Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 12

Rehearsals continued smoothly.  For all my fear and trepidation about
directing a Shakespearian tragedy, I found that this turned out to be the
easiest rehearsal period I ever had.  Leon and his crew built the set and
his costumers, "Leon's ladies" as we called the women he always managed to
recruit, did a fantastic job of building some new things and borrowing a
bunch of other things from a local university.  As opening night
approached, I was very proud of the show and all the work my cast and crew
had done on it.  The only thing that bothered me was my relationship with
Jeff.

I was falling for the guy.  How could I not?  Jeff was charming,
attractive, and sincere, everything I wanted in a man.  Plus he was
talented.  At times we seemed very close and then he would draw back, as if
there was something keeping us apart, something he didn't want to share.  I
guessed it was that he was really straight.  He never came out and said
that, but he never admitted to being gay either.  Jeff was a very private
person and didn't discuss much concerning himself.  He didn't give any of
the girls in the cast any encouragement when they hit on him, and he did
seem friendlier with me than he was with them.  But that didn't mean he was
gay.  Or maybe he was and didn't realize it, or was fighting it.  After
all, he was only 23.  Maybe he didn't like older men.  I was at the ripe
old age of 32, practically ready for the senior citizen home.

And then there was the issue of his money.  He jokingly told Kelly he was
rich.  And he didn't seem to want for anything, except maybe a car.  But he
certainly didn't live like a rich person.  His clothes, while clean and
neat were not flashy.  There was a distinct lack of jewelry.  Yet he didn't
seem to be looking for a job either.  I had guessed he had inherited money
from his family, but he never spoke of them.  He truly was a mystery man.

Tech week finally arrived and Jeff again raised the issue about the Sunday
matinee.  "Do we have to do that show?" he asked.

"So what is this big conflict?" I asked him as we drove to the theatre.  He
was still allowing me to pick him up and transport him to and from
rehearsals.  The weather was growing colder and the promise of an early
winter was in the air.

"Well, it's not so much a conflict as a condition," he finally said.

"A condition?  What, are you allergic to afternoon shows?"

"No, just afternoons," he said with an odd look.

"You're joking," I replied looking at him with a scowl.

"The truth is, I have a very rare condition.  I don't like to speak about
it, but I have an allergy to strong ultraviolet light, as in sunlight.  I
can't go out in the sun."

I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the ignition and turned in my
seat to face my friend.  "You're serious?  You really are allergic to
sunlight?  I've never heard of that before."

"I told you it was rare."  He gave me a half smile and a shrug.  Every time
he smiled at me, my heart seemed to skip a beat.  I wasn't sure if I could
take much more of this.  The show would be over in two weeks and I could
try and get Jeff out of my mind.

"Well can't you just put on a hat or something?  As long as you don't burst
into flames," I joked.

For a minute Jeff looked shocked, and then shook his head.  "That won't
work.  And you wouldn't want me to go on stage all red and blotchy, would
you?"

"The makeup will cover it," I said with a grin.

"I have thought of one solution," Jeff said, ignoring my suggestion.  "It's
kind of weird, but if you are insisting we have to do a matinee, then this
might be the only way.  I could either spend the night at the theatre or
get up early and come in before sunrise so I would already be here.  As
long as I don't go out to the lobby, I think I would be okay.  The house
and stage don't have any windows."

"I'll have a cot brought in for," I told him, trying to keep the sarcasm
out of my voice as we got out of the car.

"Don't bother.  I can sleep on the couch in the green room."

"Well I'm glad that problem is settled.  This has been the easiest show
I've ever had, thanks to you.  And if a sun allergy is the worst problem we
face, then I guess we'll make history.  It seems like we always have some
sort of crisis."

"Let's not jinx things," Jeff said, knocking on the wooden door frame as we
went into the theatre.

* * *

Opening night finally arrived and to my surprise we were nearly sold out.
Of course a lot of the tickets were sold to out-of-towners.  I didn't think
the usual Auburn crowd would flock to Shakespeare.  But Lucinda in the box
office assured me that we had advance sales and reservations that clearly
made this the biggest show of the season.  I walked backstage to give
everyone a pep-talk before the show.  Everyone was in the green room except
our star.  One of the volunteers was spraying Jeff's hair in place.  I gave
my quick "Go out there and knock 'em dead" speech, and then walked down to
the men's dressing room.  Olga had just finished, and Jeff was slipping
into his costume.  I had the rare chance to see him without his shirt, and
my body instantly responded.  Jeff's chest, although thin was well muscled,
a definite six pack of abs with well defined pecs capped by quarter sized
nipples.  He pulled on his shirt and looked up in the mirror.  Our eyes met
and I again blushed.  Jeff just grinned and that seemed to make it worse.

"I just wanted to say ..."  But for the first time in my life I couldn't
think of anything I wanted to say.  Jeff pulled on his doublet, fastened it
and stepped over to me.

He was an inch from my face.  "Yes?"  He looked at me with his intense,
green eyes.  "You wanted to say?"  I was enveloped in that scent of vanilla
and musk.  It seemed incredibly erotic.

"Break a leg," I whispered.

Jeff's eyes widened in surprise.  "Why do you want me to break my leg?"

That comment pulled me back to reality.  I laughed.  "That's just a theatre
tradition," I explained.  "It's bad luck to wish someone good luck before
the performance.  So we say 'break a leg' as a way of wishing you good
luck."

"Oh," the novice actor said with understanding.  "In that case I hope we
break as many bones as we can, maybe even a neck or two."

"Just 'break a leg' will suffice," I replied, still standing inches from
him, our chests almost touching.  I couldn't hold back.  I leaned forward
on my tiptoes and planted a quick kiss on the actor's lips, then turned and
dashed out the door, up the steps and out to the house.

The show ran flawlessly, but the entire time I was preoccupied with what I
had done.  Did Jeff hate me?  Was he upset?  I kissed him.  Jeff knew I was
gay, and now he knew how I felt about him.  I thought I had no right to do
that.  Well, the cat was out of the bag and wouldn't go back in.  Jeff
would only have to deal with me for the run of the show, this weekend and
next.  Then he would never have to see me again.

The curtain dropped on the scene of death and destruction at the end of the
play.  The audience was instantly on its feet.  This was our first standing
ovation of the season.  Apparently people really enjoyed it.  Well, I said
I knew all along this was going to be a hit.  Who doesn't like Shakespeare?
The curtain rose and the actors came out in groups, taking bows.  The
applause just seemed to get louder and louder.  Finally Jeff stepped onto
the stage.  They went wild, cheering and applauding.  He smiled and bowed,
then stepped back to acknowledge the rest of the cast.  Everyone took a
final bow and then stepped back for the curtain to drop.  I couldn't have
been prouder.  "Great show, Frank," someone was saying and pumping my hand.
"It was so moving.  I never knew Shakespeare was really exciting.  It
always bored me in high school English."  Person after person came by to
wish me congratulations.

The actors came out of the backstage door to mingle with friends and family
in the audience and receive personal well wishes.  It was kind of a
tradition with our small company that the cast always came out to greet
audience members rather than have people crowd backstage.  I looked up to
see most everyone there, but Jeff was conspicuously missing.  Well, he
would undoubtedly see everyone at the opening night party.  It was to be at
Harriet's house.  She had a really big almost mansion on a private lake
just ten minutes out of town.  Everyone was invited and I knew our board of
directors was eager to get a chance to mingle with the actors.  Food and
drink would flow liberally.  This was Harriet's way of showing off.  She
even hired a woodwind quintet out of Topeka to play music for the party.

I went back to my office and slipped out of my tux and into jeans and a
pull over shirt.  The party wasn't formal and everyone would be
comfortable.  I then went backstage to see what was going on.  By this time
most of the cast was already heading out the door.  Buddy was turning off
lights and locking things up for the night.  The house manager had just
locked the lobby and slipped out the back door.  "Everyone gone?" I asked
Buddy.

"Yep, just you and me left."

"Where's Jeff?" I asked, looking around.  "He came with me.  I thought he'd
want to ride back to the party with me."

"Actually, I think he got a ride with Kelly," Buddy said, looking
uncomfortable.

"Okay, what's up?" I asked him.  I knew that look and had seen it before.

"Don't be mad, okay?" he asked as he looked at me out of the corner of his
eye.

"I won't be mad.  What?"

"I heard Jeff and Kelly talking.  She said you had the hots for him and he
said he was aware of that.  But he told her he thought it was a bad idea
for the two of you to get close.  Then they walked out the door together,
her arm linked in his."

So there it was.  My kiss did scare him off.  Why had I done that?  I
ruined everything.  Well it was over and that was that.  "Let's go to the
party, Buddy," I said and we walked out the door together.  I got in my car
and followed Buddy out of the parking lot and down the road, wiping the
tears from my eyes as I drove.  No one would see me like this.

Ten minutes later, I pulled up behind the group of cars lined up on the
road outside Harriet's house.  I stumbled down the gravel drive and stepped
into the crowded house. Actors, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and board
members were everywhere.  As I came in, many of them greeted me, patting me
on the back and again offering congratulations.  Harriet was instantly at
my side, shoving a glass in my hand.  I took a sip and nearly choked.  It
was really good Scotch.

Several people asked me where Jeff was.  I didn't know.  I assumed the
young man had arrived before me, but no one had seen him.  I wandered
around until I finally found Kelly.  I knew Jeff would be with her, but she
was by herself, holding court with several young actors.  "Kelly, where's
Jeff," I asked when I was able to catch her attention.

"Hell if I know," she replied.

"Didn't he come with you?"

"No, he said he had a ride and walked off down the street."

"Great!" I mumbled.  Well kiss or no kiss, our star wasn't going to miss
his own opening night party.  I struggled my way through the crowd, heading
back to the door.

"You aren't leaving?" Harriet called as she saw me about to slip out.

"No, I'm going to find our leading man.  Apparently he missed his ride," I
told her.

"Yes, definitely bring him back here," she demanded.  "I want to talk him
into auditioning for more shows.  He's quite a find."

I finally managed to get out the door and into the fresh air.  I hurried
down the lane to where my car was parked, jumped in and immediately headed
back to the theatre.  Buddy said he had left in the company of Kelly, and
Kelly said he had walked down the street.  So I passed the theatre and
drove straight to Jeff's house.  As usual, it was all dark.  I went up to
the door and rang the bell.  When there was no answer, I rapped on the
door.  I waited for a few minutes, then rang the bell and knocked again.  I
finally pounded on the door.  "Jeff, I know you're in there!" I shouted.

Suddenly the door opened and I almost fell inside as I was about to pound
on it again.  Jeff caught me and pulled me into the dark hallway.  "Can you
keep it down?  I have neighbors, you know."  I looked up into his face but
all I could see were two glowing green eyes.  They shined back at me, just
like a cat or other wild animal.

"Why is it so dark in here?" I asked, starting to tremble.  The glowing
eyes were a bit unnerving.

"Sorry," Jeff replied as if suddenly realizing how odd this looked.  The
room was instantly flooded with bright light.  The glowing green eyes
disappeared to be replaced by Jeff's worried face, looking down at me.
"It's kind of late, you know, and I thought..."

"Jeff, I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have kissed you.  I realize I made you very
uncomfortable, but that is no reason to pass up the opening night party.
You were a hit, the star of the show and everyone wants to see you.  Don't
miss it because of my kiss."

Before I could say more, Jeff grabbed me and pulled me into a tight
embrace.  This time Jeff was the initiator, kissing me firmly on the lips.
I was so surprised, I forgot to breathe.  There was a burning intensity in
those green eyes.  He broke the kiss and held me back from him.  "Frank,
don't be sorry.  It wasn't because of your kiss that I missed the party."

"But ... but you..."  I didn't know what to say.  I was thrown into total
confusion.  When I found my tongue I said the first thing that came into my
head.  "Do you wear special contact lenses?  Why do your eyes glow in the
dark?"

Jeff laughed freely, and then pulled me to him in another hug, wrapping his
arms around my torso.  "When you kissed me, I realized how much I felt for
you, how much I cared about you.  It's just not right, Frank.  We can't do
this."

"Of course we can," I replied.  "Jeff, I think I love you.  I know this is
probably your first experience with another man, but it isn't a bad thing.
There's no reason why we can't be together."

Jeff laughed a soft chuckle as he held me.  "If you only knew the truth,"
he said, gently rocking us as he swayed from side to side.  "It has nothing
to do with us both being men.  And for the record, I have had a
relationship with another man before."

"Then it's got to be the age thing.  It is, isn't it?"  Tears were
beginning to run down my face.

Jeff looked at me and then reached down, sweeping me off my feet and into
his arms as if I were a child.  He carried me into a dark living room and
sat on a couch, holding me in his lap.  "Well, age is a part of it," Jeff
admitted.  "But don't cry.  If that were the only thing, we could get
beyond that.  But it's just dangerous for you to be here."

"Dangerous?"  I couldn't understand.  "What, are you in the witness
protection program or something?  Are you a spy or secret agent?"  I was
grasping at straws.

"No, no, nothing like that."  He bent forward and kissed me again.  "I can
see you aren't going to give up."  He stood, still holding me in his arms
like a child, and then carried me up to a bedroom on the second floor.  The
room was shrouded in darkness and he didn't bother to snap on a light.  He
gently placed me on the edge of the bed, and then stepped back.  I couldn't
really see what was going on, but I could hear fabric rustling.  Then Jeff
reached out and pulled my shirt off over my head.  I got the idea and
quickly kicked off my shoes and socks and pulled off my jeans and underwear
in one movement.

Jeff reached for me as the two of us lay back on his bed.  I was astounded
at how cold my friend felt.  His skin was like ice, as though he had been
sitting outside in the chill night air.  "You're so cold," I breathed.

"Ssshhhh," Jeff whispered, placing a finger to my lips.  Then he began
sliding his hands over my naked body.  "You are warm enough for both of
us," he said softly as he kissed my cheek.  He ran his lips down my jaw
line and onto my neck.  Jeff seemed to pause there for a long time as if
thinking about what he was doing, or was going to do.  Then he moved on,
kissing his way down my chest and sending cold little thrills through my
body.  But he was right.  It was as if my body was on fire making enough
heat for both of us.  It didn't take me long to climax.  Jeff then kissed
his way back to my lips.  I could taste myself on my lover's lips.

I had sex with other men before, but this was the first time I felt I was
actually being made love to.  It was more than just a sexual release.
There was a deep spiritual feeling to what we were doing, a true joining of
two people to become one.  "I love you," I said softly and held him close,
still wondering at the coldness of his body.  Jeff held me tight, and I
began to feel drowsy.  In a matter of minutes, the dark room began to
disappear and I sank into a deep sleep in my lover's arms.

 

 

 

 

 

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