Another hot stifling day?

Short Fiction 

I thought it would just be another dull day at the KICKING HORSE CAFE.  Ordering split pea soup, I sat down with an old newspaper.  On page B-4, behind all the grim news from Bosnia, was an article about gay people in Spokane, Washington.  It seemed interesting since Spokane is about a 2 hour drive away.  I heard there was some gay community in Spokane, but had always figured it was  a bar scene.  Not being much of a bar person, there wasn't much reason to venture up there and check it out.  Thought about going some day, but my main draw to Spokane was seeing the orthodontist.

Melda, the white haired waitress, practically had to shout, into my ear, to say my split pea soup was ready.  I was lost in the newspaper.  More importantly, I was lost in that beautiful picture.  Half of page B-4 was devoted to a tall handsome bicycle courier.  His T-shirt had a large pink triangle with the phrase "GAY IS GOOD" written in black letters.  The article said he had helped organize a gay march in Downtown Spokane.  I was amazed at his courage, being so openly gay in a city like Spokane.  My grandmother once said, "Spokane was just a big farm town that had out grown it's britches."  I wondered how much flack this bicycle courier had gotten. 

According to the article, he had been well received on most of his rounds.  One bank refused to let him deliver a package because the bank president said his T-shirt was "inappropriate business attire." 

As I ate my bowl of soup, I kept looking at his picture.  He was tall and slender. Brief cut-offs exposed his muscular legs.  The words "GAY IS GOOD" stood out across his chest like a brave flagship on the dreary Spokane street.  Was this really the Spokane paper? 

Fantasizing what his radiant body would look like with no shirt at all, with only his tight little cut-offs clinging to his hips filled my mind.  It was a world away from me sitting in the cafe in my pare of gritty overalls. 

Looking up from the paper, I feared everyone in the cafe would wonder what I found so interesting, but the other folks were going on as normal, not paying any attention. 

It was time to get back to work, my bowl of soup was about finished.  Rusty's machine shop, where I worked, had a big order in.  Farmer Fred's crane was up on the jacks.  It busted a cable when he was laying irrigation pipe.  I anticipated an afternoon on my back, under the crane, tinkering with the cable drive.  The newspaper would go home with me.  Planning to cut out that article and picture for the scrap book of men that was secretly kept under my bed. 

As I stepped out of the cafe, hot air off Main Street greeted me like the blast from a furnace.  Kicking Horse Cafe is air-conditioned and now I was back to the reality of 95 degree eastern Washington summers.  That machine shop would be hot and sweaty even though we had a few fans set up. 

Before I could get very far down Main St., my old friend Jim appeared.  He owns a campground out on the Trout Lake Road.  "Would you be able to spend the weekend out there; keeping an eye on the campground?" he ask.  "I'm driving over to Seattle and looking for someone to staff the campground for a weekend." 

I accepted.  A good excuse to get out of town for a bit.  Jim's campground had a nice "clothing optional" hot tub; a rare treat in this part of the state.  After 3 more hours at work, I headed for the campground.

As my truck made its way out the lonely road, cool water of Trout Lake beckoned me.  A mobile phone would go with me to the lake side as I stuck my feet in the water.  When campers arrived, it was just a short walk to the office for checking them in.  As I arrived at the mobile home that served as an office, Jim said the campground was not crowded.  There were a few RV's and campsite B-4 had a tent and bicycle.  Jim handed me the office keys and took off for Seattle. 

I took a phone to the beach, and walked past site B-4 on the way.  A tall slim man in that site looked a lot like the guy pictured in the paper.  "It couldn't be the same person," I told myself and tried to walk to the beach.  A strange feeling in my stomach caused me to loose interest in sitting by myself on the beach.  Feeling anxious, I headed for the hot tub instead.  My mind couldn't stop thinking, "what if it is the same person."  "Maybe I should stop by that campsite and ask, but I was too shy."

Undressing, I slid into the water.  No one else was using the hot tub, but someone could walk in at any moment so I turned on the jets to hide my self under a swirl of white bubbles.  As the door started to open, I looked around.  "Was it the  cyclist camping in site B-4?"  If he came to the hot tub, maybe I could see him with his shirt off, or possibly with more than just his shirt off. 

No such luck.  The person entering the room was a lady.  She ask, "is that your telephone out there?"  Just then I realized I had planned to have the portable phone with me just in case someone needed me.  In my nervous anticipation, it was left down by the lake.  She set it on the changing bench next to the shower.  I thanked her for bailing me out of my stupidity. 

After she left, I was returned to my solitude with nothing but the sound of bubbles and a moo-ing cow across the fence.  I wondered how long I should stay at the hot tub wondering if the person from B-4 might show up. 

Just then the door creaked open again.  Just a face appeared, but it looked like the cyclist from B-4.  As he looked in the door, he asked, "How is it?" I said, "It was grand," hoping my description would sound so enticing that he would decide to come in.  A minute later he stepped in, closing the door behind him.  His shirt was already off.  A slight dusting of hair adorned his chest.  As he placed a towel on the hook, he spoke of the nice weather that had greeted him on his ride from Spokane.  He had been on the road 2 days.  I thought, "he has to be that person." He slowly unbuttoned his cut-offs.  They were the same cut-offs I saw in the picture.  I was convinced it had to be the same guy. 

For a brief moment I gazed at his fully naked form, but the moment was terribly brief.  He quickly slid into the water and most of his body vanished under the bubbles.  All I could see was his friendly face and warm smile. 

There wasn't the courage to ask if he was that person in the newspaper.  Quiet set in as I fumbled through my mind wondering how to break the ice.  The moo-ing cow, across the fence, was starting to annoy me.  Finally I had to do it.  Fear that this man was going to leave as quickly as he slipped in forced me to say something. 

"Were you in the paper recently?" I ask.  There was a moment of silence that seemed like an hour.  Then he said, "yes I was and what did you think of the article?"  I felt like a child visiting the Wizard of Oz.  A million questions danced in my mind.  I was so awe struck, I didn't feel like trying to touch him.  Just being able to look at him, at close range, and talk with him was amazing. 

He told some fun stories about life in Spokane's fledgling gay rights movement. These stories stood in stark contrast to my monotonous life of working at the machine shop. 

Just then, he said he was sweltering in the water.  A cool shower would be nice. He lifted himself out of the tub and stood all relaxed in the shower.  I had never stared at such a beautiful body for so long.  He smiled as if he was enjoying the admiration. 

As he put his clothing back on, he gave me the address of the gay organization he helped to organize; invited me to their potluck dinner.

Now I can say there is another reason for traveling to the city than going to an orthodontist.

[Spanish version of this story

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