Chapter 4 – The Crow’s Nest
Dennis was left behind, as he’d expected he would be. If you’d pinned him down on it, he would have even admitted that he wanted to be abandoned, that it would confirm for him that this was somewhere he didn’t belong, and where he didn’t want to be. He sighed–Barry had promised him one drink, but he could already tell that he’d have to drag him out of here in a couple of hours. He could be such a child.
He started looking for somewhere that he could wait, preferably somewhere quiet and away from the noise of the dance floor, but most of the nooks he found were largely taken up by guys in various states of making out or full blown sex. One thing was for sure, when he was out of here, he’d be dropping an anonymous tip to the liquor control board and the health department, because none of this was acceptable to him, and everyone here should be ashamed of themselves.
Dennis had grown up the son of two doctors, with well entrenched class interests that neither had done much to examine. Dennis’ homosexuality had been a minor wrench in their family, but quickly smoothed over. An anecdote, real or not, that Barry had heard many times at many dinner parties, was that his parents would have been more scandalized by him not going to medical school, than the fact he was gay. His parents’ orthodoxy hadn’t entirely rubbed off on him, but he’d imagined that the sort of debauchery all around him now was beneath gay men, as a culture. They could get married now! They were on TV all the time. This sort of thing just wasn’t necessary, or at the very least, could be kept more discrete. He found a set of stairs leading up. They weren’t cordoned off, but no one seemed to be on the upper level that he could see. On the stairs, someone had spray painted the words “Crow’s Nest” along with an arrow pointing up. A bit curious, he climbed them and found himself on a set of narrow walkways suspended over the warehouse floor. Entirely unsafe, and most certainly another violation of some sort. He’d always kind of enjoyed being a snitch.
The view gave him a good view of the place. There was the dance floor where he was sure Barry and Samuel were still satisfying some of their baser urges. He looked around for where the hell knew where that shady fucker and the meathead had gone, but soon lost interest. He polished off the beer, and set the can off in a little cubby on the wall, and leaned over the railing by the entrance to the bar, deciding to just spend his time looking at the flow of guys coming in, as something to do.
It was after about twenty minutes, when he was contemplating going down and beginning the process of extricating Barry from the place so they could go home, that he saw a trio of younger guys enter the bar. Obviously underage–not surprising, since the bouncer didn’t seem interested in checking ID. They were looking around nervously, tittering a bit and huddling together, before they headed for the bar to get a drink. As they passed under a light, though, Barry realized that he recognized one of them–Kyle Hendricks, a son of one of their neighbors, who they paid to watch their cat, Misty, while they were on vacation.
And so, the snitch in Dennis was torn. On one hand, he loved the idea of getting someone in trouble. On the other hand, Kyle was a good kid, and he’d always taken good care of their home and Misty for them. Besides that, there was the issue of Kyle’s father. It didn’t surprise Dennis to see Kyle here–Barry and him both had sussed out the teenager’s preference rather quickly after their initial introduction. What had concerned them both, though, was the cold treatment they’d gotten from Kyle’s father ever since they’d moved in. He seemed like a garden variety homophobe. He could tolerate Dennis and Barry in his neighborhood, because at least they were respectable, but Dennis didn’t think he would be as accommodating with his own son somehow. There was also the matter of what had happened last summer, but Dennis avoided thinking about that in the moment. What was there to tell anyway? He’d offered to pay Kyle in exchange for helping with cleaning out the garage. Sure, there had been some flirting, maybe. Just some play, really. But then Kyle had kissed him, and Dennis had kissed him back, nothing more, but he was thinking about it now, he knew better than to think about it. Best to bury things like that deep down, and never tell a soul. It was safer that way.
The three young men moved deeper into the bar, and other two kids started making out, while Kyle kept drinking–classic third wheel, then. Maybe he’d come along just to keep them company. Maybe he didn’t even want to be here. The two disappeared into the dance floor not long after that, leaving Kyle alone–and Dennis felt a certain camaraderie, having been abandoned in these sorts of places often, including tonight. If he went down, he could offer him an escape hatch at least. He’d probably be thankful for it. There was no way a good kid like him wanted to be somewhere like this. Kyle finished his beer, and Dennis thought he’d probably just be a good wall flower and stay put, but he didn’t. He was looking around at the other men around, then pushed off from the table, and headed towards…well, Dennis found his theory full of holes already.
Kyle slid closer to the object of interest, a leather clad bear smoking a cigar (indoor smoking, another violation) who was easily twice his age, if not more than that. Older than Dennis, surely. The man looked Kyle over and gave him a nod, the two of them started chatting, and it wasn’t long before the man slid an arm around him and pulled Kyle closer. Dennis wracked his head, trying to remember exactly how old Kyle was. He knew Kyle was eighteen (though he’d been seventeen the summer before, but Dennis definitely wasn’t thinking about that). He was too young to know what he was getting into, what this place was, who that man was and what he was into. Finally feeling a solid moral ground, he headed down to the main floor, and pushed towards the dance floor.
The club had been only moderately packed when they’d entered, and now was beginning to feel crushing. Dennis hadn’t been this close to so many men in a very long time, but rather than exciting, it was just frustrating him. By the time he’d reached the tables around the dance floor, he saw the bear and Kyle had moved from heavy petting to kissing. Dennis walked over, grabbed Kyle by the shoulder and hauled him away from the older man. “Kyle Hendricks, what the hell do you think you’re doing here?”
Kyle’s eyes went wide in the dark, and he tried to bolt, but Dennis kept a firm grip on his upper arm.
The bear got up, “Hey man, what’s the deal, this your boy or something?”
“He’s my neighbor, and he’s underage.”
The bear laughed, “Come on man, this is Pigtown–everyone who’s here belongs here, don’t you know that? The kid came onto me, anyway. I was gonna be gentle.”
Dennis gave the bear a glare, and pulled Kyle further away from him. Kyle was a scrawny kid, with long hair that tended to fall over his eyes, something he liked to hide behind. “If you bolt, I swear to God, I will tell your dad what you were doing tonight, and where you were doing it.”
Kyle’s eyes went from startled, to legitimate terror at the threat. “Mr. Case, you–he’d fucking kill me, come on, I just…my friends wanted to come out, and I…I didn’t really want to, I…”
“Yeah yeah, you just wanted to get all up in some leather bear’s grill, huh? I am going to firmly suggest that you are probably too young to know what you actually want.”
“I’m…I’m eighteen, it’s legal.”
“There’s a distinction between legal and right. Now, Barry and I are going to take you home, and if I catch wind of you doing anything like this again, I will have to make an issue of it with your father, do you understand?” He stood Kyle next to an empty table. “Now, I have to find Barry, and then we’re leaving. You do not take your hand off this table, do you understand me?”
Kyle nodded, and watched as Dennis slipped into the throng of bodies on the dance floor, looking for his husband, surprisingly satisfied to have both the moral high ground, and an indisputable reason to leave this place. Kyle heaved a sigh, trying to get his heart to stop pounding in his ears, and looked back over at the bear a few yards away. The leather bear was looking back at him, with a rather pitiful look, and that just made Kyle angrier. He hated pity. His friends pitied him, for his asshole family. He pitied himself, because he was scrawny. He’d been the one to suggest this place, anyway, not that Dennis needed to know that. He looked down at his hand, still on the table where Dennis had put it. He could let go–he knew that. He could go back over to that bear, he…he could say fuck it. Who cares if his Dad knew, anyway? He’d figure it out. But he didn’t pull his hand away–he just waited, feeling like the child he mostly was still, and hating himself for it.
The bear just shrugged, and took another drag on his cigar. The boy would have to grow up sometime, after all. Besides, he was pretty sure he’d be seeing more of him soon enough.
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