By then it was only five days till the Nellah-Taylor wedding and I still hadn't come up with a good plan on how to get the two lovebirds together. I hadn't realized how hard this Fairy Godperson gig was gonna be when I took on the job. But then again, how could I know that both my charges were going to be so stubborn and blind and just plain idiotic. I mean, just how clueless can you be, guys? I'd already tried a couple of times to get the two of them together, but one thing or another always messed things up. Maybe these two didn't really belong together after all? Anyways, by this point I was as confused as a blind lesbian in a fish market.
My first matchmaking attempt had occurred the Wednesday after the Ball. I had managed to finagle an excuse for Justin to get out of the house so he could join me for dinner at the Diner. The boy had once again shown up in his familiar, faded, fashionless facade complete with the fearful glasses and feature-hiding clothing. When I asked him why he wasn't wearing his contacts, again, he simply shrugged and mumbled about not wanting to lose them. Argh - What does a fashion savvy Godperson have to do to get this boy to flaunt his assets a little?
The timid tad then hid himself in the far corner of the booth and barricaded himself in with a bevy of beverage glasses, condiments and menus until all you could see of the boy was the tip top of his tousled blond mop. When the gang showed up, everyone virtually ignored the little lump in the corner, including Brian. I didn't blame him though - as far as anyone could see, there was nothing to connect this shy mousey wallflower to the gorgeous, outgoing and shining star that had captured everyone's attention at the Ball. It didn't help at all that Justin barely said a word during the entire meal. ‘Strike one,' I thought.
On Friday, I convinced Justin to join the gang at Woody's again. I even persuaded him to ‘borrow' back some of the clubbing clothes Ian had taken from him - this wasn't much of a problem now that Ian's time was taken up, almost exclusively, with his new friend Master Clipper. However, although the boy was attired in the right clothes this time, he was still wearing those egregious eyeglasses. It seemed to me that putting on those specs sapped all his self-confidence right out of him - it wasn't only that he looked different with them on, but, when he wore the glasses, he seemed to actually become a shy, shapeless, un-hot, bookworm kind of boy. I knew the super-hot twink was in there somewhere, but it was going to be tough to get him to acknowledge his own hotness.
As expected, when Brian arrived that night at Woody's, already in pursuit of a tall, dark-haired, green-eyed adonis, he took no notice whatsoever of the retiring recluse on the farthest bar stool, studiously studying the bottom of his beer bottle. When I tried to get the little goofball to dance, he turned me down and continued to sit at the bar, slowly sinking deeper into depression. And Brian went on his oblivious way, taking his tricks to the backroom then tossing them out as fast as he could get off. ‘Strike two', rang in my head.
I tried talking to the man a few days later, to see if he was still interested in the disappearing blond. In true Kinney-esque fashion, though, he was already trying to hide the fact that he'd ever cared about the lost lad at all. His reaction made me madder than a bobcat caught in a piss fire. If the silly sot would just see how stupid it was to shroud all his feelings with senseless denials, someone might sense a way through all the shit he kept slinging. If you asked me, poor, pure-hearted Justin was just the person to do it, but it would never happen if Brian wouldn't let anyone in.
By this time, what with the wedding so near, I was busier than a one-armed monkey with two peckers. So, I'd decided to put aside my Justin and Brian dilemma for a time and concentrate on the job at hand - namely getting Brenda the Bitch married to Craig the Cretin and off my back. I guess I shouldn't be so hard on the old girl - she really had had a hard time ever since the ‘outing' of her two adored offspring. She was insistent that this wedding had to be just perfect in order to reestablish her neighbors' and friends' respect. Unfortunately, that was making Brenda even bitchier than normal.
So, that's what was doing on the Tuesday before the wedding, when I got a frantic call from the here-comes-the-wide-bride, babbling about how the bridesmaids shoes hadn't been dyed correctly and didn't match their dresses. I was already knee deep in hors d'oeuvres at the time and was trying to tell the shrew that I just couldn't drop everything right this minute to drive over to her house to see to the shocking shoe situation.
By some weird coincidence, Brian happened to be standing in my shop just when this call came in (he'd actually been there to talk about my planning the Kinnetik Anniversary party), and since I'd put the call on speaker phone, he'd heard the entire conversation and was laughing his head off by the time I hung up. Either Brian had recently suffered some undisclosed head trauma or else he was just looking for more fodder for his portfolio of hetero jokes, but to my utter surprise, the man actually offered to drive over to the Nellah-Taylor residence and pick up the offensive shoes for me so I could deal with the dyers in the morning. I gratefully accepted this unheard of offer and sent him off forthwith.
That's when Lady Fortune finally made her appearance in this farce. Guess who just happened to answer the door when Brian arrived to get the screwed-up shoes - you're right, of course, it was our beautiful boy, the soon-to-be Justin Nellah-Taylor. And taken completely unaware, the surprised schoolboy wasn't able to hide behind his beer or a menu or anything else this time. He had come face-to-face with his fantastic, full-blown fantasy man right there in his family's home!
"Hey! You're Honeycutt's friend, uhh . . . Jake, right?" the not-completely-unobservant Kinney commented.
"Justin," the boy corrected in his most timid voice.
"Right, Justin. Well, Justin, I just came by to pick up some shoes for Emmett," Brian continued in his usual assertive manner. "Are they ready?"
"I . . . I . . . I don't know," stammered the super-shy little shaver. "Ummm . . . Come in, please. I'll . . . uh . . . find Brenda and find out for you." Justin ushered the sexy stud into the sitting room, smiling sillily and almost stumbling as he tried to walk backwards so he could stare at the man all the while. "Um . . . You can have a seat while I figure out what's going on . . . If you like."
"Thanks," Brian said, smiling at the stuttering, unsure, shrinking-violet, sidling out the door. ‘He's kinda sweet', he thought, then immediately tried to wipe the silly, lesbionic sentiment out of his mind.
Several minutes later, the boy still hadn't returned and Brian was starting to get a tad annoyed. Finally, though, a large laundry basket full of shoes came barrelling through the doorway, completely obscuring the identity of the force carrying the load. The basket began to totter and tilt as the person carrying it almost tripped over the table in the center of the tiled floor, but Brian quickly steadied it and tried to take it out of the hands carrying it.
"Let me," Brian offered.
"No. I've got it," the voice behind the basket replied.
"No, you don't," Brian said trying to hold on to the hamper heaped with heels.
However, when he pulled the basket towards himself, Brian completely unbalanced the boy behind the basket and the whole shebang tumbled into the man's lap, knocking him back into the waiting couch behind him. The two men landed in a jumble, covered in women's shoes, staring into each other's eyes in just a bit of shock. Then, a small smile turned up the corners of Justin's lovely lips and a tiny chuckle escaped. The laughter was instantly contagious and Brian found himself laughing along with the boy, their chortling escalating as they both realized the ridiculousness of their situation.
As the laughter died down, Brian caught himself looking at the young man next to him - really looking at him for the first time. He thought he saw . . . something. This boy reminded him of someone, but he just couldn't put his finger on it right away. The tension-relieving laughter had already broken the ice between the two, however, and Brian felt no qualms in sliding his arm around the boy's slender waist as they sat up and started gathering in the scattered shoes. Justin couldn't help himself, he felt the familiar, strong arm encircling him and just had to lean into the embrace - he wanted desperately to turn to Brian, reach up to those tantalizing, talented lips and taste them once again. As he hesitated, though, the evil stepmother bustled into the room, interrupting what could have been a very intimate moment.
"Justin. What the hell are you doing? Get those shoes picked up and get going. I need those shoes delivered to Mr. Honeycutt immediately. Can't you see how incredibly busy I am and how stressed this makes me. Having you just lying around, wasting time is completely unforgivable. Get going you lazy little fairy!" Brenda was ranting and raving with small spots of spittle spurting from her lips, unaware of the anger her words were igniting in the older man sitting on the couch next to her soon-to-be-step-son.
"It wasn't Justin's fault, Lady. I accidentally knocked him off balance. And I don't appreciate your language, either . . ." Brian was going to continue, never one to stand for insults from the horde of homophobic heteros. However, Justin reached up and tugged at Brian's sleeve and shook his head slightly when he at last caught the man's eye. Brian reluctantly cut his angry diatribe short but didn't remove his angry gaze from the disconcerted hetero housewife now standing speechless in her own home.
Justin rapidly moved to retrieve the remaining footwear and return them all to their designated receptacle. Brian then picked up the basket without further comment to the blustering Brenda and began to head for the door.
"Justin, you coming?" Brian asked over his shoulder as he neared the exit.
Justin looked over at the red-faced harridan fuming at his imagined insolence. Then he looked over to Brian, pausing in the doorway as he smiled at the stymied boy. And with a sunshine-y smile, he headed toward the man he adored.
"Where do you think you're going, young man," Brenda was howling. To her utter disbelief, neither man was paying her any attention as they strutted down the driveway, deposited the shoes in the trunk of Brian's corvette, and got in the car together.
"Well, that was fun," Brian commented, looking at Justin and both men began to laugh again.
They spent the rest of the drive to my shop laughing and talking and generally enjoying each other's company. When the two of them walked into my shop, carrying a load of lousy loafers, I couldn't believe my eyes.
"Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit," I exclaimed. "What have we got here?"
"I had to rescue Justin from his homophobic step-mother. She's quite the piece of work, isn't she?" was Brian's not-so-favorable reaction to the politeness-challenged Brenda.
"Well, I can't disagree with you on that account," I concurred.
"Anyway, here's the shoes you wanted, Em," Brian added. He then turned to Justin. "Sorry if I fucked things up for you at home. I just . . . I couldn't handle seeing her treat you that way. It reminded me of my Dad - not a good memory, by the way. Sorry, though, if it'll cause you problems."
"No. I should thank you," Justin asserted bravely and the look of adoration in his eyes when he regarded Brian was plain to see. "Nobody's stood up for me like that in a long time. It was . . . really nice. Thanks."
"Anytime, kid. So, I'm off Honeycutt. See you later!" Brian started to move towards the door.
Ack! I knew I'd never have another chance like this and I just couldn't let the man leave without doing something to get these two star-crossed lovers together. I hadn't had time to think of anything though, so I just spouted the first thing that came to my mind.
"Wait. Brian . . . uh . . . I'm really too busy to take Justin back home, right now. And, uh . . . well . . . if Brenda's as angry as I think, it's probably a good idea to let her cool down before you head back anyway, Justin. Would you mind, Brian, taking Justin over to the Diner and getting him something to eat, or something, while I finish up here? I'll meet you guys there or at Woody's later, as soon as I can." ‘Please, please, please, let this work,' I was thinking with all my fingers and toes crossed.
I saw, to my relief, Brian look over at the boy, smiling at him, and then he turned back to me and nodded. "No problem. Come on, Justin. Later, Em." And the two of them headed out the door, Justin shooting back a somewhat worried glare in my direction as he left.
So, am I brilliant or what? I knew that if I just left the two of them alone, those boys would come together like two magnets. I mean, Darling, Justin was just hotter than donut grease at a fat man convention - you just had to get past those dowdy glasses and frumpy clothes. And Brian, well, he was finer than a frog hair split eight ways. The two of them together would just be hotter than the hinges in hell. And from the way they'd been lookin' at each other when they walked in here, I knew they were halfway towards hookin' up already. My plan was to just lay low and let them get under each other's skin for as long as possible. Then I could swoop in, close the deal and send them off to happily-ever-after.