A Little Kiss was my 2012 Valentine’s story from MLR Press.
Nothing much ever changed in our town.
Nothing except what I found when I opened the door of my tow truck out in the parking lot. There were chocolate kisses on the driver’s seat again. Third time this week. A pile of them, with red foil wrappers driving home the fact that Valentine’s Day was tomorrow. Or today, actually, since it was past midnight. I didn’t know who the hell kept leaving them, but it was starting to get on my nerves.
Probably I should have locked the truck. That would have kept the candy phantom out. But I’d grown up here in Anglesey, Maine, affectionately known to the natives as East Armpit in honor of the smell from the paper mill the next town over, and no one here ever locked their doors, houses, or cars. No one except the few flatlanders who’d moved here from Massachusetts or wherever because they believed the hype that Maine was the way life should be.
I started to sweep the chocolates out onto the pavement so I could run them over with the truck, then changed my mind. I’d had a couple beers too many inside while I listened to the guys talk about the chicks they planned to hook up with, and a little food in my stomach and sugar in my blood wouldn’t hurt. I dumped the candies into the cup holder and swung up onto my seat.
I turned on the engine but didn’t leave the lot. My boss, Bob Riley, was good enough to let me use the truck as my personal vehicle, since I couldn’t afford a car unless I also wanted to make it my home, and I didn’t want to screw myself out of a good thing by risking a DUI. So I stuffed chocolate into my mouth and waited for the buzz to fade enough that I could drive.
Some of the other guys left the bar and waved at me on the way to their cars and pick-ups. One of them had to have been the candy phantom. The bar sat on the edge of town, and not many people stopped there just for the hell of it. The thing was, I didn’t think any of those guys were gay, which meant none of them would be likely to dump a pile of chocolate in my truck cab. Especially not somewhere they might get caught doing it. If it had been someone from the bar, it had probably been one of the girls, and I didn’t want a female Valentine.
Being the only gay guy in town—as far as I knew—really sucked, and not in a good way. Back in high school it hadn’t been so bad. There wasn’t a hell of a lot to do in East Armpit other than fool around and fuck. If us guys hadn’t been able to get girls to fool around with us, we’d do ourselves or, sometimes, each other. No one cared so much about having their dick sucked by another guy if it was just a substitute for a girl’s mouth.
Mostly with the other guys, we’d just used hands or mouths. No actual sex, because that would have been gay. I’d had one exception in my life. My ass cherry’d been popped by my best friend Gabe one night after high school graduation when we’d gotten shitfaced and his girlfriend had walked out on him. He and I’d both understood it was just because he wanted a place to stick his dick, not because he was into fucking other guys. At least that was what he said.
For me, that kind of thing hadn’t been a substitute. The girls I’d screwed around with were the substitutes for the guys I really wanted to fuck.
Now we were all in our twenties and the high school fooling around stuff was over. I went out drinking with the guys some nights, and they all either went home to their wives or picked up a girl at the bar, depending on their marital status. I went home by myself. When I wanted to get laid, I headed to one of the cities. Augusta or Bangor, or even to Portland if I felt adventurous and had the time to stay over in a hotel for the night since I didn’t want to drive two hours home after getting drunk and taking a cock up the ass. The rest of the time, I was alone.
Being alone sucked ass. And not in a good way.