Beginnings: Ducky

The band onstage was fantastic. The sound system, which was on its last legs and in dire need of an upgrade, was hanging in there. The drop-down disco balls they’d just installed in the ceiling were bathing the dancers in rotating, colored lights. The alcohol was flowing freely. The club was virtually packed to capacity.

And, still, Sweetie managed to spot one guy standing alone, off to the side. He was young, a little too young for Sweetie, but quite adorable. He was Asian, but with roundish cheeks, dark features, and a sense of style in his buttoned down shirt, khakis, and brown leather jacket. The mansion didn’t have any neighbors, as it was surrounded by a long stretch of yard, a thick patch of trees, and a heavy iron gate. But if it did, he could easily have been the boy next door.

Sweetie decided he was far too cute to let stand there alone. He looked nervous and reluctant to jump onto the dance floor. As club owner, Sweetie decided it was on his shoulders to extend a welcoming hand. So he headed over, trying to rehearse lines in his head. Only when he arrived, he found he didn’t really like anything he had come up with. “Hi there,” he said, smiling. “How’re you doing?”

“I’m all right,” said the man, with no trace of an accent of any kind.

“Really? Because you look a little… shy.”

The man softened a little, and smiled back at Sweetie. “Guess I am, a bit. It’s my first time here and I’m thinking maybe now it was a mistake.”

“You don’t like it here?” asked Sweetie.

“It’s great,” he said, shaking his head. He looked out at the masses of beautiful men, dancing, touching, kissing, and he smiled.

“But it’s not the sort of fun you’re used to having?”

The man shrugged. “I’m a math geek. I don’t ever really have fun.”

Laughing, “I’ll give you that. So why is it that aren’t you feeling this place?”

Another shrug, “I’m just… I’m in the closet. To be completely honest, I’m not used to all this, you know?”

Sweetie nodded. “I suppose it can be a little overwhelming at first.”

“You seem pretty comfortable. You’re here a lot, I take it?”

“Pretty much eeeeeevery night.”

The man whistled. “Wow! What a life!”

Sweetie hit him lightly on the arm. “It’s not nearly as pathetic as it sounds.”

Shaking his head again, “No, I didn’t say that—”

“You didn’t have to. I’d be thinking it, if I were you. But the truth is, I’m here all the time because I own this place.”

“You own it?” He whistled again. “I’m impressed. Oh, and I’m Bing. That’s my name, I mean. And you are?”

Sweetie stuck his hand out. “The name’s Sweetie.”

Shaking it, “Sweetie? What kind of a name is Sweetie?”

“A nickname, with a long-ass story behind it.”

“I’ve got time.”

“No you don’t,” said Sweetie. He took the man’s hand. “You have to dance with me.” He dragged a slightly reluctant Bing onto the dance floor. They stayed on the peripheral, so he wouldn’t be too nervous. He was slow at first, barely moving more than in just a simple side-to-side motion. But Sweetie coaxed him out of it, dancing with skill and rhythm, in a most contagious sort of way. He bucked his hips in a silly sort of way, making Bing laugh and loosened up some more.

The man could definitely dance. And, if it was possible, he looked even cuter when dancing. And he looked… familiar. “Are you sure you’ve never been here before?” Sweetie asked. “Because I think I’ve seen you before.”

Bing looked uncomfortable, nervous. “No, never.” He tried, quite unsuccessfully, to change the subject. “But I wish I’d been sooner. I’m having fun.”

“Good!” Sweetie shouted out over the music, which was hitting a crescendo. The live band tonight, The Living Stake, was a bit of pop and a bit of heavy metal. It was a delightful change from the usual techno and indy music their new DJ, Turbo, played. But when it got loud, it was a little difficult to carry on a conversation. It wasn’t a bother, though. Very few of his clientele cared about things like conversations in places like this. “But I still think you look familiar to me.”

“Ah…” He danced a little closer to Sweetie. He lowered his voice. “I go to George Washington University. Maybe you saw me around campus or at a function. Get it, function?” He smirked at the math joke.

“That can’t be it,” said Sweetie. “I’m never there.” He put a hand on Bing’s hip and matched the man’s motions, dancing fairly in synch. “Do you hang out at the Cool Beans café? It’s just down the street from here.”

“Nope. Never been.”

“Well, you should. It’s a great place.” Sweetie cocked his head, trying to focus on Bing’s face. “And I’m still trying to place you.” He pictured something outside… something dark. And he was pretty sure he hadn’t had sex with this guy in an alley, that was for sure. “Do you work somewhere?”

“GWU,” Bing replied. “And… well, I help out at my parents’ Chinese restaurant.”

Sweetie snapped his fingers, then smiled sheepishly at the action. “That’s where I know you. You deliver for them right?” A nod. “We order from them all the time!”

Bing looked beyond uncomfortable. His dancing slowed to nothing, and he pulled Sweetie back away from the dance floor, up against the wall. It wasn’t the most private place in the world, so Sweetie redirected them through a large group of people gathered around the entrance to the back room. Instead of there, Sweetie took them into what had once been the women’s restroom, but was now infrequently used; their female employees used the small bathroom attached to the employee lounge. Sweetie shut the door behind but thought Bing would feel safer without it locked. Bing certainly looked good to be somewhere quiet.

“Look, my family’s the main reason I’m in the closet,” he told Sweetie, pleadingly. “They’re extremely traditional. If they ever found out… I really don’t know what I’d do. I don’t ever want to hurt them. So please don’t… please don’t say anything.”

“This place is sacred, confidential. Like a rectory or a therapist’s office. It’s your life. Being closeted is your decision, and I can respect that. I absolutely won’t say a thing.” Sweetie hopped up onto one of the counters, sitting back against the mirrored wall.

The man let out a deep sigh of relief. He seemed more at ease. Bing jumped up onto the counter across from Sweetie and swung his legs. The facing mirrors gave the effect that they weren’t so alone in the bathroom, their images repeating infinitely. “So… if you order all the time… why don’t I remember you?”

“Oh, you’ll remember. It’s a huge house with a giant security gate and a long, windy driveway.”

Bing’s eyes were wide with shock. “That place? You’re kidding me! I used to have to wait at the gate, but lately I’ve been getting buzzed in. But I don’t really remember you.”

“I’m there, sometimes. But Auntie Al usually gets the deliveries. He’s an older guy?”

“Yeah,” Bing agreed. “Yeah.” He looked thoughtful. “Wow. You live with him? Is he your lover?”

Sweetie chuckled and shook his head. “No, he’s just a good friend. Like family, really. I live with a bunch of guys, including the other owner of this club. Sometime when you can spare a few minutes on a delivery, maybe you can come in and meet them all. Might do you good to get to know some out and proud gay men. It would probably make your time clubbing more fun if you had some guys to hang out with, watch your back for you. No pun intended, of course.”

Bing nodded. “Yeah, I’d like that. But if I’m going to go in and hang out with you, you guys have got to order something better than the fried rice and the beef and broccoli.”

“What do you suggest?”

“We have damn good lo mein,” he said. “And our duck. You can’t even find duck as good as ours in Chinatown.”

“The duck, huh?” Sweetie nodded. “I’ll definitely have to remember that.” He hopped down off the counter, and walked over. He offered a hand to help Bing down. “Come on. Let’s see if we can’t find ourselves some cute boys to dance with. Okay?”

Bing grinned and followed Sweetie back out again.