Did you catch Monday's feature with Jack Scribe's Life's a Grind banner? Why exactly IS there a mask on it? Hmm... answer in the comments if you know! Or share what you thought of the story if you've read it.
I picked this section of the story, a few chapters in, because it gives you a good sense of Jeremy's character. He's pretty smart for a teen, certainly responsible, but wowsers... the curveballs life's bringing his way could be interesting. Well, if you're into that sort of thing. 😜 You might think you know from this snip, but oh, there's so much more to the opportunity he's considering....
By seven, Jeremy had finished his cereal and left enough brewed coffee for his mother and sister. After breakfast was always prime study time. When he left for school an hour later, he yelled his “goodbyes” and left the apartment for the ten-minute walk to school. The weather was still relatively mild for approaching mid-December and Jeremy wore sunglasses to protect himself from the morning sun’s glare. However, for a Chicagoan, this was always false security. Every native knew that some wintry deep doo-doo was just around the corner. The remainder of the day was fairly routine…except for the anticipation of Christmas break at week’s end. Most teachers spent the day – and would the rest of the week – trying to maintain the students’ concentration. Homework assignments primarily related to subjects to be studied after the New Year.
He arrived at Bally’s at 3:15 p.m. and realized he didn’t have enough time for a workout because of his meeting with Zach. Jeremy thought the best solution was to change into his uniform and go down to EatZi’s with a book. He could get in some study time and take advantage of their limitless coffee refill policy. On his way back through the gym, he caught Zach’s eye. He waved and made a ‘down’ pointing signal with his finger. Zach nodded and gave a thumb up while working with his client.
Jeremy told the day receptionist that he was a little early and would be down at EatZi’s for a while. Then he took the stairs down to the main floor. He figured that a little real stair activity must count for some workout time. After he bought a tall cup of the daily blend, Jeremy found a table away from the traffic and opened his book.
“You’re deeply into a whole other zone,” Zach said as he sat down at the table with a frothy-topped coffee cup in hand. “Pushing for an exam?”
“Naw. Just getting a head start for stuff we’ll be studying after the break. Whatchu drinking?” Jeremy asked as he closed the book and looked at his watch. The digital face read 3:55. ‘A man of his word,’ he thought. ‘I like that.’
“Cappuccino. The cream on top is made with low-fat milk so it’s not too bad for ya.”
“I’m learning all kinds of new things. Last night it was cheese fondue. Looks like I’m on a roll exploring different stuff. I’m going to order one next time I’m down here.”
“Fondue? At Geja’s?”
“Yeah. I met a guy last night to talk about taking another part-time job that’ll bring in some extra money. Even with a scholarship at DePaul, I’ll need more cash for odds and ends.” Jeremy wanted to share the real story about the new job with Zach but knew this was not the time.
“You’re not leaving Bally’s, are you? We need ya, buddy.” Zach winked and took a sip of his cappuccino.
“Just cut back a few shifts. The benefit of a free membership is too good. Plus, I like working with guys like you, Gio and even good old Pete.”
“Good old horny Pete. Has he tried to come on to you?”
“Oh, yeah. When I explained that I was jailbait but flattered he got the picture. Since then we’ve just had a good time pulling each other’s chain and consider each other buddies. I’ll probably see more of him on campus in the fall.”
“Pretty levelheaded way of handling an older guy hitting on you. But, then, you mentioned your uncles and their influence. I figure this must be one of those times when you wish they were still around?”
“Ah, yeah. And why I need some brotherly advice. From someone who is not only an older, good friend but is…also gay.” Jeremy took a deep breath and looked into Zach’s eyes. ‘Here it goes,’ he thought. ‘Hope my instincts about trusting this guy are correct.’
“I think that I know where this is going. Would I be pretty close on the mark if I guessed that our meeting has to do with questions you have about yourself and men?”
“Big questions. Some I’ve already answered…but others…” Jeremy paused and took another drink of his cooling coffee. “I know I like guys in a…personal way. You know the expression, ‘been there; done that.’ That’s kinda where I am. Just not sure how this plays with everything else.”
“Everything else being girls?”
“Yep. I mean I like girls, if ya know what I mean. I mean…oh, Christ, I can’t even make a sentence.”
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