Since You Aren’t

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My eyes were blinded by the warm light streaming in through the Las Vega apartment bedroom windows when I woke up. I had been raised in Boston. Despite years living in Australia and then here, I still couldn’t get used to late spring conditions in February. I turned toward the middle of the bed and reached out and murmuring “Happy Valentine’s Day,” but coming up empty. Rob must be in the bathroom, I thought. But then I thought that didn’t make any sense, as Rob was like most nineteen-year-olds. I had had to push him out of bed in the morning all summer. And I didn’t hear the shower running.

But then I realized I wasn’t making any sense at all. Rob hadn’t been in my bed last night. He’d left me two days ago—to go back to L.A. and college. His spring semester had already started in L.A., and he’d still been hanging around here, which had led me to believe that he might stay. But now he’d gone.

It was bad timing on his part, because he really would have liked what I’d bought him for Valentine’s Day. I’d tried to keep him here. I’d told him he could go to college right here. The Las Vegas division of the University of Nevada was just a couple of blocks further east off of East Flamingo Road from the apartment house, which itself was just a couple of long blocks east of the Vegas strip. I’d thought we were getting along very well. I wasn’t all that old and my job made me stay in tip-top condition, but he’d made quite clear that I was just a winter-holiday break meal ticket for him.

At thirty-nine I needed to stop chasing young tail. Memo to myself to do that as soon as I turned forty, which was a lot sooner than I wanted to. It was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain hunk status, which was a requirement of my job. I’d come down in the world in the job department—it’s a good thing I’d saved and invested well while I was making good bucks or I couldn’t have bought this apartment so close to the Planet Hollywood Resort, across the strip from the Bellagio Casino, where I worked evenings.

I got up in silence, did my thing in the bathroom, which was taking increasingly long as the years unfolded, and worked out for an hour before moving on to the kitchen, which was also silent other than the pop of the eggs and bacon in the pan, the gurgle of the coffeemaker, and the ding of the toaster oven burning my toast. The second bedroom in the apartment was entirely outfitted with serious exercise equipment. I had to stay in shape because I showed that shape every evening I was working and I showed it standing near young muscle hunks in their twenties.

With each month it seemed more difficult to keep in fighting trim.

There were several male-hunk Chippendale dancer-type revues permanently playing Vegas. I was the regular master of ceremonies of one called Aussie Heat, which played in the V Theater in the Planet Hollywood Resort. The venues played to a sliding scale of “straight for the women” to “gay for the men,” and Aussie Heat leaned heavily toward gay-male patrons and show. I was a draw, as MC, in my own right and got billing on the posters advertising the show. In my late teens and early twenties, I’d costarred in a police academy drama TV show. When that closed down, I went to Australia and New Zealand to play parts in movies there I couldn’t get in Hollywood. That made me an attraction in Aussie Heat. I didn’t have to dance the line or wiggle out into the audience and give lap dances as the MC, but I had to go topless like the other guys and stand up well enough beside them.

I didn’t know how much longer I could do that. I didn’t really have to do that anymore at all. As I already noted, I’d saved and invested well when the money was coming in. I could lie back and enjoy the rest of my life now, if a wanted to and didn’t spend too freely. It was while I was lying back at the apartment pool that I’d met and hooked up with Rob. He was working as the apartment pool boy for the winter holiday break between his sophomore year semesters. I loved the way he looked and he claimed to like the way I looked. I’d given him room and board since before Christmas in exchange for sex.

What had started out as just athletic sex and grown more affectionate—at least for me—and I was contemplating an early career retirement and settling down with Rob when he let me know that wasn’t his plan at all. What we had was just a semester break sugar daddy arrangement, enjoyed by both, but no lasting commitment.

I didn’t realize how lonely I could be until he was gone. He hadn’t been the first of the young dudes who’d shared my bed here in Vegas.

I caught myself setting the breakfast table for two, cursed myself and sighed, And ate my breakfast to silence other than the rattling of the daily newspaper. As I ate I eyed a box of glazed donuts topped with red and white Valentine’s sprinkles sitting on the kitchen island and representing how recent a guy young enough to snarf such fat factories and still stay in shape had lived here. I felt depressed enough to snarf altyazılı porno the rest of them myself, but I knew they would go directly to fat that would show under the lights of the club stage. I’d have to toss them, but if I did it would be an acknowledgement that Rob wasn’t coming back. The TV was on to constant news but I had the sound off, wanting to know if anything serious was going on in the world but not wanting to hear about it.

My breakfast came after noon, as I rarely got home from work before 2:00 a.m., so I wasn’t in synch with the world in the best of times.

These weren’t the best of times. As I’ve noted, I didn’t realize how lonely I could be until Rob was gone. While I ate, scanned the headlines in the newspaper and checked the obituaries, and read the comics, I checked my cellphone like every six or seven minutes. Rob had been a caller. He’d call me on every little thing he did or saw. If he saw a caterpillar crawl across the patio tiles while he was cleaning the apartment house pool, he’d call me to share in the experience. It also being irritating as the day rolled on how often he would call.

Now I wasn’t getting any calls on the cellphone and was feeling disconnected from the world—and from exuberant young male tail. Valentine’s Day was not the best day of the year to have lost your lover.

God, I was starting to feel old—and old and out of step with the world.

After breakfast, I went to the desk to sort through papers and pay bills. At 3:30, I changed from my sleeping shorts to a Speedo and went out to the pool to swim laps and tan until 5:30. It was barely warm enough to swim in the outside pool, but I needed to get out there as often as possible. Both swimming and tanning were necessary activities. The swimming helped me stay in shape and you couldn’t be on stage with Aussie Heat without having a good tan.

As I lay at the pool I saw that a bunch of leaves had formed on the top of the water in the pool—this despite there not being any trees nearby with leaves to fall. Someone needed to skim them off. But no one was there to do so. Rob had been the pool boy here for the last month—and Rob wasn’t coming back. I’d offered him a life here, but he wasn’t coming back.

When I went back upstairs to my apartment to get ready for work, the first thing I did was to toss the box of red-and-white-sprinkled glazed donuts in the trash. The last thing I did when leaving for work after showering and dressing was to retrieve the box of donuts and put it back on the kitchen island. There always was the hope Rob would be here when I returned tonight. He’d known he was getting that special gift I’d promised him for Valentine’s Day, a leather bomber jacket. He was a greedy enough little bugger to come back for that.

* * * *

It was the second night in a row that I saw the sandy-haired young guy out in the audience at Aussie Heat who was looking at me more than at the bare-chested hunks dancing the stage and playing the room. He couldn’t have been more than nineteen or twenty and he was a real cutie. He wasn’t the beefed-up type of those on stage—and that I tried to keep to be—but he was a real looker and had a puppy-dog vulnerability aura about him. He wasn’t saucy and sassy like Rob had been, but he had the same effect on my arousal factor as Rob had—well, as Rob had had when he was here.

The crowd was lighter that evening than the night before and that it would be the next night, Valentine’s Day, so he was more noticeable, wearing the same form-fitting T-shirt, with a St. Louis University logo, tight faded jeans, and running shoes. He wasn’t exactly dressed for a night on the town, but none of the patrons minded. This was a heavy gay-audience night, and the young dude was getting as much attention from the other patrons as they were giving the hunks gyrating on the stage, and, eventually, out in the audience in lap dances. The young guy didn’t seem to notice the attention he was getting. A lot of his attention was going to me, and I certainly noticed that.

He was the same age as Rob was. I was still clinging to young guys as my grasp as staying as young and in-shape myself for as long as possible.

When I was leaving the theater and out on the street that night after the show, I noticed the young dude standing across East Flamingo Road like he was waiting for someone. Was he waiting for me, I wondered. If so, that would be just fine. He might be just the ticket to get my mind off Rob.

I looked across the street at him, making it obvious to him that I was eyeing him directly, and he looked back at me. We were frozen there for several minutes while he was coming to some sort of decision. When he had, he started to recross the street—at least I got the impression he was coming to me. If this was going to happen, he’d have to come to me. Maybe I was going to find love this Valentine’s Day after all. But he’d have to come to me. When the day came that I had to go snuffling after young tail, I knew that was mobil porno the day for me to give up young tail.

And I knew that day was coming. It wasn’t lost on me that having to buy Rob that expensive leather bomber jacket to try to keep him was a form of me going to him.

Almost as soon as the sandy-haired cutie had taken a step in my direction, though, he stopped and looked away. At the same minute I felt a hand on my arm and turned to see one of the dancers, a young black guy, Jared, with the build of a god, there.

“Could we go for coffee or something, Gill?” Jared asked. “There’s something I think we need to talk about.”

“Sure,” I said. “We could do the all-night Starbucks at Bally’s.” I liked Jared and was sorry to see him go. He was stepping up to a Chippendales revue in Los Angeles. It was a good move for him—and for the patrons of such shows.

“As you may know I’m moving to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks,” he said when we had our coffee and were settled at a table. He wasn’t looking me in the eyes, and I was searching for what the issue was here. I didn’t think I’d ever had an issue with Jared. We were both tops, we shared our similar tastes in men, and we’d never had occasion to square off against each other. I thought everything was casual and fine between us. I didn’t have as a good a relationship with some of the other dancers, who, as a group, were high strung, territorial, and competitive, and my getting billing because I’d been in Australian movies wasn’t seen as justification enough by all of them. I certainly didn’t have the bods they all did, but I was a good fifteen years older than most of them.

“Yes, I heard you had gotten into an L.A. Chippendales revue. That’s the top, Jared. That’s a good move. We’ll miss you here, though.”

“I didn’t want to leave and have you find out later—I like you and don’t want there to be any bad feelings.”

“I don’t understand,” I said. “I don’t think there’s been any reason for us to have bad feelings about anything.”

“It’s about Rob Abbot. I know he’s your boyfriend—that he’ been your boyfriend—but he’s been getting around.”

“Rob Abbot?” I exclaimed, fully confused and in the dark about where this is going.

“I’ll be joining him in L.A. We’ll be living together. He was talking about staying here and going to the University of Nevada, but when I got the job in L.A., he said he’d stay in college there. Sorry, man, I didn’t mean to short you on that. When Rob and I started, I didn’t even know he was your boy.”

“Rob? You and Rob?” I asked. It came as a blow, of course, but also as a blessing. Here I’d been castigating myself for pushing Rob away is some way I didn’t understand having done, and all the time he was giving it to other guys in the revue—probably not just to Jared—and he was walking off with a newer model than I was. It, surprisingly, was more of a relief than a disappointment. All along there had been disconnects between me and Rob and I know I had been thinking of settling down with him more because he was the guy who was there when the urges set in rather than because he really was “the guy.”

“No problem, Jared,” I said. And in the moment at least it really was no problem. Running through my mind were all of the little things about Rob that irritated me and were making me feel like I’d dodged a bullet. He could be Jared’s problem now. I realized that I like Jared a whole lot more than I did Rob and that any concern I was having right now about this was for Jared in his relationship with Rob than in Rob’s relationship with me—or Jared and me being good. “We’re good,” I said. “It was over between Rob and me anyway.”

There was the issue of the bomber jacket now, which was too small for me, but maybe there’d be another guy later.

Otherwise, it was good; and it was over between Rob and me now. When I got back to the apartment, that box of donuts would go right back in the trash.

I stood, offered my hand, and gave Jared a smile. He took it, relief clear on his face. We shook and I turned and left the coffee shop—and that was that.

It was raining and had turned colder when I left the coffee shop, and I was getting soaked. It was only a couple of long blocks for me to walk to get to my apartment house, though, and I was floating on a bit of euphoria, feeling like a burden had lifted from me. I didn’t expect that to last long, but, for now, it was enough for me not to worry about a bit of rain. We got so little rain in Vegas that we thanked rather than cursed the gods whenever it came upon us.

I was at the apartment door and fumbling with my key when I heard an “Excuse me” from behind me. I turned. It was the great-looking young sandy-haired guy from the V Theater audience the last two nights. He was as soaked as I was. His clothes, such as they were, were plastered to his cut body and he was looking sexy as hell.

“You’re Gill Gordon, aren’t you? The Australian move star?” he asked, the question timidly put out there.

That sex izle went directly to my vanity. It was nice for him to say “star,” if only in Australia and mostly side-kick parts. I didn’t hear that often outside the theater troupe publicity. “Yes. Haven’t I seen you before? Is there something I can do for you?”

There was something the young honey could do for me, and maybe he would. He’d followed me home—in the rain. He could come upstairs, lie down on my bed, and open his legs for me.

“I’ve come to your show a couple of times.”

“On the mostly gay nights?” I asked, wanting to pin him down on that point. He was a real honey.

“Yes, on those nights,” he said.

“Good to know,” I said, making clear preferences had been declared here.

“I’m sorry. I’ve been at your show and I’ve been trying to build up the courage to speak to you. My name is Todd Simpson. Kenneth Todd Simpson. They call me Todd.”

“Yes?” I said. He’d stopped when saying his name, like maybe that should ring a bell with me.

“My mother was Claudia Simpson,” he then said.

He stopped again. I was still in the dark, but there was a glimmer of light off in the corner of my mind.

“She appeared in that cop show you were a regular on before going to Australia.”

The light dawned. “Ah, yes, I remember her now. You’re her son? How is she?”

“She’s dead. I came looking for you because I think you maybe are my father.”

A double whammy. It took a minute from those two blows to register, but I recovered OK. This obviously meant more to him than to me, but I could see why they would mean something to him and I wouldn’t tromp on that.

“Ah. Perhaps you should come upstairs,” I said. “And we can get you out of those wet clothes.”

That was what I’d been thinking of doing—getting him out of his clothes—but certainly not in the context that had developed here.

* * * *

On the way up the stairs to the third floor—I always took the stairs rather than the elevator, as I was always working on staying in shape—the young guy—Todd, he said his name was—spoke up almost apologetically. “Maybe you didn’t hear what I said down on the street.”

“I heard you,” I said. “You said that maybe I was your father. We’ll discuss it upstairs after we’ve gotten into something dry. Yes, I heard you.”

“You’ll still let me come upstairs?”

“Yes, of course.”

I had heard him and I was processing. I remembered Claudine Simpson now. She was in the TV series we did nearly twenty years ago. A couple of years older than I was. Quite a looker, put in the series for that reason. I don’t know where she’d gone after the series was canceled late in its first year and I got the call to go to Melbourne. I couldn’t say I was surprised she’d had a baby in the next year. She slept around.

“Hey, nice place,” Todd said when we entered the apartment.

“I like it,” I said. “You can shower first. Leave your wet clothes there in the hall by those accordion doors on your way back and I’ll toss them in the dryer. I’ll take the other bathroom. We’ll talk when we’re dry and warm again.”

I had gym shorts and Ts in the workout room and there was a bath, with a shower, attached. No briefs or jock strap there, but I’d make do. I tossed Todd’s jeans and T in the dryer and turned it on. The shower in the master bath was already going before I got into the other one. And when I came out, he was already there, sitting at the kitchen island, munching on a donut from the Rob Memorial Box. He was fast. That wasn’t the only donut missing from the box. I took a brief moment to mourn what a guy his age could do with sugar and not put on weight that a guy my age couldn’t. That was followed by regretting that I hadn’t told him all I should have when he went back to the shower. He had a towel tied around his waist. I hadn’t told him to pull something to wear out of my drawers until his clothes were dry.

He wasn’t just a sandy-haired cutie. He was sex on a stick. I could feel my athletic shorts, in which I was swinging free, tenting up. I saw his eyes go directly to that.

“Sorry about the donut,” he said, making like he’d put it back even though it was three-quarters gone already.

“No problem. I guess you’re hungry. I can cook us up some eggs. How about that?”

“Don’t want you to go to any trouble,” he said.

“Looks like we got some talking to do. We might as well do it over a meal. Sorry about the towel. I should have told you to pull out some clothes, although there isn’t anything I have that wouldn’t just fall off you.”

“I noticed that,” he said. “You keep up with those dancers in the review, although you must be old enough to . . .” He stopped there, realizing the corner he’d sunk into.

“Old enough to be their father. Old enough to be your father,” I said.

“Yes. Sorry,” he said.

“What makes you think I’m your father? I guess we’ve established that Claudia Simpson is your mother, and I’ll admit I knew her—briefly—at one time. But what makes you finger me as the father? Because, I gotta tell you, that just isn’t possible.”

“Was my mother. She’s dead now. We were living in St. Louis. She was teaching drama there in a high school. Cancer got her.”

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