The train had to stop running at Lawrence because of some construction happening at the station ahead. I was already running late to my first meeting with Leo, so I ran out of the train station and took the nearest bus, stressing about not being there on time. I arrived in front of the Bar & Grill where he said he’d be and waited in the vestibule. He walked in right after I did, dressed in his gym t-shirt and board shorts.
The first thing Leo mentioned was how surprised he was that a European guy (I remember he used the term, “white boy”) showed interest in him since gay men here discriminate, to some extent, against middle eastern men. However, he’s learned how to push through all the jadedness and give people the benefit of the doubt, mainly because he needed to keep up with the dating world so he could at least get laid.
Being kind to the point of being stupid doesn’t do one much good, and although he says he can see right through people now, preoccupying his already taunted mind watching for signs someone might be playing games so he could run in the other direction, I think it’s just him trying to sound like he’s got it all together.
Leo Marco is a mess all glued up together; his heart has been broken countless times before and scattered in all the wrong places. He still gives himself out in the hopes of stumbling upon his soulmate. If I were him, though, I’d be quite weary of men who seem too good to be true. He seems to like his pain which is obviously leading him deeper and deeper into a black hole. He’d proudly wear it on his shoulder if he could; not the kind that makes you stronger or wiser, more like the kind that makes you desperate enough to give yourself out to someone who won’t appreciate you.
The first thing he did after we introduced each other was mention how heartbroken he was about the last guy he seriously considered being with for the long haul. The guy was no other than Eric Camden himself. When I told him about my very recent experience with him, his jaw almost dropped. Suddenly, his experience with him wasn’t all that unique since, just like him I’ve been tricked as well. However, listening to his own experience, I realized I had it way easier than he did.
Dinner turned into some kind of therapy for both of us. Our involvement with the same guy gave us a lot to talk about, and the talking helped stitch some wounds that by the end of it, mine were almost completely healed.
One thing I was concerned about was the way he was treating me; like I was some little naïve kid with zero life experience. He was hiding his egotistical side under a genuine layer by giving me some insight on what living in the city is like. He wanted me to see him as an older brother and learn from his own experiences so I don’t do the same mistakes he did. Thing is: We’re nothing alike. The way I think and the way I process feelings is different from the way he does. What affects him doesn’t necessarily affect me, at least not in the same way. However, I knew his uppish approach wasn’t intentional, so in my mind I really didn’t hold it against him.
The night wasn’t quite over for us after that. Leo wanted to introduce me to the chill gay bar, Foxes up in the Uptown area. Before going in, we stayed in the car and he resumed telling me the last few bits about his relationship with Eric. The way things ended; they went to a medical convention where Leo’s cousin rubbed Eric the wrong way by criticizing his high sense of self as well as his cold nature. Apparently, Eric had pressured Leo into looking nice by purchasing an expensive suit for the event so he’d look “presentable” and up to his standards; Leo felt cornered and complained to his cousin about how he made things awkward between them. After that, Leo started calling him out on these every time he’s told him a white lie; being the narcissist that he is, Eric didn’t appreciate his attitude and cut things off with him abruptly.
Leo proceeded in going through his phone gallery and showing me a video Eric had sent him of him jerking off as well as other explicit photos. I was kind of appalled to see Eric’s deceiving and whorish behavior; that mostly has to do with the fact he presented himself to me as this conventional guy who I believed possessed chivalry qualities. He was polished, refined and soft-spoken. As Leo talked more and more about his ruthlessness and how he played us, the perfect image I’ve created in my mind suddenly started to crack and fall apart. Eric was half-done, incomplete, and he knew exactly how to hide it. And now, I still can’t help but feel like I’ve been fooled and used. He came on too strong and then left me hanging. If I hadn’t bumped into him that night I would’ve probably never seen his face again. It was only after I’ve distanced myself from him and met Leo that I understood who he really was. A narcissistic, self-centered jerk. And I shouldn’t blame myself for not seeing that because the image Eric put out for me to see was well-rounded and different from the one Leo saw. In his version, Eric was downright rude, inconsiderate, and acted like a total slut. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw all the dirty pictures, texts and videos he had sent him. That wasn’t the Eric I knew. The Eric I knew was sweet and a gentleman.
It’s over now.
Meeting Leo was meant to be as it pulled me out of a dark hole I was buried into. He gave me clarity, some sort of hope even, that reminded me that sometimes pain can be shared and overcome. He helped me get back on my feet again.
He put his phone away, and after putting the whole thing behind us, we left the car and walked inside the bar. Little did I know the drama wasn’t quite over yet. As soon as he walked in, he scanned the room. Although he came across as completely fine from the outside, he’s had enough bad history in this city for him to be broken inside. It was all about keeping his head above water and going through with his daily life at this point. He’s become a pessimist. After getting our ID’s checked, we resumed in walking in, but then he stopped, and I did the same. I looked up at him and saw him carefully gazing from left to right; in social settings, it almost felt as if he had to take a panoramic view of each public space before safely entering it. We walked to the bar and got our first round of drinks. Unlike High Dive, Foxes had a more chill environment. The standards are lower, and everyone can feel like they belong. A group of older men with a handful of years ahead of them were sitting at the corner of the bar, their lustful looks fixated on the hot bartender with the sleeve tattoo. He was lean and toned all over. He was also only wearing a jockstrap, his exposed bubbly ass getting him all the tips.
Leo wanted to pay for the first round of drinks. He asked me if I liked club soda and I lied and said I did; he wanted to pay for the drinks but didn’t seem like he could afford to spend a lot, and I was fine with that. I don’t like alcohol that much anyway. The heavy amount of talking we did prior to our arrival had turned me laconic, not knowing what to say or do next. We exchanged smiles and flirted with our bodies. Soon, we were interrupted by a guy Leo later told me was Ken.
Ken was another heartthrob who broke Leo’s heart right before Eric made his way into the picture and proceeded to shatter it even more. I have to admit I found him quite alluring, but a bad attitude trumps good looks, and so I couldn’t care less about him as soon as he showed his true colors. He didn’t look at me once as he diverged from his group of friends and walked right past me to greet Leo, giving him a poisonous kiss on the cheek which he obviously didn’t appreciate; he quickly pulled away, unsmiling.. His presence made him so uncomfortable as it brought back unpleasant memories and thoughts. He rambled words describing how he led him on for months before leaving him high and dry. Ken completely ignored my presence throughout their brief exchange of words which Leo didn’t seem to appreciate. I distracted myself in the meantime, sipping small sips of my drink until they were done talking. When he left, I clearly noticed the obvious death stare he gave me which I pointed out right after to Leo. It wasn’t over, though.
Throughout the rest of the night, he kept glancing in our direction, his eyes fixating me like a snake ready to strike and bite. Leo’s anxious demeanor wasn’t getting any better with Ken’s haunting presence hovering around the moderately small space. I desperately wanted to cheer him up, and I didn’t know how, so I started making out with him right in front of Ken to make him jealous. Leo seemed to appreciate my gesture but it didn’t take long for him to fall apart again, so we left.
He drove me back to my place and inevitably, we ended up in bed together. We had sex three times, each time in a different room. I let him spend the night afterwards.