Gary shuffled his feet and his shoulders suddenly slumped. “I didn’t think you were interested in me, or guys or whatever."
“In guys.” Tell me, but don’t tell me. I needed to know. Pandora’s box was opening, spilling out all my darkest secrets, but I didn’t have the strength to throw back the lid and peer inside. Help me out, here. “So you mean I don’t just crash at your place. I have sex with you?”
My own words rang in my ears. I have sex with you? I have sex with you? How did I manage to say it so smoothly?
“Hah,” Gary laughed softly, looking at the ground. “Fifteen minutes ago you were afraid I thought you were a homophobe.”
That was as much of an answer as I needed. Finally I loosed my grip on his sleeve to sit back on the warm hood of my car, just in case my legs gave out. “Oh, my god.”
“Don’t think I like, tried to seduce you or anything,” Gary said in a tone that he meant to be comforting. "You were really, really drunk, so I was going to just let you sleep over and then see you out the next day. It wasn't like you had come over by yourself; you had been hanging out with me and my friends and we just wanted to drink closer to home, you know. Then everyone left, and when I tried to put you on the couch you were like, 'I don't want to sleep here, I wanna sleep with you.' We didn't, like, go all the way that time, but...You told me that if I told anyone that you would literally kill me."
I blinked at him. "Huh?"
"I know, I know, I thought you were kidding," he shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets, "but you kissed me and it was really great, so I just kind of stopped thinking."
I was no longer sure whether I was searching for memories or repressing them, but they seeped through the cracks in the blackout barrier: Gary laughing at me in the car with the dark night surrounding us. Sitting him down at that tinny piano and ordering him to play. Watching the way his nose wrinkled when he drank tequila. Gary rubbing my back when I threw up in his toilet. Telling him “no homo, but you have a nice mouth,” and us cracking up at his kitchen table. That kitchen table—I didn’t remember in images, just in feelings of feverish excitement, of being in incredible lust with the body against mine.
“So all those times when I blacked out,” I began slowly.
Gary took pity on me. “Maybe you needed the liquid courage. But yes. We’ve slept together. You're, ahem, you're a top, in case you were worried about, you know, that." He sat down next to me on the car, just far enough to remain a stranger. "I’m sorry I didn’t say anything; I thought you were really trying to keep it on the down-low.”
How had I not figured this out? “I never wake up here.”
“You shower and I walk you home.” After a brief pause he added, "The first time you just kind of left afterwards without saying anything. It freaked me out, like, I had possibly screwed us both over by not thinking with my head. There wasn't even an excuse; I was drunk by that time, but not too drunk to know better. So I was really nervous, but you didn't seem to remember or care, so I thought it was a one time thing."
"But it wasn't," I finished.
Gary shook his head. "'Gary, I need a ride,'" he mimicked my drunken slur pretty well. "I could have said no and saved us both this trouble. I'm no saint. I may let you make the first move, but only so I could say it wasn't my fault in the morning."
My chest was a cavern, filled with only cobwebs of memories and disconnected words. “Let you make the first move.” “You kissed me.” “You’re a top.” “Interested in guys.” How the fuck had this happened to me? How had I done this to myself?
"Do you think I'm gay?" My voice came out in a whisper. I wanted to sound more socially advanced, like that wouldn't bother me at all. Instead it sounded as though my entire world had been yanked from under my intoxicated feet.
Gary sighed heavily. "Fuck, Nick, I don't know. What makes you gay? Maybe you're bi-curious; I never saw you hitting on another guy. I had a girlfriend in high school and enjoyed sex with her, but I'd still count myself as a gay man. Maybe you're straight and I'm an idiot."
I looked down at my hands. "I feel like I did a lot more than just sleep with you," I muttered.
"Well, yeah, I guess you did," Gary acquiesed, "but you can blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol."
I smiled a little at that. "That's a fucking horrible song."
"Seriously, Nick," he said, clapping me on the shoulder, "don't worry too much about it. You don't have to make any major changes or life decisions because you get a little friendly when you're drunk. No one else knows, so you could forget it if you like."
"Uh huh." I couldn’t forget what I couldn’t remember. Or was he referring to the grand revelation that I was an ass fucker during the full moon? How the hell could I ever forget that, as though years down the line I could scratch my head and honestly say, “I am 100% positive that I’ve never done stuff with another guy.” This was bullshit.
"Well," Gary said as he stretched his legs and stood, "thanks for the ride. If you need to talk or whatever, let me know."
I'd fucked the guy multiple times and remembered none of it. This wasn't over. He couldn't leave me here wondering what exactly we did and why I kept coming back. It wasn't fair. Gary was almost to his door. He'd go inside and I'd be out here in the cold with my brain turned to mush. Running after him seemed like the natural thing to do.
“Invite me in, Gary.”
He looked at me askance. “Do you need to go to the bathroom?”
“No, dammit, just…” I stepped in closer than I should have. “Let me in.” I needed to see, to remember.
Gary shook his head; he seemed to do that a lot around me. "I don't know if this is a good idea."
"What more damage could be done?" I argued. "Cat's out of the bag; we've been fuck buddies for the last year. At least do me the decency of letting me recall some of it by myself."
Wordlessly Gary opened the door and let me cross the threshold in front of him. I felt strange; ease and disquiet mixing to sit like a stone in my belly. I glanced around at the small living room and the kitchen behind it. I do know this place. I knew that couch was great for a nap, but the leather got really sticky from sweat. I knew that the coffee table teetered on one broken leg. I knew the DVD player sometimes stuck. I knew Gary never had napkins; he used cloth towels for everything. I knew that the kitchen floor was uncomfortable. I knew that the shower took a little bit to warm up and the soap was organic. The bedroom was at the end of hall. Gary followed me as I walked over to open the bathroom door. An orange toothbrush sat next to a blue one of a different brand. Orange was my favorite color.
“I have a toothbrush.” This was way more serious than I thought. When had I last left a toothbrush at a casual hook-up’s home?
“Yeah,” Gary said quietly.
“You like me.”
He put his hands up. “You've found me out. Sorry.”
“We're not just fuck buddies,” I said thoughtfully.
Gary laughed a little. “Are you saying that to make me feel better? I'm not above just sleeping with guys because they're hot and pay attention to me.”
"I mean me." I turned to face him. "I, or me when I'm drunk, at least, likes you as more than a fuck buddy." We hadn't always had sex. My body hijacked my brain and got me a boyfriend. I strode down the hall and barged into the bedroom. The bed stared at me. It was still rumpled from last night, so Gary had no time to hide that there had been a separate head-sized indent on each pillow.
Since Gary had said that I had never slept here, we must have lain there last night, side by side. Not having sex, or no longer having sex, far enough apart to focus our eyes but close enough to touch. I sat down on the bed and put my head in my hands. Gary stood anxiously in the doorway.
"This must be weird for you," he commented.
"I don't know what to think," I replied homestly, scrubbing my hands over my face. "It's like discovering that I have a split personality. I've been fucking around behind my own goddamn back, with a man, no less, for almost a whole year. I can't be angry with you, and I don't now why I would be since I was clearly the instigator."
"Just sixty percent of the time," Gary interjected. I looked up to see him smiling at me, that aw, poor guy kind of smile. It made me feel like shit.
"I don't know if I can continue this," I told him honestly. "I mean, I don't know that I can be invested...Er, it's like, I know that I know you, and you know me, but I don't have any memory of our, whatever this is," I finished lamely, gesturing between us.
"So this house tour isn't working?" Gary asked, leaning against the door frame.
"Oh, I don't know. Like, I was here last night. I get it. I know that I was on that side," I answered, pointing to the pillow I knew was mine. "The thing is, I still couldn't tell you what we did or talked about."
"Fucking on that kitchen table."
"I don't know when, how, or how many times, but I know it happened."
He dropped his gaze from mine. "Does that bother you?"
"I can't really tell. But dude, come on. Don't you want something better than that? A guy who likes you and who can hold his liquor?"
"I guess I should," Gary agreed, half to himself. I realized then that I was hurting him, and even my Jekyll and Hyde consciousness could merge long enough to know that was the last thing I wanted. Whatever I felt about our nighttime activities there was no denying that I cared about him a lot. How else would I have known that despite his nonchalant facade he was on the verge of manly tears? Why else would I have felt like an ass because of it?
"Gary, I'm sorry—" I began, but he held up a hand.
"Look, I've told you already that we can forget about this. I'll just...we don't have to see each other outside of work. I'll stay out of your way if you want to get fucked up at a party."
Not yet, I’m not finished, I wanted to say. Don't make me leave just yet. But it was Gary's house, and he deserved to have it to himself. I was just some jackass in the middle of a sexual identity crisis.
I got up and Gary turned sideways to let me pass. I looked at him staring at nothing over my shoulder, and I remembered.