Beginnings: Olly

There were the familiar sounds of plastic and latex, the familiar routine Nik could probably have done himself if he had been so inclined. And if he hadn’t been scared to death of needles. That wasn’t exactly a good character trait when you were a gay male. Nik inhaled at the same time as the prick. No matter of distraction was enough to keep him from feeling the needle. “There,” the technician said, capping the extracted blood. “You’re all done.” More sounds of plastic and paper, labels being applied, bandages being unwrapped, gloves being snapped.

“Thank goodnessth,” Nik said, rubbing the spot on his arm. “I get this every three months like clockwork, but I can’t say I enjoy it. Ow.”

“Sorry,” said the technician, an older man by the name of Marcus, according to the badge he wore. The tone of his apology made it clear that nothing could be helped. But I’ve got good news. I hear the FDA just approved an oral test.”

“I like oral,” Nik said, smiling seductively. “I like it even more without needlesth, I’ve got to sthay.”

“It’ll probably still be a while before it’s available, I’m afraid. But it’s something you can look forward to every three months until it is.” Marcus made a note on a piece of paper, then tore off the bottom half along the straight edge of the table. “All right. Here’s your information and identification number. You’ll need that to get your test results. We’ll call you when they’re ready and you’ll have to come in.”

“I know the drill,” Nik said, nodding. “Thank you.”

He was guided through the maze of hallways and examining rooms, until he hit the waiting room again. Nik made for the door to leave, when one of the patients who had just entered passed out right there. One of the doctors and a receptionist rushed to his side. Nik stood there, willing to wait until the chaos died down. But the receptionist, who was going to get a cup of water for the man, told him he could use the staff side entrance.

It was through the doors to the back, second door on the left. Worrying that maybe it would set off some emergency alarm, he pressed his hand to the door and pushed it open. He stepped out and nearly fell over the person sitting there on the back steps. “I’m soth sthorry!” Nik said, tripping down the three stairs to the alleyway. “I didn’t think anyone would be… here…”

Nik trailed off as he looked at the man. He was half bent over, his face wet with tears. “Hey,” Nik stepped close, holding onto the end of the railing. “Hey, Man. Don’t cry.” The man put his head in his hands, progressing to a combination of crying harder and trying to catch his breath to stop crying. Nik stood there for a moment, considering his options, then sat down on the stoop and put his arm around the man who didn’t pull away from him. “It’s not a death sentence. They’re coming out with new drugs and tests all the time. You’ll be all right.”

The man sniffed and lifted his arm, rubbing the cuff of his grey, long-sleeved shirt against his nose, and then his cheeks and eyes. It took most of the lower half of one sleeve and a little of his other one to clean himself up, and even then he was still sobbing a little though with a smile on his face. “It’s not like that,” he whispered. Then he cleared his throat. “I’m a doctor here, actually,” he explained. “And I just delivered some bad news to a patient.”

“Ohhh.” Nik nodded and patted the man on the back. “You’re not going to lastht very long here if that ripsth you up like thisth.”

With a weak smile, the man nodded. “Actually, I’ve been working here for three years now. But it still gets to me. Every time. Every single patient.”


The man coughed and laughed, looking up at Nik. “Something like that.” He wiped his hand against his face again and sniffed. “What’s worse is that it takes something like this to make me realize my own problems aren’t so bad as I think they are.”

“Problemsth?” Feeling that the man was a little more stable now, Nik stopped patting his back.

“Yeah. My rent’s due again this week and I don’t know how I’m going to make it. You might be surprised but I don’t get paid big bucks to work at a free clinic. Not that it matters about my apartment, though, because I’m always working and never there. And then there’s my love life which, as you might imagine, is pretty much nonexistent. But all that seems pointless in comparison to the things my patients have to deal with.” He dragged his hand against his leg to make sure it was dry, then he offered it to Nik. “I’m Lawrence, by the way.”

“Lawrencthe?” Nik repeated, not precisely taken with the name. He shook the offered hand anyway.

“Yeah, I know. Only faggots and sailors are named Lawrence.”


“It’s a quote from Full Metal Jacket. I’m kind of a movie buff…” He looked up at Nik’s blank expression.

“I’ve never stheen that movie, but whatever you sthay.”

Shocked, and with a hand placed dramatically over his heart, “Never seen it?” Nik shook his head. Lawrence cracked a smile. “That’s okay. I probably would have keeled over with shock if you had. It’s not exactly the Wizard of Oz. Obscure movie lines don’t exactly endear me to most of the gay population. But there’s a lot to be learned from the classics. Mainly Gene Kelly, Rock Hudson, and the great Lawrence Olivier.”

“Lawrencthe Olivier, huh?”

“Yup.” He nodded.

“Mind if I call you Olly, then? I think it fitsth you a bit better.”

He sniffed and nodded again. “Go right ahead, ah…”

“Nik. I go by Nik. And Olly? I think I might be able to help you out.”

Lawrence leaned to the side and kissed Nik’s cheek. “You already have.”

“No,” Nik shook his head. “I mean about your rent. I might even be able to do sthomething about your dating sthituation, too.” He pulled out a business card.

Turning it over in his hand, Lawrence studied it. “Strokes. I’ve been to that place.”

“I own that placthe,” said Nik. “And I own a housthe that could use a live-in doctor.” He tapped the card, then stood up. “Call me or stop by the club sometime. Even if it’s just for a drink or another talk.”

“I will,” Lawrence said decidedly. “I definitely owe you for this.”

“Don’t mention it. Just…” He took a few steps backwards as he began to walk away. “Send some good vibes my way for when I get my test results. Otherwise you’ll have some bad news to tell me and we’ll be right back where we started.”

Lawrence laughed and stood up. “See you around, Nik.”

“See you, Olly.”