Here Comes The Rain Again
I consider myself to be an intelligent gay man. I eat healthily. I swim regularly. I even go to the gym. I know what's good for me. Falling for unobtainable men is not one of those things, so I try to avoid it wherever I can. They might be geographically undesirable, married (gay or straight), or even just plain straight. Whatever the reason, I try to keep it in the front of my head that its not going to work. The only thing there is pain and heartache.
And then into my life came Ryan.
Actually, it would be fairer to say that I came into his life. He was already working for the company I ended up working for. He sat around the corner from me. I don't think I'd been at my new desk for more than 10 minutes before he caught my eye. Tall, trim, black hair, trimmed beard. Eye candy. Very nice.
Then came our first conversation. Intense blue eyes studying me. Easy smile. Casual demeanour. An interesting bulge in his suit trousers as he leaned over in his chair.
Chatting progressed to coffee and the odd lunch. He filled me in gradually about his life outside work. As he did so I nodded along as if it was all news to me. It wasn't, of course. In the social media driven world of today its easy to find people on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you know how to look. Stalking? No, that's a word for obsessed lunatics. I wasn't obsessed. I was … If I'm honest then I was rapidly falling in love.
People far more poetic than I have talked about the exquisite torture of unrequited love. Is there anything more pathetic than a gay man mooning over one of his straight mates? If there is, I haven't met it. But there was something about Ryan … something in his grace and beauty. Maybe that was it. Maybe in a different time, a different age, he would've been my muse. Someone with whom you could spend time and be calmed just be admiring the lines and planes of his face. Or his chest. Or the way his buttocks curved.
Like I said. Not obsessed.
I was admitted into his circle of friends – some of whom played football with him, some of whom he'd known for years, most of whom at one point or another dropped unsubtle hints about him being very straight. I'd eye them, smile and then ask them if it was possible – just possible – that we might just be friends? They'd smirk and shrug and I'd buy the next round in.
I'm sure that you're thinking that something happened after one of these nights, after pints and pints and shots and cloudy judgement and slurred sweet nothings. Nope.
Something did happen though.
It was a Saturday night. Ryan had played in a match that afternoon, but for some reason had elected not to go out with the lads to lick their wounds over their losing. I'd never gone to watch one of his matches. I didn't really trust myself. But match days always had my mind whirring. This is going to sound more than a little nuts. Ryan was a boxers guy. The tight ones, granted, but still boxers. Except for during and after a match when he wore briefs. You may ask how I know this. I mentioned his buttocks? Its all about the lines. I'd never seen him in his undies, except in my imagination, and the thought of Ryan in some little briefs just about did me in.
I ended up over at his, knocked at his door. He opened it with his characteristic wide grin, stood there in a plain white t-shirt and a pair of loose grey jogging bottoms.
“Mate! Come in. You're wet.”
I fought back Susan Sarandon's voice and raised an eyebrow. “Ry, it's pissing it down out there.” I stepped in as I spoke, shrugging off my jacket and hanging it on the back of the door. I slipped my trainers off and kicked them into shape.
He just snorted.
“So how come you're not out getting pissed?”
He shrugged. “Just didn't feel like it.”
We settled on the sofa and after some more general chat he stuck in a DVD. Doesn't really matter which one it was. During the course of the movie and several attempts at getting comfy we ended up sitting fairly close to one another, Ry's arm stretched out across the back of the couch behind me. I could smell him, smell his shower gel. No aftershave or deodorant, just whatever he'd showered with after his game. Shifting my eyes slightly I could just about see up the sleeve of his shirt and into the dark-haired hollow of his armpit. Something about it … Driving me nuts …
Pizza was cooked and eaten during another movie. Then it happened.
I don't really know how it all worked. We were laughing about something the comedy sidekick had said one moment …
“Mate, you've got something ...” He reached out with his hand as I leaned forward and leant towards him. For whatever reason his body mirrored mine. He flicked the bit of pizza off my cheek.
“Shit, where'd it go?”
He leaned forward, aiming to look over my shoulder. I leaned forward and … seeing his face closer to mine I cupped a hand against his cheek and … kissed.
When I say kissed I mean … I pressed my lips into his. After approximately a second of non-response I sat back, horrified at what I'd done. I looked at his face and it was … frozen. His eyes, locked into position, staring at something that wasn't there.
The longer the silence spun out, the sicker I felt. Idiotic thing to do.
“Ryan, please ...”
He hadn't moved. His eyes were still blindly staring.
I nodded, stood up and made my way to the door. My jacket was still damp as I thrust my arms down into the sleeves but I didn't care very much. I shoved my feet into my shoes. One hand on the door handle I turned to try again. As I did, I saw the way he was sitting, shoulders slumped, head hanging down. All I wanted to do was to throw my arms around him and say that I was sorry and that it would be okay.
I let myself out, closing the door silently behind me. My belly heaved. My throat tasted of plastic. My eyes prickled. Dammit, I'm not going to lose my shit over one mistaken kiss. I forced myself to walk down the hallway, down the stairs and into the lobby of his apartment building. As I reached the front door a crackle of thunder ripped the sky and as if in response the rain intensified.
Part of me wanted to throw myself into the storm, to drown my stupidity and wash away my sins. I snorted. It'd take more than a British thunderstorm to do that. Plus was getting home soaked to the skin and hypothermic worth it? Was it going to make anything better? Nope.
I called a taxi and waited the few minutes until it arrived. I stumbled into it blindly. I assumed I told the driver where to go because it wasn't long before I was home, dashing between the car and my front door. I threw my jacket onto the floor, kicked off my shoes and made it to the bathroom for a towel.
I scrubbed my face and hair, drying it savagely as I wandered aimlessly around my flat. Shit, shit, shit. Should I call him? Text him? I slipped my phone out of my jeans, opening up a message. As I did so it brought up the most recent of our conversations, the one where he asked me to go over as he was home and bored. My fingers hovered over the buttons. What was I going to send? Wouldn't it be better to do it in person? When would I see him again?
The day after tomorrow. At work. With him sitting no more than 12 feet away from me. Shit.
I cancelled out the message and threw my phone over onto the couch. This was the very situation that I'd wanted to avoid. I liked Ryan. He was funny, smart, a bit goofy. Why did I have to complicate things by acting like a hormonal teenager? Slumped on the couch I sat and … suffered.
Until there was a banging on my front door.
I looked up sharply, unable to equate the noise with any kind of reaction.
Another set of banging. Knocks. Somebody was knocking at my door. I glanced at the time. It was gone 11 – who the hell would be knocking at my door in the middle of the night?
I got up and went over to the door, arriving at the same time as another set of knocks. These were accompanied by shouting.
“Matt, its me. Open the door. Matt … Matt.”
Shit. It was Ryan.
“Matt, I know that you're home. I … Just open the damned door.”
Bang bang bangbangbang bang.
I don't remember my hand reaching out and flicking it open. I remember me gritting my teeth to stop my jaw chattering. I remember the swirl of urine in my bladder. I remember the feel of the adrenaline in my brain. I remember the tremble in my knees, the ache in my forearms.
Then he was pushing – shoving – past me, a blur of white and black wetness.
I turned to face him as he dripped. His magnificent wetness. The way his hair – usually so perfect – streaked his forehead. The way his chest heaved under his t-shirt – now achingly transparent. The way his tattoo writhed on his skin as he clenched and unclenched his hands.
I stand there staring at him, uncomprehending of his presence in my flat, devoid of words. Frozen. Overly-dramatic. But I wait for him to speak.
“I … Did you … Why … I …”
Something in his face amuses me. The way it crinkles up at the corners. His mouth creased and slanting. His eyes skewed. I try to stifle the snort of laughter and almost choke.
“No, I …” I let out a sigh. “Ry, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that.”
“You're a fucking asshole, you know that?”
“You are not the first person to tell me that.”
“Oh big fucking surprise. What made you think … Why would you think …” He turns as he speaks and I notice his tracksuit trousers are equally wet and … clinging. Buttocks. Suddenly he turns, spearing me with a pointed finger.
“What gives you the right to do that to me, to kiss me?”
In my mind it plays out differently. There, he is impassioned. His dander is well and truly up. In that moment, that gloriously heated moment, everything slides away. He grabs me and kisses me, kisses me hard. His wet clothes slide from his body and we dissolve into each other … glorious and unstoppable and insatiable.
His voice, spiked with anger and pain, slaps me back to reality. Back to his chest, no longer heaving. Back to his tattoo, no longer writhing.
“You can leave now, Ryan. Message received. Loud and clear. I fucked up. You're the big man. Bravo. You can tell your friends that they were right all along. Go and be hard done by, go and feel used and abused. I don't particularly fucking care. Just fucking go.”
Later I would be impressed with myself for not shouting. For locking onto his eyes – so, so blue – and not letting go. For somehow not throwing up. Right now I'm not aware of any of that. I'm disappointed. Partly in him, but more in myself. Falling for unobtainable men. Pain and heartache.
I watch silently as he moves past me and opens the door.
“Matt ...” He swallows. His nostrils flare. I can't read the expression on his face. He swallows again. “So you're just going to kiss me off? Just like that?”
I hope the look I give him is as withering as I think it is.
He shrugs. “Fine. But if you are then I want my kiss.”
One long stride and he's there, his hands cradling my head, his bearded lips crushing mine.
I can't speak, even when he stops. His lips move away, but his hands don't. My body is alive, sparking from cell to cell, sense organs on overdrive.
“You're wet,” I manage to gasp.
“Yes, the rain was very heavy.”
That just about does it. I laugh. Throw my arms around his magnificent body and laugh.