Waking up after another round of bad dreams Craig Bellingham sat up, realizing that he was safe in his one-room apartment in New York City. His moods were sometimes determined by his dreams and took him awhile to eliminate the disturbing images during sleep so he needed to find a place where he could enjoy people. The effect of the dream lingered on as he walked around trying to find suitable clothing for a trip to a bar he had never been but was told was to his liking. Craig’s fashion sense was nonexistent, preferring to wear comfortable jeans and a t-shirt over clothing that would win him points at a gay, twink bar that was close to him. Craig was an imposing figure, standing at around six foot, five inches and weighing around three hundred twenty pounds, so he needed no extra effort to be noticed. His dark skin and excess of body hair added to the masculinity that often got him many free drinks and frequent opportunities for one night stands. But this evening Craig wanted more than a hook-up. He wanted to find someone compatible who would actually listen instead of immediately wanting to blow him. He showered, shaved and ironed his casual clothes, hoping that more presentable attire would result in more than another evening of sex with a hungry bottom, as was often the case.
Meanwhile Joe Stephens, a middle aged white man, was getting over a relationship that ended after years of suffering through mental and physical abuse. He felt like talking with someone who would listen to his troubles but realized that his chances were limited in an environment where men were on the hunt. He sought after large, masculine ethnic men who were decisive and domineering sexually. Because very few men in gay bars fit that description he often went home alone. He gathered his belonging and headed to the local gay bar known for its leather scene for a night he hoped would satisfy one of his needs, good conversation or good sex.
After a couple of hours of drinking and shallow conversations, Joe generously tipped the bartender and was headed out the door. He stopped in his tracks when he saw a large Black man walk in after having cleared the checkpoint at the door. Joe sat back down, hoping that he would be fortunate enough to have the man sit by him.
“Back already hun?” asked the bartender.
“Yes, saw someone come in that caught my eye,” said Joe as he ordered another beer. As luck would have it the large man sat two seats away, his frame taking up space for two. As the bartender gave Joe his beer he took the order from the masculine voiced Black man. Joe looked over to him and immediately caught his eye. The both nodded to each other having that awkward moment where the unexpected eye lock happened so quickly.
“Didn’t mean to stare,” said Joe as an icebreaker.
Craig laughed. “Not a problem man,” he said while taking another drink of his dark beer.
The two sat quietly for a few minutes. Joe was extremely attracted to Craig but wasn’t getting any signs the attraction was mutual. He decided to make another attempt to communicate.
“Name’s Joe,” he said extending his hand for a shake. Craig turned around to accept Joe’s hand, getting a better look at the handsome white man who was eager to connect with him.
“Craig. Nice meeting you Joe.” Joe was elated that Craig appeared to have some interest in him. Craig’s hand was very large and meaty, almost as if he wore leather gloves.
For the next couple of hours Craig and Joe engaged in pleasant conversation, drinking shots and beers and confiding in each other’s previous relationship failures and successes. Then came the awkward moment when Craig got up to leave.
“Well Joe, got to be at work tomorrow so got to go,” said Craig as he got up to put on his jacket.
“Sorry to hear that man, was just enjoying your company.” At no point during their conversation did sex ever come up but Joe was willing to push the envelope. He had met someone to talk to and enjoyed hearing his life’s stories but Joe felt they could connect on a different level. “Sure you don’t want to stay for another drink? On me?”
“No man I’m good, but thanks.”
Not wanting to look desperate but not wanting to lose him, Joe quickly thought of a way in. “Mind if I walk out with you?”
“No, come on. I live a few blocks from here,” said Craig as he stopped to zip his jacket. “You far from here?”
“Actually right down the street. Always been meaning to try this bar but wasn’t sure it was my type,” said Joe.
“Wasn’t impressed but thought I’d try it also.” Craig waited for Joe to get up and join him on his way out. “Well?”
“Oh, yeh, sorry,” said Joe as he put on his coat.
They walked out together and got as far as the outside of the bar when they realized their apartments were in different directions. Laughing at the dilemma the two chatted some more until Joe broke the ice. “Would you like for me to come back to your place?”
Craig thought about it and his goal of meeting someone who he could talk to, which was the case with Joe. But he planned on going back to his apartment alone, not rush into anything. “Maybe some other time man. Right now I just want to go home and chill.”
“Damn. Not the answer I was looking for,” said a dejected Joe.
“I mean you’re cool and all but not really looking to hook up right now, but thanks,’ said Craig.
“We don’t have to do anything Craig. I like hanging with you. It’s rare to find someone I can connect with so quickly.” Thinking Joe had potential more than just another sexual encounter Craig hesitated to accept his offer.
“You talked me into it. I got beer in the fridge and some shows to catch up on. Would be nice to have company,” said Craig putting his hand on Joe’s shoulder.
The walk back, though only a few blocks, seemed like miles. Joe made several attempts at conversation but Craig was mostly silent, wanting to get out of the cold an into his cozy one bedroom apartment. Joe’s goal of meeting a man who could converse was compounded by his masculinity and ability to take charge of a situation as he was doing at that time. Upon entering the apartment Joe noticed the typical state of a bachelor’s pad; mismatched furniture, various items strewn about, uneaten food on the sofa table, and empty beer bottles line up on the counter.
“Sorry about the mess,” said Craig as he tossed items off of the couch to make room for Joe. “Want a beer?”
“Sure, thanks,” said Joe as he sat on the couch.
Just hours before Joe and Craig were total strangers. Now they were sharing a joint, laughing at comedic television and downing beers, leaving empty bottles covering the sofa table. Joe occasionally gazed at the handsome black man and admired his perfectly straight, pearly white teeth when he laughed. While Joe was hoping for sex Craig was enjoying the present situation. But it was getting late and Craig was ready for sleep.
“Hey Joe, time for me to get some shut-eye, “said Craig, standing up, stretching his arms. Joe admired his large frame that was solid yet not muscle. His hairy belly poked out from underneath his T-shirt, revealing tightly curled hairs that were an indication of a hairy body.
Joe was again at a crossroads. He debated whether to put his cards on the table or walk away in hopes of another meeting. He quickly decided to find a middle zone. “Mind if I stay here? I’m pretty fucked up.”
“No man, that’s cool, you can stay on the couch.” Joe felt a mix of satisfaction and disappointment at being offered to stay but not in the bed of the man he lusted after.
“Sure I can’t sleep with you?” asked Joe.
Craig laughed. “How did I know that was coming?”
Embarrassed by his obvious intentions Joe looked to recover from being read so easily by Craig. “I think you’re really hot Craig, and I’d like to be with you more intimately.”
“Man, I really want to but I wasn’t planning on anything more than just hanging out,” said Craig, coming closer to Joe. He saw the look of disappointment on Joe and also wanted to have sex with Joe. “Normally I don’t make exceptions but for a white boy you have one nice ass.” Craig took Joe by the hand and led him to his bedroom. Once in Craig closed the door, and stared at Joe. Joe came closer, trembling lightly from lust and the mysterious stranger before him. He was surprised when Craig gently pushed him away.
“Where’s your manners boy?” said Craig.
Joe was confused, not knowing what he did wrong. “I don’t know what you mean Craig.”
“Ain’t no white boy allowed in here wearing clothes. Take off the clothes bitch.”
Joe responded immediately and stood naked before Craig, excited by the uncertainty of the situation and his own vulnerability.