“On Knowing the Score”

Published in Steer Queer Vol. 1, Issue 3 (October 2014).

On Knowing the Score

I lean out my apartment window into the mild night air exhaling cigarette smoke, stretching to see past the magnolia in my front yard and up toward the glow of the baseball fields in the park, the direction Zach should be coming from, so I know if I still have a few minutes. He texted me about hanging out as I stepped out of the shower after work and flat out told me he wanted to try it with another guy—me, tonight. I obviously told him to rush right over.

Zach’s a friend of a friend, one of those men with auburn hair the same color as his eyes and a white-white smile, just charismatic enough to pull off being both a professional poker player and couch surfer, and after last time we saw each other I left sure he was interested—he’d squeezed my thigh and winked when our mutual friends left the table to get another round, then told me about how his ex just left him, a girl I actually met once who bragged to me about the size of his dick. I’d blushed and laughed along with him, then greeted my fresh drink from our friends like everything was normal. I know the game.

My phone chimes and I look at the screen: Text from Zach. I unlock my phone to “Hey sorry dude! Ran into peeps playin dodgeball in tha park and girl asked for my number – couldnt resist. Ill catch u soon”

I crush out my cigarette on the glass top of my desk and toss the phone on my bed, exhaling a plume of smoke as I march to the kitchen. That’s the problem with this—chasing after straight boys whose eyes linger too long—the ones impulsive enough to do it are also impulsive enough to suddenly not do it. I pull a beer from the fridge and twist the cap off with my teeth—a little extra click-and-wiggle from that one molar, but fuck it—and reach for the half-empty pack of Camels on the counter, imagine Zach tossing his hair under bright lights and flickering stars as he looks over at her—whoever she is—impulse leading to action, action to impulse.

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