I first saw Tom at the Different Light bookstore on Castro Street. Our eyes met across a table of coming-out novels, and I felt a jolt. This is what it meant, I realized. I’d only been looking for a boyfriend for a few months by then, and my friend Steve had told me, “Straight guys won’t look you in the eye, but gay men will. Gay men who are interested in you, that is.”
By the time I processed that and looked again, Tom was slipping out the front door. I did the only thing I could: I followed him.
He walked down Castro, turned right, and entered a dark bar with a neon palm tree outside. I waited outside for a few minutes, then took a deep breath and walked in. I was working for a company in Sausalito then, spending two weeks every two months in the Bay Area, and I was ready for a little adventure.
It took us nearly an hour to talk, trading glances back and forth across the bar, and by the time we did it was so loud we had to leave for a coffee shop. We shared life stories over cappuccino and cake, and then he walked me to my car and kissed me, on a steep street that seemed to climb for miles beyond where I’d parked.
I started seeing Tom every time I came to San Francisco. Over Labor Day weekend, we drove to Mendocino and stayed in a cottage with a skylight and a peaked roof. It was charming and romantic—partly because it wasn’t my real life, which was still back in Florida. Then one day my boss told me I was being replaced with someone local, and I had to tell Tom I wouldn’t be coming back.
He came into the city on the BART, and we met in an unfamiliar corner of town, at a hotel restaurant frequented by business travelers. He said, “I remember seeing you in the bookstore, our eyes meeting. I knew right away you were a tourist, that you were the kind of guy who wore boxer shorts. That you’d be interesting.”
“You’re the only guy that’s ever happened to me with,” I said. “Meeting like that. Our eye contact. I don’t know how I knew it, but I knew you were interested, and I knew it was up to me to follow you.”
“It’ll happen again,” Tom said. He looked at his watch. His life was changing, too. He was taking courses to become a landscape gardener after years of working in offices. “I have to go. I have an early class.”
He stood up. I wanted to kiss him again, the way we’d kissed that first night, under the shade of a tall tree that sheltered us from the harsh street light, but there was no place, not in the bright restaurant or at the BART station where we walked. Just before he dropped his money in the turnstile, he stopped and hugged me.
“It’ll happen again,” he repeated. “Just keep your eyes open.”
About Author Neil Plakcy:
Neil Plakcy is the author of the Aidan and Liam bodyguard adventure series, Three Wrong Turns in the Desert and Dancing with the Tide.
His other books are Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, Mahu Vice, and Mahu Men, about openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka, GayLife.com, and In Dog We Trust, a golden retriever mystery. In June of 2010, Plakcy released his short story At the Diner and his full-length work The Outhouse Gang through Untreed Reads.
He edited Paws & Reflect: A Special Bond Between Man and Dog and the gay erotic anthologies Hard Hats, Surfer Boys and Skater Boys (2010).
Plakcy is a journalist and book reviewer as well as an assistant professor of English at Broward College’s south campus in Pembroke Pines. He is vice president of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and a frequent contributor to gay anthologies.
How to Purchase Neil Plakcy’s Titles:
Neil’s titles can be found in The Untreed Reads Store and wherever ebooks are sold. To celebrate Gay History Month, his short story At the Diner is only $0.69 and his short story Rhiannon is $1.05 during the month of October at both The Untreed Reads Store and RainbowEbooks.com.