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Authors: TJ Klune

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BOOK: Tell Me It's Real
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My boss looked confused.

Sandy continued to sound like he was dying.

“Fuck,” I whispered.

Chapter 4

I Am Going To Freddie Prinze Junior You So Hard

 

 


G
OD
hates me,” I groaned to Sandy at lunch later that day. We sat at some restaurant that was supposed to be a hip and trendy vegetarian place. So, of course, all I could think about was how hilarious it would be if I went next door to Burger King and got the biggest bacon cheeseburger they had and ate it in the vegetarian restaurant in front of all the hip and trendy vegetarians. I suck like that sometimes. “It’s like he got bored and thought, ‘Hmmmm. I don’t want to mess with Africa today, and I don’t want to send Hurricane Ebonica to wipe out Florida, so I’ll just fuck with Paul.’”

“Hurricane Ebonica?” Sandy asked, his lips twitching.

“I thought the hurricane could use a bit more ethnicity,” I muttered. “They always sound so white. It’s not fair to other races. You always hear about hurricanes called Carl or Diane, but you never hear of Hurricane Rodrigo Sanchez or Ji-Ting Kao.”

“Only you would fight for the civil rights of hurricanes,” Sandy said, smiling sweetly at me.

“Someone has to,” I insisted, wondering just how we’d gotten to this point in the conversation, but realizing it was probably my fault.

“Let’s focus on Hurricane Paul for a second,” he said.

I looked at him, horrified. “Are you saying I should suck
and
blow him?”

Sandy looked startled for a moment. “Paul Auster,” he said, chuckling. “Just when I think I know you completely, you can still say shit that surprises me.”

This pleased me for some reason, but I ignored it. Instead, I frowned.

He reached over to pat my hand before diving back into his salad. I looked down at my own. I guarantee you there has never been a single person in the world who ate a salad and said, “Gee, I am so full now. Thank God I just had
that
.” It’s just not possible. My body needed bacon to live.

“Next time we come here, I’m bringing my own Bacon Bits,” I threatened Sandy. “You may have your girlish figure to maintain, but I’m a man. I need steak.”

He snorted into his radicchio, which I admired because it was a pretty purple. The radicchio was purple, not his snort. Just in case you got confused there. I don’t think it’s possible for people to snort colors. We’re not unicorns, after all. “You’re all man,” he agreed. “So, I had to go to a meeting. What happened with your boyfriend?”

I blushed and mumbled threats at his person.

“What was that?” he asked. “Couldn’t quite hear you.”

“I said I’m going to cut you.”

“Ah. That’s what I thought you said. So what happened?”

“God hates me,” I said again. And he did. I don’t know what I ever did to God (maybe the Christian Reich was correct and God
did
hate homosexuals; that could be the only possible explanation as to why he was torturing me so).

I couldn’t tell Sandy what had happened when Vince arrived because I didn’t
know
. Everything from the moment I saw him until the moment Sandy snapped his fingers in front of my face, asking me to go to lunch, was a haze. A deep, murky haze, punctuated with little flashes of light, like the moment Vince sat down next to me and extended his hand to shake mine, his grip calloused and warm. This was followed by words he said to me with a grin: “Quite a small world.” Then, everything went dark for a bit until there was another flash of light when he leaned forward and said in a low voice, “Not a whiskey drinker, eh?” The haze descended again until my phone rang and I picked it up, hyperaware of just
how close
he was sitting next to me, his knee
accidentally
brushing against mine. I don’t remember the phone call in the slightest, and I don’t know if I told the person on the other end that I’d give them a million dollars to go fuck themselves or not. I heard Vince chuckling next to me, and I didn’t know what was so damn funny, but it didn’t
matter
, because his laugh was a low, throaty thing that sort of rumbled out of him as if it’d crawled from the depths of his stomach.

After that, it was white, white bliss until Sandy started trying to get my attention. I didn’t even remember Vince leaving or where he went.

“Oh, Lord,” Sandy said when I admitted this all to him. “You’ve got it
bad
.”

“I do not,” I said defensively. “Got what?”

“You’re crushing on him.”


What
? I am not!”

“You so are.”

“You shut your mouth, you bitter queen.”

“You
loooooove
him.”

I scowled at Sandy. “What are we, twelve? You act like I want to get his picture and put it on my Trapper Keeper.”

Sandy squealed. “And then you could write all over it with things like Mrs. Paul Taylor over and over again like you did with Zack Morris from
Saved By The Bell
when we were in the sixth grade.”

“Oh, Zack,” I sighed. “You were too good for Kelly Kapowski. She was a stupid bitch and I hated her face and her bangs and the fact that she was alive.”

“I really thought it was going to work out between the two of you,” Sandy mused. “You sent him all those fan letters and everything.”

“And he never wrote me back,” I said sadly. “Then they had to do the college-years series and ruin everything about
Saved By The Bell
that made it wonderful. It was like watching someone you know and love get hooked on heroin and you can’t stop them.”

We gave a moment of silence for
Saved By The Bell
. Rest in peace, Zack Morris.

“Anyway,” Sandy said as I bit into a crouton. “You love him, and he obviously wants to bone you, so why not go for it.”

“He does not,” I grumbled with another blush. And then said, almost as an afterthought, “And I don’t love him. I don’t even know him.”

He looked at me knowingly, but didn’t call me out on it. “Well, you know what they say. When life hands you lemons—”

“You’ll slice them to make lemonade, only to find you have miniscule little cuts on your hands and it causes it to sting really bad,” I finished for him. “Oh, and lemon juice squirts in your eye and blinds you for like twenty minutes.”

“You’re like that donkey from Winnie the Pooh,” he told me. “On crack.”

“I’m a manic-depressive, drug-addicted donkey?” I asked, incredulous.

“If the tail fits,” he snapped at me.

“Reality would be if Eeyore was on Paxil. No one could be depressed as much as he is for that long without needing antidepressants. Winnie the Pooh and Piglet probably staged an intervention at their house at one point.”

“They didn’t live together,” Sandy said.

“Of course they did. They were life partners.”

“Pooh was porking Piglet?”

“Brings new meaning to the sentence ‘I ate ham for breakfast.’”

“I bet there’s like an Easter egg on one of the DVDs,” Sandy said, taking a drink of his tea. “A deleted scene that shows Eeyore jerking off to a photo of Pooh fucking Piglet while hanging himself with his tail in the closet.”

We laughed quietly, horrified with ourselves for thinking such things.

And, of course, that was when it happened.

God. Hates. Me.

“What’s so funny?” Vince asked as he appeared out of nowhere like some evil, dark, hot wizard. He had a grin on his face as he stood next to the table, looking so freaking awesome in his suspenders and tie. I wanted to snap one against his skin just to hear the sound it made, but somehow I refrained from doing so, only because I was still laughing at the thought of a beloved childhood character committing suicide when he spoke, and tried to distract myself by shoving more salad in my face at the same time. So, naturally, instead of being way cool and snapping his suspenders while letting him in on the joke and winking at him until he became putty in my hands, I inhaled sharply and a piece of raw spinach was sucked into my black hole of a mouth and lodged itself in my throat.

And I started to choke.

At first, it wasn’t so bad. I thought I could still breathe around it and I made a noise that made me sound like an Ewok: “Urka. Urk. Urk.” Sandy was looking up at Vince, staring at his mouth as if all the world’s secrets lay there. I felt an outrageous flash of jealousy rip through me, but it was waylaid as my Ewok noises turned into full-fledged attempts to gasp in air, however futile they were. I became annoyed that I was dying and my best friend hadn’t even noticed because he was making goo-goo eyes at the man who had a knack for showing up at the worst possible times.

I kicked Sandy under the table, who flashed an annoyed glance at me, as if
I
was the evil one here. But then, it must have sunk into his tiny little brain when he saw my skin color doing an impression of a Smurf orgy (blue everywhere, like Papa Smurf had just smurfed all over the other Smurfs). He started screeching that he didn’t know CPR and wouldn’t
someone just save his best friend in the world
?

I couldn’t be bothered with trying to remind him that I needed the Heimlich maneuver, not CPR, because I was choking, not drowning. But his high-pitched damsel-in-distress wails brought attention to us from everyone in the damn restaurant, and I wanted to kick him in the nuts, but realized he’d taped them up enough that even that probably couldn’t hurt him anymore. Even as I choked, I glared at everyone who worked in the restaurant, making sure that they knew that this was
their
fault for having a vegetarian place when we, as humans, were so obviously made to eat meat. I told myself if I died here, I would haunt this place and make it look like pork chops were raining down from the ceiling. I would be such an awesome ghost.

And then I felt everything go dark and my breath stopped and my heart thudded lightly in my chest. I saw a white light and went into it. My body died, but I ascended into heaven, where a group of shirtless and way-hot angels waited for me and wanted nothing more than to cater to my every whim. My favorite was an angel named Esteban Ortega who whispered dirty words in Spanish in my ear and who I called “
Papi.
” I was happy, happy at last, and that’s where I stayed for all eternity, with a Latin angel and my ginormous penis. And a halo. And wings. And I also could make unlimited wishes.

The end.

Okay, I’m just fucking with you. I didn’t die. That’d been a bummer way to end the story, don’t you think? Gay people get happy endings too, Hollywood!

I was aware of my back getting pulled into a strong body, big arms wrapping around my waist.
Oh,
I thought, even as I choked.
This is nice.
Then it stopped being nice when the hands attached to the big arms joined at my midsection and jerked into my stomach, pushing in and up. I could feel my eyes bulge out of my head, and warm lips near my ear saying, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” and then the hands thrust into me again. The action caused the remaining air in my body to expel out. The spinach that tried to kill me ejected from my mouth…

… and landed with a splat on the cheek of my best friend who was demanding that I be saved.

A hush fell over the room.

Sandy’s cheek twitched. The spinach slid slightly down his face.

Arms around my waist. Heat against my back. Breath against my ear.

My heart rapid in my chest. Salad stuck in my teeth.

Then Sandy started screaming, clawing at his face to get what had ejected from my mouth off him. He didn’t have a hard-core aversion to germs or anything like that, but I figured something that had once lodged in a throat and was now stuck to his face deserved a bit of hysterics. Hell, I’d have been shrieking had it been me, but since it wasn’t, I was just staring at him like he was overreacting. “Really,” I sniffed as he rubbed his cheek furiously with a napkin. “We’re in public, Sandy.”

He glared at me.

The people in the restaurant started going back to their own meals, the lunch theater starring the homosexuals now over.

“You okay?” our waitress asked. “Your color is coming back. Do I need to call for paramedics?”

I shook my head, feeling my face turn even redder. “I’m okay. Sorry for causing a scene. I will learn to chew my food before I come back here.”
Not that I’m coming back to your vegetarian place of death ever again, you purveyor of killer spinach!

She smiled. “You’re lucky this gentleman was here and acted as he did. He doesn’t seem to want to let go of you now.” She winked and walked away.

And then.

Oh, boy.

And then
.
And
then
I realized who she was talking about, who I was still lying against, who still had his arms around me, rubbing one of his hands in a small circle on my stomach like he was trying to soothe me. And
then
I leaned back without any forethought and felt that broad chest against my back. A chuckle rose near my ear and my skin felt alight with little shocks of electricity.

And then I remembered
who
was behind me and who
I
was and stepped away quickly, keeping my head and eyes down, looking everywhere but at him. I heard him sigh quietly, sounding exasperated, but I thought I’d heard it wrong. After all, there were so many ways to interpret a sigh. He might have been sighing in relief, happy that he no longer had to have me pressed up against him like that. The jerk.

“Sorry,” I mumbled to Sandy. “I didn’t mean to project my throat spinach on your face.”

“You better not have,” he snapped at me, a little bit of Helena in his eyes. He dipped his napkin into my cup of water before dabbing it roughly across his cheek. “I wouldn’t be able to continue this decades-long friendship any further had you done it on purpose.”

I knew he was joking—kind of—but I was still mortified. “Sorry,” I mumbled.

“It was an accident,” Vince said, coming up behind me. He sounded almost angry, and Sandy and I both jerked our heads up at him. He squeezed my shoulder but didn’t look down at me. “You don’t need to be such a jerk,” he told Sandy coldly.

BOOK: Tell Me It's Real
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