For My Friend Eric R.
Note to the reader: This story is technically a sequel to The Neighbor Lady, but since it was written to be stand-alone, reading the original story is not truly necessary. It explains in detail the original story's abrupt ending though, which many reader's found dissatisfying.
This story also continues the original's focus on male sexuality, and is my first real foray into gay sex, although I don't know if what Todd experiences below could rightly be called "gay." Maybe more along the lines of auto-erotica? It also has a heavy sci-fi leaning, though a strictly amateurish one.
Sunday, May 6th, 2001
It was Sunday night, and Todd was returning home from a visit to his parents. Sitting at a red light, he rolled his eyes, sighed and laughed softly. He tapped his forefingers on the steering wheel in time to Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. It was his favorite 70's band, or one of them, along with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. He especially loved Deep Purple during their years with Ritchie Blackmore. After that, they sucked. But not like bands sucked nowadays though, no siree. Excepting U2, and possibly R.E.M., modern bands sucked the big stick. The light changed and Todd eased out the clutch and drove through the intersection.
Mom and Dad, he thought, sighing again. He was 25 years old and still they treated him like a schoolboy. Always critical, of his job, his future prospects, his sometimes girlfriend Kate--who was on the outs with him again, he'd confessed tonight--his lack of direction, lack of motivation, lack of personal respect-so what if his hair reached over his collar?-he was 25, for Christ's sake, not 45. And don't let them get started on his lack of respect for his belongings-they just loved to harangue him on that subject. Of course, there was not much he could do to argue that point ... the 1995 Toyota Corolla had gone the way of the Oldsmobile, and the Honda Civic before that: death by inattention. With a pang of guilt he dropped his eyes to the dashboard. He was way past due for an oil change now. When had he last checked the oil, even? A month ago ... six weeks? He very nearly pulled into the BP station on the corner ahead.
Home, he backed the Kia into a space opposite his building and 10 spaces down from the entrance. He automatically checked his own apartment windows on the 3rd floor, eyed the balcony-the plants needed watering-and then swept the remainder of the windows for possibly naked neighbors. As usual, his inspection was met with disappointment. Just his luck to move into a building full of Puritans. Getting out, he hunched against the light drizzle, keyed the doors locked and hurried toward the entrance.
Check your mail, he thought. He'd forgotten yesterday and was expecting the new Penthouse, which he only read for the articles. He wondered how magazines stayed in business in the age of the Internet. He'd filled out the subscription card one evening when he'd been half drunk and stupidly horny, and had dropped it in the mail the next day when he should have known better. Three years now, they'd arrived like clockwork in his mailbox every month around the 5th, anticipating each issue with something of a nervous giddiness. For startling clarity and color crispness, phosphoresce could never replace glossy paper.
Along with the magazine, there was a package in the box. Todd gazed at it curiously and checked each face for a return address; there was none. His name and address were written in carefully inked block letters which, though he didn't recognize the hand, he sensed that he should. Puzzled, he tucked both the magazine and the box under his arm and climbed the three flights to his 3rd floor landing. There he felt the familiar sensation of being watched. He always felt watched on the landing. If not by that creepo Sullivan, than by that old busybody, Mrs. Norge. That's right, like Norge the washer and dryer Norge. As always, he considered raising a welcoming finger to the spy, but settled for a mental one instead.
Sullivan was something else. Not gay-he wouldn't insult the gay community with the inclusion of Larry Sullivan-but something along the lines of a child molester/animal torturer. Every time in his presence, Todd felt slimy afterward, as though Sullivan exuded an invisible field that enveloped--or more accurately, captured Todd. He imagined Sullivan in a dark, stonewalled room somewhere, sharpening various instruments, gazing fondly at the pairs of moldy, rusting manacles dangling from the walls. The man just gave Todd the unadorned creeps. And--illogically and crazily--he fantasized about Sullivan in the deepest, darkest night. Usually when he had a dildo or a vibrator up his ass.
Todd locked the door behind him and set the chain. It indicated there were plans for the night, plans that didn't include TV and a comfortable lounge on the sofa. More likely cold bottles of beer, a bottle of KY lubricant, and one or both of his toys. Most likely including both, because Todd was seriously horny.
It wasn't always like this. Until recently, Todd was abhorrent to anything indicative or even suggesting homosexuality. He'd as likely guzzle a jug of Liquid Plummer then put something phallic up his ass. The concept disgusted him violently. As did any consideration of an overtly homosexual act, such as fellatio or anal sex. One queer in the family was enough. And then, just over a year ago, Dale his twin brother had forced a confrontation.
"Jesus Christ, Todd! The world is full of gay people. Have you looked around you lately? Gay marriage is just around the corner and you're still looking at us like a redneck out of the 50's."
This was a Sunday evening, one not unlike tonight, and Dale just showed up at his door. As usual when Todd saw Dale, a shiver of revulsion ran down his spine. The guy did everything Todd found loathsome. Had, since he was 15 years old and had come out. Todd wondered how many cocks bore a familiarity with his mouth, and how many his ass. Sometimes Todd just wanted to smack him to the ground.
"Nobody thinks you're gay just because I'm gay, Todd."
Todd didn't believe that for a second. He'd seen the educated nods and the whispers spoken behind cupped hands, the curiously distrustful glances, the cocked eyebrows. Todd knew all about being fraternal twins with a faggot. His fists knew about it too. They'd set the record straight on a number of occasions in high school.
"Why are you here, Dale?"
Dale cut his eyes away and compressed his lips into a thin, straight line. He looked anxious, almost guilt-ridden, Todd thought. Rather than pique his curiosity, this only angered him more. And then his brother said something that made no sense at all.
"That's what I asked when the guy suggested I see you."
"What guy?" Todd asked irritably.
"You don't know him," Dale muttered. A lie, based upon the accompanying painful wince. Now Todd was curious, as well as irritated.
"And this guy just suggested you come over here and discuss my unfortunate attitude toward gays?"
Dale winced again, and still would not meet Todd's gaze. Todd cocked his head, wondering.
"He didn't, did he?"
Dale looked unhappily through the front window at the parking lot. Todd considered-felt almost compelled, to order him out, but this unwanted curiosity bested his loathing.
"I can't really tell you what he said," Dale muttered.
Hunching his shoulders, Dale shrugged. "Because the conversation was, let's just say, awkward."
"Awkward," Todd repeated, growing angry again. "I'll make you awkward, Dale. Just spit it out!"
Dale grimaced, and for once, and totally out of character, Todd felt a stab of guilt. Why, he wondered, was it so awful that Dale was gay? Dale was certainly right about his out-of-stepness with the times; the only ones bent on gay's destruction these days were rednecks-which he decidedly was not-and staunch Republicans, an allegiance with which Todd grew increasingly uncomfortable. Maybe Dale's orientation was not voluntary at all, but the result of random genetic chance. Perhaps, during some crucial development stage in their mother's womb, Todd's genetic switches got thrown one way, while Dale's were aligned to a different setting. The idea always reminded Todd of those tiny white dipswitches on the backs of old modems.
Glum, Dale explained that a man had shown up on his own doorstep a few weeks back and had provided Dale with information that was, to say the very least, impossible. The stranger was at once creepily familiar and patently foreign. Seen even through the peephole in the front door, he'd bristled the short hairs on the back of Dale's neck and raised gooseflesh on his arms. It was like being in the presence of a serial killer; identification arrived at through some previously unknown sixth sense. And when the stranger had addressed him through the front door, Dale shuddered convulsively.
Todd now felt anxious: "What did he want? What did he tell you?"
Dale shrugged. "Nothing at first. He just handed me an index card filled out with dates and numbers. I refused to take it from him-I wasn't touching anything that guy had touched--but he stuck it into my shirt pocket and told me he'd be back in a week to talk. He told me to watch the upcoming Philly's games, said I would understand after a day or two." He put a hand to his forehead and laughed shakily. "He was right. I fucking understood only too well."
Todd, for the first time in years, maybe within recent memory, reached out and touched his brother, gripping him lightly on the left arm. "What the hell happened, Dale?"
.... There is more of this story ...