To his mind, Charley Inglewood had only been in love three times in his life. The first had been a man twenty two years older than him. The second, a brief but passionate affair, with a man twelve years older than him. His ex was only nine years older than him. Pretty young for him.
Charley wasn’t sure what drew him to older men. He knew that he wasn’t looking for a Daddy figure; he wasn’t into anything like that and he didn’t need a Sugar Daddy either; that was a train wreck waiting to happen.
In the end, Charley thought he went for men that attracted him. Or at least he used to. He had been off of the dating market for well over a year. He didn’t think he had very high standards. The guy had to be able to talk, had to be somewhat intelligent. Oh, and they had to have the basics of hygiene down pat; that was a biggie.
You would think he was searching for a needle in a haystack. After a month, Charley celebrated his independence. After three months, and a few bad dates, Charley tried to enjoy living alone. At nine months, he wondered if he should strike hygiene off of the list but decided against it. At twelve months, he had a revelation.
We are defined by time from the moment we enter the world. If you think about it, we are born to die; from the moment we take our first breath, we are heading towards a great journey. Some like to get it over with as quickly as possible, some take their time and see what’s out there.
We define ourselves with people too. We are defined by the relationships we carry with us, by the people we associate with. But, more than anything, we define ourselves based upon our romantic entanglements.
Charley’s friend Scott argued that humans weren’t meant to be with one person for their whole lives. “I mean, we’re descended from apes, right? So you look at apes. Yeah, they carry on serious relationships, but they are never with one mate for very long.” He had tapped his head and given Charley an intense stare. “It’s all in our heads man. It’s instinctive.”
Where love was concerned, Charley tended to agree with him. There were some things in love that were inherently instinctive; they were intuitive, intense. If the feelings were strong enough, if the spark is there, the resulting emotions are often intense and incredible.
There had been fillers, stand ins. For a time, Charley had indulged in the seedier sides of sex: bath houses, fetish clubs, sauna’s. He had been there, done that, gotten the t shirt and the membership card.
In the end, he didn’t mind living alone. But why was it so hard to find a guy who wasn’t screwed up in the head and wasn’t a total wackjob of some sort? He wondered if this is what women went through on a daily basis. There was just too much testosterone in a gay relationship.
His blackberry buzzed on his hip. He took it out of the holster. It was an in coming call. It was him. “Hello?”
“Hey,” Zackarius said. “How’s your day going?”
Charley stared at the bay of monitors in front of him. That Nanna McKanda’s daughter was a real bitch. He was almost hoping she would show up. He’d love to see the look on her spoiled little face when he told her she couldn’t go up.
“Not bad.” Charley said. He tried to keep the nervousness out of his voice. He had met Zackarius online and they’d bee on one date and were planning another. He wondered if it was going well. Charley had been surprised by how off his game he was.
He had been out of the dating game too long, he realized. He had forgotten what it was like to bring someone else into his life. He wasn’t talking about furniture and clothes or even a toothbrush. Instead, he was more focused on the other things. What to say and what not to say? Family stories to avoid, the unfortunate camping trip you took as a child.
Charley Inglewood had forgotten how to speak to those he was attracted to. A stranger sitting on the bus reading a book? No problem. An old woman in a grocery store? You bet. Someone in line in front or in behind him? Okey dokey. But put someone he was attracted to in front of him?
Big problem. The words in his mouth felt thick and heavy when he was attracted to someone and he often found himself thinking really hard before speaking; he wondered if it gave his eyes a glassy look. Charley hoped not.
And then he wondered whether the guy liked him. I mean, sure, Charley knew that he was a catch. But he was do damn nervous about this kind of thing. Why did it feel like high school all over again? He was in his late thirties and it was as if he had never escaped those unhallowed halls.
In a way, it was as if the fat, bespectacled, zit faced young kid he had been was still following him. In his more free thinking moments, he wondered if the child he had been was still hiding somewhere inside of his shadow?
“I need a drink.” Charley said.
“What?” Zackarius’ voice on the other end of the phone was full of amusement.
Crap, had he said that out loud? “Sorry,” Charley said. “Long day.”
Zackarius Lemieux laughed. “Tell me about it. But did you want that drink?”
Charley blushed. “Yeah,” he said.
“Did you want to go for one? I can pick you up after work.”
The blush on Charley’s cheeks deepened. God he liked this guy. “Sure, yeah, sorry,” Charley said. “I’d appreciate it very much.”
“Nothing to appreciate, I have a selfish motive. I want to see you again. When do you get off work?”
Charley looked at his watch. “In about an hour.”
“Cool. I’ll call you when I’m outside. See you soon.”
“Sure.” Charley said. He hung up and stared at his blackberry. He was intelligent, smart and hot. And he liked him.
“Shit.” Charley said.
The leaves surround me in the dark.
I can hear them even though I can’t see them
and they brush against my skin in a soft caress.
Each time they touch me,
I can see little flashes of light appear around me
filling up the dark with bright flashes of colour
even if it just for a moment.
The leaves are different colours:
reds and yellows, orange and deep golds
and the occasional purple hue.
I listen to their whispering
and the sound is comforting.
It is like they are trying to lead me
out of the shadow and towards something more.
I feel a hand take hold of mine
and suddenly all of the leaves light up,
each colour shining brighter than before.
There are more colours than I thought possible,
I can see deep burgundies, soft pinks,
the occasional orange and yellow leaf
that looks like a piece of the sun.
I look at the hand holding mine and it is you.
You hold my hand and you pull me closer
so that I can feel your heart beat against mine.
The leaves around us are not whispering now,
but singing around us, filling the air
with a song that reaches into my heart.
I realise that it is our music,
the music of the love that we have between us.
When you kiss me,
the leaves sigh happily
and the darkness is awash in light.
The shadows have lifted and,
as the leaves dance around us,
I realize that the light around me
is coming from within
and that the music I hear
is the music of our love.
When we kiss again,
the leaves let out a happy sigh
and float into the air,
filling the skies
Mafalda Hockneybrow tried to calm herself when he walked into Dark Moon Rising. Which was odd, as she was always calm.
Except when he came in.
Most of her clients had very particular tastes. It was why her establishment was so popular. Her girls and guys would do things that others wouldn’t.
Wanted a girl to wear a Swedish Milk Maid outfit and yodel at you for half an hour? Done. Want a girl to tie you up on a stock table and read you the Encyclopaedia Britannica while she whipped you? No problem.
Wanted a boy to drip candle wax on you while he made you bark like a dog and let you hump his leg? It would take a few days, but Mafalda would get it done. That was her promise and her guarantee.
But it was always the quiet ones that worried her.
The ones that came into her establishment only wanting to have sex with a person of their choice. Or, worse, the ones who only wanted to talk to the kids. She was an old woman and she was entitled to a few eccentricities; she thought of all her working boys and girls as her children.
It never failed. It was the quiet ones that always caused trouble, in one way or another. Some would become obsessed with one of her kids and Tito would have to step in. Others would hit, burn, bite. She had never known a quiet patron not to do something.
That was why Ignatius Finkelstein was so worrying.
Thus far, he had come in and always chosen a different male. He had done his business and gone home. She had waited for him to do something, sometimes pacing outside of the room. But nothing ever occurred.
He was always polite, if a bit abrupt. But Ignatius frightened Mafalda. There were no two ways about it. She was deeply afraid of him. She could never see his face. A cloud of smoke covered him from top to shoulders, but that wasn’t what frightened her.
What frightened her was the malice. There was a darkness in him that was dangerous. She could feel it, tensed and waiting to spring. She wondered if it had anything to do with her obvious prejudice against quiet people, but immediately dismissed it.
There was something off about that fucker; she knew that in her bones.
So, when she heard the screams coming from Room 9, Mafalda’s heart beat into over drive. This was it. This is what she had been waiting for, what she had been preparing for.
What she had not been prepared for was the blood.
Tito met her at the bottom of the stairs. His muscles bulged, almost ripping through his shirt. “You heard them screams, Miss Mal?”
“I sure as fuck did.”
Another scream ripped through the gloom of the house. All the other rooms were silent at the moment. Mafalda knew that each of the patrons in the rooms had all stopped what they were doing. They had all heard the screams, too.
Tito ran up the stairs three at a time. He had run varsity in college, and it showed. In seconds, he was at the top of the stairs. But when he stopped, Mafalda knew that something was wrong.
She went up the stairs quickly, but trying to take as long as possible. “What is it, Tito?” She asked. “What’s wrong?”
“There’s blood, Miss Mal.” He said.
Mafalda saw for herself when she got to the top of the steps and stared at the pool of blood that had seeped into the carpet. She could see more flowing through the cracks in the floorboards, underneath the crack of the door.
The screams had stopped. Now they could only hear a soft whimpering. Mafalda went to move forward, went to open the door, but Tito stopped her. “No, Miss Mal. Let me. That’s what you pay me the big bucks for.”
She grinned at his joke. They both knew that she paid him shit.
But before he could get to the door, it opened of its own accord. Ignatius Finkelstein stood in the doorway, his clothes in impeccable condition. The soft light from the room behind him made it look as if he were glowing.
“Bluegrass seems to have made a little mess.” Ignatius said. “I suggest you clean it up.” He reached into his coat pocket and took out a roll of money. He opened Mafalda’s hand and dropped it in her palm.
Mafalda was a woman who knew the weight of money. And she knew that she held a couple thousand in her hands. “This should cover the bill.” He said. Leaving a swirl of smoke behind him in his wake, Ignatius Finkelstein departed.
When Mafalda went to look into the room, Tito stopped her. But she pushed past him. “Bluegrass is my kid.” She said. “I need to see him.”
But when she got to the doorway, the world stopped for her almost completely. The entire room was red. The entire room.
“Oh, Bluegrass.” Mafalda whispered. “Oh, sweet Bluegrass.”
I’m super thrilled! The paperback edition of my National Best Seller When I Think of You is now available!
Here’s a bit about the book:
There is something about capturing the longing of the human heart within words.
When Jamieson Wolf first met the man who would become his husband, he began to write him love poems. Over the next six years, he penned more and more of them trying to find a way to describe how he felt about the love that was blooming between them. Follow along on their journey.
These poems contain joy and light, wonder and healing. Ultimately, this volume of poems confirms a couple of Jamieson’s beliefs: that love can heal all kinds of wounds and that magic is very real.
Get your paperback copy here:
You can also get your copy in ebook while it’s still on sale! The ebook is $0.99 right now, but as of February 15th 2020, it goes up to the full price of $3.99! Get it while it’s on sale! You can find the ebook copy here:
I hope you enjoy the book and Feel the Love!
He turned to see the young girl, Hasenpfeffer, coming towards him. “Hello Miss.”
She smiled kindly at him. “No, no, call me Has and I will call you Hoolio.” She huffed a little. “We’ve been over this several times now.”
Despite her serious air, Hoolio chuckled. She was an odd duck for such a young girl, but he had always liked someone with spunk and spirit; and this child had both in spades. “I’m sorry, Has.” He nodded to her. “How are you today?”
“A little vexed, to tell you the truth.” She said. She ran a finger over the rose bushes. “You’ve done such beautiful work this year, Hoolio.” She said.
He blushed. The compliment was a pleasure, even if it did come from a girl who reminded him strongly of someone from Children of the Corn. “That’s mighty nice of you to say.”
“Think nothing of it. Praise given when deserved is simply truth.” She turned to him. “I did want to ask you a question though; a gardening one.”
“My mother is thinking of buying me a small Shetland pony. But she also wants to redo the foliage around the estate. Are there any plans that would be found in forests or as weeds or ornamental grass that could be harmful to someone?”
That was an odd question for a thirteen year old to ask, he thought. “That’s an interesting question.” He said. Hoolio thought for a moment. “Well, most poisons come from nature, or are derived from them. There is Belladonna. It is beautiful but deadly in large doses. There is poison ivy of course, poison oak. But each poisonous plant has its own different ways of delivering the poison.” He said. “It’s like natures kind of armour.”
Has regarded him for a moment with cool, dark eyes. Then she smiled. The smile did nothing to lessen the chill that shimmied through his body at that moment, when their eyes met. “Thank you, Hoolio.” She said. “You’ve given me a lot to think about today.”
As he watched her walk slowly back up to the house, Hoolio shook his head. “I need to get another job,” he said out loud to himself. “That child gives me the heebie jeebies.” He gave a careful glance back at the house. “The parents are pretty messed up too.”
He sighed and stood. Taking out a pack of cigarettes, he lit one and took a drag. “And now I’m talking to myself.” He sighed. “Great.” He wondered how the day could possibly get any worse than this.
Unfortunately, he was about to find out.
* * *
Hoolio had taken off his lunch break to go and see Walter. Has had been at the back door and had seen him. But she had held a finger to her mouth. “Go on,” she said. “I won’t tell anyone.”
Despite the fact that she gave him the creeps, Has did have her moments. “Thanks kid.” Hoolio said.
“Don’t mention it.” She laughed. “Now go get him, tiger!”
Her laughter followed him out of the house as he made his way down back walkway. He didn’t have far to go. At the end of the block, he turned left and smiled, as always, when he saw the small restaurant.
Tatiana’s was nestled in the small residential neighbourhood and had been for years. As it was so close to the Finkelstein estate, it was natural that the staff that worked there would venture out to have a few and let out some steam.
It was where they had met. Well, that wasn’t really true. They had worked together for a while before the attraction between the two of them made itself known. Hoolio thought that it was that knowledge of each other that made their love so strong.
When Hoolio entered the restaurant and saw Walter sitting at their normal table, he knew almost immediately that something was wrong. Instead of their regular drinks in front of him, a highball in front of Walter, a Tequila Sunrise waiting for Hoolio, there were only two glasses of water.
Feeling as if he were wading through a large body of water, Hoolio made his way over to the table and sat down. Walter didn’t rise to greet him or take his hand. He didn’t give Hoolio a quick kiss on the side of his cheek.
Hoolio wondered if he had begun dreaming sometime after he had woken up. “Walter, what is it?” He asked. He tried to keep the panic out of his voice. “What’s going on?”
“I can’t hide it from you any longer.” Walter said. “I’ve been seeing someone else for a while now and have chosen him over you.” Walter gave a shrug. “It happens.”
His heart was a shattered glass chalice in his chest. He could feel the shards digging into his lungs, the sounds around him had gone all fuzzy, as if mussed by static. “What happens?”
Walter gave Hoolio a look as if he were being incredibly stupid. “Love, of course. You can’t help where you find it, only whether or not to follow it if you find it.”
Hoolio’s breathing had become laboured. He took in several deep breaths and told himself he would not cry. He would not cry, he would not cry. “But I still love you.” He said. He had to push the words out past a throat filled with shards of glass, their sandy grit giving his words a torn quality.
Walter’s expression softened only for a moment before being replaced by this cool, cold individual that Hoolio didn’t know. He reached forward and patted Hoolio’s hand lightly. “But that’s the problem, isn’t it?” He took his hand away. “I don’t love you anymore.”
Hoolio waited until Walter had exited the restaurant, waited until the little bells signalled his exit.
Then he let the tears come.