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THE STRAIGHT DOPE

Gay sex, straight sex, torrid romance and true love:

THE STRAIGHT DOPE                  

By Joe Reister © 2016

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Two Years, Eight Months And Nine Days Ago

Chapter 2: Yes, There Is A Gay Rodeo

Chapter 3: Back In The Real World

Chapter 4: Post Game Report

Chapter 5: The Plot Thickens

Chapter 6: The Next Call


Chapter 1: Two Years, Eight Months And Nine Days Ago

The room was dark and the sheets were soft.  Everyone was breathing hard and life was good: well, maybe not that good.

“Yes,” a man said suddenly.  “Yes.  Right.  There.  Oh.”

A little laugh caught in another man’s throat.

“Oh, yes.  That’s it.  Yes.  More.  Right there.  More.  Yes, right there.”

“Yes.  Okay.  I got it,” the other man said and laughed again.  “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Yes, oh,” the man said through a long moan that echoed throughout the room.

The other man smiled and sat up as the first man trembled on the bed, grabbing hold of it.  “Happy?” the other man said with another laugh.

“I don’t know,” the man said, catching his breath.

“You don’t know.  That sounded too pretty happy to me.”

“Maybe too happy.”

“Too happy,” the other man said and lay down.  “What are you talking about?  It all felt pretty good to me.”

“I’ve got to go,” the man said and stood up.  He fumbled in the dark for his clothes, pulling some on.

“What?  We just got started.  I’ve got cherries and whip cream.”

“Cherries and whip cream?” the man said, fumbling with his pants.  “I can’t handle that.  That’s too much.”

“Too much?  Too much what?  Happiness?

“Bye.”

“Bye?  You’re not even dressed.  Let me turn on the lights and we can…”

The door opened and the man slipped through, shutting it behind him.

“What?” the other man said and turned on a light, seeing the man’s jacket and watch on the floor.  “What is going on?”


Chapter 2: Yes, There Is A Gay Rodeo

“Yee ha.  This is the greatest thing ever, John Paul.  Who knew you could have so much fun at a rodeo.”

“Not me, Puck” John Paul said, noting the looks around them and rolling his eyes.  “But Richard and I are so glad you could make it, right Richard?”

“What’s going on here?” Richard said, staring at a cowboy and cowgirl wrestle a cow into the dirt as a drag queen sauntered up and sat on it.  “John Paul, this isn’t a rodeo.  There weren’t any drag queens in the old west?”

“Well, not in the history books,” John Paul said.  “But it’s a gay rodeo.  What did you expect, the Marlboro Man and Clint Eastwood?”

“Clint Eastwood’s going to be here?”

“No, Puck.  I’m guessing Clint won’t be showing up.  Although you never know.”

“No kidding, John Paul?” Puck said.  “Really?”

“Why did we bring you along again?” John Paul said.

“Because you had an extra ticket, because I didn’t have anything else to do and because you wanted to spend time with your favorite brother.”

“And aren’t we all having a ball?” John Paul said, finishing his half glass of wine.

“Good thing you don’t have any other siblings, eh,” Puck said with a wink.

“Eh,” John Paul said and handed his brother the empty glass.

“If you’re done you want to tell me what’s going on?” Richard said as the drag queen sat on the now standing cow and the cowboy and girl pulled it slowly across a line in the dirt.  The crowd went wild, and Richard shook his head but couldn’t help smiling.

John Paul watched and smiled too.  “Told you we’d have fun.”

“Can we see what else is around?” Puck said, looking past the drag queen.  “This is kind of goofy.”

“Sure,” John Paul said and turned to Puck.  “You want that Coke now?”

“You’re the best older brother a guy could ever want,” Puck said with his own smile.

“Jesus,” John Paul said and closed his eyes.

“Mom wouldn’t like that.”

“What does a gay cowboy do if he’s really good?” Richard said, still watching the bull and the drag queen.  “Do they bother with this amateur stuff?”

“Some of these guys are pretty good, Richard.”

“Yes, but they’re just pretty good, Puck.  I’d imagine if they wanted to make it big they’d hit the real rodeo circuit.  There is a real rodeo circuit, right?”

“Sure, I guess,” John Paul said.

“There is,” Puck said.

John Paul and Richard both turned to him.

“I’ve seen it on ESPN,” Puck said and stood up.

“Rodeo’s a sport?” Richard said.

“Yes.  I mean, look at those guys,” Puck said, pointing to the cowboy and cowgirl struggling against the cow.  “That can’t be easy.  Cows are huge.  I’ve seen them up close and personal and dealing with them one to one is harder than any sport I’ve played.”

“Even hockey?” John Paul said.

“Let’s not go crazy,” Puck said with a look.  “But moving cows around and milking them is harder than the wimpy American baseball, basketball or football.  Those animals weigh a ton, and they’re not just going to follow orders.  Didn’t you watch what was going on today?”

“So, then if you’re really good then you’d go to the major leagues on ESPN?” Richard said.

“Or Fox Sports Network,” Puck said.

“Yes, I guess they would,” John Paul said and looked back at the corrals.  “But, none of these guys are kicking ass.”

“Not in the rodeo, but I’m betting a lot of people score here, huh.”

“I think that’s the whole point, hon,” John Paul said.

“I thought we were going to check out the rest of the rodeo now?” Puck said, pointing to the big tent beyond the corrals.

John Paul and Richard both looked at each other and then looked at Puck.

“Sure.  I’m good to go now that the drag queen stuff is over,” John Paul said and stood up.  “I don’t think you’ll be into the rest of the gay rodeo, Puck, but let’s take a look.”

Puck nodded and led them down and away from the grandstand.  He smiled at the many winks and numerous cowboy hats, not noticing the lingering stares or tight jeans as he headed to the music coming from the big tent with the Coke sign on it.

“I can’t believe people pay to see this stuff,” Richard said.

“I thought you’d be enjoying yourself?” John Paul said, grinning as he watched Richard check out below the belt buckles.  “Lexington has all of those horses.”

“Yes,” Richard said.  “But that’s horse racing farms, with Arabs, Brits and a last few Kentuckians prepping for the Derby.  I don’t think I’ve even seen anyone other than jockeys and rich folks ride a horse, and they weren’t cowboys or openly gay that’s for sure.”

“So you never saw horses or cows as a kid?”

“I grew up in the suburbs, John.  Lexington is a thriving metropolis, or at least a thriving pseudo metropolis.  The only time I saw any animals was at the petting zoo.”

“Not even dogs or cats?” John Paul said.

“I’m allergic remember?”

“Sorry,” John Paul said.  “But didn’t you even watch Westerns growing up?  Gunsmoke or Bonanza?  What about John Wayne?”

“No,” Richard said and starting humming an Isaac Hayes song.  “It was Shaft, Star Wars, and Star Trek.  You Canadians are the only folks who watched that corny western stuff in the 90s.”

“Yes, because the Lexington suburbs are so exciting?”

“Compared to Canada they are, baby.” Richard said and pointed to Puck.

“Right,” John Paul said and looked at his brother.

“Hey, they have dancing,” Puck said, stopping everything and running into the big tent where one hundred people began line dancing.

“What did I just say?” Richard said.

“I don’t think Puck’s a fair example,” John Paul said, but sighed as Puck ran to the dance line, got a nod of approval and jumped right in, immediately two stepping and sliding to the right with the crowd.

“You can take the kid out of Canada, but you can’t take Canada out of the kid,” Richard said.

“Thank you, Dr. Jones,” John Paul said, watching his brother and shaking his head.

“All I’m saying is that I never took dancing lessons as a kid,” Richard said, giving John Paul a nudge. 

“Too busy going to the mall?”

“Yes,” Richard said.  “Showing off and checking out everyone was what I did in my teen years.”

“Just like here,” John Paul said and nodded back to a cowboy.

“I’m glad to see Puck fits in,” Richard said, walking into the tent and noticing another cowboy checking out Puck.  “It’s that good old Canadian goodness at work.”

“That does look hard,” John Paul said, watching his brother match the cowboy’s two-step.

“You didn’t take dancing lessons?”

“No, our folks didn’t have any money when I was ten, and I think my dad was steering me in another direction.”

“Trying to keep you on the straight and narrow?”

“Trying,” John Paul said.  “I played hockey and lacrosse like everyone else, but he said no to rugby.”

“The second most homoerotic sport ever,” Richard said.  “Funny since your dad’s so cool about things now.” 

“I know,” John Paul said, his eyes still on Puck.  “That’s what fifteen years of adjustment will do.”

“I hear that,” Richard said and the music stopped.  He and John Paul watched the cowboy next to Puck. 

“You’re really good,” the cowboy said, offering Puck a hand. 

“Thanks,” Puck said, shaking.  “I just had to pick up on the pattern and then everything else fell in to place.”

“I saw that,” the cowboy said, letting go of Puck’s hand slowly.  “Name’s Ted.”

“Puck,” he said and gave a big smile.

“Puck huh?  That stands out.”

“Yeah, well, my real name is Calvin, but I’ve always gone by Puck,” he said and shrugged.  “It’s not something people forget.”

“I can see why,” Ted said with an even bigger smile.  “You look good, real good.”

“Well, thanks.  I run almost every day.  Trying to keep my girlish figure, you know.”

“Yes indeed,” Ted said, looking Puck up and down.  “Here with anyone?

“Just my brother and Richard,” Puck said and waved to John Paul, who tried to wave him away from Ted.

“And they’re together,” Ted said, noticing John Paul and Richard, but keeping his eyes on Puck.

“Going strong on two and a half years now,” Puck said, giving his brother a smile.

“So, you’re not here with anyone then?”

“Yeah, like I told you,” Puck said, now noticing John Paul’s beckoning wave.  “John Paul and Richard.”

“I don’t suppose you’re up for a ride are you,” Ted said.

“What?” Puck said and looked at Ted again.

“What do you say I give you a ride, at your place if you like?”

“I don’t get you,” Puck said, glancing at John Paul face palm.  “I’m heading back with John Paul and Richard.”

Ted’s eyes narrowed on Puck.  “Okay,” he said and his tongue grazed over his teeth.  “But maybe you’d be interested in dancing with me later, alone, in a horizontal position, at my place or yours?  Whichever works for you.”

Puck swallowed hard.  “Ahem.  I, uh, think you’ve got the wrong idea, mister.”

“It’s Ted.”

“I think you’ve got the wrong idea, Ted,” Puck said and looked right at John Paul, watching his brother mouth the words, ‘About time.’  “I’m here with John Paul and Richard.”

“And I’m here with friends, too,” Ted said, shrugging.  “But that doesn’t mean we can’t meet new people.”

“Right,” Puck said and looked away from his brother and back at Ted.  “Well, I’ve got to go, Ted.  Thanks for the dance, and have a nice day.”

“Right,” Ted said, frowning as Puck walked away.  “You have a nice day too.  Idiot.”

“And we have a winner,” John Paul said as Puck walked over.  “Yes, indeed, someone discovered that there are men on the prowl at the gay rodeo, and that dancing, like with women, is also foreplay for men.”

Puck threw his hands up in the air.  “How was I…?”

“How long have you lived in DuPont Circle, kid?” Richard said.

“A couple years, you know that.”

“And you’re still slow as molasses about gay men?”

“And twice as thick,” John Paul said.

“Hey, I was just being friendly,” Puck said.  “I didn’t think…”

“But four times as sweet,” John Paul and Richard said together.

“Great,” Puck said and forced a smiled.  “Thanks.”

“You know we love you,” Richard said.

“Do you know why women aren’t as forward as that?” Puck said.

“You’re not paying them,” Richard said.

“They don’t want to get pregnant,” John Paul said.

“They expect men to make the first move,” Richard said.

“Yeah, well, I’ve made the first move,” Puck said, walking away.  “But never like that.”

“Puck, you might not have picked up on this, but a lot of men in the gay community would be considered by the rest of the world to be …” John said and looked around at all the staring cowboys and then at Richard.  “How should I put this?”

“Slutty, easy and ready for action twenty-four seven,” Richard said

“Yes, I think you could say that,” John Paul said, catching up to Puck.

“You were never like that were you?” Puck said, looking back at his brother.

Richard laughed.  “Boy, if only you knew.”

“That’s a line I’d prefer not to cross with my younger brother,” John Paul said to Richard and led them out of the tent.  “Okay?”

“Yeah, and that’s fine with me too,” Puck said.  “I don’t want to lie to Mom.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“Why are you so surprised by all this anyway?”

“What are you talking about?” Puck said.

“You straights do the same thing to women?” Richard said as they made the way out of the rodeo.  “I remember back in college when I still had straight allusions I walked up to numerous cheerleaders, skipped the formalities and asked them to just get it on.”

“And they said?” John Paul said.

“They mostly they slapped me across the face and said, ‘no,’ but you’d be surprised how much school spirit some of them had.”

“I’m surprised it took you so long to come out.”

“What can I tell you?” Richard said.  “I was a popular guy.”

“You see I can’t do that,” Puck said.

“And that’s why you have the time to be the only straight guy at the gay rodeo,” John Paul said.

“Hey, I wanted to hang out with you guys.”

“And we’re glad you came,” Richard said.  “But I think I’ve experienced enough fake western culture to last a lifetime.”  He patted John Paul on the shoulder.  “Let’s go home, okay?”

“Sounds good,” John Paul said and headed to the exit.


Chapter 3: Back In The Real World

Puck, John Paul and Richard stepped into the parking lot. 

“Well, well, well,” John Paul said.  “Look what we have here.”

A man and a woman stood in front trying and failing to hand out brochures.

“Yeah,” Puck said, noticing the young, blonde woman and walking over.  “Look.”

“Are those protesters?” Richard said.

“That’s Washington, DC, for you,” John Paul said.  “We have a protest about everything.”

“I didn’t think the rodeo was big enough to register with animal rights activists.”

“I think it’s about the cocks, not the bulls.”

“Baby, do they really think they’re going to get converts?” Richard said.  “They’ve got some balls.”

“Yes, but they don’t know how to use them?”

‘What?”

“I know that guy,” John Paul said and looked right at the man.  “Jerry Robertson.  How the heck are you?”

Jerry looked back blankly at John Paul.  “Would you like a brochure, sir?”

“As I live and breathe, you don’t remember me do you?”

“Should I?”

“Three years ago,” John Paul said, taking and giving the brochure to Richard.  “We enjoyed the love that shan’t speak its name.”

“I am sorry,” Jerry said.  “But I think you have me confused with someone else.  I’m not…

“And I can see I didn’t quite have the effect I thought,” John Paul said, glancing at Richard who gave him a shrug.

“I’m not sure who you are…

“You don’t remember me at all?” John Paul said.

“So much for your sterling reputation,” Richard said.    

“I am from a group called the Straight Path,” Jerry said.  “I would be happy to talk to you about any problems you might have.  We have a program that…”

“You’re kidding me?” John Paul said.  “Three years ago we met at the Starbucks on Connecticut Avenue, just north of Mass Ave.  I had on a teal shirt and black jeans.  We had iced coffees and then went back to…”

“Where do you all get off advocating a cure for homosexuality outside of a gay rodeo?” Richard said, dropping the brochure on the ground.

“Our program of guidance is very successful,” Jerry said.  “We’ve turned around over one hund…”

“Do you think that the people here are going to buy what you’re selling?” Richard said, stepping on the brochure.  “Look at the crowd.  I’ve never seen a queerer group in my life, and that includes last year’s vacation in San Francisco.”

Jerry looked around but didn’t move.

“Is that how you got back into the closet?” John Paul said, plucking another brochure out of Jerry’s hand and opening it.

“We have a strong program that allows people to talk about their urges and convert them into something purer.”

“You definitely sang out your urges,” John Paul said.  I remember you asking for more… more…”

“We help people focus on their doubts and guide them toward the straight path.”

“Doesn’t genetics have something to do with being gay?” Richard said and looked at John Paul.  “Didn’t we read about that in the Economist like ten years ago?”

“It was People, but yes, it said we were out of luck,” John Paul said.  “You should check out the article, Jer.”

“The Straight Path has helped dozens of people overcome their baser urges and live productive lives,” Jerry said.

“Productive lives?” Richard said and took a step forward.  “I work for the FBI and volunteer twice a month at a homeless shelter.  How productive do you want me to be?” 

“Did I cross the line with the cherries, Jer?” 

“We’d be glad to help you,” Jerry said and pointed to the rodeo.  “Homosexuality doesn’t have to be a lifestyle…”

“This is one of your many conquests before you settled down?” Richard said and took another step forward, laughing loudly.  “Baby, I am not impressed.”

“That was a long time ago,” Jerry said and stepped back.  “And I only crossed the line once.”

John Paul watched Jerry’s face turn down.  “Well, I’m glad to see you at least remember me.”

“Would you like more information?” Jerry said, but now held the brochures close to his chest.  “Our program has a very high success rate.”

“Yes, I can see how you attract people,” Richard said, noticing Puck smile at the woman with brochures.

“Hi, how are you?” Puck said.

“I’m good, thank you,” the woman said and smiled back.  “I’m having a hard time handing out this material, but it’s a beautiful day out and there’s a lot of interesting stuff to see here.”

A large man in leather chaps, thong and vest with multiple piercings and a goatee walked past them.

“Yeah, I see what you mean,” Puck said, pointing to the man.

The woman kept staring.

“You’ve got to wonder where a guy like that works,” Puck said.  “I don’t see him as the 9-5 office type you know.  At least not in any office I’ve worked at.”

“Me either.” 

“There were a lot of guys and even a few women dressed like that inside,” Puck said.  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many tight jeans, cowboy hats and boots in my life, not even on TV.”

“The whole thing seems pretty goofy,” the woman said.  “A gay rodeo?  It sounds like a supermodel barbecue.”

“Yeah, I thought so too, but the guy selling Coke told me that somebody got killed last year by an angry bull.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“No, bulls are pretty big.  I wouldn’t want to be in the coral with one of them.”

“I can see why.”

Puck bit his lip. “So, what do you do for fun other than hang out at the county fairgrounds?”

“Fun?” the woman said and looked up at Puck.  “No one’s asked me what I do for fun since I moved to Washington.  All I ever talk about is work or politics.” 

“I bet,” Puck said and smiled.  “But what do you like to do?”

“I like softball,” the woman said and smiled too.  “I used to be on a team in college, second base.”

“Cool.  I’m on a team that plays down on the Mall.” 

“Really?”

“Yeah,” Puck said and smiled some more.  “You should stop by and throw the ball a little.”

“That’s sounds cool.”

Puck nodded.  “I’m heading out, but if it’s not too weird or uncomfortable let me get your number and I’ll call you he next time we play.  And just to be safe, you can have my card too.”

“Okay,” the woman said and reached into her purse. 

“I’m not always in the office, so let me give you my cell too,” Puck said, writing on the back of his card.  “If you’re interested that is.”

“That sounds good.  My cell is on my card.”

“Cool.

“Puck, we’re heading home, cowboy,” John Paul said.   

“Yeah, giddy up, boy,” Richard said.  “Let’s ride.”

“I’ve got to go,” Puck said and turned around, waving to Jon Paul and Richard, but looking back at the woman.  “They’re my ride, but let’s get in touch.”

“I look forward to it,” the woman said and smiled, watching Puck catch up with John Paul and Richard. 

Jerry walked over to her. 

“Any luck?”

The woman held up Puck’s business card, still smiling.  “He gave me his number.”

“And you think you can straighten him out, right?”

“I think so,” the woman said, looking at Puck.  “That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

Puck saw her look and smiled.

She smiled back.

“That guy’s going to get his butt kicked if he keeps spouting that kind of garbage,” Richard said.

“You find people like that wherever you go,” John Paul said. 

“Still.”

“Helen seemed really nice,” Puck said, holding up the business card.

“No duh,” Richard said, glancing back at Jerry and Helen.  “Even John and I see that.”

“No, really.  She was very friendly.”

“I’m sure,” Richard said and nudged Puck.  “So, did you ask her out?”

“No, but she gave me her number,” Puck said and smiled again.

“Excellent,” John Paul said and patted his brother on the back.  “There might be hope for you after all.”

“I thought there already was,” Puck said and elbowed his brother with a smile.

“There is,” John Paul said and both he and Richard laughed.


Chapter 4: Post Game Report  

Puck took a sip of beer and shook his head, looking back at a man with large eyes and a woman rolling hers.  “No, a gay rodeo doesn’t involve naked asses and riding crops; none that I saw at least.  It’s an actual rodeo, with horses, cows…”

“No sheep?” the man said.

“No sheep, Milo.  That’s bestiality.” 

“I bet there were a lot of cowboy hats and boots, though,” the woman said.

“Yeah, Grace, and tight jeans like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Jordache?” Milo said.

“Not that bad.  I stood out, though, in shorts and steel toes with my Oilers Cap.”

“How did JP and Richard look?" 

“I don’t know, Milo: like they always do; stylishly guppie.”

“What a stupid question,” Grace said and punched Milo in the arm.  “What did you think they’d do, dress up like, Clint Eastwood?”

“Hey, it’s legitimate,” Milo said, rubbing his arm.  “I still can’t believe there’s actually a gay rodeo.”

“You’d be surprised, Milo,” Puck said.  “It goes to all the big cities; Chicago, Cleveland, New York…”

“San Francisco?”

“Yeah, San Francisco.  I think that’s where it started.”

“I kind of figured,” Milo said and sipped his beer.

“It’s funny,” Grace said.  “I don’t think of rodeos being anywhere except Texas and the sticks, but I bet it just tours the big cities.”  

“Makes sense since Puck just said it,” Milo said and shook his head.  “I’d pay to see a cow.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.”

“You’re an idiot,” Grace said, sipping at her beer without even looking back at Milo.  “You’ve lived in the Washington area your whole life and you wouldn’t know a cow from a horse if they both bit you on the ass.”

“And you would, Brooklyn girl?”

“Hey, at least I know what hamburgers are made out of.” 

“I knew that.”

“Uh huh,” Grace said and sighed, looking at Puck.

“Glad to see you guys had so much fun when I was at the rodeo.”

“Don’t get me started,” Grace said and took another, larger sip of beer.

“How can this rodeo support itself?” Milo said, looking at Puck’s ticket stub.  “I’d never heard of it before you mentioned it yesterday.”

“A lot of people were there,” Puck said.

“Probably scouting booty.

“Yeah,” Puck said, taking another sip of his beer and swallowing slowly.  “There was definitely a lot of that.”

“Somebody give you the queer eye?” Grace said.

“I got more than that.  I think this guy wanted me to bend over and cough.”

Milo laughed.

Puck gave him a look.  “I didn’t realize guys were that forward.”

“Oh yeah, it’s charming,” Grace said and leaned back in her chair.  “I can’t get enough of it.”

“Yeah, I wasn’t too thrilled.”

“That’s great,” Milo said and handed back the ticket stub.  “But even if a lot of people show up, it seems like you’d need a huge crowd to support a traveling rodeo, and I doubt that the Montgomery Fair Grounds have enough room to bring in the dollars they’d need.”

“What can I tell you?” Puck said.  “It exists.”

“It’s not just the numbers attending either, Milo,” Grace said.  “It’s also the money they spend.  Most gay men have a butt load of cash.”

“Butt load?” Milo said with a smile.  “What exactly are trying to say there, Grace?”

She took her time swallowing another long sip of beer, put down the glass and looked at him.  “I’m saying you’re a moron, and that the gay community has a lot of disposable income to spend on frivolous stuff like doofy rodeos.”

“I had fun,” Puck said.

“It’s the whole double income no kids syndrome,” Grace said, her eyes still on Milo.  “They don’t have to worry about paying for little Johnny’s education so they get to live the high life their whole life.”

“That’s cute, but you might be right,” Milo said, leaning back.  “John Paul and Richard do have one nice house.”

“They’re both lawyers,” Puck said.

“Why don’t you guys have a nicer place?” Grace said and turned from Milo to Puck.  “You live like you’re still in college.”

“So you’ve said,” Milo said.  “But what do you expect, we’re not gay and Puck does public assistance work.”

“It’s a non-profit organization that focuses on education, Milo,” Puck said, keeping his eyes on Grace.  “And Grace has a point.”

“Yeah, big surprise that you’d side with her.”

“Shut up.”

“Great comeback,” Milo said and finished his beer. 

“Your apartment could look a lot better.”

“She’s right,” Puck said.

“Great, okay,” Milo said and put down his glass.  “So, who was this woman that you talked to?”

“Helen.”

“Yeah, Helen.  Was she gay too?  It doesn’t sound like a lot of heterosexuals would attend or even be welcome at something called the gay rodeo.  Or was she like you, another straight trying to get into the cool lifestyle?”

“Hey, I just wanted to hang out with my brother.

“Great, but was Helen gay?

“I don’t think so,” Puck said.  “She didn’t look it.”

“That means she wasn’t ugly?” Milo said.  “Because you know when I was younger…”

“Like last week?” Grace said.

“No, like last year,” Milo said and stuck his tongue out at Grace.  “I used to think that all lesbians were hot…”

“A la your lesbian porn collection?”

“Yeah, Grace, a la my lesbian porn collection.  You done now?”

“We’ll see.”

“Okay.  Thanks,” Milo said.  “Pipe in when you have something else to say.”

“I will.” 

“Anyway,” Milo said and turned back to Puck.  “I was under the impression that all lesbians are hot, and then I left home and found out they’re not.”

“Yeah, me too,” Puck said, finishing his beer.  “All of those teenage fantasies down the tubes.”

“It was disappointing,” Milo said.

“Poor babies,” Grace said

“But Helen is hot,” Puck said.  “She’s a real babe.” 

“Then she’s not gay,” Milo said and waved to the bartender.  “Or at least probably not.”

Grace rolled her eyes again.  “So, are you going to ask her out, Puck?”

“I don’t know.  I didn’t think of it then and John Paul and Richard gave me kind of a hard time on the way home.  We exchanged business cards, though.”

“You’re at a gay rodeo where everybody and their mother are scouting for a same sex encounter, you meet a beautiful and likely straight woman who talks to you out of the blue, and you don’t think to ask her out?”

“John Paul and Richard wanted to leave before I got the chance.”

“You can’t find a likable woman in girl-rich Washington, and then you meet one at the gay rodeo and you forget to ask her out, Puck,” Grace said and shook her head.  “I thought you could do better than that.”

“Hey.  Give him a break,” Milo said.  “When is the last time you went out with anybody?”

“I just got off of a four-month relationship.”

“Yeah, two months ago.”

“Yes, two months ago, and the guy was a huge jerk.”

“You’d think you’d want to go out with someone nice after that,” Puck said.

“I would, but I need a little more time.  Michael was…”

“… a lying, cheating, sleazebag who I told you to break up after you’d been with him for two days,” Milo said.  “He treated you like crap and then took one on you, figuratively at least.”

“Thanks for reminding me.”

“So much for nice guys working for liberal causes,” Puck said.

“Yeah, Grace.  He could care for the environment and the poor in Africa, but he couldn’t show you the time of day,” Milo said.  “And you said he was selfish in the sack.”

“I remember.” 

“You need to get back on the horse,” Milo said, turning to Puck.

“You need to find a cool guy,” Puck said, looking at Grace.

“Easier said than done,” Grace said, looking at both Puck and Milo.  “Washington isn’t teeming with crowds of straight, good-looking men who aren’t already married or willing to exploit interns.  And there’s no way I’m going for some fifty-year-old who is so secure with himself and his penis that he’s hitting on women who could be his daughters.”

“You might want to broaden you social circle then,” Milo said, taking his new beer from the bartender.  “Hanging with your grandmother isn’t exactly a turn on, at least not one I’d think most men are into.”

“You’re going to give me advice about dating?” 

“Wasn’t Michael like in his forties?” Puck said.

“He was in his early thirties.”

“Oh right,” Milo said.  “The thirtysomethings are some much cooler.

“You’re the last person who should be giving dating advice, Milo,” Grace said and picked up her new beer, holding onto it.  “You’ve got such a collection of dating neuroses that you should be somebody’s psychology thesis.”

“How is Mary, anyway,” Puck said and took a sip of his new beer.  “And when is she due?”

“Everything is fine,” Milo said and put down his beer.  “Mary got a sonogram this Friday, and the baby is healthy and looking good at seven months.”

“Did you go with her?” Grace said.

“Of course.”

“You don’t think it’s strange you’ve only dated pregnant women since college?” Grace said, taking a sip.

“Why?”

“They’re already knocked up when you meet them,” Grace said, putting the beer down and looking right at Milo. 

“So?”

“So, 99% of men avoid dating pregnant women and you’re the single guy who wants to,” Grace said.  “You’d think it would crimp your style if you had one.”

“Mary and I do everything else that every other couple does,” Milo said, a large smile spreading over his face.  “That’s one of the better parts of our relationship, actually.  She’s a freaking dynamo in the sack.”

“Thank you for that image.”

“Just like Ruth and Sara, huh?”

“What can I tell you?” Milo said, smiling.  “The thousands of mothers to be can’t seem to get enough action.”

“You’re a real charmer, Milo,” Grace said, staring at him.  “I can see how you can’t have a normal relationship.”  She picked up her beer and took a sip.  “Does Mary know about the other pregnant women you’ve dated?”

“Hey, I helped them through their pregnancies.”

“You haven’t told Mary about the others, have you?”

Milo looked at Puck and then looked away.

“Oh man,” Puck said.  “I thought you said you were going to last night.”

“No, not yet.” 

“So when?” Grace said.

“I’m building up to it,” Milo said and picked up his beer again.  “And you know I’m not actually doing anything wrong.”

“You’re being a jerk.”

“Hey, I’m just…”

“You think you guys can resolve this before I get back from the restroom?” Puck said and stood up all of the sudden, putting his beer down.

They both looked at him.

“Sorry,” Grace said.

“Me too,” Milo said. 

“Good,” Puck said and headed for the restroom.

Grace watched him and then turned to Milo.  “Real nice.”

“You’re the one who started the conversation.”

“Is Mary still in touch with the father?” Grace said, leaning closer to Milo.

“What business is it of yours?”

“You don’t know, do you?  You’re been dating her for the last three months and you haven’t even figured that out.”

“She’s says it was divine intervention,” Milo said and took a big swig from his beer.

“What?”

“Mary claims it was an immaculate conception?” Milo said.

“Yeah, I’m guessing that God has a lot to do with the failure of birth control.”

“Real nice, Grace,” Milo said and took another swig.  “But thanks for caring.”

Grace looked at Milo and shook her head, drinking some more beer.  “Just trying to keep you on the straight and narrow, Milo.

“Speaking of which, why don’t you ask out Puck?”

“Excuse me?” Grace said.

“You heard me.  He’d be good for you.  He has a thing for Latinas, he’s always saying nice things about you, and in case you haven’t noticed, he can’t take his eyes off of you.”

“I think you’re confusing me for my breasts,” Grace said, adjusting her bra.  “A lot of men have that problem, you included.”

“I’m serious,” Milo said and looked at her breasts. 

“It’s a nice idea, Milo, but no,” Grace said.  “Puck’s too much of a goof.  I mean, come on, he goes by Puck.”

“It beats Calvin,” Milo said.

“Look, he’s a good friend, and I love the guy, but that’s it.”

“He’s in good shape; he listens to you and treats you with respect, unlike that idiot, Michael.  Plus, he’s got a big tongue.”

“I agree he’s a nice guy,” Grace said, hiding behind a longer sip of beer.  “But I don’t think things would work out between us.

“Why not?” Milo said, looking right at her.

“I don’t know, Milo,” Grace said.  “We’ve been friends for too long, and all of the good stuff that you mentioned and I like about him as a friend would fade away once we slept together.”

“That’s a bunch of crap, Grace, and you know it.”

She looked back at him.

“You know he’s a great guy and that he’d treat you well,” Milo said.  “What is your probl…?”

“He’s cool, but I don’t think it’d work,” Grace said.

“What, because he’s got a boyish charm?”

“Yes, Milo.  I don’t think we’re on the same page maturity-wise.”

“You could say that about almost any guy.”

“Milo, I just got off an at least a semi-serious relationship, okay?  If anything, I’m looking for a rebound thing.  I’ll probably just get a few rolls in the hay with whomever I see next and dump the person on the curb like a wet sack of trash,” Grace said and took in a deep breath.  “I couldn’t do that to Puck.”

“Meaning you like him.”

“I like him enough not to risk that.”

“You don’t think you might be able to avoid that with him.”

“I don’t know,” Grace said and saw Puck coming out of the restroom.  “But I don’t want to have this conversation anymore.”

Milo sighed as Puck sat down and took a sip of beer.  “Did I miss anything?”

“We’ll see,” Milo said with a look at Grace.

“Huh?”

“You going to call Helen?” Milo said and clinked his beer against Puck’s.

“I don’t know,” he said with a look at Grace.

“Buddy,” Milo said and turned again to Grace.  “That card isn’t going to do you any good sitting in your wallet.”

“Yeah,” Grace said and swallowed.  “You should call her.

Puck looked at Helen’s card and then at Milo and Grace.  “You guys ever hear of the ‘Conservative Caucus’?”

“Yeah,” Grace said and took the card.  “But I’m not sure if they’re trying to get the government into or out of the bedroom.  Why?”

“That’s where Helen works.”

Grace handed back the card with a shrug.

“Whatever,” Milo said and looked at the card too.  “Maybe she just needed to get her foot in the door of the Washington political game.  Everybody’s got to start somewhere.

“Whatever,” Puck said and took back the card.  “I’ll give her a call when I get home.”

“Fair enough,” Milo said and dropped money on the bar.  “Let’s get out of here.”

“Okay,” Grace said and followed Puck and Milo out the door.


Chapter 5: The Plot Thickens

John Paul picked up the phone halfway through the third ring, but nobody was there.

“Who was it?” Richard said, looking up from his laptop.

“Nobody.  I thought it might be my Mom wanting to know about our trip back home, but…” John Paul said and then chuckled. 

“What?  What’s so funny?”

“I just had the idea that it could be Jerry Robertson, calling me back after three years, ready to pick up where we left off and wanting some action,” John Paul said and nodded to Richard.  “I still have the same number.”

“I don’t know about that, hon.  If anything, he seemed scared of you.”

“Yes, but three years ago he was moaning, groaning and tumbling his way toward ecstasy.  I think, no, I know, I scared him back into the closet with too good a time.”

“Uh huh,” Richard said and turned back to his laptop.

‘I think I inspired the term ‘rocked his world’ that night.”

“Yes,” Richard said with a smile.  “That’s why I’ve been with you for the last two years, seven months and… six days.”  He looked again at John Paul and winked.  “You do have some serious mojo.”

“And here I thought our common interests, deep affection, ability to work out our problems and tender, loving care was what kept us in a healthy partnership,” John Paul said, joining Richard on the couch.

“That probably helps too,” Richard said and put aside the laptop.

“You’re so sweet.”

“Like milk chocolate, baby, milk chocolate,” Richard said and kissed John Paul when the phone rang again.  He picked it up.  “Hello, Burns/Reilly residence.  How can I help you?”

“You’re so official.”

Richard looked at John Paul.  “I think it’s a telemarketer.  I thought they couldn’t call us anymore.”

“Let’s go to bed.”

“Rodeo wore you out.”

“That, I want to get some and I have to go to church early tomorrow,” John Paul said, pulling Richard off the couch.  “I’m helping plan next Sunday’s pancake breakfast.”

“Such a good guy,” Richard said, following John Paul to the bedroom.  “And so good looking too.”


Chapter 6: The Next Call

Jerry put down his phone.  “Tch, the phone service used to be so much better when it was just Ma Bell.  Back before you were born you never heard ‘service down due to heavy caller volume,’ unless you made an international call, and even that was rare.”

“You can’t get through?” Helen said.

“No, but this happens sometimes,” Jerry said.  “Do you want to call up Calvin Reilly now?”

“Yes, although he called himself Puck at the rodeo.  I think that’s what he goes by.”

“Gay men have strange habits,” Jerry said and shook his head.  “Don’t be surprised if this is hard to do.”

“I’m not worried about it,” Helen said.  “He seemed like a really nice guy.  He was very friendly.”

“Yes,” Jerry said, staring at Helen.  “A lot of women think that about gay men.  They don’t have that nasty macho edge like the rest of us.  It really marks them.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Helen said and shrugged as she pulled out her cell phone.  “Although a lot of straight men can be nice too.”

“Yes,” Jerry said, looking at the floor.  “That’s true too.”

Helen nodded and waited with her ear to the phone.  “Hey, I’m trying to get in touch with Calvin Reilly…  Puck…  Yes, the straight woman from today’s rodeo…  Yes, I think I was the only one there too…  Yes, I’m glad I called too.  I was wondering if you wanted to get together and finish our talk about softball.  I’d really like to start playing again and maybe you could give me some hints on where I could get started…  Tomorrow would be great.  I have it off and I’m free too.  We could go to a museum or get coffee or head out to this fair I heard about in Arlington…  Yes, I live in Virginia… No, I’ll pick you up.  It won’t be a problem, and I want to get more familiar with driving around Washington.” 

Helen pulled out Puck’s card and a pen.

“Okay, at 405 Laughlin near 23rd, in DuPont Circle, at 10:00.  I’ll see you then,” she said and hung up, looking at Jerry.  “How did I do?”

He smiled.  “That was perfect.  Did he sound surprised that you called him?”

“No.  He said he was about to call me.”

“Hmm,” Jerry said, his eyes narrowing.  “I guess you made quite an impression on him.”

“That’s good, right?”

“That’s great,” Jerry said, nodding to himself.

 

***

Of course the drama, horror and humor continue.

Read how Puck and Helen discover the truth, Milo and Grace learn what's important in relationships and John Paul and Richard chip away at Jerry's hypocrisy.

Just email Joe at joe@joestories.com and he will get the rest of The Straight Dope to you ASAP.

 

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