Mind Fields by Dylan Madrid

Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014

Becca smiled. “An asshole wouldn’t bring lunch to his mother.”

“Yes, but clearly he’s forgotten a napkin and something to drink.”

Becca opened a bottom desk drawer and pulled out a purse. She fished out a few bills and placed them in the palm of her son’s outstretched hand. “There’s a vending machine down the hall,” she said.
“Pretty please?”

“I know where the machine is. I’ve done this before,” he reminded her.

“While you’re at it, get something for yourself,” she said.

“Your promotion has made you generous,” he noted. “I can’t wait for Christmas this year.”

“This doesn’t mean I’m paying your cell phone bill again this month, so don’t ask.”

“Do you treat all your minions like this, Lady Loan Officer?” he asked.

“Only the ones who refuse to find a job,” she replied.

“Why bother?” he asked. “I thought you were marrying me off. I’m assuming he’s wealthy. My job will be to keep him happy and spend loads of money and organize charity events. Just like a Real Housewife.”

Becca let out a small laugh. “Don’t count on it,” she said.

“You expect me to play stupid for a guy with no cash? Next thing I know, you’ll be convincing me love makes the world go round and to go with my heart. What has this promotion done to you?
Where is my mother? What have you done with her?”

“I’ll tell you everything I know for a cold pop and a napkin,” she said. “And hurry. There’s a gallon of vinaigrette on this salad and half of it’s on my face.”

“How classy we are,” he said, before leaving by walking backward out of the office and returning to the lobby.

Once he was out of his mother’s line of vision he turned face forward, ending the current one-player round of Rewind.

Another victory for me.

Adam passed by the obnoxious Money changes everything poster that had caught his attention just moments earlier. This time, he didn’t give it a second glance. Instead, he focused on his mission.
Sierra Mist for Mom. Diet Pepsi for me. I know the drill.

He stopped in front of the vending machine and aimed a dollar bill at the thin mouth. He caught a quick glimpse of his somewhat distorted reflection in the transparent plastic face of the machine.
Mom’s right. I’m too thin. I don’t want to be a jock or anything lame like that. That’s not my style. Never will be. I’m cool with being the nerdy college guy. But still, some tone and definition would be nice. Is that too much to ask for?

Adam’s gaze moved farther, past his own features and to the somewhat grimy black and white checkered floor behind him.

Seeing the square tiles triggered a childhood memory. His grandfather was there in the long hallway, standing by the silver drinking fountain like a protective bird. The old guy was wearing his favorite Irish tweed cap and black and yellow bowling shirt. He hadn’t shaved in a few days and looked like he needed a shot of whiskey.

Adam was six. Maybe seven. Together, they were waiting for his mother to close her teller window and join them for the all-too-important task of going shopping for school clothes. The errand had to be completed during her lunch hour. Since Mom’s car was in need of some expensive repairs, Grandpa offered to drive.

Adam had kept himself occupied by playing a solo game of hopscotch, jumping on alternating legs and feet from one square to the next. Each time, he landed with a catlike grace. He loved the echoing sound his rubber-soled blue and white sneakers created when they made contact with the marble floor. He was completely immersed in the activity until he heard his grandfather clear his dry throat and say with concern, “What’re you doing, Adam?”

I looked up at him. I remember that moment. The look on his face, in his eyes. Couldn’t he tell? Why did he have to ask? It was obvious.

“Boys don’t play hopscotch,” his grandfather explained, shaking his head with slight disapproval.

“But I’m good at it, Grandpa,” he replied. “So why shouldn’t I do it?”

They locked eyes, sharing a brief and silent conversation. Finally, Grandpa retreated. “I suppose
you’re right. There’re a lot worse things you could do.”

I wondered if he knew then. Did he know in that very second his grandson was gay? That hopscotch was just the beginning?

Adam slid the first bill into the vending machine and pressed a button. The purchased soda slid down an internal tunnel and landed with a thud. He repeated the process.

He bent down and retrieved the two cans, welcoming the sting of the cold aluminum against his palms. He clutched the sodas tightly, heading back in the direction of his mother’s new domain.

As he walked, Adam felt temptation tickle the back of his neck. He struggled for a few seconds, resisting the sudden impulse.

Don’t do it. People will think you’re strange.

As he neared the end of the hallway, he broke into an impromptu game of hopscotch in clear view of the customer-filled lobby. The stares and smiles coming at him from all directions only urged him on.
He reached the final black square and took a bow, despite the absence of applause.

“You’re the type of person people can’t ignore,” his best friend Stacey had told him after they’d known each other for only a week. They were sitting in what was now their favorite Irish pub, in a wooden booth soon to become their usual spot, toasting their new friendship by tossing back shots of watered-down tequila.

“You’ve got it all wrong,” Adam said. “I’m the one who’s always overlooked. The last one picked for the team.”

Stacey shook her head. “No,” she said. “Seriously, you walk into a room—any room—and people stop and stare at you because you take their breath away.”

Adam smiled and laughed. “I never realized I was so attractive,” he replied, half-joking.

“You’re not,” she said, dead serious. “It’s not about that. Not at all. I think you were just born with it.”

“An irresistible charm?” he asked, still hoping for a compliment.

“Gravity,” she explained. “You pull people toward you, Adam. It’s very powerful and you don’t even realize it. I love to just stand there and watch it happen.”

He stared into her eyes. “Is it happening now?”

“No,” she said, refusing to look away. “It doesn’t really work on me. I think I’m immune to it. From what I can tell, it has the strongest effect on men.”

“What are you smoking, Stacey?” he said. “Men don’t notice me.”

“Bullshit,” said Stacey. “Maybe it’s you who’s not aware.”

In the bank lobby, Adam whizzed past the poster of the fake family and filled the open doorway of his mother’s office with his strong presence, like an actor making a grand entrance at the top of the second act.

“I’m back, by popular demand,” he announced, followed by: “Oh, sorry.”

They were no longer alone. There was a tall man standing in Becca’s office. Adam zeroed in on the back of the stranger’s head, on his thick, dark hair and sun-kissed neck.

The man had a physical response to Adam’s voice. It was evident in the way his shoulder blades tensed and the muscles in his back tightened. Like someone had surprised him with a touch, or a kiss.

Mind Fields
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Genre - Gay Romance, Suspense
Rating – R
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