Was the West lonely, or was it just Chris? Chris always thought the West was lonely, or at least the West at the edge of his condo. His building was the last building for miles, his complex a brand new development at the edge of a suburb of a suburb of Mesa, itself a suburb of Phoenix. His room was on the fourth floor, and faced out into the vast nothing. It was almost seemed comically out of place when he thought of it - mountains, then desert plains and scrub vegetation for miles until a random, four story building pops up. And he’s there, just staring out the window, feeling either the loneliness of the West, or his own. 

Alt called from the other room: “You coming for dinner?”

“Yeah, I’ll be right there!” A faux-chipper tone. Chris didn’t move. 

Three minutes elapsed. “What the fuck, babe?” Alton asked in a sing-song voice. When he got annoyed his tone shifted from high to low and back again, as though he were angry, but also amused at feeling anger. Alt’s feelings were like that - there was never one single emotion, there were many jumbled in there, amplifying and criticizing and satirizing the others. 

He came in the bedroom and saw Chris, staring out the window at the misshapen peaks in the distance. Chris stared when he was bored, but also when he was interested, when he was focused, when he was unfocused. He stared like an observer, a naif from another planet taking in the customs and norms, the interactions, the feelings of others. He stared so much that he’d blink in odd bursts, a flutter of eyelash when his eyes got dry. Alt didn’t mind it most of the time, Chris’ eyes were a grey-blue-green that were unique and fascinating, multilayered, and he loved looking into them when Chris just stared. But sometimes it felt like Chris couldn’t engage, that Alt was trying to rope Chris into sharing something, a part of his soul with Alt, but Chris couldn’t help but just observe. 

Chris was roused from his staring, and made to get up quickly when he saw Alt come through the door. “Sorry, it’s just--”

“It’s fine.” Exasperation layered on top of sincerity on top of affection, a dash of sass thrown in for good measure. As they walked into the kitchen he continued, trying to engage: “sometimes I catch myself staring that way, too. So… empty.”

It was no use, Chris had flipped the switch. Suddenly goofy, he replied, “no, it’s not that. I just stared at the sun too long, and now I’m blind!” and mimed blindness. It was the fact that Chris knew this silliness was hokey and straight-up weird, but embraced it with such brio, that had first won Alt’s heart. He gave a few short chuckles, but pointedly threw in a little melancholy, just to let Chris know that he hadn’t missed his moody vibe, his forlorn stare through the window. 

“Damn, babe - smells delicious!” As he said this, Chris wondered if he were overdoing the enthusiasm. 

It was, though, delicious. Alt was from a big Italian-American family, and his gnocchi Gorgonzola was to die for. A three cheese blend, fresh shrimp (or, as fresh as shrimp can be when they’re from a supermarket in Arizona), and a perfect herb concoction - Alt hated cooking, but he was good when he tried. Paired with strawberries, garlic bread, and an almost outrageous amount of wine, it was as good as date night at home can get. 

The conversation was good, too. Something in the fading summer light brought out the sarcasm in the both of them, as though they needed to cut the valley’s preternatural energy down to size with their own semi-witty barbs. 

Chris had, by this point, adopted a fake Midwest soccer-mom accent: “It’s just, you know, I’d appreciate it if you could take your [stage whisper] homosexuality out of the parking lot, you know?” It was not a good impression at all, but Alt somehow felt it exactly captured Kathy, their downstairs neighbor, and the way she always seemed to have some weird criticism for the two of them. Far more coded than Chris’ act, sure, but she definitely wasn’t an ally. “I mean, what would Brayden think if he saw you with your Prius? Do you all drive Priuses? Is that… a thing of some sort?” Alt burst out laughing - that was exactly her style: assume that anything the two of them did was some sort of sinister gay stereotype. 

Chris was funny. He was cute enough, and he was smart enough, but his humor was the real selling point. He performed stand-up as a hobby, twice a month or so, and was pretty good. But being even really good at stand-up doesn’t pay the bills, so he was also a paralegal. Alt was more serious, more intellectual, more everything, really. Alt was everything Chris had wanted to be - the good looking, charming, intensely intelligent lawyer - but he hadn’t made the grade, hadn’t put in the work.

The conversation continued to meander - to politics, to high school, to work - until it got to their shared history. Chris had been the nervous new guy, and had always been uncoordinated at best, downright klutzy at worst. Being around Alt had made it worse, since how could he not become more nervous, klutzier when talking to the 6’2’’, lean, muscular, star lawyer Alton, whose suits were always impeccably tailored, whose face had an earned confidence, whose stride was purposeful and quick? So quite unintentionally, by the end of their first conversation Chris had tripped and gotten coffee all over Alt’s dress shirt. 

They laughed and reminisced, except that hadn’t been what had happened. Chris remembered it differently. He remembered that the idea just popped into his head to fake a trip-and-fall and stain Alt’s clothes - maybe it was jealousy, or some strange lust, or his need to make everything a joke and make a clown of himself that led him to do it, or something else entirely, but it was purposeful. Spur of the moment, but purposeful. 

He didn’t know why he sometimes did these things, but he did. People generally accepted the reasons he came up with as to why he did them, because the other option - that he randomly decided to cough and hit Merida’s shoulder with his head, that he for no apparent reason kicked and shattered a flower pot, that he purposefully spilled coffee - seemed ludicrous. They seemed ludicrous to Chris, too, but he did them anyway, not entirely knowing why. 

He didn’t tell Alt this part of the story, instead just observing the way Alt reacted to it, laughing with him but watching him closely. 

They had gotten back to talking about the second part of their meet-cute. Chris had tried to help Alt get the coffee out from his shirt and ended up getting heated in the men’s room, Alt’s strong frame lifting Chris’ tall, thin body up so he carried Chris onto his dick, a quick and dirty hookup that surprised them both. As they recalled the story they got closer themselves, until they were kissing. Alt’s lips moved across Chris’ neck, then his left shoulder, kissing along the way. 

Soon they were tearing off each others’ clothes, Chris pushed Alt back into his seat and kissed the inside of his thighs, the area under his belly-button, the top of his calves, until his mouth flicked the side of Alt’s slowly rising cock. Alt moaned and sighed, and when Chris started sucking in earnest, pushed Chris’ head into his crotch so that his whole dick was enveloped in Chris’ warm, soft mouth. 

They both knew what the other liked, and Alt made to get the lube quickly. After a thorough application, he hoisted Chris onto his dick in one quick motion, and both were moaning. Chris could feel the warm penis, filling a hole inside of him, brushing up against the side of his prostate, causing him to squirm a little and breath quickly and tell himself, over and over, stay in the moment. Don’t overthink this. 

Alt made his way to the bed, carrying Chris in his muscular arms. Soon Chris was on top, riding, his half-erect cock slapping Alt’s stomach. Stay in the moment, stay in the moment he thought. You’re in love. You’re so in love, you’re only love. You want to be just the feeling of love, the feeling of the warm dick inside of you, the feeling of Alt and Alt alone. You can be that feeling. 

You love him, you love him, you feel things, you feel. You love him, you can feel love. You love him. You love him. Faster, faster, you love him, you love him, faster, faster. “I love you so fucking much” he grunted to Alt. 

His pulse was rising. If you love Alt, then why do you need to tell yourself you do? Why can’t you feel? Why can’t you be in the moment, in this moment, this objectively great moment, with him? His pulse quickened, and he could feel himself bite compulsively on his cheek. You love him, faster, faster, you love him, you love him. 

His dick had gone soft, he had an intensity in his eyes Alt hadn’t seen before, he was chewing the inside of his mouth. “Are you alright?” Alt asked, hoping Chris was finally engaged, so lost in the moment he couldn’t stop. Alt was close, so close to release, but he couldn’t help but worry if there were something wrong. Then, suddenly, Alt came, exploding inside of Chris. Though he was temporarily rendered speechless, his concern didn’t leave. 

The concern, the love. It was all too much for Chris. He got off Alt’s dick and started apologizing. “Sorry, sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so so sorry” - holding back tears. He was putting on pants, grabbing a shirt, his wallet, keys. Alt was only just regaining his wits, and confused as to what Chris was doing. 

“What the fuck are you doing?” It might’ve been sing song, if Alt hadn’t just come and weren’t so confused. Instead it had more anger, more tenderness, less sarcasm than usual to it. 

“I’m so sorry, I’m not… I can’t…” And Chris was out the door, racing to his lime green Prius. By the time Alt had enough sense to follow, to run after him, Chris was already out of sight, leaving everything behind, driving toward the mountains he could see from the window. 


Will McCombs

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