“Jules babe you're still here,” Max smiled as he entered the living room. The smell of stale smoke hung in the air. It was still not at all warm in there. Jules looked like he’d never even moved from the bean bag, it was almost as if it had become a part of him, kind of like a tortoise and its shell. “Where are the others?”
Jules stirred, looking up, regarding him with half closed eyes. The needle on the turntable was aimlessly scratching at the end of the disc, it too unable to pick itself up. “Ah, Max...” a silent pause seemed to come with the effort to speak. “They went out.”
Max thought it not worth pursuing the conversation with the obvious question of where to, he just let it drop. Only now he was wondering why he hadn't gone back to Alex's. He carefully lifted the arm from the record and switched it off. “I’m going to bed then,” he announced, uncertain why he bothered to say anything.
“Some guy called for you,” Jules somehow managed to come up for air, like a diver breaking surface but about to plunge back down. “Davy, he said.”
Max looked down at Jules, trying to decide whether he was awake or asleep. “Thanks,” he didn’t bother to ask if he’d left a message. He’d missed the call. Shame, because he needed to talk to Davy, although he wasn't sure why. It was something that kept nagging at the back of his mind. Something about Rueben and the boy, or was it curiosity, or what? He didn't know.
Turning he checked the notepad next to the phone. At least his number was written, but it was too late to call now. He probably lived at home and a stranger calling at... He looked at the clock on the mantelpiece, at just before midnight, that would not be good.
The Whole Earth cafe was a large dilapidated Edwardian house, set back off the main road by a big front garden. At least sometime in the past it was a garden, today it was just two large trees surrounded by dirt, split by a broken and cracked paved path to the stone steps and entrance door. Actually, the cafe was accessed at the other side, down small steps to a semi-basement.
Aeriol and the girls sat themselves at one of the large wooden tables. It was dark enough to have the lights on, but there were half-windows at the front where they had come in, so it wasn’t a cellar. A long glass display held the food on offer, keeping it warm, allowing you to guess what the dish was.
“This is nice,” Nads expressed nice as if it was exactly the opposite. The establishment definitely did not meet her standards. It wasn't busy, it hardly ever was. Except in the evenings when there was something going on, live music usually, on the little stage in one corner. This evening there was nothing happening and they were virtually alone.
“Let’s eat,” Aeriol announced, standing up. “I can choose, or you can come with me.”
“I’ll have whatever you’re having,” Nads looked up as Mayaan stood. She bent back over the table towards Nads and spoke softly, “That’ll be Aeriol then!” She turned and laughed, going to join him at the counter.
“It’s late, not too much choice, but that,” Aeriol nodded at a tray which looked like it contained a mixture of vegetables and beans, “it looks good.”
“If you say so,” Mayaan was almost as sarcastic in her appraisal of the food as Nadia was with her impression of the cafe.
“What were you conspiring over? I noticed.” Aeriol ordered the veggie dish from the young man who arrived. “Hi, can we have three of those.” He smiled, taking in the guy on the other side of the counter. It was the short hair and tiny earring that got his attention. The guy looked about fourteen, but had to be older than that.
“Thanks,” Mayaan nudged Aeriol. “I‘m SO happy I have such a decisive boyfriend!”
The young man glanced at her and continued serving, placing the first plate on the glass shelf, he grinned at Aeriol.
Aeriol turned to May, “You never said what you were conspiring between the two of you?” Waiting for an answer, if one would be forthcoming, he returned his attention to the server, smiling broadly as the second plate joined the first. “Can you take these please, May. I’ll pay.”
“Thank you darling,” she announced in an animated fashion. Picking up the two plates and heading back to their table.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Aeriol looked straight at the young guy as he served the last plate. Moving to the end of the counter he asked, “How much is all that?”
“Three-sixty, please,” the youngster avoided looking at Aeriol and concentrated on the till, ringing up the sale.
Aeriol reached out and touched the boy’s hand as he gave back his change. “I’m Aeriol.”
Now the server looked up into Aeriol’s eyes. “Nathan.”
Was that a smile, he was sure it was, and he was sure Nathan was watching him as he collected some cutlery and his plate. But when he joined the girls at the table and looked back the serving counter was deserted.
“So... what is this?” Mayaan studied her plate, Nads smiled, playing with a fork.
“It’s vegetarian, okay. Eat, and shut up.” Sometimes these girls were just too finicky and Aeriol was beginning to get fed up with them.
“Umm, delicious,” Nads picked at the food with her fork.
“You liked him,” Mayaan changed the topic, she didn’t want to crash the evening entirely.
“Who, the little kid at the counter?” Nads was still picking, at her food and at Aeriol.
“After,” May ventured, “you can come back to my place.”
Aeriol thought about it, for like five seconds. An hour ago it was appealing, Nads and May and him. But things had changed. He couldn’t support their bitching. Before he could reply Nathan came strolling over. “Everything good?” he looked from May to Nads, then rested his eyes on Aeriol. Nads batted her eyelids and grinned at May.
“Great,” Aeriol ate up the boy with his eyes, looking him all over. Slim, very boyish, how old is he?
“We’ll be closing up soon. Don’t want to hurry you folks, but...”
“But we need to go,” Nads interrupted.
Nathan looked embarrassed. He’s cute when he blushes, Aeriol thought. “You’ll be finishing work then?” Straight to the point. Aeriol wanted a nice night tonight, maybe Nathan could be the spice in the sandwich. The more he fantasised, the more he wanted that spice. The girls were garnish. Garnish or garish?
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Nate's voice jumped into Aeriol's revelry. “And you doing anything?”
“Going to get some sleep I guess. It’s been a long day.”
Nads and May were whispering to each other, but Aeriol was totally focused on Nathan. “Alone?” Nathan blushed and smiled at the same time. So very cute. “How old are you?” That, Aeriol regretted asking, but he didn’t want to get off with a fourteen year old, way too many problems. “Never mind. You maybe wanna hang with us?” His face turned even redder, Nathan was certainly not that experienced else he wouldn’t be so easily embarrassed.
“Seventeen and yes. You will have to give me ten minutes to lock up.”
“It’s a deal.” Aeriol now turned his attention to the girls. “Finish up ladies, we're all going back to May's.
Nathan collected the plates from May and Nad's, and Aeriol followed him with his own. “Come through,” Nathan invited Aeriol behind the counter into the kitchen area at the rear. “Just put it there,” he indicated the counter next to the sink. Aeriol left his plate next to the other two and moved up close to Nate. “I like you,” he smiled broadly and let his hand stroke through Nate’s short hair. He rested his hand lightly on the back of the boy’s head. There eyes locked on each other and Aeriol gently held Nate’s head as their lips touched.
“Nice flat,” Nate stepped into the living room behind Aeriol.
“You boys make yourselves at home,” May had a glint in her eye as she glanced at Aeriol. “We’re just going to freshen up,” she flipped her shoulder and swirled around. Nads followed her towards the back of the apartment.
Aeriol grabbed Nates and they tumbled down together onto the sofa giggling. “So Nate, I guess you're into boys?” Aeriol held the boy at arms length, looking at him. Nate blushed. “Fuck, you’re so cute when you get all embarrassed!” That just made the kid turn a deeper shade of red and look away. “Oh, hey,” Aeriol pulled him in and kissed him full on the lips. “I’m just teasing.”
Nate had been horny all day, from when he arrived at the cafe lunchtime until this evening. There’d been a couple of nice guys through the door, but basically the place had been empty. Only when Aeriol arrived had things picked up, although he never expected to get picked up. Being kind of shy he was trying hard to ignore the girls and wondering if he and Aeriol could share a bed for tonight. The more he thought about that and the more Aeriol touched and kissed him, the hotter he was getting.
‘This could be really good,’ Aeriol contemplated as the girls came back into the room and adorned one of the armchairs. Nads positioned herself on the broad arm, legs crossed, observing the boys whilst touching May’s hair. May, herself, was almost a mirror image, but sitting in the armchair, studying the boy Aeriol had picked up.
Standing Aeriol moved across the room, glanced and grinned at May, before examining the record collection on the shelves. He wasn’t that interested in choosing any particular L.P., so picked the one sticking out at the end, pulled it from the sleeve and set it to play on the turntable.
“It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don't know by now
It ain't no use to sit and wonder why,...”
He returned, sitting back down close to Nate and putting an arm around the boy. Smiling because he loved the cosmic play that allowed the lyrics to echo the mood.
“...But don't think twice, it's all right.
It ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
It's a light I never knowed
It ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
I'm on the dark side of the road...”
“I never knew you were into folk,” Aeriol looked across at May, who grinned. Nads shifted on the arm of the chair, but still played with Mayaan's hair. “Well Nate tell us about yourself,” she smiled her fake smile.
Nate wasn’t sure what was going on here. “What you wanna know?”
“Whatever you want to share,” she replied.
Nate glanced at Aeriol who squeezed his leg reassuringly, but Nate didn’t feel very comfortable and was beginning to think he made a mistake coming here. “There’s nothing much to say,” he told her. Aeriol looked at Nate and made up his mind that they needed to leave.
“Okay ladies, I think we’re out of here,” Aeriol stood up, offering a hand to Nate.
“Ooh, spoil sport,” May teased, but she didn’t really care, she was more into Nads and Aeriol could go do whatever he wanted.
“See ya then,” Nads called after them as they left.
“What now?” Nates asked once outside.
Nates turned to leave, but Aeriol grabbed a hold of him. “No stupid,” he laughed. “You’re coming home with me.”
A broad smile lit up Nathan's face.
I know this is not an interactive story, but it is also a story in process, which means your comments could influence what gets included and what does not. The story is there (in my head), the characters are alive, what remains is the choice of what bits get included and those that are left out. Which means your comments and input are important to me. Thanks for reading...