There were my two new friends, standing in front of the bar waiting for me as I parked my car and frankly, they looked right at home. I say that as a compliment. I had not been to The Spotlight since the winter of 1999. Billy and I had gone as a fun little experiment that went comically awry.
We were back to our full-tilt sexual energy with one another after a troubled two years. The passion was back and we were taking no prisoners. We were back in the comfort zone of being hot for one another. The plan was simple: I would go into the bar without Billy, playing the role of a john, while Billy would later stroll in as a hustler. Eventually I would make a move, buy him a few beers and make an offer he couldn't refuse.
It was a spontaneous idea, not given to many rules and it was improvised on the spot. Although we drove in the same car, I went in first. I pulled back the black leather strips that served as a doorway and looked around at about twenty guys in various stages of desperation. The bar smell, that mixture of beer, sweat and disinfectant, hit my nose and made me feel fittingly dirty. Swagger was my posture that night and I played it loudly.
I ordered a beer from the bartender, a man who could have just been two days out of stir, and walked to the jukebox. I played old school Guns 'N Roses and some Garth Brooks although I stayed away from the song, "Shameless." That song meant to much to us to be part of this scenario.
Another beer later, Billy walked in looking so cute in his leather jacket he had gotten as a third anniversary gift from me. He was wearing baggie jeans but they didn't hide his cherub butt one bit and even if I had never met him before, I would have that night. While I know he glimpsed me, he made no move in my direction. All was going according to plan.
He walked to the bar and ordered a Bud. Bud gets you drunk faster, you know! was something he would say with great conviction. He stood there aloof, looking in all directions but mine. I walked back to the bar and ordered my third beer all the while ignoring him. I did give him a side glance, an appraisal, and walked to the far wall of the bar to watch. And wait for my move.
A moment later, a midget walked in. He had to be no more than three feet tall and he had a heavy leather jacket and an inherent John Wayne walk. He went up to the bar, next to Billy and ordered a drink. He looked up at Billy and said something out of my earshot. Billy laughed and said something back. I watched and waited.
They started talking. And talking. Now there was no room for me to make my approach so I stood there hoping The Very Short Guy would move on. But Billy was laughing and suddenly I saw Mr. Midget buy a round for the both of them. Billy glanced at me for a second and I gave him that look. The look that said, "Get rid of the fucking midget!" But I don't think it registered and Billy was right back into conversation.
At that moment, I was mildly amused because I knew Billy. He was so easy going and clueless when it came to men finding him attractive. He could make happy talk with anyone who wanted to talk back and for Billy, there wouldn't be any subtext. But this was starting to cramp my style and mess up my plans.
Another round was ordered by The Very Short Guy and he went in for his move. His little stubby fingers reached up to Billy's waist. It was more than I could bear. All of my cylinders were firing and my reaction was to stomp up to the happy new couple. I leaned into Billy's ear and said, "Fine. If you want to go home with this fucking midget, be my guest. I will be outside." I stormed out through the leather curtains.
A moment later, Billy came out with a confused look and said, "What are you talking about?"
"That guy was all over you! That's not what we planned!" all the while my words sounded ridiculous even to me.
"I wasn't doing anything wrong. He was a nice guy and bought me a beer," Billy said with complete sincerity.
"Two beers," I corrected.
"God, Terry, relax! I was only talking to him," and he was right. My anger turned into a smile which led to him giving a little giggle and saying, "God. Give me some credit! I was waiting for you to rescue me!"
"Well I guess I did, just in the wrong way," I acknowledged wearing an embarrassed smirk.
We drove home and every once in a while, Billy would let out a little giggle and say, "You're crazy!" The night ended as it was intended.
I was crazy that night. Crazy in love. It was a new but very familiar love. And I did rescue him that night. Rescuing Billy and him safeguarding me were part of our fabric. Teamwork. I just wish my rescue skills were more acute the night he needed them the most.