Authors: Ian Cooper
Tags: #romance, #love, #short story, #androgyny, #legs, #light comedy, #ian cooper
Don’t like men, you
And they’re even less likely to like
me, Brandon thought.
Ha! I wonder what
connoisseur and a raconteur, and often a boor as well, Slam sipped
the colourless liquid in silent appreciation.
He, she, or it. Brandon took another
look, slightly disappointed not to make eye contact
The person was busy talking with her
friend, who ordinarily, Brandon would have called lovely. But the
tall one was unique. And compelling…and a whole lot of other
He had himself another light beer. He
took the foam off judiciously with his first sip, studied it and
himself in the mirror over the bar, and thought some mournful
thoughts. Like, how soon can we go?
I must try not to look at my
That’s a good one, Brandon remembered
thinking and then to both of their stunned awareness, the person
under discussion was right there at Brandon’s elbow.
His jaw dropped and he
contemplated the unthinkable. The impression of a kind of
attractive androgyny was even more overpowering up close. She was
What if this really
a lady, i.e., a
person of the opposite sex?
He stood there in thrall.
It’s not exactly what he had in
Would you care to
He gave a nod and a wry look at Slam,
face in his glass and staring fixedly downwards at the
Of course. I, I’d be
The figure gave a smile,
and an inclination of the head, and Brandon took the offered hand
and allowed himself to be led out onto the dance floor. The face
was very sweet, looking more vulnerable and open than
Your friend is kind of
smiled into his eyes.
My name is Kim”
That was helpful.
The music was slow for once, and his
partner was leading the pair with a strong sense of timing and
position. It was easy enough to keep up and everything. It was like
getting a dance lesson, he realized. Kim was very good, especially
considering those shoes. He found himself peering at the neck
collar, trying to catch any hint of an Adam’s apple. The legs…he
already knew about the legs, but people said you could always tell
by the lower calves.
People were full of shit, he
They sure looked like a woman’s legs,
or perhaps more properly, a girl’s. A jolly nice girl too, if only
one could be absolutely, positively sure these days.
And that was just the problem wasn’t
That was the trouble. In spite of
which, he was developing a distinct chub.
Ah, yeah, he’s not so bad.
It’s just that he’s been kind of, ah, alone lately…”
You’re a loyal
They danced for a while,
Brandon biting his tongue and looking at
ears and neck.
He was pretty sure in that exact
moment of time.
No, seriously.” It
appeared the ears were listening. “It’s just that you affected him,
and he told me that as soon as he saw you.”
You’re his wingman, aren’t
Brandon’s heart thudded a bit when he
He looked up in a kind of shock. Kim
was a good inch, maybe even two inches taller than him, slender and
yet not all bony in his grasp. Brandon was slightly aroused, he put
it down to body heat. While Kim was spectacular, the whole Goth
thing really wasn’t his cup of tea. Maybe up until now, he hadn’t
seen it really well done, but it was a lifestyle as well as a
temporary costume. He didn’t mind that people did it. Brandon
couldn’t really see himself doing it, and Goth chicks always seemed
to be with like-minded individuals. He didn’t think it would work
very well any other way. It’s not like he saw them
He couldn’t see going in to work like
that—that was for one thing.
No. No. Never.” Not
really, at least not most of the time. “Wingman, eh?
They were just a couple of guys out
drinking on a Friday night, doing the rounds of all the singles
Those eyes regarded him,
The music sped up and then Brandon
really did have his hands full. After focusing on the illusion that
was Kim’s body and its rhythm, and tuning out all that was out
there except Kim and the music, he found he was enjoying
That was kind of unusual for
Kim and Brandon sat at a tiny table
right by the kitchen door, which thudded open every minute or so in
subtle counterpoint to everything that was going on. Which was not
much except talk, for the little chamber sextuplet was taking a
break to clean the saliva out of their instruments. It was hard to
believe they actually fit four people around this thing. Brandon
was suddenly on a roll.
He’d never thought he had it in him,
but for whatever reason he was grateful and they were having fun
after all. Man or woman, Kim was a genuinely good person, he saw
that right off.
Kim grinned at his jokes and Brandon
squeezed Kim’s hand. They were angled close together, watching the
crowd and the dancers.
Some of his awkwardness was wearing
It’s kind of good to get
away from Slam for a while. To hell with everything.”
They raised a glass.
Those beautiful eyes looked past him.
Brandon laughed aloud, and Kim nodded
in some humour.
Across the room, Slam moved in for the
kill, homing in on a little round girl perched on a stool at the
south end of the bar, nursing some drink with an umbrella in it. If
she was an inch over five-foot it was a miracle. If she was an
ounce under one-eighty-five, it was an even bigger miracle. Slam’s
head leaned in close and her head turned, her thick round glasses,
mounted on the front of her big round head, catching the light and
her mouth opening up to respond. Her dark brown hair was pulled in
tight and straight around behind and Brandon wondered if Slam would
score again tonight. It was a reasonable assumption. Like all good
killers, the man made a science of it. If nothing else, it was
oddly fascinating to watch.
He turned to find Kim’s eyes upon
He shrugged apologetically.
Kim put Kim’s chin in Kim’s hands and
regarded Brandon with some interested objectivity…a curious
feeling. And yet he was feeling it too.
Go with the freakin’
You’re a good
Thank you. I enjoyed that,
I really did.” There was no hesitation. “It’s been too
Kim reached over and gave his other
hand a squeeze.
Yeah, me too.” Kim’s oval
eyes, deep blue in the middle, with the most impossibly clear
whites, regarded him in a measuring fashion.
she wasn’t waiting to be
pursued. It was a bit out of character.
Kim’s friend was out on the dance
floor. The girl’s purse was there on the table. She wasn’t bad
looking either, a lot shorter than Kim, but blonde, with soft
eyebrows and oddly brown eyes, which he rarely thought of. That was
the trope, right? Blonde hair and blue eyes. He’d lusted after one
or two himself. But it was her skin tones that got him thinking.
She had that perpetually-tanned look, it’s not that he didn’t like
bikini lines and pale white globular bottoms either. At least he
thought he did—it’d been a long time.
Her name was Maria, another odd
Why don’t we go someplace
quiet?” She had her own little clutch purse right there.
Brandon’s mouth opened slightly, but
luckily the right sounds came out.
Kim grinned, biting at his or her
See—I knew you were a nice
guy.” Maria was just coming back to the table, she had some college
kid in bloody white running shoes and jeans falling off his ass in
tow on the end of her outstretched arm.
His hockey jersey was about nine sizes
too large for him, but other than that, he seemed quite all right
for a nineteen year-old.
Their eyes met. Maria and her purse
would just have to take their chances, besides, she was busy
necking, with the guy’s hands all over her.
Brandon wondered how old either girl
actually was, but asking such a question was strictly a
If you had to ask,
get the hell out of there
—that was one of their little rules.
Kim gave her friend an indulgent
smile, saying goodbye to a distracted Maria when she looked up with
glazed eye. They were on their way, with Brandon for one having no
idea where they were going but just then the band started up and
they might as well consult outside on the pavement.
It was a different sort of quiet out
there, but refreshing enough with the sounds of the city in the
They ended up walking down the street,
holding hands and talking about life, friends, and the whole scene,
They put up with the music, as it
turned out. Kim liked popular music, but a little jazz once in a
while was okay.
If it’s slow and sexy.”
Her strong grip gave a pull and they crossed the street.
Right.” Brandon smiled,
relieved to be out of there.
In some odd way, the
pressure was off. He couldn’t quite account for it, the fact that
he still couldn’t quite account for Kim’s gender might have had
something to do with it. It’s like it didn’t matter as long as he
wasn’t alone—and it wasn’t Slam, either. Brandon knew that while he
work—traditional roles still prevailed in society, he really
wasn’t much. He was six feet tall and a hundred and seventy pounds
no matter how you looked at it, and youthful attempts to pack on
the muscle had resulted in expensive equipment that was painful to
use and a few pulled tendons…some back pain, neck and groin pulls.
The list went on. He had never really doubted his manhood, far from
But he wondered what people
He enjoyed the stares of other single
male passersby, who apparently did not have his doubts. He,
Brandon, was with a girl, or at least near enough to fool the
I never thought I’d hear
myself say that.
It was a curiously
wonderful feeling. To hold hands, to look at each other, to look
away, still smiling and to know that it was good. Kim wasn’t
Kim just liked him for some reason.
It was the only reasonable
A couple of punks (or wannabes with
credit cards) passed them going in the opposite direction and Kim
was followed by a wolf-whistle. Turning his head, their eyes met
and Kim’s step changed, more sensual, stronger and more
self-assured now. She stood up a little straighter now too, he
How about something to
Sure.” He cracked a wicked
grin. “What did you have in mind?”
Kim pointed at a sign up ahead,
holding his eye oddly for a moment.
Coney Island Hot Dogs!
You’re on.” The neon glare washed out onto wet sidewalks and it
struck him that it was all kind of perfect.
Taxis sped by, faces in the windows,
as the city towered over this grubby little street corner in
Brooklyn. Horns honked, lights washed every which way and the
voices were everywhere.
It could drive you mad, it could
comfort you…it could enlighten and exalt you, if you let
This was what he wanted.
Shit. He’d been honest with himself,
at least about that, for a very long time. But there was a long
list of qualifications or something standing in the way. Must they
fit through a template, as he had asked Slam one day.
Slam, of course, had no idea of what
he was talking about.
He wanted all of it, not just one
corner of it, not something tacky, demeaning and ever so fucking
superficial, no matter how momentarily gratifying the conquest
might be. Sure, everyone wanted to get laid.
If only there was some way to put all
of that into words, and say it to the right person.
Brandon’s sadness felt like it would
never leave him sometimes, as he felt Kim’s eye upon