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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Happily Ever After, Ltd. - 1. Prince Charming

His parents’ proudest moment took place in the third row of the St Bart’s school hall, during the Grade Four production of Cinderella.

“I shall find the foot that fits this glass slipper,” little Ryan Hooper squeaked like an over-rehearsed robot, “and she I shall marry!”

Mr Hooper had purchased a video camera especially for the occasion, so there would forever be a shaky out-of-focus recording of Ryan’s performance as Prince Charming. He strutted across a stage, holding a glass slipper. It was actually just an old school shoe wrapped in a plastic bag, to give the shimmery appearance of glass, but even the low production quality could not dampen Mr and Mrs Hooper’s pride. The video recording was peppered with Mrs Hooper’s gasps of delight as she clutched her husband’s arm and murmured, “The little darling!”

In the front row, Mr and Mrs Abbott were equally proud of their little Stephanie, who was playing Cinderella. Stephanie Abbott had straight blonde hair, a small nose, and clean milk-white skin. She was the perfect little fairytale princess and the other girls loathed her for it. They wouldn’t have loathed her, however, if they had known what her future held. In ten years, Stephanie would finally develop acne. She would drop out of high school and move into her boyfriend’s brother’s garage, where she would live in a cloud of petrol fumes and cannabis smoke. That would be her happy ending.

But, for that night, in the St Bart’s school hall, Ryan and Stephanie’s parents were convinced that their children were destined for fairytale endings. After all, they were already re-enacting happily ever after at the age of eight. Ryan in particular was so happy that he even appeared to be giggling during some of his lines.

However, the reason that Ryan got the giggles that night was his best friend Doug. Doug was portraying a tree in the background, as punishment for scribbling rude comments about the drama teacher on his desk. Doug spent his entire time on stage whispering distracting comments, in an attempt to make Ryan break character. However, aside from those few giggles, Ryan did not break character, and his parents could not have been happier.

What Mr and Mrs Hooper didn’t know was that that evening would be as close to a fairytale ending as Ryan would ever get.

*

Now for the Hoopers’ least proud moment.

Ryan had moved out of home only four days after graduating from high school. His parents had approved this on the condition that he came home for dinner every Sunday night. These evenings typically involved Ryan sitting there in silence, while his parents recounted sad scraps of gossip from the past week – from which of their friends’ parents had died, to their opinions on the neighbours’ unattractive home renovations.

However, one particular Sunday dinner would be very different from the others, because at this one, Ryan was finally going to break his silence. Before the plates were cleared, Ryan swallowed his nerves and told his parents that he had something to tell them.

It wasn’t a big announcement – only two little words – but it made Mr and Mrs Hooper stop speaking for the first time in dinner table history. They stared at their son as though he’d sprouted a second head. Straight away, Ryan wondered whether he’d made a mistake. Perhaps he should’ve tolerated a few more years of being asked when he was going to bring a nice girl home to meet them.

“What,” Mr Hooper said eventually, “do you mean?”

Had he misheard? Was Ryan going to have to repeat himself? He wasn’t sure he could.

“What do you mean, what do I mean?” Ryan asked.

“I don’t know what I mean.” Mr Hooper turned to his wife for assistance.

“Dear, it’s fine,” Mrs Hooper said, in a high unconvincing voice. “Let me peel you an orange.” She reached for the fruit bowl and, with trembling fingers, set about doing just that.

“Now, we’re not upset,” Mr Hooper said. “It’s a shock.”

“No, no!” Mrs Hooper desperately tried to remember if she’d ever read an article about how to sensitively respond to such a situation. “It’s not a shock. Don’t use that word. Shock is not the right word. It’s given us a bit of a fright, that’s all.”

“No!” Mr Hooper said. “Fright isn’t the right word. It’s definitely just a shock.”

“You haven’t been eating enough fruit,” Mrs Hooper said, handing Ryan a piece of orange. “Here, eat this. I’ve told you a thousand times how worried I am that you’re not getting enough vitamin C.”

“Maybe you haven’t met the right girl,” Mr Hooper said. “Sometimes it takes longer. You’re only eighteen. How do you know the right girl isn’t right around the corner?”

“Is this because things didn’t work out with Stephanie?” Mrs Hooper asked.

“Stephanie?” Ryan said. “Who’s Stephanie?”

“That lovely girl you did drama with.”

“Wait ... do you mean Stephanie Abbott?”

Mr Hooper nodded approvingly. “She was quite a pretty one, wasn’t she? The blonde?”

“Stephanie was never my girlfriend!” Ryan said. “She was in my class when I was eight. We were in that stupid play together.”

Mrs Hooper’s eyes filled with tears. “Don’t call that play stupid! That was our proudest moment.”

Ryan tried not to show his exasperation. He had done some research on the internet and had arrived fully prepared to come out to his oblivious parents in a sensitive and appropriate manner. Or so he’d thought.

“I haven’t seen Stephanie since intermediate,” Ryan said. “Doug told me she’s living in her boyfriend’s brother’s garage.”

“She was a lovely girl,” Mum said. “Very well-spoken, nice figure.”

“Well, now she’s a drug addict.”

“Look,” Mr Hooper said, “this isn’t one of those cases where – I mean, you don’t want to – ah, have an operation, do you?”

What?” The conversation had taken yet another bizarre twist for which Ryan was unprepared.

Mr Hooper too was in unchartered waters. “What I’m trying to say is that – well, is this about – I mean, you always wanted a sister.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Mrs Hooper said. “You’ll always be our son.”

“Yes,” said Mr Hooper. “Unless you want to be our daughter.”

“Your what?”

“We can help pay for the operation,” Mr Hooper continued, “and hormone treatments. I watched a documentary about that on a plane. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Yes, that’s true!” Mrs Hooper said enthusiastically. “Cross-dressers can be quite a laugh.”

“We’re very open-minded,” Mr Hooper said.

“I am NOT having a sex change!” Ryan shouted.

“There’s no need for raised voices,” Mrs Hooper said. “Trans-what’s-its are part of our community, too.”

“I AM NOT A TRANSSEXUAL WOMAN.”

“Alright, fine,” Mr Hooper sulked. “Forget I mentioned it.”

“Have you Come Out Of The Closet to anyone else?” Mrs Hooper over-enunciated.

“A few friends.”

Mr Hooper sat up straight. “What about Doug?”

“Yes, I, um, Came Out Of The Closet to him, too.”

“No, I mean, um.” Mr Hooper cleared his throat. “Is Doug – well, you know...”

“Is he your lover?” Mrs Hooper asked innocently.

“WHAT?” Ryan shouted.

“Indoor voices,” Mrs Hooper reminded him.

“Doug’s a nice young man,” Mr Hooper said, “and Glenn and Marie are our closest friends. I know they’d love a son-in-law like you.”

“YOU KNOW DOUG IS STRAIGHT!”

“Indoor voices!” Mrs Hooper re-scolded.

“Sorry, sorry.” Ryan dropped his voice to a whisper. “You know Doug is straight.”

This absurd dialogue went on for nearly an hour before Ryan was able to get out. He thanked his parents for dinner and stacked the dishwasher, because they’d always told him that manners were important even in uncomfortable situations. Ryan then got out of the house as fast as he could. Of all the scenarios he’d imagined for the evening, getting offered a sex change was not one of them. None of the websites had prepared him for that.

In one way, it was encouraging. Ryan knew now that he had made the right decision in moving out of home before the ink on his high school diploma had even dried.

*

Ryan had co-signed the lease with his best friend Doug. Their new home was a cold cramped flat near the university that he would be starting after the summer.

To anyone else, Ryan’s new home might have looked depressing and rundown. Flakes of paint were peeling off, inside and out. The walls were scuffed and dented. Each room only had one power socket and one bare bulb hanging from the centre. There was no heating and the hot water was scarce and unpredictable.

If it’d been up to Doug, the two friends would’ve scrounged a few upturned crates for furniture and Doug’s idea of “interior decorating” would’ve been letting the mould continue to spread over the walls and ceiling. But Ryan bought a set of second-hand couches that were covered in cat scratches. He covered the walls with vintage film posters he’d purchased from the local video store when it closed. He took the Christmas lights from his parents’ tree to string around the living room and made Chinese lanterns to hang over all the bulbs. Within a month, it probably could’ve been described as charming.

After all, it wasn’t just a flat. It was a new chapter in Ryan’s life. He had moved out of home, he was about to be a first-year university student, and he was sharing a flat with his best friend.

And, despite the fact that his father had recently offered to pay for a sex change operation, Ryan was happier than he’d been in a long time.

*

It was a Sunday morning in the middle of winter. Ryan had gotten up at the crack of dawn and pre-heated the oven, which was the only source of warmth in the flat. He took out the ingredients for his mother’s oatmeal cookies, and turned up the stereo as loudly as it would go. He knew Doug hadn’t come home last night. Whenever Doug did come home after night of drinking, he always thought it was funny to go into Ryan’s room and jump on the bed. But Ryan had had an uninterrupted sleep, so he knew Doug had slept (or rather, not slept) somewhere else.

After a few hours of baking, the whole flat was as warm as toast. Around ten o’clock, Doug shuffled in like a zombie. His shaggy mop of hair was shaggier and more mop-like than ever, and his white shirt was rumpled and covered in beer stains.

“Thank god you put the oven on,” Doug said. “My hands are frozen.”

“Good morning!” Ryan said. “How was your walk of shame this morning?”

“Don’t talk so loud. I shouldn’t have mixed drinks last night.”

“I hope she was worth it.”

“Yeah, well, I had to spend about fifty bucks buying drinks for her and her fat friend who wouldn’t leave us alone.”

“Doug! That’s a horrible thing to say.”

He shrugged.

“Well,” Ryan said, “I hope the goodbye wasn’t too awkward this morning.”

Doug’s eyes dropped to the floor. “Nuh. It wasn’t.”

Ryan gasped. “You didn’t say goodbye, did you? You managed to squirm out from another one!”

Doug peered over at the baking tray on the kitchen counter. “Is that your mum’s cookie recipe?”

“You should at least bring a girl back here once in a while,” Ryan said. “This is our bachelor pad, after all. One of us should be using it as such. Besides, I could make her breakfast in the morning.”

“Why would you want to make breakfast for a girl?”

“Because it’s basic manners. It’s so unfair that you make them think you’re some kind of Prince Charming who’s looking to settle down – and then you vanish before they even wake up. Next time, invite her back here.”

“No way, man. Remember Natasha?” Doug shuddered. “When I didn’t return her calls or texts or emails or Facebook messages, she came over and knocked right on that door! Remember?”

Doug had crawled into Ryan’s cupboard and begged him to tell Natasha that he wasn’t home. Since then, Doug had only ever gone back to the girls’ places – or tried to convince them to do it in the bathroom of the club.

*

Ever since Doug had shared a sleeping bag with Stacey Watson on his first school camp, he’d become a notorious seducer of women. He had quickly mastered the technique. Although he was a little rough around the edges, he could also turn on the charm. He could trick any girl into thinking she was something special, and that she and she alone could be the one girl he’d been searching for all his scrappy life.

Doug and Ryan were different in many ways. Ryan was had grown from a neurotic, nervous boy to a neurotic, nervous young adult. Doug, on the other hand, had always been so easy-going and uncomplicated. Some people didn’t understand why they were friends. But the truth was that Ryan and Doug had never had a choice in the matter. Their parents had known each other very well and, when they had baby boys only a few days apart, it was decided that their sons would be best friends for life.

Doug had also always known Ryan better than he knew himself. Ryan realised this when they were eleven years old and Doug discovered the world of internet pornography. He couldn’t wait to show Ryan. One of the first videos was of a busty lady on a bed loudly faking an orgasm, while a tanned male had sex with her, inhaling and exhaling deeply as he did so.

“Do you have a boner from this?” Doug demanded.

“No,” said Ryan.

“I do,” Doug said proudly. He had always declared such things with no shame.

Ryan, on the other hand, felt nothing but shame. “Can we turn it off now?” he asked. The woman was whipping her head around so much that her own hair kept smacking her in the mouth. “If your mum catches us, we’re dead meat.”

Doug could tell that the video had unsettled Ryan and was staring at him with a curious look.

Eventually Ryan couldn’t handle the prolonged stare. “Why are you looking at me like that?!”

After a pause, Doug said, “Ryan ... you like boys.”

Ryan’s face reddened instantly. “Just because that stupid video didn’t give me a you-know-what doesn’t mean that I’m ... you-know-what.” He couldn’t even bring himself to say the word.

“It all makes sense!” Doug said. “You always get so weird about girls. You always get angry with me for saying Becky P is hot because you say you think of her like a sister. At the pool, you always go into a cubicle to get changed. And you love chick movies.”

“I do not love chick movies,” Ryan lied. “Ghost is a thriller.”

“I’m right,” Doug said. “Just wait, Ryan, you’re only eleven, but I bet you my left nut that very soon you’re going to start getting crushes on boys.”

“Doug, don’t be gross!”

Doug was rarely correct about anything but he was usually right when it came to Ryan – and he never let Ryan forget it.

*

Later that Sunday, Ryan and Doug were sprawled out on the couches, making short work of the morning’s baking. They were watching their favourite movie, Donnie Darko, for the ninety-second time. They could quote the entire film, word for word, scene for scene. Doug’s last girlfriend Claire had even cited that as one of her reasons for dumping him. Halfway through the movie, Doug sat up suddenly.

“You know what I’ve kept forgetting to tell you? I’ve got a guy to set you up with.”

Ryan considered this to be one of the main drawbacks about having a straight male as a best friend. Any other species of human would not have kept forgetting to tell you that they wanted to set you up on a date. Any other species would’ve called you to let you know immediately, then helped you stalk the guy’s Facebook page, and then obsessed about it with you for weeks.

Doug paused the movie, freezing Donnie Darko’s progress in setting the house on fire. “You know Alison,” Doug said. “Who works with Marty?”

“You mean the girl who still hasn’t slept with you.” Ryan had never met Alison but on that basis alone, he already respected her than most girls Doug talked about.

“Yeah, well, I talked to her at Marty’s work drinks a few Fridays ago,” Doug said. “That’s why I forgot, his boss was buying us tequila shots all night. Remember, I got so drunk that I came back here and chundered my insides out in the shower?”

Ryan remembered cleaning up those insides the following morning.

“Alison was talking about her bald older brother,” Doug said. “He’s an architecture student, which is boring, but their family is super rich, and she’s got this idea of setting you up with him. And if I make that happen, then maybe she won’t think I’m so bad, and she’ll go out with me. It’s a guaranteed win-win situation!”

Ryan was reluctant, to say the least, but Doug insisted that the brother was a “great catch.”

“You said he was boring,” Ryan said. “And old.”

“I also said he was super rich,” Doug replied. “And anyway, he’s not really old, he’s bald. I think he shaves his head. Come on, aren’t you curious to know what a real bald head feels like? Oooh, I bet it’s so smooth!” He began caressing an imaginary bald head and cooing in mock-ecstasy.

Ryan had to shout over Doug to be heard. “I AM NOT GOING OUT WITH SOMEONE JUST SO YOU CAN SLEEP WITH HIS SISTER. That’d make me guilty of aiding and abetting your sex crimes.”

Doug begged and pleaded.

“But you don’t even like Alison that much!” said Ryan. “You only like the challenge of a girl who won’t jump right into bed with you. But you’ll break her heart, like you do to all the others. Where’s your conscience?”

“You, Ryan! You’re my conscience!” Doug wrestled Ryan off the couch and onto the floor. “Come on, conscience! Be nice to me!”

Ryan was not in the mood for Doug’s childish games. They were no longer a pair of five year olds. But Ryan was also no match for Doug and so it was either stay pinned to the ground to be potentially farted on, or agree to one date with Doug’s friend Marty’s co-worker Alison’s brother Dave.

“Alright!” Ryan cried. “I’ll do it. Get off me!”

“You won’t regret it.” Doug’s face squeezed into an all-too-familiar look of concentration.

“No!” Ryan screamed. “If you fart on me, the deal’s off!”

Copyright © 2020 Richie Tennyson; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

I liked this a lot. A very refreshingly different and engaging story, it didn't suck me in with any dramatic opening, but drew me in sneakily with the story. I could never have imagined parents like Ryan's, nor their reaction, it was both amusing and a little shocking, surprising, and Doug, well he knew from age eleven about his bestfriend. Weird thing but you mentioned Donnie Darko and someone else also did in another context about a story I wrote, I'm going to have to investigate, because I don't know Donnie Darko! 

Great story, can't wait for more. I hope you pick up the following this deserves. Oh, and the writing was good too :yes:

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Great first chapter, I like Ryan and Doug, they make interesting friends. I'm not so sure about Ryan's parents.

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16 hours ago, Talo Segura said:

I liked this a lot. A very refreshingly different and engaging story, it didn't suck me in with any dramatic opening, but drew me in sneakily with the story. I could never have imagined parents like Ryan's, nor their reaction, it was both amusing and a little shocking, surprising, and Doug, well he knew from age eleven about his bestfriend. Weird thing but you mentioned Donnie Darko and someone else also did in another context about a story I wrote, I'm going to have to investigate, because I don't know Donnie Darko! 

Great story, can't wait for more. I hope you pick up the following this deserves. Oh, and the writing was good too :yes:

@Talo Segura Thanks for your great & encouraging comments. I just put up the second chapter - I will aim to put up one per day, maybe two! :) P.s. I recommend Donnie Darko! Many people like it for the sci-fi aspect, but I love the characters.

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14 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Great first chapter, I like Ryan and Doug, they make interesting friends. I'm not so sure about Ryan's parents.

@chris191070 Thanks for the comment and for reading! I just put up Chapter 2 :)

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Quote

In ten years, Stephanie would finally develop acne. She would drop out of high school and move into her boyfriend’s brother’s garage, where she would live in a cloud of petrol fumes and cannabis smoke.

Omg this took me out! :D I'm enjoying the story already! On to read the rest of the chapter!

Edit: Yeah, I love it. The coming out scene was so unique, unlike any other I've ever read. :lol: And Ryan and Doug seem to have a great dynamic. Looking forward to reading more!

Edited by ObicanDecko
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Well that was a pretty funny start to the escapade, Richie. It was well crafted. Introducing the fairytale theme and direction, for what may be, a non-traditional, happy ending.

I liked how you seamlessly switched back and forth between timeframes, to introduce Ryan, Doug, their parents and everyone else and bring us up to speed.

Clearly, Ryan's dryness is going to land him in many more bizaare situations. It's great to have Doug's levity there to complete the modern day, odd couple.  

Edited by Bard Simpson
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:rofl:  Thanks for letting me know this story had started.  OMG that coming out scene... :rofl:  Gotta give his parents credit for trying.  :unsure:  I love the dynamic between Ryan and Doug.  Great characterization.  I really enjoyed this chapter.  

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I find your story hilarious so far!  It seems to me that sometimes we forget that gay guys are able to laugh at themselves without guilt.  And boy do we need some humor right now!

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