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

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24. In Just One Night - The Calm Before

Charlie approached Dr. Fargo but then pussed out and retreated. How the fuck was he going to start this conversation with this ridiculously attractive guy who probably had to give him a sponge bath? Awkward. Anyway, tonight was for the guys, and he could just say that he... "Charles Parker?" Cha

24. In Just One Night - The Calm Before
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Charlie approached Dr. Fargo but then pussed out and retreated. How the fuck was he going to start this conversation with this ridiculously attractive guy who probably had to give him a sponge bath? Awkward. Anyway, tonight was for the guys, and he could just say that he...

"Charles Parker?" Charlie stopped dead in his tracks and turned around. Dr. Fargo smiled. "Omigod, it is you! It's so great to see you up and about."

God, that fucking charming smile. "You remember me?"

"Well, you're looking much better now. I'm Ben," he said, extending his hand.

"Charlie. Well you knew that."

"God, it really is so great to see you up and about. I spent so many days monitoring your vitals while you were in your coma, I often wondered what you'd be like." Ben planted his palm firmly on his face. "God, that was so awkward and creepy. I'll just go and die now."

Charlie laughed from his gut, something he hadn't done in a very long time. Great, so he was handsome, charming, and goofy. What's wrong with him?

"Don't die," said Charlie, still laughing. "I'm just glad I'm not the awkward one for once."

"Yeah, I'll win that prize every time."

"Can I buy you a drink? The least I can do for someone who nursed me back to health."

They traded life stories over pints of beer. After med school, Ben wanted to join Doctors Without Borders. It was very similar to Charlie's desire to take a year off some day to do Teach For America. Between smiles and sideways glances, they shared coming out stories, of first loves, watered-down heart breaks, and hyperbolic views on life and love. With each story told, each hour passed, each smile shared, they inched closer together until eventually, they were standing hip to hip. Reaching for his wallet to pay for another drink, Charlie's hand grazed Ben's slightly. Ben took it and held in his hand, running his thumb over Charlie's knuckle.

"Last call!" said the Bartender.

"Aw man, I was having such a great time."

"That doesn't mean the night has to end at this very minute," said Ben.

"Can I walk you home?" asked Charlie.

"Sure," smiled Ben.

They walked up Halsted until it split and turned into Broadway. The air was heavy with the smell of rain and dying summer. The streetlights peeked through the misty almost-fog, lighting their way as they passed Irving Park. They didn't say a whole lot, just cracking jokes here and there, but Charlie felt completely at ease with Ben. He didn't have to think about what to say or how to keep him interested. They were just... there. Together.

"I should have mentioned," said Ben as they crossed Montrose, "I live in Andersonville."

"Shit, we've come a long way! I hadn't even noticed."

"I can get you a cab if you need to turn back."

"No, I want to walk you home. And it's nice to... I mean, I can't even remember the last time I left Boystown. It's nice to get out for a change."

"You should do it more often."

Usually passing the shady corner of Wilson and Broadway at this time of night would give Charlie pause, but somehow, with Ben holding his hand firmly, he felt safer.

"I wish I had time for a puppy," said Ben, off the cuff. "But with med school... "

"Plus living in the city... "

"Yeah. Not that I'd want to live in the burbs cuz... "

"... gross... "

"Yeah. But, I want to have a puppy someday, and have him grow up with me so by the time he's an adult, and I have kids, he can be the family dog."

"You want kids?"

"God yeah. Shit. Sorry, is that too much for a first... whatever this is?"

"No. Not at all. It's just nice to know that we want the same things."

They turned left at Bryn Mawr and walked west up to Clark street.

"This is ethically ok, isn't it?"

"What's that?"

"This... whatever... I mean, you were my doctor. Technically."

"And I've released you from my care."


"And it's probably the only time I'll want to release you," Ben said, then his palm found his face again. "God that was so cheesey."

Charlie pulled Ben in close and kissed him. The clouds above delivered on the rain they promised earlier, pelting down on them as they stood kissing in the street. They wrapped their arms around each other, with only the heat of their bodies and the heat of their breath to keep them warm. Time had no meaning, the rain had no meaning. Just them. This moment here. They remained like this, wrapped in each other, kissing until the rain finally slowed down.

"Can I see you again?" asked Ben.

"I'd really like that."

"Good," said Ben. "Let me give you my number. And you can text me yours."

"Great," said Charlie, pulling out his phone. After he entered his passcode, he noticed that he had missed a text from Tristan:

"At this very moment, your roommate is hooking up with He Who Shall Not Be Named."

And Charlie's heart sank.

A note from the author:

Well, that does it for Volume 2! Thanks so much for reading and reaching out to me via social media channels. Your feedback is invaluable to the growth of the series. Word of mouth is the best way a fledgling series can grow, so please, if you like BOYSTOWN, share it with your friends! All next week we'll be posting recaps everyday, perfect for getting your friends and family caught up on the fun.

BOYSTOWN Volume 3 will launch Monday, October 8!


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