Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013, January 20, 1984, Page 16, Image 16

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    GAYS O F OCIR LIVES
to you. Think about it” You force yourself still
— watching him — so slender, and you— so
uncomfortable.
“ Ryan with a y?”
You nod assent
"Your paternal Grandmother?”
Unexpectedly, color fills out the space be­
hind him; lozenges of wind brushed vegeta­
tion through the fence; the paling sky; the
deeper blue and chrome studded car. You
ball your hands into your pocket He nods as
if that were obvious assent Puts the car in
reverse and says seriously;
“ I’ll think about it"
And spins off.
You wake up to the guard booth. Stick your
head in the open window and smile.
"I am very, very scientific this morning,”
you tell Kelly. "You may let me in. And you’d
better switch to chocolate donuts. You’ve got
powdered sugar all over your badge.”
Kelly brushes at her left breast Her fingers
leave long white marks. “You’re late." She
pushes the button that opens the gate.
“ I had a hard time getting a ride."
Kelly simply raises an eyebrow.
“ He isn’t a ride," you call over your shoul­
der, leaving the eyebrow behind. “ He’s the
laws of Chance.” The gate slides shut behind
you. A patch of dandelions on the edging has
gone ripe. You skip half a step and kick their
fluffy heads off. Primly set beside them is the
sign you pass every morning: Beaverton
Simian Center... BSc ... BS & C. Acres of
enclosed semi-wilderness graced by concrete
cubes without windows. Crows rattle and caw
in the pines. Wonder what he’ll think about it
Through the East entrance and a detour
through the Day room for coffee. Its smell
mixes with chloroform as you walk past
Surgery — is irredeemably fouled by what­
ever is being administered the chimps in 12A.
You duck into 11A and grab a handful of the
monkey’s potato chips. They jum p heavily
about their cages and watch. They’re being
fed a diet rich in cottonseed oil to see if it
makes them sterile. It’s making them too fat
to copulate. Science and you march forward
across the corridor and open the door to 11B.
“ Morning Dr. A." You close the door. Sip
coffee.
“ Good morning David," Dr. Addison says.
Cherub cheeks. Rounded glasses reflect
fluorescents. “Before we begin today I need
to ask you something seriously: have you
ever considered the employment effects of
kissing on a public roadside?” Her hair is
loose today.
"No." You crunch a potato chip. “ Is this a
proposal."
Life of Ryan —
the
continuing
saga
Episode I
Traffic is hot. From out of its stream a blue
65 Thunderbird skidstops on the gravel. Its
top is down.
“ I’m going to 185th.”
Dark hair balding from the front. Forehead
and smile gleam.
That’s Fine.” You put your hand on the
latch. Consider it. Then switch intensity onto
the driver. “ Hey! Can I jum p in? I’vealways
wanted to.”
“Your shoes clean?”
You look. Spotted, but qualifiably white.
The upholstery's blue anyway.
“Yeah.”
“ Go ahead then.”
Leaping, arm braced on the door, eyes
snag with a blond passenger in a passing red
Camaro traveling only those few slow feet
you swivel — nothing but eyes supporting
you — and settle into the interior.
"OK?”
Black eyebrows — sharp peaked.
"Excellent A dream has been realized.”
His hand tightens on the shift, squeezes
gears into motion. The Camaro is out of
sight
"Glad I provided the right setting." The shift
rattles at cruising speed. His hand returns to
it. “You looked Fine vaulting in like that Hand­
some stunt"
You poke your fingers into the windstream.
Twiddle them. “ Do we have to talk about
this?"
“ Have we yet?" His smile flattens — eyes
flicking from road to m irror— then flares out
again. “ Something else you’d rather talk
about?"
"Hey, I appreciate the ride."
"See; you do want to talk about it" He taps
the wheel. "I mean; personally I’m not above
helping out the laws of chance, but have I laid
in wait outside where I drop you off? Or asked
the guard your name? Come on — how
many more mornings are we going to pre­
tend we just happen to meet? If we can man­
age screeching toward death in a little box at
60 mph there's got to be something else we
can do together; even if it's not as much fun."
You take your hand out of the airstream.
Stick it across the space between.
"Dave Ryan.”
The stickshift rattles as his hand shoots to
yours.
"Mark Jaidon. Doing anything tonight?"
"Petri dishes, I think.” His hand lingers. You
shake it again, laugh, and disengage. "Since I
told them No more cages.' I've been pro­
moted: sputum cultures and blood samples."
“S’that means you're busy." He sweeps the
car to the right hand lane. “ Because if you're
thinking about it you’ve got two miles to go."
He brakes to the top of the ramp. Looks both
ways. At you. "Want I should go slow? I can
16
v
S
^ v ! ''k, "He isn't a ride,"
you call over
your shoulder,
leaving the
eyebrow
behind. "He's
the laws
of Chance."
SL n '
m ilk it for 6 minutes.”
"Go fast I want to feel the wind.” You lean
elbow and chin over the door. "Besides, we
already shook hands."
"I always suspected," Mark says solemnly,
putting the car in gear, "there was a secret
thrill to being a Mason."
You look. Mark is addressing his fingers on
the wheel. Turning it
"Secret gateways to the soul,” he confides,
pumping gas, reaching down for a gear.
“Exactly what are you talking about?"
White blooms along the fingers of his shift
hand. A whine grows in the transmission.
"Exactly what am I talking about??" Tardily
punching in the next gear. "Well, unless I’m
making a mistake I haven’t since I was
eighteen, I think I’m saying I’m pleased to
meet you — Look at the heron!"
From tall bottom grass of the right hand
field, the bird lofts. Regally ungainly it pro­
ceeds directly in front of the car — legs and
wingtips suddenly in reach overhead —
parallels the duck-ridden surface of a hous­
ing development's artificial lake and,
curvingly, ascends.
Releasing the back of the seat, twisting
your neck to get out the kink of watching
behind, your hand strikes Mark's shoulder
hard.
The car slows suddenly.
"Mistake ... huh?" he whispers.
To steady against deceleration you grab
his shoulder. Mark tenses, pulls the car com ­
pletely off the road. Your hold tightens as the
car jerks to a stop.
"No high speed fights, OK." His hands
come palm up. "Peace. No offense meant." -
Your fingers dig into the fabric of his shirt.
Clench at muscle. “ Do you have any idee
exactly how big a mistake you've made! You
shake him once. Then, calmly, before fear
replaces the shock in his face, you kiss him.
A car rockets by. Its horn blares.
"V^L IvV / 4 / /
A
*^ 7
You lean back. “ Now it’s all out of
sequence." Mark’s face is still shocked, but
his eyes have warmed and his mouth looks
wonderful. “We were supposed to have a date
in between.”
“Well. We ll just start over." He lifts your
hand from his shoulder. Shakes it “As long
as we don’t have to go through the coy part
again. That’s strict emotional hijack. You
would not believe what was going through
my head. My grandmother. She had a truly
evil smile." A group of cars go by. He pulls out
behind them. “She sat me down into a heavy
contest after I got home from school one day
and pinched her. We took turns. I kept pinch­
ing her arm and she pinched me here.”
Touching his neck. "Until I was bawling. Try­
ing to get in one last hard one and run away.
But she held me in my chair and she always
pinched back just as hard." A chain link fence
begins its run along the road. Ahead is the
turn-off to a guard booth fronted by a tarmac
apron.
Mark pulls onto the apron and parks.
“And . .. ?” From the lines diving into his
forehead and the wattage of his eyes he’s
trying to telepath something to you. “You
opened her vein," you hazard, “ and you’ve felt
guilty ever since. Or she cut off the blood
supply to your brain and left you as you are
today."
“ I kissed her,” he says smugly and leans
against the door. “ I pinched lighter and ligh­
ter until we were both barely touching. Then I
kissed her. And she kissed me. She died soon
after."
Snickering. "O f course." Toeing one tennis
shoe with the other. Suddenly you leap from
the car. "But I’m your age and at least your
match. You won’t push me off the edge that
easily,” — less melodramatically and much
quieter — “ innocent little boy. Call me after
sunset I’m in the book with the other evils. I
make myself and maybe grandma, available
To be continued.
• 1984 Scott Swentek
t
Editor 's note: The Life of Ryan; or Gays of our
lives, the continuing saga, is appearing the
first time in this issue. Scott Swentek is a
prolific writer living in Portland. He grew up
on the East Coast, w ent to college in Iowa,
an d arrived in Puddle City about five or six
years ago.
The Life of Ryan will continue in these
pages with every issue. Will they run out of
m onkey potato chips at the Beaverton
Sim ian Center? Will Kelly get all the
pow dered sugar off her badge? Where will
C hance take Ryan?
Don t m iss an episode ofT he Life of Ryan;
or Gays of our lives, the continuing saga,
only in Just Out!
Just Out January 20-February 3