpack and stood directly in front of Boo. Gordy held the tips of his index fingers on each of Boo’s puny biceps. This seemed to help the little guy out quite a bit. There was only one problem: Gordy’s chest was so huge, and he was so very near Boo’s crotch that an accidental titty fuck commenced. Gordy supposed the big smile on Boo’s face was surprise and satisfaction at a job being well done, each rep a victory. But those watching and drooling knew different. Boo’s hard-on grew with each pull-up. Gordy’s chest unintentionally flexed and squeezed his hallmate’s meat. The friction on Boo’s dick was mind-blowing. It was like the most awesome handjob he had ever received. In only three pull-ups he felt the precum surge. How long he could hold it, he wasn’t certain. But damn if he was going to tell Gordy to stop. Each rep was agony. His balls were close to exploding Of course, Gordy felt the thickening dong sprouting in his cleavage, but an erection during a workout was a common thing. All that testosterone flowing through the body makes things come alive.

Boo got caught on “ten.” Or rather, he knew that if he completed the pull-up, he would splooge all over his shorts and maybe all over Gordy. But his spot wasn’t having any wimpery. Not on his watch! He encouraged Boo vocally and when that didn’t seem to work, he helped with a slight push up on Boo’s triceps.

That did it. Boo’s gym short-wrapped dickhead popped out from between the two massive pecs and spewed buckets of jizz. Boo let go of the doorframe and Gordy stepped back in surprise as the Boo Goo gushed out of the thin material and all over Gordy’s face. Boo did not fall to the ground however. Oh, no. Gordy’s massive pecs held tight to the suffocated penis as Boo spasmed high in the air. By this point, the audience of hall watchers were wiping up their own accidents. Gordy eventually realized he needed to relax his chest if he wanted to detach little Boo from his being. Having done so, Boo slid exhausted and happy to the floor.

“Dude!” Gordy said, as he made his way to the bathroom to wash his face. “This always happens. I try to be a nice guy, and I get a face full of goo.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Italians LOVE Me!

The Italian language version of Galley Proof to be released August 28th! I'm international, bitches! My evil plan to take over the world has begun! Bwahahahahaha!!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Radio Interview Coming Soon!

Eric Arvin author of SuburbaNights Thu Nov 8th 9PM EST 11/08 by StonewallLive | Blog Talk Radio

The List: Munsters, Hobbits, & Olympic Sexiness

1. So, the Munsters "re-imagining," 1313 Mockingbird Lane, looks interesting. Aside from darker clothing, the cast doesn't look very monster-like (Herman is no Frankenstein), but I hear they will definitely act like monsters, complete with cannibalistic dining habits. Portia De Rossi looks great as Lily Munster. The comedic aspect of the series is supposedly more Six Feet Under than original Munsters slapstick, and I think that will fit right in with today's cynical climate. The show's creator was also behind Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies (love!).

2. The Olympics have been great, despite a "meh" opening ceremony. Maybe the sexiest games I've ever seen. I love how the divers' bikinis seem to get tinier with every games. And watching Oscar Pistorius was quite inspirational. Other highlights: Danell Leyva...and his butt.

3. Water polo is my new favorite sport. So deliciously grabby! I'm just not certain I'd want to play it. I want to keep my wiener and did I mention how grabby the sport is? Which brings me to a small complaint: more underwater camera action please. How are we supposed to understand a sport if we don't see every...single...angle?

4. Peter Jackson has announced that The Hobbit will indeed be a trilogy. I'm wondering if this means he will incorporate more of the tales from The Silmarillion.

5. I'm bringing me mom with me to the GRL Retreat in October in New Mexico. She's always wanted to go to Albuquerque and this way I don't have to stay in the haunted hotel room by myself. I just need to find a way to explain the cowboy stripper bar to her...and why I WILL NOT take her, no matter how much she begs.

6. Inspired by the Olympics, I have been thinking of starting a comedy set in Ancient Greece in the spirit of my Jasper Lane books. The story would focus on some randy, naughty, naked athletes in the games and a few of their fans. Archaeologists over the years have found graffiti on walls where the athletes prepared before the games that were the "Jonny is a whore" of their day. Cattiness never dies apparently, and I think that would lend itself well to my type of satire. And just think of the fun I could have with names. Oh, those wacky Greeks!

7. At the beginning of the year, as some of you may know, I set a few goals for myself and they have all been accomplished to some extent. I have a new living situation, I got some help for my foot, my epic manuscript was edited, and I have been working very hard on working out and getting my sexy on. So, now I am making three goals for 2013: I want to start a new career as a travel writer; I want to go to England/the British Isles; and I would like to get to Burning Man dressed as Brandon Flowers from The Killers' "Spaceman" video (Thanks, Stacey!). Next year is all about travel. Life is short. See as much of it as you can.

8. Mark your calendars! November 8th I will be interviewed on StonewallLive Blog Radio. I'll give you more info once I have it. I'm gonna be a star, Momma!! A star!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Looking Back at the Music of 2010

Best CD I Bought in 2010 Not Released in 2010:

Joshua James, Build Me This
A muddy, soul-stained voice are at odds with James' angelic features, but it's a beautiful dichotomy.

A few that almost made my Top 10:
I have a strange point system when I do these lists and these three CDs nearly made my Big 10. Laura Marling's fragile and angry I Speak Because I Can; Annie Lennox's transubstantiation of holiday classics on A Christmas Cornucopia; and Sade's smooth and sexy Soldier of Love.

And Now, The Top 10:

10. Kylie Minogue, Aphrodite. I know! I was surprised it made my list too. But it's a damn fun collection of dance music.

9. Brandon Flowers, Flamingo. The Killers front man got a lot of flack for this CD, but I'm among the few who really liked it, and it only grew on me the more I listened to it.

8. Broken Bells, Broken Bells. Everyone's favorite new band earlier in the year.

7. Patty Griffin, Downtown Church. I purchased this without knowing it was covers of old gospel tunes. That would normally have sent up a red flag. But Griffin makes these songs sound mighty secular. In an interview earlier in the year, she admitted to not being a religious person herself and having the same response to gospel music as many of us.

6. Johnny Flynn, Been Listening. Johnny's second full-length CD and the second one to make my Top 10. That voice kills. The {insert big timer songwriter of your choosing} of the nu-folk movement?

5. Frightened Rabbit, The Winter of Mixed Drinks. Some of the best rock from across the pond since U2.

4. Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Age of Miracles. A quiet spiritual experience that steals upon you and draws from history and recent social and worldly upheavals to demonstrate its point.

3. Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs, God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise. There are some songs here that will rip your heart out, even while you're mended by Ray's voice.

2. Various, Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows. A John Prine tribute album that kicks tribute album beeehind, with artists like Josh Ritter, My Morning Jacket, The Avett Brothers, and Justin Townes Earle.

1. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More. Well, it's just amazing. Folkin' Roll. Again, the nu-folk movement shows the rest of the world how it's done. With harmonies that could fill a symphony hall and instrumentation that delves into genius, you should be ashamed of yourself if you don't get this CD. SHAME!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Eric Arvin: Gym Class Hero

I could have been a gym class hero. I could have been quite the athlete if I had had someone pushing me on. Instead, as a wee lad in wee lad school, going to gym class filled me with dread. How I survived school without an ulcer is anyone's guess. Like my will, my stomach must be made of steel.

I was a terribly shy kid. I always felt watched and judged no matter what I did. I knew there was something different about me, dare I say special, that the other kids just didn't get. During gym class I hated the games we were forced to play. They didn't fit with me, just as I didn't fit with my classmates. My grade school gym teacher, a hard man named Mr. King (he reminded me of a Ken doll), always looked at me as if he couldn't quite figure me out. It was a look of condescending curiosity just shy of a tsk-tsk and a shake of the head. And there be the problem. In truth, I think if I had been allowed to make up my own fitrness goals, doing the games and exercises that I liked and showed strength at, I would have excelled. Instead I got dodgeball and softball and blah blah blah. It was all very pedestrian. Mr. King was a crappy teacher. He didn't give much attention to those of us who might have needed it most. He had his little stars and I was not one of them.

I was always very active at home. I ran and biked and played volleyball in the front yard. I was quite athletic when left to my own devices and became a health nut with no help from school. It was at home that I picked up my first dumbbell and got all my sexy on. I had been impressed by the swollen and shocking muscle monsters I saw in the fitness magazines at the local Hooks Drugstore. There was no such encouragement in school. I found that my body took very well to my attempts at working out. When we had a fitness test one day in junior high I shocked my gym teacher - another man, shorter and rounder - and fellow classmates by boasting the most pullups. I had the strongs! This didn't keep me from being teased relentlessly, though. I was just too different, no matter how strong I was. And I was gay. Let's not forget that.

There were bright spots, though. In junior high I had a math teacher, Mr. Eckert. He was a hot number, early 20s. Coached softball. Had a fantastic butt. Wore khakis. Insane shaking when writing on the chalkboard. Anyway, I was still a shy little flower then. I had him first period so I would go directly to his class so as not to be teased by a group of boys who lived to torment me. Mr. Eckert always watched me. One morning, after finding my seat in the empty classroom, I caught him staring at me through the window at the door. He was curious. Yet unlike Mr. King, Mr. Eckert's curiosity had a gentle, almost fatherly quality to it. I have always been atrocious at math. Just awful. But Mr. Eckert was always patient. Later that year we had our final exam and he graded them in class. He marked a solid B on my paper. I gasped. That was the highest grade I had ever been given in his class. He looked up from the paper at his desk and smiled at me, then nodded. Mr. Eckert was my first older man crush. I wanted to solve HIS equation, if you get my meaning.

I never really found a gym teacher in high school or in college that I connected with, though. I don't think they're the type of people who easily connect with artsy folk like me. There always seems to be a wall there. Or it's like we're from two different worlds, staring back at each other with pity and fear. But the thing is, I do get it. In college I was supervisor of the fitness center and was there working out every single day. I grew me a very nice pair of chesticles and a sweet meat rack out back. In my books, when you come across a scene set in a fitness center, it's always based on the Horner Center at Hanover College. Weights and lifting I get. My hand/eye coordination is the issue. And now I think my lack of said coordination may have had its roots in the condition I inherited from my father. Wish I had known that then.

The Olympic Games is the only time I really understand the team spirit of sports, and that is because it focuses on the human will, on the spirit to go on no matter the cost, to compete for some bigger purpose. For betterment. In my school years, if there had been rowing or gymnastics or water polo or rugby - those are sports I could have gotten behind...and gotten BEHIND. Yeah. You heard me. Water polo...drooool... Or bodybuilding. Why isn't bodybuilding an Olympic sport? That should be a given. The whole point of the ancient games was the perfect male form. And  now I've gone off point. Oh well.

No. I'm no gym class hero. I could have been. With the right person behind me. With the right patient person there holding me up and saying 'Try again', I could have been decent. Maybe not an Olympian, but then, why not. I mean, hell, trampoline is an Olympic sport. And speed walking. Speed walking, for Nike's sake!! So, yeah. Maybe I could have been an Olympian. But I'm not. And I blame you, Mr. King.

...Hehe. I kid. I kid.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Looking Back at the Music of 2009

My 10 Favorite CDs of 2009

Favorite CDs from 2009

1. Strange Light, David Berkeley – The voice of autumn ’09 for me. Plaintive and beautiful. Key tracks: Glory, Sweet Auburn, The Only Broken Man

2. Draw the Line, David Grey – This generation’s Nick Drake. Key Tracks: Nemesis, First Chance, Fugitive.

3. Not Far Now, Richard Shindell – One of my favorite vocalists ever, and a powerful storyteller. Key Tracks: Gethsemane Goodbye, State of the Union, Get Up Clara.

4. Middle Cyclone, Neko Case – Loretta Lynn sung through a Lynchian drug haze. Key Tracks: Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth, The Pharaohs, I’m an Animal. (Bonus points for Most Kick-ass Cover)

5. I and Love and You, The Avett Brothers – Sparse melodies and insightful lyrics. This is the one I see rising on my list as the years go by. Key Tracks: I and Love and You, The Perfect Space, Kick Drum Heart.

6. Ocean Eyes, Owl City – Uber infectious electronic pop, and the biggest surprise of the year for me. Key Tracks: Fireflies, Hello Seattle, On the Wing.

7. Give Up the Ghosts, Brandi Carlile – Full-throated and glorious folkin’ greatness. Key Tracks: Looking Out, Caroline, Before it Breaks.

8. Creaturesque, Throw Me the Statue – Funky synth pop with some killer hooks. Key Tracks: Ancestors, Pistols, Dizzy From the Fall.

9. Wait For Me, Moby – Some of the most beautiful, sweeping melodies of the year. Key Tracks: Pale Horses, A Shot in the Back of the Head, Mistake.

10. Noble Beast, Andrew Bird. The most literate CD I’ve purchased in a while. You might need a dictionary. Key Tracks: Tenuousness, Souverian, Fitz and the Dizzyspells.

One To Grow On:

Sunny Side Up, Paolo Nutini – That voice! My God, that voice! Key Tracks: Candy, Growing Up Beside You, Worried Man.

Favorite CD Purchased This Year, Not Released This Year:

Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes – “Beautiful harmonies” doesn’t go far enough. Key Tracks: White Winter Hymnal, Blue Ridge Mountains, Ragged Wood.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

EXCERPT: Deacon Decides

My short from the Dreamspinner antho Mr. Right Now, based on an experience I had on a flight to Australia. It's interesting for me to read over this and see how my writing style has changed. Enjoy! (And if anyone knows the said airline steward featured in this story, please contact me ;-))

Deacon DecidesEric Arvin

Deacon passed the rows of travelers in their identical blue seats with disinterest and something approaching disdain. The mothers and fathers, teenagers and grandparents, businessmen and vacationers of Qantas Air Flight 94 to Australia surrounded him. He had always hated flying, but not for any fear of disaster. No, Deacon simply hated being aloft with a herd of people he really didn't know, especially for hours at a time. His nature was rather reserved, and, for the most part, he was a loner. He had never been a big fan of crowds. But for Australia, for graduate school, he would do it. The adventure waiting for him at the end of the flight was well worth the torture of getting there.
He followed his traveling companion, Carol, to their seats. She was much more at ease. She loved people, adored them actually.
Luckily Deacon's was a window seat. He preferred to focus on the ephemeral qualities of clouds and traveling birds to the stolid presence of his fellow passengers.
It was as he was loading his carry-on into the overhead bin, other travelers pushing past him carelessly, that he caught the interested glance of a flight attendant a few rows down. Deacon noticed first that the broad-shouldered man was helping a little white-haired woman with her things while she was thanked him profusely in a thick, New-England accent. Deacon quickly sized up the man's features: strong jaw; clipped hair; and a deep chest-very attractive. He then promptly collapsed into his window seat, fearing he might have stared too long, though it had only been a few seconds. There was the connection, of course-any gay man would have felt it. It was a kindred attraction, so to speak. The flight attendant's eyes clearly expressed interest; he might as well have winked. Deacon, though, had never acquired any flirtation skills and always doubted his own gaydar. He was somewhat-
"-socially retarded," Carol said as she sat beside him. "Just say something to him. You're both gay." Carol was more attuned to such things. She could spot the one gay man in a crowd of ten as if he was wearing a scarlet letter. That was, in fact, how she had met Deacon.
"I don't know that. You don't know that." He definitely knew it, deep down in his strong, gay core.
"You always do this. You find a guy you think is cute and drool over him, but then never go for it." She started flipping through the in-flight magazine from the seat-pouch in front of her. "It's so irritating, because then you bitch to me about being lonely. And there's no one to blame but yourself, Deacon."
"Why would he be interested?" Deacon asked, already defeated. The plane was filling up and Deacon massaged his ear lobe, a nervous habit.
"Because you're gorgeous, honey. Everybody in school thought so. You were always the only one who couldn't see it."
Gorgeous? No, Deacon would have never applied that word to himself. He thought he could sometimes be nice-looking, but never gorgeous. Gorgeous was something reserved for underwear models and go-go boys in New York and Montreal. He had a nice body from years of exercise, a winning smile, and green eyes, but those were ordinary traits in a world that wanted the extraordinary. It was a world where everyone sought an Adonis, and every Adonis became a Narcissus.
He took off his thin, black-rimmed glasses and rubbed his eyes. It had been a long day. A strand of his dark hair fell into his face and he swept it back. The flight attendant walked by just as Deacon looked back up. Deacon watched him. Not only did he have a well-built upper body, his thighs also looked large and muscular hidden beneath the tight, black slacks. Deacon imagined the man a rugby player (that being the only Australian sport he could think of). The man looked at Deacon and gave him a quick nod, making Deacon quickly look away. The acknowledgment terrified him.
"He looked at you. Right at you!" Carol said a little louder than he would have wished. "Why did you look away?"
"I don't know! It's what I do. My stomach goes into knots and I freak out." He sighed. "I'm going to die alone." He turned back to the window.
"Oh, the dramatics!" she said. "Besides, are you already planning a future with this guy? What do you have going on in that pretty head of yours? He probably just wants a fuck. You can find a boyfriend when we land."
Deacon shook his head and smiled. But the idea of "just a fuck" with the flight attendant was hot. He did have those huge, strong thighs, after all. He felt some fledgling desire begin to stir in him; some new restlessness.
The plane began to taxi down the runway.
In the air, all Deacon could think of were ways to atone for his lack of contact with the man. He chided himself mildly, making promises to do better. The same promises he had made on numerous other similar occasions at fraternity parties, bars, dinners. Nothing ever came of those situations either. He did go to the restroom once, hoping to bump into the flight attendant along the way, but had no such luck. Every time the man did pass by his seat, it was too quick to get a proper nod, though Deacon was caught looking plenty of times. The flight attendant eventually smiled at the attention. It wasn't as overt as a proper smile, but it contained a hint of possibilities. Deacon forced himself to smile in return. It took energy. His heart pounded as the grin stretched across his face. There was a sense of victory with that smile.
After that it was easier, as if they were friends or at least casually acquainted. The flight attendant came by more often, once with a couple of gift bags from business class, handing one to Deacon with inquiring eyes. "Here you go," he said, though there was a wealth of innuendo beneath that harmless statement.
"Oh my God," Carol kidded. "He loves you!" She jabbed him with her elbow.
It was about midway through the flight when Carol left her seat to use the restroom and stretch. There was a line, so it would be a while before she returned. They were gliding through night clouds, darkness the only thing visible from the window. Deacon was paging through one of the various airline magazines selling oddities he was certain he could never possibly need when the flight attendant sat down beside him in Carol's seat.
"My name's Joel," he said in a deep, accented voice. Deacon almost shattered into a million pieces at the suddenness of the situation. He collected himself, though, and shook Joel's outstretched hand. It was strong and firm.
"Deacon," he introduced himself. His heart pounded fiercely and he swallowed hard.
"You headed to Australia for uni?" Joel asked.
"Uh, yeah," Deacon stumbled out. "University of Sydney. Are you from Australia?"
"No. Auckland," Joel replied. "You should hop over there some time. You'd love it. There's a lot to see."
"Do you play rugby," Deacon asked. His conversation skills were usually much better, but they evaporated when faced with someone he found so attractive.
"A little bit," Joel said. "What about you? You're a big guy." He made a flexing motion with his arm. "You work out?"
"Yeah. When I can." In fact, that was a lie. Deacon made sure to work out six days a week, but he didn't want to seem obsessive about it.
"Well," Joel said as he rose. "You're very cute." And there it was. A phrase Deacon had never heard another man ever say to him, certainly not in the States, not in the small town in which he had spent his childhood.
"Th-thanks," was all his stunned self could muster. He was already beating himself up before Joel walked away. He wanted to shout "No! Wait! Come back!" but that would have been desperate and silly. And yet maybe that was what he needed to be. Maybe sheer lunacy was his only hope. But the moment had passed. The awkward conversation, if it could be referred to as such, was over, and there was no getting it back.
He replayed it in his mind like a humiliating reality program, inserting what he should have said here or what might have been better there. And why, for Christ's sake, when Joel complimented his looks, didn't he return the compliment? Anything! Even "Hey man, I think you're hot as balls, too!"
When Carol finally returned from the restroom, she could tell he was distracted. He couldn't bring himself to tell her why. Her criticisms, even in jest, stung.
"It's nothing," he said wanting to scream under the self-rage that was growing stronger by the second.
He kept his eyes on Joel, hoping for another second chance. He couldn't help hoping that the flight attendant would glance his way again. But it didn't happen. Joel didn't pass by as often as before.
"Where's your lover?" Carol asked off-handedly.
"We've split," Deacon joked, trying to keep the desperation from gushing out.
He kept quiet and still in his seat, dozing off occasionally, but he was awakened each time with a fresh sense of self-contempt for the way he handled the situation with Joel. He was all too aware of his true self, the desire and yearning, bruised and battered, of his conscience. He shifted in his seat as if some physical form was fighting its way out of him. Finally, Deacon could take the self-abuse no longer. He looked around nervously, standing up to get a better view of who surrounded him on the plane.
"What's wrong?" Carol asked, waking from her own nap. "What are you doing?"
Deacon didn't respond. His eyes were following a glimpse of tight black slacks and strong shoulders that was disappearing into the restroom.
This was his final chance. Without really thinking, Deacon decided to take it.
"I'll be right back," Deacon told Carol as he made his way to the restroom.
There was no one else in line. Fortunately, everyone was safely in their seats, asleep and still. If there had been others, Deacon might have given up the idea, scared off by a religious-fiend mother or a teddy-bear-hugging little girl.
Deacon's heart felt as if it might explode as he heard the latch click and the lavatory door slide open. Joel stood looking at Deacon, an expression of slight surprise on his face.
"What are you doing?" he asked. His eyes moved over Deacon, making him feel dirty and sordid. It was more enjoyable than Deacon expected.
"Being desperate and silly," he replied as he pushed Joel backward into the lavatory and shut the door behind them.