Jeremy watched as his phone began lighting up like a Christmas tree. He had made the ringer silent so as not to wake up Steve. Alex had called at least six times and had left an equal amount of messages. Over the past six months it had been Jeremy having his calls go unanswered and it was Alex who had played aloof and hard to get. Jeremy smiled wryly. Obviously Alex was now terrified that Jeremy was in the arms of someone else.
Alex was suddenly regretting his obsession that Jeremy step out of the closet. Coming out of the closet meant that many gays who were unaware of the professor’s preference for men would now be aware of that very thing, and may even try to compete for the professor’s affections. Coming out of the closet also meant that Jeremy would no longer fear being seen going to gay clubs or gay social events. Again, that would all add up to meeting more men and meeting someone perhaps more desirable than Alex, someone like Steve.
Alex whipped on his clothes and strode down the stairs, no longer carrying a chip on his shoulder that announced to the entire student body that he had a professor under his belt. It was overcast and chilly and he drew his jacket collar up higher around his neck. He was in his third year of his PHD candidacy, and was due to receive the monetary proceeds from his second fellowship. He had hoped to make the money stretch longer, but keeping a dorm room on campus was bleeding him dry. Moving in with the professor would have saved him financially, but that might all be water under the bridge now. The man that he had so carefully and so skillfully wrapped around his finger for the past six months, had not come home the night before, and was perhaps languishing ever so sweetly in the arms of another man.
The air outside was cool and crisp, making him pull his jacket collar up around his neck. He was thankful that the drizzling, persistent rains, leftover from the previous day, had finally stopped.
Alex ducked into the campus store, then quickly emerged with a large Metropolitan Blend Coffee. He passed the state of the art ‘Rothman Centre,’ where MBA students were milling about outside, in their new silk suits and five hundred dollar briefcases. He was always amazed at how much money had gone into the building and into the business of educating bankers.
A few minutes later and he stepped past the dingy old doors of the sociology building on College street. The building was run down and woefully inadequate for the department needs. Still, the University placed little priority to the study of sociology, even though SOC100Y had a class enrollment of over fifteen hundred students.
Ned Dankers greeted him with a sour look. “I marked all your papers for your students, like you asked, but I never knew it was so you could spend all last night with Professor Wilkins. You had bragged about making him come out of the closet. I’m amazed you actually got him to do it.”
“First of all, I didn’t spend last night with Jeremy, not that it’s any of your business, and second of all, thanks for saving my bacon by doing all that marking for me. I did go to that ‘coming out’ party with the intention of taking him home, that’s true. But someone else beat me to it.”
“So you were only blowing smoke then, when you said that you were going to propose to the old coot.”
Alex Giggled. “He not that old, forty-five. Only twenty-one years older than me. And no, I wasn’t blowing smoke. I honestly thought that he and I…well, you know, that I could ask him to tie the knot. I do love the guy.”
Ned frowned, but looked sincere. “I believe you when you say you love him. And I’ve seen him goo goo eyed around you too. He definitely has the hots for you. I did say though, that you were acting just a little bit too high and mighty, playing just a little bit too hard to get, if you know what I mean.”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Alex managed playfully. “I suppose it’s all my fault for coming to the party two hours late. I thought for sure he’d just be sitting in a corner, waiting patiently for me. Man, was I ever playing the fool.”
“Sooooo what did Professor Wilkins say, you know about not waiting for you?”
“That’s just it. He never said anything, and I haven’t talked to him yet. As far as I know, he never went to his home last night. Since he never stopped by my place, I can only assume he left with someone else, at least that’s the rumor.”
Ned sighed and stared at him sternly. “You want me to snoop around, don’t you, see if my gay friends can hear through the grape vine where he was or who he was with?”
“Your friends so seem so very well informed.”
“My friends are not snobs. That’s why they can talk with whomever, whenever about whatever.”
“So I’m a snob,” Alex conceded. “Sue me.”
“Sue you? That’s an idea, especially for the eight hours worth of work I did on your papers. You did say ten bucks an hour soooooo, you owe me eighty bucks. I don’t do this shit for free you know. Your fellowship come through yet? I could use the money. My OSAP hasn’t come through yet.”
“I should get the money tomorrow. I’ll make sure I see you first.”
Alex’s cell phone suddenly started to vibrate, and the piano melody started, indicating that a text was coming in. Alex glanced at it at once. It was Jeremy.
“Excuse me Ned. I gotta take this.”
Ned held his ground, figuring that Jeremy was finally checking in.
“What is it? What does it say?”
“Jeremy is just saying that he didn’t see me at the party but that he hoped I had a good time wherever I was and with whomever I was.”
“He thinks you’re fucking around on him?”
“That’s obviously what he thinks. Unless of course he really did go home with someone else yesterday and he is just feeling guilty.”
“Serves you right, Alex,” Ned declared. “You’ve been fucking with his head and his heart all this time and now you’re seeing the fallout.”
Alex sighed and then spun around, marching back out the door and into the elevator. He remembered Jeremy had a class starting soon and he needed to see him right away.
Steve eyed Jeremy cautiously. “You didn’t just say all that shit to me last night about going steady just to get into my pants did you? I told you I fall in love easy. You’re starting to fuck with my head a bit.”
“What makes you so fidgety and anxious about our commitment now?”
“For one thing you just finished sending a text to Alex. Does that mean you wish you had of been in his arms last night and not mine?”
“Don’t read so much into it,” Jeremy clarified. “Alex has left me about five messages. He sounds panicked. So on the one hand I think he is worried that I may have found someone else. On the other hand he may just be worried I am upset that he never should up for the ‘coming out’ party. Either way, I have to do what’s right for myself. Do I still have feelings for the guy? Of course I do. Do I still love him? Maybe. But he’s been messing with my head for the last six months and I need someone more down to earth, someone I can count on, someone that’s just as hot and hunky as him but not as stuck up.”
“Someone like me, you mean,” Steve asked hopefully, his anxiety dissipating.
“Yeah, someone like you. Someone like you with your blue eyes, long silky black hair, and angelic face. Someone like you, with full lush lips and sweetly sculpted cheeks. Someone like you that makes my heart flutter each time we’re in the same room. Someone like you with those fucking gorgeous washboard abs and muscular arms to keep me warm and happy. Someone with a stiff, skilful cock like yours that knows how to make me cum over and over. Someone like you that won’t make me beg for sex, and someone like you that will let me have my way with them. I…I could grow to love you quite easily, if you’ll let me. I never was too much into this hopping from guy to guy. What happened last night, it was a fluke meeting like that I guess, but it can turn into something very special.”
“Wow. You really know how to make a guy feel loved and appreciated. Somehow, I don’t just feel like another piece of good looking meat when I’m with you. The way you make me feel. I’d love to make love to you all over again. It’s too bad you have to run off to class. You did say you had a class this morning, didn’t you?”
“Not if I don’t want to.” Jeremy lowered his head and sent out three quick texts. “I just messaged my three teaching assistants. I told them to teach the class this morning for me. No big deal. It’s only the second lecture anyways. Besides, you wanting to make love to me again is like reading my mind. You do turn me on Steve, and I can’t tell you how amazing that sex was last night. I’d forgotten just how wonderful it could be with the right man.”
“That’s certainly me,” Steve confirmed. “I’m the right man for you alright.”
They took off their clothes once more and embraced in the nude once more. Jeremy was enthralled with how warm and inviting Steve’s body felt in his trembling arms.
“I wish we could go somewhere,” Steve whispered. “You know, like a tropical island or something. That way, we could forget about everything and everybody and just grow to love each other in a big way.”
“Why don’t we?”
Steve stared incredulously at Jeremy. “What do you mean, why don’t we?”
“What I mean is, why don’t we go to a tropical island for a few days? I don’t have another class till next week. Your own classes just started so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to catch up if you do miss a couple. As for money, I’m well off. I could buy the tickets, book the hotel for let’s say three or four days, and we could leave this afternoon, or tomorrow morning. We could have a blast and be back by Saturday.”
Steve’s gorgeous blue eyes lit up like two saucers. “Are you fucking serious? I mean, it sounds all so fantastic, but are you sure? Like I don’t have any money like you said, but can you afford it?”
Jeremy chuckled. “I’ve got a condo in downtown Toronto and a cottage in the Hampton’s paid off, and I’ve got unused gold cards coming out of my ying yang. Of course I can afford it. I’ve never been married. And as a closet gay, I’ve always been afraid of going out much. All I’ve ever ended up doing is saving money. Now it’s time to live a little. Maybe stepping out was the best thing that ever happened to me. I think a little fun in the sun is just what the doctor ordered, for the both of us.”
Steve stared at him flabbergasted. “Wow, I just don’t know what to say. But what about your boyfriend, Alex? Won’t you miss him?”
“Miss him? Straight up? Yeah, probably. A little. But maybe getting away from him for a bit to clear my head is the best thing right now. Maybe that will tell me what I need to know, if absence makes the heart grow fonder or if being with a super hunk named Steve can make me forget all about that self centered pain in the ass.”
“Well, if we do go, I’ll certainly do all I can to make you forget all about him, that’s for sure.”
“Who knows, maybe we’ll come back being totally committed to each other. Maybe even engaged.
“That certainly would be wonderful,” Steve agreed. “You really do want to permanently latch onto that certain someone, don’t you?”
“I certainly do, Stevey, I certainly do.”
“But wait a minute, where will we go? Bermuda? Florida? Bahamas? Cuba?”
“Hmmm, good question. I know, what about Jamaica. There’s this great secluded little hotel there, called Paradise Inn. They’re used to having gay couples.”
“Wow! Sounds totally yummy,” Steve agreed excitedly. “We can spend the days rubbing lotion over each other’s body.”
“And we can spend the evenings dancing in the sand, on a fire lit beach, eating lobster and drinking rum. How soon can you be ready?”
“It will only take me an hour to get packed,” Steve spat out.
“Just carry your shorts, some t-shirts, underwear, sunglasses and swimming trunks.”
“I’ll swing by the store on the way. I won’t bother going home.”
“You’re afraid of meeting him there, aren’t you?”
“You mean Alex?”
“Naww, I think Alex is probably on his way to The Sigmund Samuel Building right now. He expects me to be teaching a class there today.”
“Boy, won’t he be surprised when you don’t show up, or let him know what’s going on.”
“I’m trying not to care about that stuff anymore,” said Jeremy, checking a website on his cell phone for flights. “We’re in luck. A flight leaves for Montego Bay this afternoon at two-thirty, and I’ve just booked our tickets.”
“We’ll have a great time,” Steve whispered, his warm, moist mouth finding Jeremy’s lips. “Don’t you worry. I’ll make you forget all about Alex.”
“Alex who,” Jeremy joked, as they lovingly wrapped their arms around each other.
Donald Sangster International Airport was blazing like a furnace. Jeremy Wilkins quickly stepped outside, but the sun was even worse, coaxing layers of sweat from all who dared venture under its fiery brilliance.
“Ya need car?”
The voice was to Jeremy’s left, accompanied by a faint stench of Red Stripe Beer, and uncovered armpits that definitely needed a wash.
“No thanks. I’ve already arranged for a ride.”
“Ya want Wrigley’s?”
The voice was to Jeremy’s right, and a quick glance revealed a young man with an ever broadening smile despite a top layer of rotting teeth.
“Me ‘ave donut too, ‘n peanut. Ah thirty dollars fuh yuh choice.”
“No thanks. I don’t want anything,” Jeremy countered.
“Ah me want something.”
The voice was directly behind Jeremy, and he spun around to see the burly and brazen baggage handler who had helped him outside with his luggage.
“I already gave you a twenty,” Jeremy reminded him. “For just two tiny pieces of hand luggage.”
“Ya a romp wid life,” he countered, adding, “only twenty Jamaican. Me prefer real money ya know. Ah pure U.S. dollars is what me a used to.”
“Fine, fine, here’s a U.S. twenty.”
“Me love how yuh do business man. Yuh is crisp, reeeeel crisp.”
A blaring car horn suddenly snapped his head around to face the curb. His eyes immediately feasted on a van bearing the tour guide’s company logo, ‘Mo-Bay Island Tours.’ Behind the wheel was a hunky islander with Steve sitting next to him. Steve’s face was beaming and full of wanton lust. “There he is, that handsome cutie next to the two small black hand luggages. I’ll get out and kiss him just to make sure you’ll know which one he is.”
Randall, the driver, etched a cautionary danger frown onto his face, warning Steve against any kind of public display of affection toward another man in public, trying to remind him with awkward facial expressions that Jamaicans were not tolerant of gays.
Darryl picked up on Randall’s sense of urgency and eased back on his seductive smile, mortified that he had almost played kissy face and wrapped his arms around the love of his life for all the island’s homophobes to see.
A policeman, surrounded by blaring horns and impossibly congested traffic, watched sternly in his boring all beige uniform as Randall hoisted Jeremy’s two small bags into the trunk.
“I can’t wait for us to be alone,” Jeremy whispered, as he climbed into the passenger seat next to Steve and closed the door.
“Me neither, ” Steve agreed. “Watch your feet, the floors rusted out, but this driver I found, he’s definitely the cheapest.”
“Thanks,” Jeremy offered, glancing down at the floor and being astonished that part of it was rusted away, revealing portions of road beneath. “But you needn’t worry about finding the cheapest driver. In fact, I would prefer, if from here on, we went strictly first class.”
Randall climbed into the driver’s side seat and flipped on the radio, soon relinquishing his attention to the hypnotic Reggae music that seemed eerily sensual, causing his body to sway to its hypnotic rhythm and strange lyrics. John Crow says he’s a white man’s pickney now, him not work ‘pon Sunday, ooh whyoo whyyyooo, a Monday, a Tuesday, whyyyyyyoooo, a Wednesday, even ‘pon a Thursday, a Friday, ‘n ‘eee labor ‘pon a Saturday, but whyyyooo, whyyyyoooo, not ‘pon a Sunday, nooooyyyoooo.
The van lurched forward, its gears grinding clumsily as the shift was maneuvered back and forth. Jeremy thought to question him about dropping them off in the city, as opposed to their hotel, but James Street was already now in view, its bustling sidewalks awash with dilapidated wooden shacks and rickety old carts selling stalks of sugar cane, fresh baked hardo bread, bottled fruit drinks and endless displays of sunglasses and T-shirts. Sprinkled along the way were a few large banks, fancy air conditioned restaurants, and giant well stocked supermarkets.
“You can let us off here,” Jeremy said. “Our bags, you can take to Paradise Inn.”
“Ah pure problem to get there ‘pon dis ‘ere road. Ah more money me want.”
“Here’s a hundred U.S.”
The driver nodded appreciatively.
“Steve here has your number. We’ll want to do some sightseeing tomorrow, and we’ll call you.”
“A nuh mi what asks fer more money when it’s plenty ’nuff. Tomorrow I’s ready anytime ya want. Mi nuh bumboclot what’s gwaan hab a bashment time. A work me a work.”
Jeremy and Steve got out and Randall eyed them worriedly, insistent upon adding a word of caution against letting others know they’re gay. “Battymen like yourselves caaan’t let on ya nawwt inta women, ya know. A pure problem ifn yer hands touch each udder, chaka-chaka like.”
The van lurched forward, creaking as large, strewn potholes sunk it’s tires up and down.
“I can’t believe we’re not just going to the hotel,” Steve managed.
“I thought maybe it might be wild to see the city first. This is St. James Street, a very important part of Montego Bay.”
“Hmmm, well, it certainly looks interesting. It might be fun at that.”
Jeremy turned to see a short lad shaving ice into a bag. On the top of his portable wooden table was four plastic containers, each with a different flavor of syrup.
Jeremy nodded that he did not want any, and the two men moved on, passing a row of white painted wooden shops, selling everything from t-shirts to ‘patties and hardo bread.’
They suddenly came upon a tall, frail looking islander, leaning on a cart with small rubber wheels. He was selling liquid in brown bottles.
“They look interesting,” Jeremy offered. “Excuse me sir, but what are these?”
“Irish Moss. It wha’ gives yuh nature.”
“What’s he saying,” Steve whispered.
Jeremy chuckled. “I think he’s saying that it makes you horny.”
Steve chuckled as well. “We definitely should get some of that.”
“I’ll take two bottles,” Jeremy confirmed.
He handed him two bottles. “Two thousand.”
Jeremy complied, handing him two blue, thousand dollar Jamaican bills, and started to walk off.
“Ah weh yuh ah guh nuh? Ah more tings whatcha need meah ‘ave ya know.” The salesman began to root through his cart to look for different juices, but Jeremy kept on going.
“Wait fi mi nuh, ah soon come.”
“We’re all right with these, really,” Jeremy insisted, continuing to move forward.
The salesman was not impressed. “Ya move Fahwud pan mi? Gwaan den. Ah you fer lose.”
They rounded the corner and a islander sat on a blanket with brightly painted ceramic roosters sprawled out.
“Ah sale price enter mi mind each time ah lay eyes pan foreigners dem.”
“We don’t want any, really,” Steve replied.
“Ah what do ya? Ah nawwwt fer you, ya nuh. Ah fer yer girlfriends dem.”
Steve was about to mention that they didn’t have girlfriends, but soon thought better of it. Hinting that they were gay in the midst of a homophobic population would not be wise.
They kept moving, and the smell of freshly baked beef patties accosted their nostrils. “They might go good with our drinks,” Steve suggested, staring at the $500 JA sign.
“Great idea,” Jeremy confirmed. “I’ll take two.” He handed her a Jamaican thousand dollar bill.