I’M NOT the kind of guy who goes for one-night stands or anonymous sexual encounters with men I’ve just met. I prefer sex when it’s part of a committed relationship: when it’s more than just sex. When it’s making love. But sometimes sex is just sex and nothing more.
I hadn’t been in a relationship for more than seven months, and it had been that long since I’d had sex with anyone besides myself. I was craving man-on-man contact. I thought about it almost every waking moment, and I dreamt about it as I slept. Despite all that, I wasn’t out looking for sex or cruising for men when I met Nate. But sometimes sex just happens.
I had just finished a sixteen hour shift at Industrial Mechanics after finally fixing a dump truck I’d been working on for most of the week. It was after midnight, and I was dirty, tired, and hungry. The hunger was the strongest of the three, and I didn’t have any food in my empty and barren apartment, so I went to Archie’s Bar and Grill on Virginia Street. Archie’s was open twenty-four hours, had a cool atmosphere, and offered a three-dollar breakfast after midnight.
Downstairs the décor was straight out of Rebel Without a Cause: a 1950’s style diner. Upstairs looked like a raw industrial studio space with exposed steel rafters and metal walls. There were also plasma televisions and a pool table. It was an area reserved for adults.
There were only a few other people there when I arrived. I took a seat at the bar and nodded at the bartender.
“Eddie, how’s it going?”
“Not bad, Duane. You?”
Duane was in his mid-forties with graying hair and an expanding waistline. He was also my best friend, but that didn’t mean I knew him well at all. I didn’t know his last name, and he didn’t know mine, which was Maine. I knew he was married, and he knew I was gay. Nothing else beyond that. Duane was my best friend only because I didn’t have any other friends. When Gil—my ex-boyfriend—left, he took our house, our dog, and our friends. Fuck, I sounded like a country music song.
Gil had left me for a younger man. Not that I was that old. I had just turned twenty-seven. Gil was older than me by five years, and his new boyfriend—Lawrence—was nineteen. Gil and I had been together for five years, and I’d invested everything in my life with him. I had moved to Reno from California for him. I had left behind all my friends and family. I’d lost contact with everyone from my past, and my friends with Gil had turned out to be more his friends than mine.
“You want the special?” Duane asked.
I came to Archie’s several times a week and usually ordered the special. It filled me up, and it was cheap. Not that I didn’t have the money for a more expensive meal. I had decent savings; I was just saving the money for something else. I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to spend the money on yet, but I would know it when I saw it.
I nodded, and Duane placed the order. He slid me a beer from the tap. I’m a creature of habit: beer followed by milk. I grabbed a book from my back pocket—a tattered copy of Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar—flipped to where I had stopped, and read while I waited for the meal.
I heard the door open but didn’t pay attention to the person coming in.
“Hey, Nate,” Duane called out. From the corner of my eye I saw someone sit at the end of the bar, not too far from me.
“Special?” Duane asked.
“Yeah, thanks,” Nate answered. He had a soft, melodic voice, and I turned to look at him. I looked longer than I should’ve. I couldn’t help myself; he was good looking. He had classic good looks, not the Abercrombie and Fitch type. He looked about the same age as me, and looked like he lived the same rough, hard-working life I did. I usually fell for guys who were more white-collar with soft features. Gil was a musician and had never worked a hard day in his life.
Nate looked like every day had been a rough day. He had a square jaw, dark brown eyes, and black hair that needed to be trimmed back. The hair fell over his ears and down his forehead. His hands looked callused and beaten. He was large but not fat—very muscular with large biceps.
He looked up at me and caught me staring, and I quickly looked away. Duane brought my meal and milk. After finishing the beer, I took a bite of the eggs. I looked up at Nate and couldn’t look away. He was gorgeous, and my pants tightened. I adjusted myself and caught Nate looking at me with a smile.
His meal came, and he ate it slowly. I stole glances at him and often caught him looking at me. At first we both looked away, but we started holding our glances. He didn’t seem to mind that I was checking him out and shot me a warm smile that went straight to my groin. I had to adjust myself again, and this time he chuckled.
I was starting to wonder if I should approach him when I saw a reflection of light from his left hand. Fuck, he was wearing a wedding ring. I figured he was just being friendly, so I buried my face in my book.
Duane didn’t care if I hung around after eating, and I didn’t feel like going home, so I remained at the bar, reading my book in solitude.
I glanced outside and saw a beaten-up station wagon—the kind with the fake wood siding—pull up into the parking lot. A bedraggled man and woman came in with three boys, all under the age of ten. The kids were loud and rambunctious, and not even threats of an ass-whooping quieted them.