My new laptop computer arrived this week, and I got swept up in getting it up and running. Lo and behold, I looked around and found myself without a post, so my buddy Mark Wildyr stepped up to help me out with a re-post of the August 18 offering on his own website. I hope you appreciate his efforts as much as I do his offer. Enjoy his story.
Hem and Haw
By Mark Wildyr
I’d known Hem forever. That wasn’t his real name, of course. It was Jimmie. But everyone called him Hem. My name’s Karl, but to our world, I was Haw. We earned those monikers honestly from the time we were kids by constantly playing the old “After you, my dear Alphonse” routine. That started years ago and continues today. To wit: yesterday when we decided we needed a treat from the summer heat, we started our usual humdrum.
“You wanna go to the diner or the malt shop?” Hem asked.
“I dunno. You?”
A shrug. “I dunno. Milkshake would be good.”
“Malt shop makes them better.”
“You think so? Diner makes good strawberries.”
“Yeah,” I came back at him, “but I think chocolate shakes are better at the shop.”
“Which one do you want?”
Now it was my time to shrug.
I’m not exactly sure how, but we ended up at the malt shop with chocolate shakes.
The day I noticed how Hem's broad shoulders stretched the polo shirt he wore, the way I thought about him changed. But it wasn’t something I could talk about to him or anybody else. If I opened my mouth about that, he’d give me a black eye and never speak to me again. The black eye, I could take. Never speaking to him again… no way. So I held my tongue and being around him became exquisite torture. The only thing worse was not being around him.
We were equal in age—almost to the same month—but the mirror told me I lagged far behind him in physical development. Life wasn’t fair. First time I reached that conclusion. I guess I lived a sheltered life.
About six months after my epiphany, we were sitting on the floor in my family’s basement game room with a chessboard between us, concentrating on the game. At least he was. I was admiring anew his shoulders and his pecs beneath the thin shirt and the V of his torso. When he shifted position and spread his legs, I couldn’t help it. My eyes went right to the fly of his walking shorts. I swallowed hard and glanced up. His eyes bored into mine. I’d been flat-out caught eyeing his basket.
“I been thinking about it, too,” he said.
My mouth dropped open and my heart rate soared. “A-about what?”
“Come on, man. I saw where you were looking.”
“Was not. I mean, you didn’t. I mean—” Sweat trickled down my sides.
“I’m not blind. You were studying my crotch,” Hem said
“I… I….” I hawed.
“That’s okay. I’ve checked out yours a couple of times.”
“Sure. You interested?”
“Like I said, been thinking about it. You?”
I watched his face as I answered. “Sometimes. I mean… yeah, interested. I guess.”
“Me, too… I guess.”
“What do we do?” I asked.
“Dunno. This is new to me.”
“Me, too. But what do we do now?”
“Hell, I don’t know. You sure you want to do this?
“Yeah… I guess.”
Hemming and hawing, otherwise known as procrastination, has been around for a very long time, but these two guys take it to the extreme. Do you think they ever got together?
Thanks to Mark for coming to my rescue. I hope you enjoyed his story.
Please get a copy of my latest book, The Lovely Pines, and give me feedback on the novel. If you do read the book, please post a review on Amazon. Each one helps.
Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.
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Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines, which (as noted) was released on August 28: