Inspired, in part- or at least driven by listening to this song on endless repeat like some love-sick teen… as ever with Flipfic, best to listen to the song first before you read cos you’ll at least get a good tune out of the experience!
And for the live version- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Luz8L4Jb9h8 (if you look really hard you can probably see me dancing away! Can HIGHLY recommend them as a live band!)
This is really a one-off, but ended up being so long I thought I’d best split it so people can run away if they like. Also- this is a NO SMUT warning, just lots of talking and thinking. Kind of boring really.
If that hasn’t put you off, please read on!
Time is right now.
The Comfort of Strangers
My eyes scan the room; I wouldn’t say nervously, I’ve done this too many times now, but I guess with a faint hope. A hope of connecting, of belonging.
The décor inside is fine, I guess, the usual shabby chic I’d seen a lot around this city, velvet couches and dark glass tables, weird metallic silver frond things hanging down here and there to give a sense of edginess, but really they just reminded me of the thing my gran used to have in her kitchen doorway.
Groups of friends, mostly guys but with the occasional girl here and there to take the edge off the totally masculine feel of the place. It felt friendly, cosy even. People smiled at you- something I’m still not really used to. I guess I’d never noticed that in England no-one ever smiles at strangers- Christ, no-one even talks to strangers. Here, well, I wouldn’t say that everyone was friendly, but yeah, I’d had conversations in the park today as I looked around; someone sat with me on the bench and we chatted about football (the great leveller); just nonsense really but it was fun. I’d walked around in the summer sun, thinking less about what was ahead, what was coming, and more about just how pretty this place was, how cute the old buildings were- and then I thought again of how much I’d like to be here with someone special.
And then the smile had faded and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach started again.
The neon sign outside this bar (bar? Club? So difficult to tell with these places) had made me laugh- I ask you, call a club “banana lounge” and stick a great big peeled banana on the sign, well, it’s pretty much telling you what kind of customers they wanted. I’d learnt quite a lot in the last 11 months, oh yes, I’d matured fast. Understood stuff now that I wished I’d got then.
I’ve not been here before and yet I have- does that make sense? A new city, a new bar, but the faces are the same- just slightly different fashions, the occasional tune not in English to remind me that I’m not in Chester, not in Dublin, not anywhere I’d class as home.
That was coming soon enough- a matter of days now. I still didn’t know if I was ready, if I could. The thought of seeing him again, of being close enough to smell him, terrified and elated me in equal measure. Right now I was in the terrified mode. I needed more beer.
I caught the barman’s eye and smiled,
"Das Pils, bitte"
Sad isn’t it- how the first thing you learn in any language is how to ask for beer?
He smiled and nodded- he was kind of cute actually, I couldn’t help but check out his arse as he bent down to get the beer- hell, I wouldn’t be the first and I sure as hell won’t be the last. I felt my cheeks redden as he stood up and turned a bit too quickly, catching me perving and grinned. Pulling a 5 Euro note out, I shoved it across the counter and shuffled my way down to the end of the bar, to keep me and my dark cloud as out of the way as possible.
Not that I was in a bad mood exactly, just, I dunno. After a year of trying to figure out who I was I still had moods where I wobbled, where I was uncertain; times where I was dragged back and I was standing all over again in a crappy airport with my heart being ripped out as I was told I didn’t know who I was and being left, all alone.
I necked back the beer. God it felt good, really ice cold. I glanced around, checking out the crowd better. Really fit blonde bird over there, nice tits and great legs- she was laughing with her friend, throwing her hair back like she really didn’t care if anyone was watching. She looked fun. And then further down the bar from me was a fucking hot dark blonde- he looked much bigger than me but it was hard to tell, he was sitting down, chatting on the phone. His chest was seriously broad and his tight-ish jeans were great- leaving just enough to the imagination, but hugging tightly to his thighs, showing strong muscles. He turned his head and saw me, smiling briefly in acknowledgement as he carried on talking; I smiled back then ducked my head down- pathetic really, I’m still that shy after everything and everyone I’ve done.
D’you know what had pissed me off the most? What had hurt the most about his words that day? That he’d been right. I didn’t. I’d had nothing to reply to him that wouldn’t have been a lie. It had all happened so fast, I’d not had time to wrap my head around it, in an instant everything had changed. For months Id been running from myself, lying to everyone; and while I knew, absolutely knew, that I wanted him, wanted to be with him, he was right- I’d not thought about who I was, what I was, what that made me- or didn’t make me. And so I'd stood there in silence, as I watched him walk away, tears streaming down both of our faces.
"You don't know who you are..." he'd said. Well, no more. When I turned up alone in Dublin I’d vowed to never be in that position again. I started to rebuild, slowly. To take apart everything that I’d thought I was and start again. I still wasn’t totally there, but I knew what I wanted now. I had back then, I’d just been shit at letting him know.
I loved him. I love him.
Yup. Now I knew what I wanted. Who I wanted. I just didn’t know how to convince him. Or even if he wanted me. And that was what was doing my head in with each passing day.
I order another beer and practically throw it back, lost in my own world, which was rapidly becoming more fuzzy.
I look up and sideways towards the voice. For a moment I’m confused by the blue eyes staring at me- there’s the wrong shade of blue- and then I realise it’s not him but the blonde guy I was checking out earlier. Plus, he is speaking German- also a bit of hint, I chuckle to myself before realising that makes me look like a loon.
“Sorry… I don’t speak German” I answer back, cursing my crapness. I point at my chest. “English, sorry”
He smiles, a smooth, easy grin that spreads over his face like it was always meant to be there. The guy is bloody gorgeous, I have to admit. His arms are amazing, nicely toned, not total muscle, just sculpted enough to make you want to lick along the lines. Christ I’m feeling horny tonight.
"Schon Ok, I can speak English!"
"Oh thank God!"
He laughed at me, with me, who cares.
"I asked what’s up, how’s it going?"
"To be fair, I’ve had better days…weeks…months…"
"Wow, you’re really not having such a great time here huh?"
I can’t tell from the look on his face whether he’s joking or serious and realise I probably sound really rude and drunk, and start to backtrack.
"Oh I didn’t mean, here, like this bar, or Cologne- nah, this town is great mate- I just mean…"
Actually, what the hell do I mean? What am I talking about? When did it all start to fuck up, when did I become this mess? Last September when he dumped me? The summer when my head and heart were a mess and I fucked him around? Or when he told me he loved me and nothing was the same again…
Nothing could be.
"I dunno… I guess I kind of fucked up- y’know?"
He nods, I can see some understanding in his eyes which encourages me to carry on.
"It’s a very long and very dull story mate- but basically I’m here avoiding the fact that I want to be somewhere else."
I glance up at him and laugh a hollow laugh. One with no actual humour.
"Not really, I can understand that."
Again, I see recognition in his eyes, like he totally has my number- it makes me bolder. Well, that and the few Pils I’ve already sunk tonight.
“See… I fell in love, with this.. this..”
I curse inwardly. God, even now I can’t bring myself to say it- what the hell is wrong with me?
I look up sharply, his ability to see straight through me a bit of a shock- God knows why since I am blatantly sitting in a gay bar telling him this, but still. His blue eyes shine at me as he swigs his beer, draining the bottle. I point at it.
"Another one? Least I can do since you’re listening to my crap…!"
"Kein problem…it’s ok! I’m waiting for my boyfriend anyhow, so it’s good to chat."
Smoothly done. Guess I won’t be scoring with him tonight. Not that I really wanted to anyway, my head’s got way too much of another blue-eyed guy in it. He's always there.
"No please, let me..."
I manage to reply. We sit in a slightly awkward silence for a minute. The barman brings the beers over and we chink the necks together in a cheers.
"So, this guy…"
the tall stranger prompts me and God help me I feel my cheeks flush- and I don’t know if it’s the thought of John Paul or the fact that I’m talking about him to this stranger- but somehow it feels ok.
"Well… he wasn’t just some guy, he was my best mate…"