The daily serial fictional based on Chicago's Boystown neighborhood: Boystown series by Danny Bernardo

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11-15 Recap: Volume 1

Chick-Fil-A meets the HRC, gay gamers, and gay divorce in Week 3 of BOYSTOWN. Volume 2 will launch 8/27, right here on and the GoPride network!

11-15 Recap: Volume 1
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Chick-Fil-A meets the HRC, gay gamers, and gay divorce in Week 3 of BOYSTOWN. Volume 2 will launch 8/27, right here on and the GoPride network!


The deafening chirping of birds outside his window roused Tyler from his alcohol-induced semi-coma. Maybe it was the pounding migraine of his hangover talking, but Tyler thought Disney Princesses could go fuck themselves. How could they be so cheerful and accommodating to woodland creatures first thing in the morning? Most likely, they hadn't drank as much as Tyler had the night before. Thankfully he didn't have to work today, but his body was wide-awake. Finding no use in fighting it, he threw on a tank top and gym shorts and headed for the shower.

When he opened the door to his bedroom, it seemed like Hunter and Charlie were deep in conversation. They stopped abruptly, looked at him, and smiled.

"Morning, dude," Hunter said, sliding off the counter top he was sitting on. "Have fun last night?" A half-awake muttering groan was the response.

"Did you make out with any randoms?" Charlie asked. Tyler stopped: omigod, did he?

"You don't remember that older guy that slipped a fifty down your boxers just so he could lick your nipple?" Hunter asked.

"Did I... I didn't really do that. Did I?"

"Dude, Geno asked if you were interested in being a go-go boy and you took your shirt off and auditioned right on the stage. Carlos was so pissed you kicked him off." The color drained from Tyler's face. "Relax dude, I'm just fucking with you."

"Jerk!" Tyler giggled, slugging Hunter in the arm. Charlie smiled, but didn't join in. Obviously, Tyler interrupted something. "I'm gonna hit the shower. Unless you guys need... "

"Nope," said Charlie. "We're good. I mean I'm good. I don't... "

"Me neither," said Hunter. They both watched him in silence as he went into the bathroom. Tyler didn't want to pry, but was dying of curiosity. He strained to hear them over the roar of the shower. While he toweled off, he opened the door and peeked out. Nobody was in the kitchen.


Nookies wasn't that busy on a Saturday morning, so that seemed like the logical choice. They could easily sneak a quiet table for two. Just as the cute Eastern European guy (who Charlie had nicknamed Igor in his head) was about to seat them, a ruckus table called out to them.

"Charlie! Omigod, what are you doing here?!" It was Becka, brunching with Brad and the Davids. "Join us!"

"We don't want to impose, we just... "

"Nonsense! There's more than enough room." As Becka made Brad grab two chairs, Charlie looked at Hunter, shrugged sheepishly, and motioned for him to join.

"Who is this?" Becka asked, obviously approving of Hunter as she sized him up.

"Hi, I'm Hunter. New roommate." Forks dropped. David and Other David and Becka and Brad all looked at each other, and then looked at Hunter. Forks were picked up again and they ate in awkwardness for a moment.

"So, Hunter, which room did you end up taking?" Other David asked.

"The green room. Off the living room."

"Hey! That was Becka's room!" Brad exclaimed. Becka elbowed him.

"How are you liking the place?" Becka asked.

"You two getting along?" David asked coyly.

"We're fine. Everything's fine," Charlie offered abruptly.

"Yeah, Charlie's great. Tyler's great. Beats the fuck out of the situation I was in before."

"So, Hunter, what do you do?" David asked, still annoyingly coy.

"He's in the service industry," Charlie volunteered.

"I bet," retorted David.

Hunter looked around the table, then at Charlie, then awkwardly down at his menu. Charlie felt awful: about the situation, about how ignorant his friends were being. He got up. "We're actually gonna head out. I think we need some air. You ready, Hunter?"

"Yeah, dude. Let's hit it."

Maybe a walk was what they needed anyway, Charlie thought. It was a nice day and they could be alone without being "alone." Hunter had been quiet since they left Nookies, so Charlie broke the silence.

"Sorry about my friends, Hunter."

"Don't worry about it. It's cool, dude."

"I've been meaning to ask you about your tattoo."

"You like it?"

"Yeah, it kinda represents what I'm kinda going through right now. Change. Rebirth."

"I got it cuz of Jean Grey."


"No. Um... Jean Grey. X-Men. The Phoenix?"

"Oh. Right." As any good former boyscout would, Charlie looked both ways before crossing Aldine. And as he looked east, he saw that svelte linebacker, blue-eyed heartbreaker heading north on Halsted, holding some twink's hand. Has to be the new boyfriend. The very sight of him stopped Charlie dead in his tracks, his heart immediately dropping.

"Oh fuck. It's him." Charlie said under his breath.


"He Who Shall Not Be Named."


He Who Shall Not Be Named glanced west and noticed Charlie also. Charlie quickly grabbed Hunter and kissed him, closing his eyes, shutting out the image of He Who Shall Not Be Named holding hands with that awful twink boy. Hunter lost himself in the kiss completely, grabbing the back of Charlie's head, drawing him closer. Charlie found himself reciprocating, kissing him hungrily until he was out of breath. Then he remembered that they were in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day.

Charlie slowly pulled away, their lips lingering for just a moment. Charlie opened his eyes at the exact same moment that Hunter did. They looked at each other for a moment. Then Charlie sharply looked away, towards He Who Shall Not Be Named who had seen the kiss as he walked past, quickly looking away to avoid Charlie's eyes. Charlie didn't know whether to be disappointed or relived. Seeing him just made him sad. He collected himself with a sigh, took a step back, and looked at Hunter.

"So... about That Night... "

Hunter wanted to tell Charlie that he never hooked up with anyone randomly. Ever. He wanted to tell him that the minute he saw Charlie, he thought there might be something there. A spark. He wanted to tell him that the night they spent together was the best sex he ever had. That Charlie was special. He wanted to tell him that his heart broke a little bit when he heard Charlie sneak out the next morning. Hunter wanted to tell Charlie that when he moved in, it took everything he had to not to sneak into his room and fall asleep holding him. That Charlie was probably one of the funniest, smartest, sweetest guys he'd ever met, that just knowing him inspired Hunter to become a better person.

But he saw the way that Charlie looked at that guy, who'd obviously meant something to him at some point and still did. And Hunter knew that Charlie could never look at someone like him that way. So instead, he said:

"Whatever dude. It was... you know. Just a thing. No big. We can be cool, right?"

Charlie was taken aback. "Um, yeah. For sure. We can be cool. I just thought, since we were living together... "

"You don't have to fag out about it, dude. It's not a big deal." Hunter was so annoyed at how diplomatic Charlie was being. "I'll see you back at home dude. I gotta... do some stuff."

Charlie watched Hunter walk off. Again, he didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed. All he knew was at that moment, he wasn't thinking about He Who Shall Not Be Named. And he stood there on Halsted and Aldine, watching Hunter walk south on Halsted until he disappeared into the horizon.



Tyler felt like a scratched CD: "Do you have a minute to support gay marriage?"

"No," said the stroller mom in yoga pants.

"No," said the mousey, secretary girl.

"Nein," said the German tourist, wearing socks and sandals. It was a world of "no" and Tyler was getting sick of it. He didn't know what was worse, the people who actually said "no" or the ones who walked past him with their sunglass-earbud blinders on. He'd been stationed at Chicago and State today and lunch couldn't come quick enough. As he explored his options in this foreign part of town, he saw a shining beacon that he hadn't seen since he left Ohio: Chick-Fil-A. As he feasted on the buttery chicken goodness that reminded him of home, he couldn't understand why people were staring at him. As patrons and employees whispered about him, pointing at his HRC t-shirt, he quickly gulped down his waffle fries and left the restaurant, confused.

"Do you have a minute to support gay marriage?"

"No," said the tight-jawed, mature woman, with eighty Bloomingdales bags.

"No," said the androgynous chain-smoking art student with purple hair.

"No," said the Nordstrom's Rack employee on a smoke break. Usually Tyler couldn't wait to get home from work, but there was some weird tension going on for the past couple of days. It seemed like Charlie and Hunter were avoiding each other and whenever they were all together nobody said anything to anyone. Tyler began to wonder if it was something he had done or if everyone was going to move out and he'd be left homeless. He hated the weirdness and he hoped there was a way he could turn it around.

"Do you have a minute to support gay marriage?"

"No," said the busy businessman on his way to a lunch meeting.

"No," said the Mormon missionaries as they scurried past.

"Sure," said the hot hipster boy with inked forearms, ear gauges, and a Huck Finn smile. "As long as you support it."

Tyler was actually blushing. "I do. Of course I do."

"Good," said hot hipster. "Then your minute starts now. Pitch it."

"Well the Human Rights Campaign has worked tirelessly to ensure that marriage equality is at the forefront... "

"That's great, but I want to hear why you support gay marriage. Sell me on it. And that's forty seconds now."

"Well... um... " God, what was Tyler supposed to say? "It's a basic human right. There's a separation of church and state in this country and a religion or a moral code shouldn't keep one group disenfranchised. The gay rights movement has mirrored the civil rights moment since its inception, and just as interracial marriage was illegal not even forty years ago... "

"Boring. Dude. Why is gay marriage important? To you?"

"Well... honestly... because I want it. I do. Call me old fashioned or traditional but one day, I want a husband. And a family. I know it's not very sexy, I know I should probably be going out every night, getting completely trashed, and hooking up with random guys. And maybe I will, who knows. But what I really want... is a guy to come home to. A guy I call home. And whether I find it or not, I should at least have the basic human right to commit to him if I do."

Hot hipster smiled. "Sold." He grabbed Tyler's clipboard and started filling it out. Tyler noticed that the ink extended into his hands, the word "queer" spelled out on his right knuckles. After a few moments, hot hipster handed the clipboard back and started rolling a cigarette.

"Thanks, Andy," smiled Tyler, checking the clipboard for hot hipster's name.

"Anytime... "


Andy smiled right back. "Tyler."

As Andy lit his cigarette, Tyler double-checked the clipboard. "Oh wait. You only filled out your contact information. You forgot payment options and credit card info."

"Oh, I plan on supporting gay marriage by trying to find it. Are you man enough to help a guy look?"

This time, Tyler knew he was blushing. "Um, yeah. Yeah I am."

"Good. So you know how to get a hold of me. I look forward to it." Before he turned to go, he snatched the Chick-Fil-A napkin that was peeking out of Tyler's pocket "Oh and Tyler, you probably shouldn't be eating at Chick-Fil-A if you're pushing marriage equality."

"Why? It's my favorite place and I'm so glad there's one in the city!"

Andy shook his head, chuckling, as he started off. "Gay marriage. Chick-Fil-A. Google them together. Then tell me what you think on our first date." And he was gone.

"Do you have a minute to support gay marriage?"

"No," said the over-hairsprayed mulleted woman from the suburbs. But Tyler didn't give a fuck. Someone had and now, he had his first date.



By the time his bruises started healing, the police had recovered all of the things that were stolen from Tristan's apartment. The bleeding heart 1950's movie ingénue in him was sure that Jersey Shore was just a bad boy with a heart of gold. The informed, Oprah-watching gay of the new millennium that he was didn't care how good the sex was, Jersey Shore could rot in jail for all he cared. Tristan DID however have to stop himself from slipping Jersey Shore his number at the police station.

Thankfully, he'd kept all the receipts from when he replaced all of the stolen electronics and after recruiting the Bitches to help him haul that brand-new huge-ass TV back to Best Buy, he had recovered most of the money that Daddy had wired to him.

"Oooh, Tristan be ballin'!" exclaimed Jaison.

"Yes, Tristan, you've outdone yourself this time," said Braden. "Not only were you able to have a rough-and-tumble with a convicted criminal, you've managed to recover all the money donated to your cause by your... .older gentleman friend."

"Don't be hatin' on Tristan!" scolded Efrain, slapping Braden on the arm. "'Specially since he takin' us to lunch. Right, boo?"

"Yeah, sure. Why the fuck not? Ladies, gussy up. We're eating classy today!"

After an 80's movie-montage-shopping-spree at Topman (the Bitches cackled at the irony of the four of them walking into this shop,) Tristan treated his bitches to lunch at RL. Jaison was sadly disappointed that they wouldn't be going to American Girl so he could lunch with an ethnically appropriate doll, but Braden convinced him that it was a considerable step up.

"Oooh, I feel like Audrey Hepburn!" squealed Tristan, pushing up his new white wayfarers and noshing on his scallops.

"Blech, I thought this was gonna be steak!" Jaison gagged, pushing away his plate of tartare.

"It's good for you. Joan Crawford said so," said Braden, pushing the plate back.

"Y'all, I'm so nervous for tonight!" Efrain said, having another glass of wine.

"You're gonna sound amazing! And you'll have your bitches to back you up!" Braden said reassuringly.

As Jaison murmured his agreement, Tristan's phone vibrated. It was a text from Chadwick: "Impromptu dinner party tonight. Your presence is requested."

"I can't go tonight," Tristan said hurriedly, his mind racing for any excuse.

"But it's Efrain's big break. Literally. Right bitch, that's what they call the contest?"

"Ooh and it's gonna be at that Lincoln Park bar: Duffys!"

"Frat boys!" the Bitches said in unison.

"I'm sorry babe," Tristan said, holding both of Efrain's hands. "It slipped my mind and there's... this really important... thing... I have to do."

"It wouldn't have anything to do with your phone vibrating just now, would it?" asked Braden.

"What? No, that was... that was just that nerdy guy. Charlie. Freaking out about some ex again."

"It's fine boo... it's just the more people there are to support me, the more chance for me to win," said Efrain.

"I'll make it up to you," said Tristan. But somehow, the two new shirts Tristan bought Efrain at Ralph Lauren after lunch didn't seem to do it. He stayed behind to buy a new outfit as the Bitches went off to get ready for Efrain's big break. If he was gonna party with the A-Gays, he'd have to look the part.

Mason greeted Tristan at the door with a hug and European cheek kisses. The condo he'd just bought with Josh in the Gold Coast was stunning. Chadwick and Bryan were also there along with a couple of other guys Tristan had hoped not to run into tonight. He handed Josh a wine bottle that had a vintage year attached to it. If he was gonna play the part, he was going all the way.

Local politics and fundraisers was all the chatter over drinks and crudité in the sunroom. As the soup course was served, talk turned to the rising crime rate in Boystown and how "those people" were destroying its respectable reputation. Chadwick and Bryan even mused that they would pull their funding from the Center on Halsted, as it attracted "those people" in droves.

Tristan knew the reason he was there: he was adorable and said audaciously outrageous things that the A-Gays would never allow themselves to say aloud. Usually it felt like small admission to be invited to the best parties and meet the best people. But somehow tonight, it seemed a price too high to pay. He wondered if they'd met his Bitches, his real friends, if they'd lump them into "those people." And, truth be told, the look of heartbreak in Efrain's eyes when Tristan said he wasn't gonna make it had been gnawing away at him. In a momentary lapse of conscience, Tristan feigned not feeling well and excused himself for the evening. As Tristan reached the door, he felt a strong grip on his shoulder. He turned. Charlie was right: this guy had the most piercing blue eyes.

"Hey," he said. "Am I just being paranoid or were you avoiding me all night?"

"You're definitely a lot more perceptive than Charlie ever gave you credit for," was Tristan's response.

"How is he? I've almost bumped into him a couple of times... "

"I know. It's probably best if you just... "

"So he's got a new boyfriend?"

"What? Charlie?! No."

"Oh, I just thought... "

"What does it matter anyway? You've got your hot young thing in there."

"Will you just... tell him I miss him?"

Tristan laughed a salty laugh. "Oh sweetie, you really do like to hedge your bets, don't you? Look, I appreciate what's going on here, I really do. But I'm not about to play messenger for you just to see that poor boy's heart break from the mere mention of you."

"Did he see you with us that one Saturday night? Does he know we're friends?"

"Sweetie, let's get one thing straight. The mere fact that we're currently running in a similar circle does not make us friends. I'm civil, I'm polite, and that's where it ends. If it weren't for Chadwick and all them, I wouldn't even be hanging with you."

Tristan tried opening the door, but was stopped one more time. "Will you at least tell him that I said hi?"

Tristan's eyes narrowed. "Man up. Tell him yourself."

The cab ride to Duffy's wiped out the last of his recovered money, but it was worth it. He got there just in time to hear Efrain sing, win the night, and make it to the next round. And he knew he should've been there from the beginning, but he was there now, with his Bitches. And that's what was most important.



David's better half was in a mood this morning, but Other David had slept fitfully the night before so David chalked it up to that. It wasn't until after the morning shower, when they both got ready in their newly renovated His-&-His sinks that Other David's uncharacteristic taciturn sullenness started to alarm David.

"What's up, babe?" David asked, as his better half lathered up the shaving cream.

Other David was thoughtful for a moment and then said, "Nothing."

David whipped up some quick scrambled eggs and bacon while Other David cut up some melon and brewed the coffee. For the first time since they'd been together, they ate in silence. David cleared his throat awkwardly behind his Chicago Tribune. Other David coughed behind his Chicago Sun-Times. They both reached the halfway point of their papers, which is usually where they traded because Other David liked the Arts & Entertainment section in the Tribune better. This morning, he just turned the page. David couldn't take it anymore, so he reached across the table and pulled down his better half's paper.

"Ok seriously. Babe. What's going on?"

Other David was thoughtful again for a moment before he said, "You really shouldn't have been such a dick to Charlie's new roommate."

"The go-go boy?"

"See, why is it such an issue? Why do you have to be such a prick about it?"

"C'mon babe, it was all in good fun. We even laughed about it at my birthday party. Charlie knew I was kidding."

"Yeah, but that poor guy didn't."

"Omigod babe, that was like a week ago. If it bothered you that much, why didn't you say something about it then?"

"I couldn't fully articulate it then. I can now." Though David didn't take much stock in astrology, there were some moments that it was painfully clear that his better half was a Taurus.

"I'll send over a muffin basket. Will that make you happy?"

"Fine," said Other David, going back to his Sun-Times, clearly not satisfied with David's sarcastic solution.

"This wouldn't be because of the arbitration we're about to sit in on, would it? Projecting our benign personal issues onto it?"

"Trade me the Tribune, will ya?" came the deflected response. And that was the end of that for the rest of the morning.


David had started representing Steve ever since he'd first moved into their building. Well, Steve and Bruce at the time. They were his first clients right after passing the bar and they gave him a cut in rent in exchange for his legal services. Even after David had moved out, Steve maintained the professional relationship after he and Bruce had split. It was just as well: David felt a stronger connection to Steve anyhow, so it was easier to go up to bat on his account. The ironic twist of fate that brought Bruce to Other David's firm and subsequently being represented by Other David was not lost on the four of them.

It was decided that the arbitration would happen on neutral territory, at a new gourmet coffee shop on Broadway and Oakdale. David had met Steve at the Wellington Brown Line stop and they prepped as they walked. When they arrived, Other David and Bruce were already seated at the long table next to the Pac Man arcade game. They rose as David and Steven approached the table.

"Counselor," said David, extending his hand to his better half.

"Counselor," said Other David, taking his better half's hand and shaking it. They all sat, Other David handing them all the proposed agenda. "Let's cut to the chase, gentlemen. My client feels... "

"I should have half of it! All of it!" Bruce blurted out.

"Compelling argument, counselor," smirked David.

"Let me handle this, Bruce," Other David said in his most calming voice. "The properties owned by our clients during the tenure of the relationship would never have been acquired had it not for the financial contributions of my client."

"My client's name is the only one listed on all the deeds," David rebutted. "To that end, your client has no legal claim to said properties, nor the earnings, nor is he obligated to pay any of the taxes on it."

"But I have! For more than ten years I have!" Other David had to place a calming hand on Bruce's hand to get him to quiet down.

"I reiterate, my client is the sole legal owner of these properties and your client has no claim... "

"Goddamit, Steve! We were together for twenty years!" Bruce rose, slamming his fists on the table.

"YOU were the one who ended it! And for what?!" Steve screamed in his face. Both Davids had to sit their clients down.

"The hope of this arbitration is to appeal to the empathetic nature of your client," Other David said to which Steve guffawed. "There is precedent in Massachusetts and California for couples who have registered as domestic partners... "

"Yes, Counselor, but unfortunately our clients never did. So while we can amicably settle the joint liquid assets... "

"Buy me out," said Steve. Everyone stared at him, mouths agape. "You want the properties so goddamn much, write me a check, buy me out. Every time I look at those buildings, all I see is our failure of a relationship."

"Are you serious?" Bruce was in complete utter shock.

"I know how much you've got and it's a renter's market. You'd be stupid not to buy them. As for the joint liquid assets, split them in half. If you're serious about wanting the properties, David will draw up the paperwork. Don't say I never gave you anything." Steve gathered his things and rose. "But after all is said and done, I never want to see you again. David, walk with me."

"Are you going to take him up on it?" Other David asked, as his better half walked Steve out the door.

"You bet your ass," said Bruce.

"I just don't understand. Why didn't you sign a prenup? Why didn't you register as domestic partners when you had the chance?"

Bruce chuckled to himself, full of bittersweet nostalgia. "It was a different time, baby. We were in love. It didn't matter. And we were radicals. Who wanted a civil union? We were holding out for marriage." It was a conversation that he and David had had and it scared him.

"So, what changed?"

"Who knows? I did? Him? Whatever we had, it's gone."

"Twenty years. Just like that?"

Bruce gave Other David a fatherly kiss on the cheek. "Whatever happens between the two of you, David, fuck love. That changes. Money doesn't. Get it all in writing first."


The dusty storefront on Belmont and Macondray, just west of Halsted and east of Clark, had lay empty since the recession. Before that, it'd been a boutique, a coffee shop, a sex shop. David wondered why Steve had taken him here and, moreover, how he had keys.

"You know, David, I had a dream once. I'm a product of my generation and all I saw for myself as an adult was the cozy double bed of Mr. and Mrs. Brady. Well, mister and mister anyway. I thought I had that. I wanted kids more than anything, but Bruce didn't, so I let that dream go. Now... it's too late. It's too late to keep that dream alive. So it's time to start a new dream." Steve went to the back room and retrieved blue prints and showed them to David.

"Is this... ?"

"A bar, David. I'm going to open the best, sexiest, hottest bar Boystown has ever seen. I've already started a down payment, greased the palms of the right people to get all the city clearances I need. And with that fat check Bruce is going to write me, I'll be able to open in a month."

David smiled. "You sly son of a bitch." Steve smiled back as he locked the place back up. He stopped David before he hailed a cab.

"Davey... when you draw up the paperwork? Leave out the building on Halsted and Roscoe. I have a certain fondness for the place."


Other David came home later than usual, without a word of warning. David sat worried on the couch, half a bottle of pinot noir downed. Other David didn't say a word as he came in, but simply put his briefcase down, pulled his better half up off the couch, and kissed him slowly and passionately. Then, they looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity.

David broke the silence. "We can get a prenup. We can make any arrangements so that we never have to be on the other side of the table from each other like that."

"The only agreement I'll ever sign with you," said Other David, "is that you'll let me love you for the rest of my life."



Hunter was kicking Tyler's ass in Soul Caliber V when Charlie came in from dinner. Charlie and Hunter regarded each other for a moment, then Charlie exited wordlessly to his room. Hunter was so intent on watching Charlie that he didn't block in time for Tyler to get a fatal blow in, winning round five of their tournament. Hunter chugged the rest of his beer and got up.

"All right kid, I gotta earn my keep." And with that, he left for work. Tyler was getting sick of this weird tension in the house and he knew it was up to him to fix it. He shut off the PS3 and went to Charlie's room. The door was slightly ajar and he could see Charlie in his underwear changing out of his dinner clothes. Charlie looked up and caught Tyler staring.

"Sorry! Sorry, I was gonna knock and... "

Charlie opened the door, standing there in his underwear. "Hey Tyler, what's up?"

"Nothing. It's just... what's going on with you and Hunter?"

"Nothing! Why? What'd he say?"

"Nothing Charlie. But you guys are acting so weird, it's like... "

"Nah, man, I've just got a lot on my mind. Maybe he does too."

"So, you're not fighting? You guys aren't gonna move out?"

Aww, geez, thought Charlie. The poor kid sounded so scared for some reason. "No. No of course not."

"And I won't have to go back to that gross hotel?" Man, could this kid make Charlie's heart break.

"No, Tyler, no one is going anywhere." Tyler almost audibly sighed with relief. "Hey, what you up to tonight?"

"Um, I was gonna play another round of Soul Caliber by myself. Why, wanna play me?"

Charlie chuckled. "Nah, but... you wanna grab a drink?"

Scarlet didn't seem as imposing or daunting to Tyler the second time around. Not having his whole life packed into a duffle bag definitely helped. Charlie kissed William the bartender hello and ordered a round of beers. When he turned to give Tyler his, Charlie caught him gawking at some fratty gay.

"Go ahead," Charlie said. "Talk to him." Tyler flushed immediately.

"It's ok. I'm good," Tyler said quickly, gulping his beer. Charlie laughed at how Tyler demurred.

"Tyler, c'mon. You obviously think that guy's cute. If you never play a hand, you'll never win the game."

"I don't even know what to say. And what if he doesn't like me?"

"What's the worst he could say? No?"

"Could there be anything worse?"

"Yeah," said Charlie. "Not knowing."

"Ignorance is bliss, isn't it?"

"There was this guy," Charlie started, deciding that a shot of Jameson was in order for this walk down memory lane. "This guy when I was in high school. I was out in high school, sure, but dating and my social life and stuff... it was still difficult. I mean, there weren't a lot of out guys at school so I didn't really meet anyone there. Plus, I was like real angsty, not really confident about my looks or whatever. So one day, my girl friends and I are hanging out at the Sonic by school, cuz where else do you hang out after school? They have Sonics in Ohio, right?"

"Yeah," said Tyler, completely enthralled. "The drive-in place where the girls are on roller skates?"

"Yeah, except at this one, out of nowhere, there was this guy on roller skates. And he was totally cute and had these awesome green wolf-eyes and this shaggy hair. So he brings out our food and he sort of smiles at me. And I guess I notice? Usually they just drop and go, but this guy kinda lingers, then skates off. And while we're eating, he skates around us. And the girls are giggling, figuring out which one of them he's flirting with. Then he comes back, sits right next to me, and just starts talking to me."

"Omigod, he was flirting with you?!"

"Yeah. I guess. I mean, at the time, I was like, whatever. His name was Seabring, his parents were hippies or something. God, he was so cute. And the whole time I look all special needs cuz my contacts are bugging and my eye is doing this weird twitch thing. But he stays the whole time, talking to only me. Laughing with only me. Anyway, his manager comes out and yells at him for not working and he skates away. So we all get in our cars, and as my friends drive away, I look in my rearview mirror and see this guy in skates chasing after me, waving for me to stop. I stop the car, roll down the window. He'd brought me drops for my eyes."

"Gosh, that's so sweet! How long did you and Seabring date?"

"We didn't. I was so fucking down on myself, so convinced I was too lame for anyone to even consider dating me, that I didn't even consider that he was flirting with me. It wasn't until my girl friends convinced me of it the next day that I let myself believe it. So I went back, trying to find him. But he'd been fired, I guess his manager had it out for him and that night was his last straw. So I never found out what happened to him. I'd never know what could've been. And so from that moment on, I said I'd never regret not talking to a guy. If I have a passing interest, I'll nine times out of ten say something about it. Cuz the worst he could say is no. And at least I'll never have to wonder what might've been."

"Wow. That must be so awesome. Living with no regrets."

"Oh I've got regrets, dude. Tons. Just a different kind."

After a few more rounds at Scarlet, Charlie decided that he needed to sleazy dance the week's angst off. The crowd and lights of Berlin proved too much for Tyler and after a half hour of mosh-pit style grinding, he told Charlie he'd meet him at home. Tyler couldn't help but smile as he left the sweaty club, walking onto Belmont in the muggy summer night. This is exactly why he moved to Chicago. Nights like this. Gay clubs, gay friends, not having to worry about who'd see you. He shot Andy a quick text, still having not told Charlie that this hot hipster boy he met was the reason he didn't want to pursue fratty gay at Scarlet. He was so lost in text as he cut across Clark and down Aldine that he didn't notice the three young black guys in somewhat drag. By the time he did, they were coming in close around him.

"Hi," said Tyler, smiling at who could be his first trans friends.

And that's when a fist came at his face.


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