Jimbo and his best friend, Jube, have a weekend in Norfolk. They function under the "don't ask, don't tell" rubric for these outings. But somehow it always leaks out. Also, Jimbo is confronted with challenges when he returns to the beach.
I leaned back in the restaurant chair, took a sip of my coffee and realized that the music was really fine. I smiled, turned to Jube and said, “Listen to that woman sing. Oh my God, I love that song.”
We were at Dogwood’s in Norfolk. It had recently opened in Ghent and we were there for Sunday brunch. The restaurant had very few customers which is the way I preferred a restaurant. The word had not gotten out about the wonderful food and ambiance. It wouldn’t take long before this would be another sensation restaurant in the coastal city and there would be lines to get a table.
Jube and I had spent the weekend in Norfolk and we were having brunch before we returned to our separate homes. Jube lived in Greenville. We had been best friends since college and often met in Norfolk to catch up on our lives and enjoy a weekend of bars and boys. This was a long-standing tradition for us. This was another such weekend and I was leaving the beach behind. No work, no parents, no ET, no Blue, no Randolph, no development, no nothing but me having a good time in the city.
Jube or rather Jubel Forrester Tyler was a fellow I had dated in college who had transitioned from a weekend trick into the role of most excellent of friends. Jube was burdened with a name that was historically crushing. His father was a Civil War buff who participated in reenactments and named his oldest son after three of his heroes. Jube was low key and wore this name recognition heavy on his shoulders. There was a long standing proud family heritage that Jube failed to understand. The family plantations and money were long gone and his daddy farmed tobacco and earned just enough to keep the farm together and the family out of poverty but was fixated on the Civil War as if it was a recent memory.
Jube worked as an editor for a local newspaper. He was constantly reading European history to learn about other cultures and to distance himself from his family. He didn't give a fig about the Civil War. He was learned and studious and folks often thought him a bore until they were around him and knew of his wicked sense of humor and encyclopedic knowledge of North Carolina. His boyfriend, Garry, was a nice enough fellow though a bit of an epicene beauty. He invariably floated through rooms as if on a cloud while searching for the last cocktail he had set down. He was also ever so slightly egocentric. Well, not so slightly. He thought he was the center of the entire universe.
Jube and I had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about our weekends in Norfolk. We would have indiscriminate sexual encounters and then go back to our lives without anyone being the wiser. We both had regular men we would often encounter in Norfolk. I often connected with Karl. Secretly I called him Miss Smithfield. He was from the hog capital of the world which was just a few miles away. Karl was a meaty boy with a willing butt, hairy legs, and chest. He carried a five o’clock shadow very well and I found him very appealing even though I wasn’t typically attracted to cubs. He had a baby face that demanded to be kissed. He always wanted to do sword play with our tongues. The boy was an exceptional kisser. When he would see me in one of the bars he made a bee line for me and ask if I was in town for the weekend. I had nailed him many times. Funny how we would connect in town but neither of us stayed in touch except through these hook ups. I didn’t know his telephone number or exactly where he lived.
Jube and I were at the Cue Club on Friday night when Jube said, “Look out, Ms. Gwaltney Porkchops has scoped you out. I can hear her oinking already.” I smiled at Jube as my hand landed on Karl’s hot ass.
“Pate, it is so good to see you. I was hoping you would be in town for the weekend.” Karl leaned up and I gave him a kiss. At that point, I knew I was down for the count and that Karl would be in my bed all weekend.
That night, poor Jube occupied the other bed in the room and swore he didn’t get a minute’s sleep. Karl woke on Saturday morning and asked if he could go home to get clothes and come back to spend the day with us. I smiled and agreed. He arrived back at the hotel by the time room service had delivered breakfast and Jube and I had finished our showers. We spent the day going to art galleries in the area. I was looking for a painting to hang in a guest bedroom of the house. It was clear that my tastes were different from Jube and Karl’s. Jube liked historic maps, historic etchings, and paintings of historic sites. Yawn. Karl loved puppy dogs, bears, kittens and treacly looking art work. Barf. I wanted some cutting edge abstract work that would work in a beach house. Nothing too representational. Absolutely no historic prints or animals. And certainly no seascapes. I realized that I would need to go on my own to purchase art work. I saw several pieces from local artists that were very appealing; I needed time to sit in front of them to see if they would speak to me. I was very particular about purchasing art – I had to feel the art and the intent of the artist. It was visceral and I knew when I had found the right piece of art.
On Saturday, we ate a late lunch at Eaton Mess. Jube rolled his eyes when Karl ordered a ham sandwich. The irony was too much for him. Karl also ordered a Pepsi. Jube and I were strictly Coca Cola men and Pepsi would never cross our lips. Standards had to be maintained. I couldn’t imagine having a boyfriend who drank Pepsi. I knew it was shallowness personified but I would have demanded a separate refrigerator for the Pepsi…..in the garage. Such were my feelings about the issue. I had pimento cheese with sliced Hanover tomatoes on country white bread. Jube had his standard chicken salad with iceberg lettuce on white bread. We also only used Duke’s mayonnaise. We were not Hellman boys. We were too young to be so stuck in our ways but food choices said a lot about how we were brought up and what our mothers would feed us. I picked up a container of cheese straws and another of Hub’s peanuts to nibble while we waited for our sandwiches. Luckily, Karl and Jube got along well and we had a rollicking conversation while we surveyed the street crowd. Karl and Jube would point out the cute guys and make guesses about the size of their junk. I said I was more interested in their butts. Karl reached over, put his hand on my thigh and said, “We were just playing around. When it comes to you, I hope I satisfy you so you don’t go looking.” I practically choked on my sandwich and told him that I was just messing around. I also felt guilty as hell because I was thinking of Timmy. Jube gave me what he thought was a knowing look. Karl beamed. I was pondering about how the hell did we go down this conversation pathway and what was I doing thinking about Timmy while being in Norfolk with Karl.
Saturday night we arrived at the Boiler Room to kick start our evening. It was the Cheers of Norfolk. Everybody knew your face if not your name. We sipped our Coors and chatted with folks. Jube was feeling like a third wheel and decided to snuggle in closer to me. This was all too much for an introvert like Jube. Give him an historic novel and he would have been content for hours. Put him a room full of people and he became the handsome wall flower. He needed for me to reassure him that it was to be our weekend of playing in Norfolk without accommodating Karl who was acting like a pseudo boyfriend. I put my arm across Jube’s shoulder and kissed his ear. I knew that I had to include Jube in everything that Karl and I did that night.
After the Boiler Room, we went to the Cue Club for dancing and then an after-hours club. At the club I pulled both Jube and Karl on the dance floor and we did the group dance in the middle of the floor. Finally, I could see Jube start to relax and enjoy himself. He looked so handsome when he let his academic façade fade away. He was rocking on the dance floor and Karl looked at me and grinned that my staid friend was letting himself enjoy the club. We got back to the hotel about 4 am. We were drenched in sweat from the dance marathon. I suggested we all take a shower together to wash the sweat and stink off of our bodies. Both Karl and Jube were hesitant. They looked at each other with a certain amount of trepidation. They had seen each other naked but they were unsure what I was proposing. I pulled off my linen shorts, polo shirt and sandals and demanded that they join me in the shower. They slowly undressed. They were surprised when the shower took all of two minutes. I jumped from the shower.
We playfully toweled each other after getting out of the shower. I played with Karl’s butt as he leaned back into my chest. He turned his face up to me which was his indication that he needed another kiss. We crawled into the beds and Karl curled up in my arms and whispered that he preferred just being with me. I kissed his nose and smiled at him. I squeezed his hand and pulled him even closer into my chest. We then fell asleep.
Karl awoke first and slipped out of the bed and started getting dressed.
“Where are you going?”
“Mama insists that we all be home for Sunday lunch. I need to go home and get ready for an afternoon of family. It is our tradition and you know southern mothers.” He leaned over, kissed me, and told me how much he had enjoyed our time together. He then gave a sigh and shyly told Jube good bye as he headed out the door.
Jube and I stayed at the hotel until check out time and then headed to Dogwood’s. I had picked up copies of the “New York Times” and “The Washington Post” at the corner news stand as we headed to the restaurant. I ordered a pot of French Press coffee, Eggs Chesapeake, fresh fruit, wheat toast and a side order of rice. They didn’t have rice so I ordered cheese grits. I loved Eggs Chesapeake which was a variation of Eggs Benedict with the substitution of a crab cake for the ham. Jube did his usual two eggs over easy, extra bacon, wheat toast, orange juice and coffee. The paper was spread across the table and we were noshing and eating off of each other’s plate. The grits were particularly good and Jube ordered another dish of this very southern dish.
I was reading the Times when I looked at Jube and said, “I have found another CD to order.” He looked up from the international news section and asked, “What black woman singer has released a CD this time?” I burst out laughing and asked what he meant. “Pate, you buy every CD by every black woman recording artist you can find. The Library of Congress would pay good money for your collection.”
“Well, her name is Oleta Adams and this reviewer is saying that her CD is incredible. I will order it from the record store on the beach.” While reading the review I was listening to the music playing in the restaurant and nibbling on the detritus left on my plate. The waitress came over and asked if she could clear our plates. She started making order on the table and I asked for another pot of French Press coffee. On the fly I asked, “Do you know which CD is playing? I really like this music.” The woman had an incredible voice yet it was the musicians backing her, the arrangements and the production values that also grabbed my attention. I closed my eyes and let myself become engrossed in the music. I started humming with the music and then Jube punched my arm.
“No performances in the restaurant today, my dear friend.”
I gave him a sly smile and said I had probably been a jazz singer in a previous life. Jube laughed and said I had more likely been a whore who worked Monticello Boulevard. We agreed that his assessment was probably closer to the truth. I enjoyed sex and wasn’t too interested in the emotional attachment that accompanied long term relationships.
The waitress returned with the pot of coffee and a CD case. “This is what is playing right now. The owner loves to play the newest music.” I stared at the cover and laughed. It was the Oleta Adams CD that I was reading about and was going to order.
“Pate, this kind of shit happens to you all of the time. You read a review in the New York Times while listening to music in a restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia and they are the same artist.”
“It is a gift I have. Don’t ask me how this happens in my life.”
“You are incredible.”
We bantered back and forth.
“Yep, I am insatiable. I wish I knew where Miss Ham Hocks lived because I could stand to knock off another piece this afternoon. His ass is so incredible and I have so an insistent need.”
“Stop that this minute. We may joke about him but he is waiting for you to make the next move and to tell him it is something more than a hook up when you are in town.”
Damn, Jube sounded like Trace.
I looked at the listing of songs on the album. “ ‘Get Here’ is on the play list and that is what we are listening to now. That will be my new motto when I see Karl again. Notice I called him Karl and not Miss Smithfield.” Who knows, maybe there was a sweet side to me after all. “I can’t wait to get that CD….do you think he really wants to be my boyfriend?”
Jube grabbed another section of the paper, did his best harrumph and said, “Drink your coffee before it gets cold. You can be so dense sometimes.” Damn, he was channeling Trace again.
“By the way, I don’t know if it means anything but I met up with this guy last weekend. He works for the PR firm that is doing work for us. I also met this guy named Blue who is a druggie but quite brilliant and a lot of fun. While I was doing Ms. Hamhocks I kept thinking about Timmy. That’s his name. Timmy. The one who works at the PR firm.”
“I suppose when you use the term “met up with” you mean you fucked?”
“It was more than that. Yes we did, as you so bluntly said, fuck, but it was more than that. It was a real connection. He has this funny finger that made me call him ET but when he touched me with that finger it felt like electricity coursing through my body. We had a huge fight which I didn’t mean to start. You know how I can be when things get a little uncomfortable. I became prickly and managed to say something that ruined the entire thing. Afterwards I was baffled about what happened. All I know is that I have missed him all weekend and wished that he was here with me. I enjoyed Karl but it was just sex to me. With Timmy it is something more.”
Jube just looked at me. He was probably thinking it was Groundhog’s Day because he had heard this story before.
We finished the coffee, left the paper for the next patron and left the restaurant. We walked to our vehicles and hugged.
“You are my best friend. Thank you for putting up with my rutting all weekend.”
“You are a horn dog, for sure. I hope you get the CD soon.” He took my face in his hands, looked me in the eyes and said, “you also need to pay attention to this myriad of men you are dating and learn how to read the emotional temperature of situations.” He then leaned in and kissed me. “You are my best friend in the entire world and I worry about you.”
I left Norfolk having no idea what Jube meant by emotional temperature. Again, he sounded like Trace. All I knew was I had a good weekend in Norfolk and couldn’t wait to see my best friend, Jube, again. He and Garry were coming for the July 4th holiday weekend.
The ride home was relaxed. I put the windows down and let the hot summer air and humidity wash over me. I wondered if Timmy would want to join me to look at art work for the guest bedroom. I had seen several pieces I liked and wanted his opinion. I thought about calling once I got home to see if he wanted to come over for dinner. I wondered what he had been up to all weekend. I knew that I would tell him a sanitized version of weekend activities. I wanted to ask him for the July 4th weekend. Jube and Garry would be coming and it would be nice to have a side-kick to help me host. I realized that I was starting to think of ET and me as dating.
I stopped at Hilltop farm stand to pick up fruits and vegetables for the coming week. There were many farm stands on the way to the beach, some were quite spectacular sites with kiddie rides, pick your own or we pick choices, rest rooms, cafes, and lots of imported food. Hilltop had been the choice of my family ever since I was a child. It was small and looking a little run down but the owners went into their fields early every morning to pick what was ripe and that was available for sale. No imports from central America. If it was ripe it was for sale, if it wasn’t ripe there would be empty stalls.
I stretched and walked around the parking lot. It had been a good weekend with Jube but the entire time I had an itch that wasn’t being scratched. I instinctively reached down and scratched my balls. I noticed a guy whose eyes were bugging out looking at my hand doing its duty on my crotch. I spread my legs a little more and smiled. When he noticed that I had caught him he blushed a bright red. I walked over and introduced myself. He stumbled telling me his name and then was even more flummoxed when his wife walked up and wanted to know who her husband had met. I introduced myself and welcomed them to North Carolina. They were newlyweds and heading to the Outer Banks for their honeymoon. I gave them a quick synopsis of what to see and do and suggested that we might get together one night for dinner. Damn it, Pate, you have to stop this was all I could think. I also chuckled that men were so easy.
I crossed the Point Harbor bridge and decided to take the beach road to the house. It was less crowded and I could see the ocean driving down through Kitty Hawk. I immediately smelled the ocean air and knew I was home. I closed my eyes and took in the scent. I knew that I would always have to live close to the ocean.
The Jeep was on auto pilot and knew exactly where to turn into the drive. There were vehicles in my driveway: Blue’s pick-up truck and Timmy’s car. Hmmm, this could be interesting, I thought. I grabbed my bags from the Jeep and walked up the steps to the house. I don’t know why, but I pushed the doorbell. I stood there. All of a sudden, the door opened and I was looking at Blue. “Mmmmm, can you tell me why you are in my house?”
Blue looked me directly in the eye and said, “Welcome home, big daddy Pate. I thought I would come over and borrow a book.”
I was still standing on the front porch. “Can you tell me why you are in my house? Who let you in?”
Blue didn’t waver. “Everyone on the beach knows that you leave at least one door unlocked and I tested them until I found the door that was unlocked and came in. I knew you wouldn’t mind.”
I continued to stand on the front porch. “I do not leave doors unlocked. How did you get in my house and where is Timmy?”
Blue stood looking at me and his demeanor changed from a confident young man to someone who had been caught in the act. He immediately started a statement of contrition. I pushed past him and walked into the kitchen. I put the bags on the counter top and then walked into my bedroom. When I returned to the kitchen, Blue had taken the food from the bags and was putting things away.
“Blue, what are you doing and where is Timmy?”
“I was trying to help by putting things away. I don’t know for sure but I think maybe Timmy is on the deck. I didn’t let him in the house. You never know who might want to steal something and you have some nice things.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My drug using, drug dealer friend was suggesting that he was following some honor code and that he was doing me a favor by keeping everyone else out of my house even though he had broken in. I looked at the breakfast table and there was an open book, an ashtray with a half-lit cigarette and a cup of coffee where Blue had been sitting.
I opened the doors to the deck. Timmy was asleep on a chaise. I walked over and put my hand on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and smiled. “Hi, I was going to surprise you but didn’t know what time you would get home.”
I returned his smile. “Well, I am home now. How long has Blue been in the house?” His demeanor changed and he frowned.
“I arrived about an hour ago and he was already in the house. I knocked on the door but he wouldn’t let me inside. I decided to wait for you on the deck. I hope you don’t mind me waiting out here for you.”
“He wouldn’t let you in?”
“Nope. It is ok because I would have felt funny being in your house without your permission. I sensed that something wasn’t right so I decided to hang around and wait. That was probably wrong but my gut told me to stay.”
I leaned down and kissed his mouth. “Thank you. I am glad you are here. Let’s go in and get something to drink.”
I grabbed his hand and pulled him from the chaise. He body slammed into me and his arms immediately went around my neck. We kissed again. His body was so different than Karl’s. There was not an ounce of fat on his frame. He clung to me, leaned his head against my chest and snuggled in close.
We slowly separated and we walked hand in hand into the kitchen. I had an immediate need for something cold to drink and didn’t have time for sun tea so I put the kettle on to heat water to make brewed tea. I filled glasses with ice. I asked Blue if he wanted some tea and he said he would rather have a glass of vodka. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Coffee or tea? The bar is closed for the day.”
“Well then, I will make another pot of coffee.” He got up from the table and started brewing more coffee. I stood there in wonderment. It was if this was his house and his kitchen. I was going to have a difficult conversation with Blue but I was going to choose the time.
After the coffee and tea were ready, I asked that we go into the living room to talk.
The conversation became tense very quickly. On the one hand, Blue was defensive but then became assertive and insisted he was doing me a favor to keep robbers out of the house. When he said that he looked directly at Timmy. Timmy turned red and started to respond. He faltered in his speech. Blue smirked and told him that the house didn’t have a nursery so he needed to go somewhere so the adults could have a conversation. Timmy immediately shut down.
I started to rip into Blue about his breaking into my house when the front door opened. Trace and Michelle walked in. The tension was thick. They looked from one of us to the other.
Trace was the first to speak. “Is everything alright here?”
“We were setting some rules about access to my house.”
“Damn man, if you want me to move all you have to do is say so.” Trace was smiling from ear to ear.
“It’s not about you dick head.”
Trace and Michelle looked at each other. “OK, if you are ready, Michelle and I have some news. I asked Michelle’s dad for her hand in marriage and he said yes.”
“That’s great. What did she say?” Blue was in front of the conversation.
“Here is what I said.” Michelle held out her left hand which was adorned with a huge ring. It was a ruby surrounded by old cut diamonds set in platinum.
“That was my great grandmothers and I had it remounted for Michelle.” Trace was smiling and looked completely smitten that Michelle had said yes.
“This calls for champagne.” I stood and headed to the kitchen. I returned with flutes and a bottle of Moet. I opened the bottle and we made toasts to Trace and Michelle. All of the earlier tension had dissipated.
“Will you be my best man?” Trace looked at me.
“Of course, I would walk over hot coals to be your best man.”
“When is the wedding?” Timmy had finally found his voice again.
“This fall. We have to set the date and we have so much planning to do. Michelle’s parents are buying us a house as a wedding present so Pate you will be on your own after that.”
This was a bittersweet moment. My dear friend and roommate whom I had depended on for guidance and centeredness was getting married and I would be living alone. My urge was to invite Trace and Michelle to live with me but I knew they needed to move on with their lives and that didn’t include me as being gay best friend roommate. My heart was constricting in anticipation of that future.
The timing was right for a piece of business I needed to take care of so I told Blue that it nice of him to stop by and we could continue our conversation later. I showed him to the front door and asked for my house key. I put my hand out to receive the key. He acted surprised that I knew he had stolen the key from the bedroom wardrobe. That very act let me know that he had been through every cabinet and drawer in the house. He left empty handed. I was perplexed because I was disappointed as a parent would be disappointed in a child but I still had a great deal of affection and caring for him. I understood it was criminal but I didn’t think in that framework.
Timmy and I cleaned up the glasses from the celebration and wiped down the kitchen cabinet tops. I then checked that every door and window in the house was locked before we headed to the bedroom. There was no asking if he was going to stay, ET just naturally fit by my side as he held my hand and we walked to the bedroom.
Trace and Michelle were already in their bedroom and I could faintly hear them talking. I didn’t want or need to know what they were saying.
I closed the bedroom door and pulled Timmy in for a kiss. I was exhausted and needed comforting. Somehow Timmy knew that and said we should take a shower to wash away the day’s challenges. I let him walk me to the bathroom and disrobe me. He gently kissed me after he removed each article of my clothes. He then quickly stripped and we lovingly washed each other. I finally started smiling and became playful. He brought out the simpler, quieter, dependent side of me for which I was thankful.
We dried each other and then tumbled into bed. The day had been too much for me. First, it had been the sex with Karl, then coming home to find out Blue had stolen a house key and appropriated my space and then to find out that Michelle and Trace were getting married. The only constant had been either my thinking of Timmy or actually being with him. I leaned over and gave him a kiss. We looked into each other’s eyes. We were both smiling.
“Tell me about your weekend in Norfolk.”
“Not much happened. I do want you to go to a couple of art galleries with me. Jube and I went with another friend and I saw a few things I liked. I want your opinion.” We then had a conversation about some of the regional artists and the galleries where they were showing. I realized that we might need to go to Washington, DC to see an artist’s work that Timothy really liked.
“Why don’t you invite her to come down and bring slides of her paintings? She is incredible and has spoken about wanting to visit the Outer Banks.”
I agreed to give her a call and invite her to come visit.
We slid into a comfortable silence. I held Timmy’s hand as we fell asleep.
The alarm clock woke us the next morning. We were in the same position as we were the night before. I turned my head and looked into his eyes. He was smiling.
“How long have you been awake?”
“Not too long. I have enjoyed lying here watching you sleep. I didn’t want to wake you.”
We got out of bed, washed our faces and walked into the kitchen to start breakfast. It would be a quick meal as we both had to go to work. I was scratching my butt when Trace walked in already dressed and ready to head out.
“Aren’t you up especially early this morning? Do you want some breakfast?”
Trace grinned and told us it was good to see us dressed in matching briefs. I blushed because I had bought ET some 2xist briefs that were much nicer than his Fruit of the Looms. I also realized that we had matching boners. I reached down and ran my hand down the length of his penis. Just at that moment Michelle walked into the kitchen.
“Are you boys comparing your penises again? That is such a guy thing. I have more important things to do today than watch you jerk off.” She chortled while ET and I stood there with shrinking packages. Right then the toast popped out of the toaster. We all burst out laughing thinking of an ejaculating penis.
I slapped ET on his ass and told him to get out the marmalade and I would pour the coffee. We both laughed and then leaned in for a scorching kiss. I thought how normal it felt to start the day with Timmy by my side.
Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo. Pay attention, fella. What are you doing?