Ray and Roy
by Mark D. Solay
“You got ev’ry ‘ting, Ray?” Dad called to me from the front seat of his Volvo. He nervously scratched at his bald spot. His Carolina Tar Heels baseball cap, which he presumably wore to conceal his follicular issues, was dangling out the car window in his left hand. He looked more like a cab driver in Kingston than an engineer with a Ph.D.
“Yeah, Dad!” I clunked the trunk lid and hoisted the strap of my large duffel bag over my right shoulder. I gazed around, expecting his thick Jamaican accent to have drawn a few embarrassing stares. Luckily, since my dad insisted on leaving at the butt crack of dawn, no one was around.
I shuffled to the front of the car, praying my occasionally emotionally demonstrative father would not choose that moment to leap out and hug me, or worse yet, cry. God, I was only working three months at a water slide park. I was coming back! To my relief, Dad kept his brain, smiled, and gave me a simple handshake. OK, I admit it. I was hoping for a small display of affection, like maybe a one-armed hug or a pat on the back. Perhaps he was saving that, and hopefully more, for my big Chapel Hill send-off in September. I waved goodbye and walked up the rocky path to the employee lodge, 18 years old and free at last…for a whole summer at my favorite childhood vacation destination!
The employee lodge at Captain Splash was a simple, rustic building, like you’d find at a summer camp - basically two old wooden cabins linked together by a concrete block structure in the middle. It seemed to belong there, tucked away neatly in the pines. As I strolled along the picturesque walkway, inhaling all that fresh mountain air, a cardboard sign directed me to the summer employee check-in area. I opened the screen door labeled “lounge” and scanned the deserted roomful of mismatched old couches and chairs. I dropped my bag and checked around. Where was everybody?
Out of nowhere I heard the scratchy sound of flip flips dragging on concrete. “Hello?” I called. A surprised blonde girl’s face popped out from around the corner. “Oh, hey! How’s it goin’? Here to check in?”
No, it’s UPS! Dumb bitch. I didn’t really say that, of course. I smiled graciously and said hello. “Hi, I’m Remi Higgins. I go by Ray.” She scampered over to a flimsy folding table and grabbed an overstuffed three-ring binder. “Shit!” she screamed as half the binder nearly scattered across the floor. After that near disaster, another one actually happened – she replaced the binder on the folding table, only for the whole thing to capsize. I hope everyone at this place isn’t a complete imbecile, I grumbled to myself.
Let me be clear. I’m not trying to paint this lovely girl as some stupid blond chick. I just have a thing about really disorganized people. Alright, I’ve been called an outright snob more than a few times, and I’m trying really hard to work on that - being laid-back and friendly, I mean. ‘Snobby me’ took a deep breath and helped the girl with the table and its contents. “Thanks so much, Ray!” She actually remembered my name; maybe her brain’s just an organized mess like my dad’s. Suddenly, I had more respect for her…crap, what was her name?
Since I’m notoriously bad with names, I felt bad when I couldn’t remember hers. What a shame that was, because her infectious cheer was growing on me. “Oh my gawd, I swear that has never happened to me before,” she giggled. “And forgive me, I forgot to introduce myself!” I thanked God for the reprieve. “My name is Ginny. Nice to meet you, Ray!” We shook hands and shared our bios – where we’re from, what we like to do, where we’re attending college. Ginny then informed me she was a third year employee, a shift supervisor who also helped manage employee housing – like an R.A. in college.
The more Ginny talked, the more I realized how wrong my initial appraisal of her was. Like me, she was a Pre-Med, and, in general, an intelligent person I could actually relate to. She also had the cuteness market cornered, something I thought I, in a “guy” way, could never do. I must confess, her squeaky laugh, rosy cheeks, and that little pony tail that bobbed up and down with every single movement put a smile on my cynical face.
Ginny, clad in a light blue Captain Splash Water Park t-shirt and fashionable low cut jeans, began showing me around the building. “This here is the lounge. Like the door says, duh!” she squeaked. “And through this door,” she grunted as she tugged on a brown metal door with a large window on top, “is where the boys live!” She motioned me through. The Stalinist concrete walls of the lounge transitioned to more serene, wood paneled walls, much in keeping with the cozy exterior. Ginny showed me to a room half-way down the hall.
“Looks like you have your pick, Ray!” referring to the four vacant beds within the two bunk bed arrangement.
“Cool. Sort of like the dorm they showed me at college, just…more people to a room.” I was being exceedingly polite. The idea of even one roommate, like I would have at North Carolina, irritated me, but three? Please!
“Well, Ray, if you’re not a fan of privacy, welcome to Shangri La!” she laughed.
Of course, there was one more privacy “violation” exposed to me on this tour. Next, Ginny walked me back through the lounge and pointed to the bathrooms. I poked my head into the guy’s – typical dormitory set-up. At least there were curtains across the shower stalls. Oh well. I figured while working the water slides I’d end up revealing everything in the park’s changing rooms like a hundred times, so why start with the prima donna modesty crap? I rejoined Ginny and she showed me the laundry room, and then I followed her along a winding trail through the woods leading to the water park.
Now, I had been to Captain Splash with my family every summer since we moved from Durham, NC. From a customer’s point of view, I knew every square inch of the place. As for behind the scenes, that’s where Ginny came in.
First, she took me through the High Tide Café, basically a no-frills, eat off a big plastic tray cafeteria. Ginny blandly explained, “When you eat here, you’ll get a 30% employee discount. If you choose to dine at any of the theme restaurants, like the Thirsty’s Saloon or the Peg Leg Bistro, you’ll only get a 10% discount. And if you prefer, you can have your meals deducted from your paycheck.” She leaned in and whispered, “That’s the official spiel. Drive or carpool to town and hit the grocery store. This place will rob you blind!”
I kept that in mind as we continued walking. Along the way, Ginny introduced me to another “Ray”, a middle-aged maintenance guy, who definitely looked the part with his greasy overalls. He gave me a suspicious look-over as we walked away. I probably set off the “nigger alarm”. Nothing I haven’t dealt with before. We picked up the pace and covered most of the expansive complex, including, as one would expect, the water slides. Ginny introduced me to a few more employees who were busy with opening day preparations. I was pleased that, unlike maintenance guy Ray, they were all very friendly and welcoming towards me.
Finally, we bumped into the big honcho, Mr. Curt Meyer, general manager of the park. Immediately, he struck me as an asshole, like one of the stuffy trustees at my high school, Chesterfield Academy. Mr. Meyer quickly got under my skin when he slapped me on the back and suggested, “You might want to sign up for our pick-up basketball league. I’m sure the guys could use someone like you!” So desperately, I wanted to reply, “Why’s that? Because you think I’m just a stupid black kid who’s good at nothing but sports?” But no…I actually smiled and said ‘thanks’. Ginny pulled me away.
“Ray, I am so sorry. That man is the biggest jackass in the world!” she vented. “Just avoid him like everyone else does.”
“Gotcha!” I chuckled. Ginny motioned me to a non-descript side door on the rear of the teal-painted office building. After shuffling through a ring of keys, she led me through a creepy dungeon - actually, a large, smelly supply room containing an assortment of practically everything, from popcorn, CO2 tanks for soda, and toilet cleanser. We turned a corner and stopped at a dusty row of shelves containing employee attire.
Ginny asked for my sizes and provided me with two polo shirts, two swimsuits, a pair of athletic pants, and a windbreaker. We proceeded to the office, where I signed for the garments and learned, to my dismay, I would actually be charged for the items on my first two paychecks, as if yanking $75 per week for that miserable excuse for housing wasn’t enough? To begin with, I was only going to be making $7.95 an hour, after paying for, without Dad’s help, the goddamn lifeguard certification they required. Yeah, and by the way, I wasn’t even going to be a lifeguard, just an inner tube go-getter ‘slash’ pool cleaner! Fuck that!
Ginny showed me back to the trail leading to the lodge. I continued pissing and moaning to myself, but then I realized everyone else here was getting screwed just as badly. It was not like I was going to quit my new job right away, so I just shrugged it off. Back in my room, I organized my things and stuffed whatever I could into my tiny closet/dresser combo.
Since no one else had arrived yet, I went for a short hike into the woods. The mountains, or actually, large hills north of Grand City remind me of North Carolina. Best of all, unlike so-called “Grand” City and its environs – there’s no fucking corn! Since I only had sandals on, and I didn’t know poison ivy from my ass, I quickly turned it around. When I got back, there were people – some employees, like me, who were accompanied by their parents. Other summer workers arrived on their own. I rushed over to see if I could be of help – again, “don’t be a snob!”
Half-way to the lodge driveway, I froze. Oh my god! Is that who I think it is? Holy shit! “Hey, stranger!” I shouted. He turned around, stunned. “No way! Remi!?”
“John!” I ran up to my old friend and we high fived. “No way, you can’t work here!” I joked.
“Yeah I can, bitch!” In the background, his mom leaned against the car door as John fetched his bag. Finally, she approached me.
“Well, my goodness! Remi!” she gave me a hug. “How’ve you been?”
“Oh, good, good. Things turned out well at the Academy. Got into North Carolina like I wanted.” I turned to John. “So, where are you going this fall? Brown? Princeton? Yale?” I laughed. John displayed the most sour look I had ever seen.
“Uh, well, I was headed for Central State, but…it didn’t feel good to me,” he seemed to be begging for time. “I, um, I’m going to Sandborn,” he finally confessed.
It was very impolite of me, but it was an involuntary response. I mean, John Alberts was by far one of the smartest people I knew. “What? Are you kidding me?” I cruelly laughed my ass off. “Sandborn State? I can understand going to a place as lame as Central, but…” I couldn’t stop laughing, as much as I wanted to.
John didn’t stick around to take any more ribbing from me. He grunted a detached “bye” to his mother, and then stomped down the path to the lodge. “Yeah, fuck you, Rim Job!” he mumbled as he passed me. I knew what that name pertained to, but by this time, after being out for so long, it barely stung. Why would John, of all people, even consider that an insult, I wondered.
I turned around. His mom shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t get it either, Remi. John could’ve gotten into Harvard for all I know, but… We got into a fight on the way here, so his nerves are a bit raw.” Mrs. Alberts sighed and checked her watch. “Listen, Remi, I’ve got to be going. Glad you’re doing well. Good luck!” I said ‘thanks’ and waved goodbye. I found it a bit strange she didn’t say goodbye to her own son. Hoping to patch things up with my old middle school friend, I went back to the lodge.
Not knowing quite what to say to him, I returned first to my room, where I met Matt and Evan, two of my roommates who just arrived. Evan greeted me with an outrageously disgusting, “Welcome to Captain Splooge!” I joked to myself, A cum reference – must be from Central! Both were indeed enrolled at Central State, and from my initial observation, were complete slobs. I gnashed my teeth as we shook hands amidst all their crap strewn about, excuse me, my bedroom! Adding to the chaos, Troy, my third roommate, stormed in, loudly high-fiving Matt and Evan. Troy indiscriminately plopped his bag down, along with a case of Miller Genuine Draft. Right away, his whole hip-hop, “I wanna be black” thing turned me off. I courteously exchanged greetings as I grumbled to myself about the smuggled alcohol.
I exited as quickly as possible, practically begging for the “snob” label. Carefully, I poked my head into John’s room. None of his roommates arrived yet. “John?” I grinned contritely. “I’m really sorry, man. I mean, REALLY!” He sighed and motioned me to come in.
“Congrats on all your success,” he uttered sarcastically while hanging his shirts. John didn’t even bother with eye contact.
“Um, thanks? I think. Hey, can we put this behind us? I want us to be friends.”
John sighed, still avoiding eye contact. “Yeah, look. Things are a bit fucked up right now, alright? I had to go there to avoid some people.” He looked at me, finally, and explained, “Everyone I know is going to Central. I had to find somewhere in a hurry!”
I took a seat on an empty bed. “Who are you hiding from, John?”
He sat next to me. “It’s complicated.” John ran his fingers through his long chestnut bangs. “We’ll have the entire summer to talk about it.” He turned to me and smiled, “I’m glad you’re here!”
Something within me stirred. It was about that thing we had in eighth grade – I can’t minimize it. John was my first kiss, and a little bit more. Though at 18 I considered myself a virgin, in middle school he and I fooled around a little…no more than most eighth graders do, really. As I begged those old feelings to depart, John and I talked about nothing in particular, nothing I can remember, that is. Fair to say, perhaps we were both distracted by each other.
Afterwards, I walked back to my room and felt hungry. Troy was there alone, and I asked him what time the cafeteria Ginny mentioned opened.
“Fuck, dude, you’re outta luck today, man! They don’t open ‘til tomorrow, for orientation an’ shit.” I turned around, resigned to starvation. Sporting an understated grin, Troy came to the rescue. “Hey, uh, I’m goin’ into town for some eats. You’re welcome to come, bro.”
“Cool, ‘bro’!” I chuckled. “Call me Ray!” I charismatically offered.
“Yo-yo, Ray! How you be?” I ignored the pathetic “wanna be” shit and took the ride. After all, what choice did I have? Well, surprisingly, “hangin’ wit tha homie” wasn’t that bad. It turned out Troy had a very “black” upbringing on the north side of Milwaukee. Over half his school, as a matter of fact, was African-American. Funny, I thought, I’m “the black guy”, yet I’m from the affluent suburbs where I enjoyed a typical “white” upbringing.
Aside from skin pigment, Troy gave off a stronger “black” vibe than me. I realized that as we stood in line at Burger King. With his baggy shorts and oversized hoody, I felt like calling him Eminem. Of course, I didn’t dare. Later on, though, I realized he seemed to appreciate inappropriate humor and may have taken my comment well. For instance, in the grocery store he suggested, “Yo, man, they’re all racist bitches up here. Do me a favor, dude. Like walk up an’ down the aisles an’ distract ‘em while I stuff all this shit in my pockets!” I nearly pissed my pants laughing.
On the way back, Troy informed me his preferred name is Roy. “Ray an’ Roy. Bitchin’!” He cranked up some gangsta shit that I, again the token black guy, never even heard. Roy found that amazing.
We got back and I followed Roy to the kitchen. He found a black permanent marker and wrote his name on his perishables. I did the same. He nuked a couple Hot Pockets, and after he finished with the microwave, I tossed in some mac and cheese. Then Roy ran back to the room and fetched us both some sodas. We crashed on the worn out couch in front of the TV. Big surprise, only one station came in – such is life in the boonies! Oh well. We just ate and talked. Speaking of surprises, Roy turned out to be a fun guy to chat with.
“So, Raymond, you from the G.C.?” he blurted between bites.
“Well…West Suburbs, Bloomfield. I’m a rich asshole,” I giggled.
“A rich bitch?” Roy called out. “Damn, brotha. Why the fuck didn’t you buy me nothing?” he laughed.
“Buy your own shit!” I got up and washed off my plate. I saw the admonishment taped above the sink that read, “Attention: All Dishes MUST Be Washed After Using!” In smaller print it warned, “Kitchen privileges may be revoked if dishes pile up”. I shook my head in disgust, Great, they can force us to buy their food? Genius! Roy came in and tossed his food packaging into the trash. He nudged me. “They got disc golf, if you wanna?”
“Sure!” I shrugged indifferently. I followed Roy to our room to get his Frisbee. He complained it was warm, which was true, and removed his sweatshirt. Roy’s chains jingled as I struggled not to look…but sassy me did! His black tank top revealed an OK upper body, not exactly a body builder, but there was still plenty of man there.
He ruffled through his bag for his disc, dumping the entire contents everywhere. The great elixir known as “cute” allowed me to set aside my distain for Roy’s sloppiness. As he cursed and grumbled, he asked, “Say, uh, you got a girl back home, Ray Ray?”
I said, “Nah,” and left it at that. The truth was I was out to nearly everyone in Bloomfield, and practically all of Chesterfield Academy. By that time, I had a couple boyfriends, but nothing really happened…no sex, I mean. Of course, I made out and fooled around, but… I knew some guys who were complete whores, and I knew in my heart that wasn’t for me. Let me wait for love, was my mantra.
Roy finally located the Frisbee and leaned against the bunk bed post. “Single, too? Look like we both be wackin’ it!” he chuckled. “Naw, dude, kidding!” Despite the fact he just trashed the whole room searching for a worthless piece of molded plastic, I found the idea of a late night jack off session with Roy appealing. And damn, did he look good all of a sudden! His smile, green eyes set against light brown hair, that peach fuzz above his lip, and all those earrings, they made him look dangerous…cute-dangerous, if there is such a thing. I stopped cruising him, though, when he talked himself into a serious hole.
“Naw, I dumped the bitch before the end of term. Wuzn’t puttin’ out, so I was like, I’ll get me some pussy somewhere else. Ya know?” Disgusted, I rolled my eyes. Just another punk ass loser with zero respect for women. Whatever, buddy.
For the sake of good roommate relations, I went along with the disc golf outing. On the way to disc golf course, Roy mentioned, “Probably won’t see Matt an’ Ev much. Evan’s aunt’s got a cabin they both crash at. In fact, I roomed with them last year, an’ they stayed here no more than a week. No joke!”
“How can they afford that? We get screwed living here!”
Roy flashed me his adorable green eyes and stifled a laugh, an odd though endearing reaction. “I dunno. Why you worried, rich bitch?” We laughed and proceeded with our game. To my relief, the good rapport we enjoyed earlier returned. I suspected Roy’s awful remark about women was part of a macho thing, a way some men attempt to impress other men – I remembered that from my sociology class. Maybe, I thought, I should let him know I don’t approve of that language, but that we could be friends without all that masculine bullshit.
After enjoying ourselves, we backtracked to the lodge, and suddenly it seemed the whole world had shown up. The lodge was packed. I bumped into Ginny again, and she introduced me to nearly everyone. I looked around and saw John chatting with a couple guys. I headed over and he introduced me to his new roommates. After I lingered for a couple minutes, John gave me an uneasy stare, as if he wanted me to leave. So I did. I figured he was still upset with me – or maybe didn’t want my friendship to begin with. Fine by me, I thought.
I peeked into my room only to find Roy sprawled on his bed, hiding out with his headphones on. I left the hermit alone. A group congregated outside, and I decided to be sociable and join them. There was talk of a bonfire, and suddenly I couldn’t contain myself. OK, I do have a fun side – it’s just that I have a difficult time finding it. Somehow, the bonfire idea harkened back to fun times I’ve experienced before, like at summer camp or those rare childhood camping trips with Dad and my brother, Quinn. There I was, mingling with all my new co-workers, joking around, laughing. Quietly, I patted myself on the back for putting all my cares aside and just being myself. Sounds silly, but being sociable is hard for a nerd like me!
As I made my rounds, I made sure to perform a few memory exercises along the way to help with matching names to faces. I bumped into a redhead named Carli who was unbelievably psyched about this talented folk guitarist named Kyler who’d be performing at the bonfire. I was thrilled - how appropriate for a wilderness campfire! “I am SO there, Carli!” I assured her.
Nightfall came, and I flicked the light switch in my room in search of my powder blue Tar Heels sweat shirt. Thoughtlessly, I woke Roy out of a dead sleep. “They havin’ the campfire yet?” He sat up and stretched, his short brown hair gentle tousled.
“Coming up! Hey, you should come out, join humanity!” Roy rubbed his eyes. “Sure, man,” he let out one final throaty yawn. “Meet ya there, I gotta piss.”
The fire was roaring, and it seemed everyone was there, some with their non-employee friends. The attention focused on this long haired college-age guy with a British accent. His guitar gave him away as Kyler. Things were a bit crowded by the time Roy came by. I tried waving at him, but he took a seat near the edge of the lawn as Kyler began playing “Mr. Tambourine Man”. Kyler followed with playlist of songs I recognized as Dylan or the Mammas and the Papas, but then he transitioned to material I couldn’t recognize - that didn’t matter. Around the fire, everything was so peaceful, with some people singing along, laughing…it was living up to my fondest summer camp memories.
There was a certain variable missing from my 11 year old camp experience - sexual tension. My eighth grade object of affection, John, was sitting across the fire with the roommates he introduced me to earlier. I caught him staring, not sure if it was at me or at the guitar guy, Kyler. I hoped it was me, since, yeah I admit, I will always have a special place in my heart for him – regardless of how much of a dismissive prick he became.
I glanced down as I adjusted my seating posture. When I looked up, Roy was staring at me from the distance. It looked as if he gelled his hair and teased it. I had to squint, but I also noticed he changed his shirt. Huh, cleans up nicely, I observed. I looked away, hoping to remain inconspicuous, but then I looked back. He was still leering, which I didn’t know what to make of. The last thing I wanted to do was misread some straight guy’s friendship overture, so I stayed cool, keeping my fantasies locked in my own private bell tower.
Something cold slid against my wrist, scaring the shit out of me. Quickly, I realized someone was passing beer cans around. Against my prudish nature, I figured I’d take one, and before I knew it I was passing a steady stream of cans along to everyone else. I quickly got the idea that the drinking rule in the employee handbook wasn’t worth a crap, so I cracked mine open like everyone else.
An arm reached up from next to me, apparently wanting to toast. I raised my beer and realized it was Roy. “Jesus, you scared me!” I didn’t quite know what to say to him, but I gave it a shot. “I like the hair, and the pullover…you do all that for me?” I caught myself flirting, shit!
Roy giggled, “Why, do you think I did?” I smelled my absolute favorite cologne, and he was wearing it. He put on a poker face, but I knew something was up. Play it cool, I cautioned myself.
“So what do you think?” I stared deeply into his eyes, hinting I wasn’t asking about the music.
Roy took a sip of his beer and cautiously slid closer to me, though we weren’t touching. I felt my heart leaping through my rib cage. So badly, I wanted him to take my hand.
“I like it. Wonder what he’s gonna do next."
I chuckled as I finished off my beer. “He’ll get you a refill!” Roy finished his can, and I scampered over to the cooler. My arms were shaking as I fetched two cans out of the ice. Even though I barely knew Roy, I couldn’t help but imagine that night being the night I’d lose my virginity. But I wasn’t sure. I’d been waiting for the right guy, the right moment, plus… The guy is my roommate, for god’s sake! No, I can’t…or can I? Fuck!
After handing Roy his beer, I didn’t know what to say, so I remained silent and listened to Kyler’s music. I don’t know what got into me, but, when he wasn’t looking, I tapped his foot with mine. Such a subtle gesture, he probably wouldn’t notice, right?
Um, yes he would! When Roy kicked me back, I nearly died. I shivered and chugged almost half my beer. I got a hold of my nerves, and so as to not look stuck-up, I turned my head and smiled…just a quick smile. Then, oh shit, he talked to me!
“I, uh, lied about some stuff today,” he grinned nervously and cleared his throat.
I coughed and gave him my best guess. “The, uh, girl, you mean?”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I lied a little, too. Truthfully, I have my eye on someone,” I stared into his eyes and, this took some balls, flicked my eyebrows for emphasis.
Roy bit his lower lip and sat there, immobilized.
I worried that I pushed things too far, so I withdrew and listened to the encores. Neither of us moved as the crowd slowly dispersed. I took a look at Kyler, and I was surprised to see him and John talking privately, “exchanging signals”. It was then I turned around to make my move. But Roy was gone. I let out a huge sigh. Maybe it was all in my head, I worried. Dejected, I retreated back to my room.
As I approached my door, I could hear Roy’s muffled cries. I paused, not knowing what to do. Did I somehow hurt his feelings? I wondered. After a minute of deliberating, I thought maybe I should go in and talk to him. Calmly, I entered the room; I didn’t bother with the lights. Roy hastily wiped his nose. I was lost for words. Finally, I whispered, “Hey, Roy?”
He whispered back in a raspy voice, “Yeah?”
“Thanks for driving me to town today.”
Roy cleared his throat. “You’re welcome.” Through the moonlit window, I saw Roy sit up and rest his head on his knees.
I sat on my bed and whispered one more thing, something I thought might help. “And Roy?”
Roy sniffled, “Yeah…me too. I guess.” He began sobbing again, and I decided against my better wishes to attend to him. I sat on the side of his bed and tried to calm him. I whispered, “It’s OK, Roy. Shh!” Then, I caressed his face. He began kissing my fingers, and then my heart gave in. I leaned in and kissed him on his soft lips.
I let Roy take my face into his hands, and he sensuously returned my affection. As amazing as kissing him felt, I struggled to pull my face away. “Roy, we…we can’t!”
I dropped to the floor and stared down at the worn, musty carpet. Truthfully, I wanted Roy then and there, but I panicked that we took things too far – especially for roommates. Neither of us said anything for an eternity.
Finally, I stood up, but Roy stopped me. “Ray? Don’t go! Please?” It wasn’t a pathetic, overly dramatic plea, so I was inclined to listen. I sighed. “Yes, Roy?”
“Thanks, that was really hot!” he chuckled.
“Um, you’re welcome!” I couldn’t help but laugh. “That was definitely fun!”
He slid onto the floor and leaned against the bed assembly. Roy patted a spot on the carpet, inviting me to slide next to him. I complied, with one qualifier.
“Roy, I like you, but I don’t want anything to happen tonight, OK?”
“That’s totally cool. Look, man, I took shit too far…can we just talk? I like you too, by the way!” he laughed. “You’re like so incredibly cute.” Cute? Me?? I didn’t believe him, but I appreciated the compliment.
His words made me feel so warm. I nestled up next to him. “Is cuddling OK?” I giggled.
I felt Roy's shoulder warmly pressing into mine. “I love cuddling. Bet ya never expected that one!”
“Gangstas don’t cuddle?” I quipped.
Roy laughed, “You know that’s kinda like a front? I’m from a real bad ass place. If you ain’t ‘a man’, shit, you’re nothin. ‘Know what I’m sayin’?”
“I guess, sort of. I’m not exactly from ‘the hood’…shit, my father has a Ph.D. in engineering; I grew up in the richest suburb in the state, and I went to an expensive private school where I was class valedictorian. How ghetto is that?” I snickered. “Christ, I came out when I was 15, and no one even fucking cared!” I laughed at the absurdity.
“Raymond,” he replied, “they fucking care here, believe me. You in hick country, bro! Black, and gay? Shit. They call that ‘target practice’ in this part of the state!” We both giggled. Roy’s words may have been crude and simple, but he spoke the truth.
Eventually, I had to ask the necessary question. “Roy, if we’re interested in each other, how can this roommate arrangement work? I mean, can it?”
Roy grunted, “I dunno. Matt an’ Ev are gone all the time, like I said. And…I dunno?”
“I’m a virgin, Roy,” I confided. “I have nothing against sex, it’s just…I want to be in a relationship first. Us living together, well, that reverses things.”
“Yeah, I hear ya.” Roy sighed. “What the hell can we do?”
“We can’t do anything, Roy.” I counter intuitively snuggled even closer as I said that.
Roy paused for a second. “Wait, this is fuckin’ brilliant!” What Roy said next forever erased my doubts about his intelligence. “We could talk to Ginny an’ lie we had a big ass fight, maybe she’d let us switch rooms?” Roy tugged at my arm, “It’s our only chance, Ray.”
I leapt to my feet, my mouth agape. “Fucking genius! Yes! That would so fix things!” I bent down and kissed my “potential” boyfriend on the cheek. “Shouldn’t we make things ‘authentic’?”
“Fake a fight!” I begged. “Come on, pussy boy, kick my ass!”
Roy laughed, then screamed, “You son of a bitch! Git your hands outta my shit!” Out of nowhere, he grabbed me and had the nerve to body slam me to the floor.”
“Ouch! Hey, come on! Jesus Christ, that hurt!!” I whined, for real.
“Fuck you, bitch!” Roy screamed. He seized me by the waist and mercilessly pinned me on my back. I whimpered in actual pain, but he popped a little kiss on my lips to make it all better.
With Roy’s defenses down, I pounced on him with a surprise move. I nailed him on his back and called out a stream of outrageous obscenities designed to get the attention of fellow lodge dwellers. After all, we needed ‘evidence’. Then Roy cleverly slammed a closet/dresser compartment into the wall a couple times.
We continued the “wrestling match”, which in reality was getting us both aroused, until there was a knock at the door. I realized it was unlocked, so I placed a mock choke hold around Roy. Thankfully, he was smart enough to “resist”.
The door flew open and the lights flicked on. Ginny and what seemed to be half the lodge huddled around the doorway. “What the hell is going on here?!” she exclaimed. Wisely, we continued “wrestling” and throwing “punches”. Two really buff guys from across the hall, who incidentally (and conveniently) were quite hot, were summoned to pull us apart. For fun, we started talking smack, shouting meaningless profanities at each other. They dragged us into the lounge, where we kept up the hotheaded pseudo-rage.
We were seated on opposite ends of the TV viewing area, where Ginny “talked us down”. I made up some bullshit about Roy taking one of my sweaters (lame), and he countered by “accusing” me of taking his shoes (totally lame). She gave us the talk about company policy, and mentioned the possibility of dismissal for fighting. That’s when we decided it was best to take things down a notch and “apologize” to each other.
Of course, we did insist on reassigned living quarters.
“OK. I’m not supposed to do this, but…I’m willing to make an exception IF, and ONLY IF you guys promise you won’t let each other have it again, alright?!”
Roy and I nodded, resisting the urge to react to her double entendre.
“GOOD!” Ginny was satisfied. “Now…since Ray arrived first this morning, Troy will be moving in with…hold on.” She delicately fetched the three-ring binder from the flimsy folding table. “OK, looks like you, Troy, sorry, Roy, will be living with Robert, Brendon, and Seth. Alright?” Roy immediately frowned upon his new housing assignment. “Ugh, you mean Robert, the restaurant dude? Fucker never bathes, man!” His whining appeared genuine, as well as adorable. Ginny ignored his gripes and indifferently led us down the hall to supervise Roy’s move.
I aimed my last “hostile” glance at my dearest. “Fuck you…I hope!” Roy whispered. I ran back into my room and burst out laughing. What an odd way to land a boyfriend!
Copyright © 2009 by Mark D. Solay
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