Just so you know, my kid brother, Salvatore Labbi, doesn't smoke anymore, but he used to, until his mid-twenties. I begged him to quit, just as I had done. I kept telling him that he was too young to be inhaling cancer, or damaging his heart, and I couldn't bear the thought of going to the funeral of anyone who was younger than I am, especially my own brother. My pleas had no effect on a stubborn twenty-something, who truly believed that he was immortal.
Back then, Sal had a low level position in an investment management company. He had been with them for a little over two years. It was a small, but growing firm. No more than fifteen young men and women worked there. Now Sal is a senior partner. The firm employs two hundred and fifty investment advisors, administrative assistants, and clerical staff. They have offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Near future plans are to open another office in Texas; Austin, Houston or Dallas. The demographics are currently being studied.
Every day at precisely 10 AM, those of the staff who wished to do so, took a coffee break. Sal preferred to rush outside to the back of the building. There was a patio out there with concrete tables and benches. He would sit down on one of the benches and light up a cigarette. At the same time, a very few employees from other tenants in the building, rushed out to enjoy a smoke as well.
The number of smokers varied. There were always those trying to quit, and they would appear irregularly, but besides Sal, there was a hard core of three other smokers. One would think that they would have formed some sort of brotherhood, but they were all so anxious to get in at least one cigarette before having to return to their offices, that they gave all their attention to smoking, and not to each other. Occasionally one of them would nod to one of the other regulars, but no introductions were made, and nobody spoke.
Let me digress, and tell you something about me and my kid brother, Sal. My name is Anthony, and if you haven't figured it out yet, we are second generation Italian-Americans. I am almost eight years older than Sal, and I always watch out for him. Our father was killed in an auto accident when Sal was two years old. Our mother passed away a month after Sal graduated from college. He was the first in our family to get a college education, and she couldn't have been prouder of him. As for me, I inherited a small Italian grocery store in Little Italy from my parents, and I make out good enough for me. I am so proud of Sal, I sometimes want to bust.
I figured out, when Sal was a sophomore in high school, that he might be gay, so I observed his behavior carefully, and when I was sure I was right, I confronted him. He didn't cry or get upset or anything. He just said, "Yeah, so what?" like he was saying my eyes are brown...no big deal. My first impulse was to slap some sense into him, but I knew that wouldn't do any good. Besides I loved him too much to lay my hands on him. Instead I gave him a hug and told him he better be careful and use protection. I was already fucking women and never went without. I was not about to get hooked into a premature wedding.
Among the hard core smokers there was one young man, who caught Sal's eye. He told me that the guy was really good looking, maybe a year or two older than he was.
"Why don't you introduce yourself?" I asked.
"What for? He's probably straight. If he's gay, and likes what he sees, he can approach me."
I couldn't argue with that logic. Sal's swarthy Mediterranean good looks turned eyes wherever he went. Both men and women did a double take, and stared at him when they spotted him. If Sal caught them staring, they would turn quickly away. His six foot athletic frame, dark brown eyes, and curly black hair, made him into a stunning replica of a Greek statue, or I should say, a Roman statue.
One beautiful summer day, Sal was the first one on the patio. Seconds later, the attractive man came out. Neither was aware at the time, but the other two hard core smokers worked for the same company, a textile manufacturing company, with factories in the Deep South. In those days, the textile industry traditionally closed all plants and offices the first two weeks of July for what could be termed an industry wide vacation. For the next two weeks, the two attractive men were going to be smoking alone.
It was easy enough to ignore each other when there was a crowd, but the silence was awkward when there was just the two of them. They both squirmed a little, and finally Sal decided to take the initiative.
"We see each other out here every morning if it isn't raining. I'd like to introduce myself." He held out his hand and said, "My name is Sal Labbi, and I work for Fitzgerald and Steiner on the fifth floor. We're an investment management firm."
The fellow smoker smiled, and took Sal's hand. "I'm really glad to meet you Sal. I've been wanting to introduce myself for a long time. My name's George Marsh. I work for a law firm, MacArthur and Smith on the seventh floor."
"Pleased to meet you, George," Sal said, and pumped George's hand hard. That very first day, they spoke between puffs, and learned a great deal about each other. They learned that they were both single; Sal was twenty-four and George was three years older. They both had attended The City College of New York, but George had graduated from Columbia Law the same year Sal had graduated from CCNY. When they parted, they shook hands again. "See ya tomorrow," George yelled at Sal when he got off the elevator at the fifth floor, and George continued to the seventh.
Sal lived with me in my condominium apartment in Chelsea. That night he was full of enthusiasm about having met George, at last.
"So, is he queer like you?" I asked. I always kidded Sal by being politically incorrect.
"I don't know," Sal said, sounding exasperated.
"Now that you are acquainted, ask him to have a drink with you after work. Maybe that way you can find out."
Usually Sal got angry when I offered him any advice, so imagine my surprise when he said, "That's a good idea. I think I will."
That year, Independence Day fell on the Thursday after Sal met George, so the first thing Sal said, when the men greeted each other the next day was, "My office is going to be closed from Thursday to Sunday this week. Would you like to meet me after work tomorrow? I'll buy you a drink."
"Thanks buddy. That's a great idea. There's nobody waiting for me at home."
"Well, I live with my older brother, and he has never once waited up for me. We live totally independent lives. He'll probably spend the holiday with one of his girlfriends anyway."
"I take it that he's single also."
"You take it right. He's a confirmed bachelor."
Sal reached into his wallet, and pulled out a business card. He handed it to George. "Let's meet in the lobby at five tomorrow. Here's my card in case something comes up. I hope it won't. I've written my home phone number on the backs of all my cards."
George smiled. He took the card, and gave Sal one of his own. "Nothing is going to come up," George assured him. "My dance card is empty. We must think alike. I've written my home number on the back as well. It's called wishful thinking."
That evening, Sal fretted over whether he should out himself to George up front, and see what would happen, or to try to feel George out. I pointed out that George was twenty-seven, and he told Sal he had nobody to rush home to. He was free to spend time with Sal, and I figured that George might be giving him hints. Sal was convincing himself that these hints might be a good sign that George and he might play for the same team. Still, I couldn't get over what a nervous Nellie he was being.
"Give me his number," I said jokingly. "I'll call and ask him point blank if he's gay, and if he'd like to suck your cock."
"You're disgusting," Sal said, and ran to his room. I couldn't stop laughing at my love sick little brother's distress.
Repentantly, I went into his room. Neither of us ever knocked. I wrapped my arms around Sal, and he rested his head on my shoulder. "I'm sorry," I said, "but it's very hard for me to be serious about matters of the heart. As far as I'm concerned, love is bullshit, but I can see that you have feelings for this George, so I'll try to be more understanding."
Suddenly Sal brightened. He pushed me away and ordered me out of his room.
"I'm going to call George," he announced, "just to chat."
Sal was so nervous, it took him three attempts to punch in George's number correctly. George picked up the phone before the first ring was completed. He had his hand on the phone and was about to call Sal. After Sal identified himself, he said, "Were you sitting on the phone? You answered it so quickly."
"I was about to call you," George admitted. "I just felt like chatting, and I didn't much feel like waiting for cigarette break time tomorrow."
"Me too," Sal said sheepishly. "Since I got through to you first, let me start." Sal proceeded to ask George lots of personal questions, about his family, his childhood home life, the kind of music he liked, the kind of movies, and on and on and on. They exchanged information all evening, carefully avoiding the subject Sal wanted most to know. He didn't wish to ask George the big question on the phone, but he couldn't just drop the matter, so he tried to get the information covertly.
"About tomorrow evening?" he asked, "do you have a favorite watering hole?"
"Not really. I'd be happy to go to your favorite bar."
Sal's favorite place was a gay bar and grill in Greenwich Village. Now he had something else to fret about. Should he take George to his favorite watering hole? George said it would be all right.
The two men gabbed away for almost two hours. When they reluctantly said goodnight, Sal almost said, "I love you." He stopped himself just in time, but George said, "I can't wait until cigarette break time tomorrow, so I can see you again."
Sal was convinced that was a very good sign. While they talked, Sal had stripped. His throat was dry from yapping so much. He went out to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I was sitting there, and I wasn't surprised when Sal came out naked. We were not shy with each other, but now I saw a different sight.
"What did you two lovebirds talk about? You're as hard as a rock." I pointed out. Sal turned red. He hadn't realized.
"I think you're in love, Sal," I said. "I hope your heart won't be broken."
When Sal and George saw each other the next morning at break time, they almost ran into each other's arms, but fortunately refrained from doing so. Neither was sure yet of the other's sexual orientation, and they were both too chicken to ask. Sal told me later on that he wished I was there. I would have asked point blank without any hee-hawing.
They sat down and lit their cigarettes. George spoke first. "OK," he said. "Where's your favorite watering hole? We more or less agreed to go there tonight."
Finally, Sal did the bravest thing he had done since he met George. He told the truth. "It's a small bar and grill in The Village, called Julius. The food is great, and it's quiet. You can actually hear yourself talk."
A small sob escaped George's throat, and he looked downward. Sal instinctively grabbed his hand to comfort him. But when Sal looked into George's big brown, puppy-like eyes, he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
"I know the place well," George said. "I've spent a lot of time there. It's one of my favorites too."
Sal was still holding George's hand. He squeezed it harder, and looked around. Nobody was watching them, so he leaned down and kissed the back of George's hand.
"My office is practically cleared out already," George told Sal. "Everyone is starting the long weekend early. Do you think you could get out early also?"
"I think it's a strong possibility. The stock market is closing at 2 PM today until Friday morning."
"Call me as soon as you know, and maybe we can meet earlier."
They cut their break short, hoping it would help them to leave their offices a couple of hours earlier than usual.
Since I was going to spend the holiday shacked up at a girlfriend's apartment, it didn't matter where the two lovebirds went. They met at noon in the lobby of their building and determined that Sal lived closer by. They sprung for a cab, and got to our apartment in record time.
Once inside, and the door was locked, they undressed quicker than superman in a phone booth, when there were phone booths. Once they were naked they stood for a moment smiling at each other, checking one another out. They were both uncut, and about four inches flaccid. No sooner did they put that statistic in some mental note book, they both began to harden and each of them reached seven inches. The only difference was that George was not as thick around as Sal. Neither of them cared.
They fell into each other's arms and started to kiss, lightly at first, then with open mouths, dueling tongues and much passion.
Sal reached for George's hard cock, and George began to mewl. He did the same to Sal, but after a few strokes, Sal pulled away. "I'm cumming," he said. "Not this way please. I want to be inside of you, and I want you inside of me when you cum. I love you George. I've been pining away for you, ever since we shared our first cigarette together."
"That was almost two years ago. It's been the same for me. I wanted to start a conversation with you a million times, hoping against hope that you were gay, but I always chickened out."
"Me too, but let's not waste any more time." Sal dropped to his knees and took George's cock into his mouth. He could still smell the soap from George's morning shower. It was combined with a musky masculine aroma that made Sal's head swim.
They were still in the living room. George was moaning and groaning and making obscene gestures, when I walked in.
"Shit," I yelled. "I am so sorry. I didn't think you'd be home yet, Sal." I had to laugh as the two men tried in vain to cover up.
"Look, I only came home to shower and change, and pack a bag for a couple of days' stay at my girlfriend's. I'll be out of here in a jiffy and the place is all yours."
Insanely, I heard Sal saying, "Anthony, I'd like you to meet George."
I shook George's hand, trying not to check him out, but I was losing the battle. "I've heard a lot about you," I said, and ran out of the room. He was every bit as good looking as Sal had told me. Now we both knew that he was well endowed as well.
Sal wrapped his arms around George. The two of them realized the absurdity of the situation, and I could hear them laughing over the running water in my shower. I was out of the house in less than ten minutes. "Have fun. I know I intend to," I yelled as I closed the door behind me.
As soon as I left, Sal suggested that they shower also. The two men, so helplessly in love, stayed in the shower until the water got so cold they had to get out. They must have been sterilized when they finally emerged. They soaped every part of their bodies several times. Thanks to the wonder of fellatio, they brought themselves to the edge several times. Finally they fucked one another, twice each, using only soap as a lubricant, and no protection. If each said it once, they said it a million times. "I LOVE YOU!!!!"
They cried a lot also, especially when each of them felt the essence of the other shooting up their guts. By the time they gave up the shower, dried off, and fell exhausted into Sal's bed, they were so done out, they fell fast asleep, wrapped up in each other's arms.
I had a secret that I had kept from Sal. The girlfriend I was shacking up with that holiday, had stolen my heart. At thirty-two, I was ready to settle down at last. I proposed to her that July 4th, and she accepted. I had to open the store Friday morning but Sal and George were off until Monday. I called the boys mid-afternoon on Friday, and told them to get dressed. I was bringing home a guest, and then taking the four of us out to dinner for a celebration. Naturally they thought the celebration was for them. It was actually for the four of us.
I have had the pleasure of celebrating many happy events in the time I have lived on this planet, but nothing compared to that night. I took us to the finest, and most expensive, restaurant in Little Italy. We consumed two bottles of red wine before we even ordered dinner.
Felicity, my fiancée, was a wonder. She had no trouble accepting Sal's relationship with George. In fact, she fell in love with them, in a sisterly manner, of course. The food was to die for, and many decisions were made that night.
Felicity was going to move in with me, and the boys could live with us if they wanted to, but they chose to get a place of their own. Between them they both made a very good living and they bought a condo in my building. Neither Felicity nor I had any family besides Sal and George, so we had a simple wedding in the chambers of my Parish Priest, who had known me since childhood. Sal was my best man, and he and George were our witnesses.
It would be many years before Sal and George could get married legally in New York State, but they opted on going on a honeymoon the same time as Felicity and I. We went to Mexico on our honeymoon. Sal and George felt that their union was unconventional, so they wanted everything else to be as traditional as possible. They opted for Niagara Falls, even after I pointed out that nobody went there anymore.
Before we started our separate journeys, I felt obliged to give my kid brothers, no, my sons, the fatherly advice of Polonius. "You both stink of stale tobacco," I lectured. "It can't be very pleasant for your clients. If either of you got sick, it would kill me along with you. Please quit for all our sakes."
Felicity added, "Amen!"
I didn't think they would listen to us, but they did. They quit cold turkey that day, and never smoked another cigarette again, nor took another cigarette break.