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Previous: Why Jacob left Texas

One: Apartment on High

"Olin, yea, it's me, Jacob. Hey, listen, I need help. Look, I don't know how to say this but I need some money and a place to stay... No, I haven't... I was wonder- No, I haven't, at least not so far... Yea, I think so. Look, I'm in a lot of trouble and I need- not, not drugs... Nothing illegal. It's... NO, I'm fine... I got kicked out of my home and I really need... I just have some things I have to sort out right now. Yea, I have a Western Union near me... well, I was thinking about getting a bus ticket and coming up there...  really soon- like as soon as we get off the phone- soon. No, I really don't think that would be a good idea, I'm calling you from a payphone anyway. I just have to go.  I'll explain it all when I get there... Is that OK?.  Good. Thanks.  I'll see you soon..."

Olin was the type of guy who served every meal on classic china plates but re-washed his plastic forks and knives. He'd been odd as long as Jacob could remember.

The first memories of his cousin were filled with the telltale signs of eccentricity - pink scarves wrapped around the plastic Santa in Aunt Raena's front yard, a high school art project involving black and white photos of various bird feet and a diamond ring, his high school graduation when Olin wore a Viking helmet with happy faces painted on each horn.  Olin would do just about anything.

Jacob stood at the door to Olin's apartment building 666 High Street and wondered if those traits had magnified over the years.  He stood back for a moment and tried to take in a little about his surroundings.  To his right was an almost empty store, once called "Kukala's", that still displayed a garish rainbow awning and a neon pink triangle in the window.  Jacob remembered that it had been a good place to go if one wanted their nipples, eyebrows (or any other body part) pierced or skin tattooed and tanned. Inside the window, in the corner, he could see some remaining items, leather whips, dog collars and so forth and a few moving boxes.  A sign on the door stated that "Kukala's is moving across the street to 'An Open Book'!

On the other side of the apartment door was a loud bar called 'Union Station Video Cafe'.  It was pretty busy for a Wednesday night and Jacob felt uncomfortable standing on the sidewalk with his suitcase and pack while bar patrons entered and exited.

He stepped forward again and rang the bell the third time.

The door buzzed and Jacob wedged it open with his foot.  He heaved his suitcase and backpack across the threshold and looked doubtfully up the long staircase. He wondered if all of this was a good idea. He'd traveled far enough in the last two days and steep stairs just weren't in his plans - he was pretty fucking tired.

Olin's apartment was on the top floor and the first to the left.

The door practically vibrated from the music emanating inside and Jacob self-consciously peered down at his watch to see that it was almost eleven.  He knocked loudly, trying to overcome the music.

Olin was singing along to the Pet Shop Boys by screaming "Aaaaaaaab - so - lute - ly Faaaaaaa - bu- lous" so loud that Jacob could hear his voice through the door, over the music.

Jacob pounded on the door until the volume went down and Olin appeared..

Olin was nothing at all like Jacob or any of the men in his family. Where Jacob had a large solid build, Olin was almost wire thin and about six inches shorter. His smooth skin with high defined cheekbones and sharp nose resembled Jacob's mother and her sister. As kids their hair had  been alike: far too straight and dirty blond.  Olin had bleached his the color of milk.

"Jacob! Honey!" Olin screeched and opened his arms. "I'm sorry I didn't hear you. Come here! and let me get a look at 'cha."

Jacob entered and stood, as if for inspection,  in the center of the most bizarre living room he had seen in quite some time. It was like stepping into a novelty art gallery. One wall was a shrine to Betty Davis, Monroe, Liza, Judy, Madonna and Cher (camp in general). A large U2: Rattle & Hum poster hung over the couch along side a Guns-n-Roses banner and a Hank Williams Jr. autographed photo. Beside the door was a poster of a marijuana leaf with "save the wheeters" spray painted across the bottom. A Robert Mapplethorpe book was open on the coffee table to a picture of Meryl Streep, and the DVD was showing the "pet shop boys" playing instruments between clips of Patsy and Edina from AbFab. On the white, flabby cushioned couch a dark gray Tabby stared up at him sleepily.

"I called you from the bus stop...  you buzzed me in, I thought you knew I was coming up." Jacob, exasperated, stared around him in disbelief.

"I did, that's why the door was unlocked." Olin said. He moved forward and embraced his cousin, then stepped back, grasping him by the shoulders. "Wow, you're looking good. I'm sure your card was full in back there...  where were you again?."

"Ft. Worth." Jacob smirked and shook his head. "But I hadn't really been out lately..."  He looked around the room, hoping to change the subject.  He didn't want to bring up the whole situation with Ryan and the circumstances of their break up.  He figured it would be too confusing to explain and he wasn't sure if he could even do it without crying.

"Man trouble, huh?" Olin said. "well, no big deal now..." he waved his hand dismissively. "we can get to the girl talk when you get settled in..." he moved across the room towards a short hallway and pointed to the door at the far end. "Now, go put your bags in there and come back in here and sit down..." he glanced sideways at Jacob. "You wanna drink?"

Jacob shook his head.

"Good, I think I'll have one too. Beer, vodka, whiskey?" He minced into the kitchen and yelled from the other room. "I got it!  Just what you need!."

"Really, Olin, I'm fine."

Olin pointed to the guest room door as his face took on a serious expression. "Jake! Go put your things away, then git back in here so we can talk." Olin poked his head around the doorframe. "You are staying for a while, right? That was what I figured when you called.  This isn't going to be a short visit."

"Is it OK if I stay for a while?"

Olin crossed his arms and shook his head.  "You know, you'd think I was from your dad's side of the family by the way you're talking."  he rolled his eyes.  "How someone like you could have come out of Uncle Roger is beyond me."  He tapped his fingers.  "well, you got his good looks, but that's about it, thank god."  He paused.  "Hell, stay long enough to wear out your welcome...  who knows how long that will beI promise to let you know when I start hating you."

Jacob stood silent, confused.  "So it's not a problem."

Olin ignored Jacob's reservations. "Don't worry Jake, we have plenty of room for you, stay as long as you like."

Jacob smiled and nodded and picked up his bags. 

Olin vanished into the kitchen. "The back room's the one mom gets when she stays- take it."


He walked slowly down the hall, past several "gymnastikos" prints of nude men in the most bizarre positions possible. He tried to think that, somehow, they were tasteful, but got lost wondering : "How many men would do gymnastics in the nude?" Well, apparently from the photo, there was at least one. "OK, that answered the who...but not the Why?" Jacob stared for a moment, then nodded... OK, hot picture.

He passed two doors to the right and entered the room at the end.  He set down his bags without flipping on the light and started back.

"I figured you'd want to get a shower when you got here so I laid a towel out for you in the bathroom." Olin called from the kitchen.

"Thanks." Jacob said and walked back the dining room.

The tan colored pine table was covered by (what looked to Jacob) an expensive lace table cloth.  It had a wide clay pot with a spiny cactus in the center and tiny smurf dolls pressed into the dirt head first, only their blue bellies and white legs protruded from the sandy dirt. About ten of them stuck out in various states of burial.

Jacob sat at the chair nearest the kitchen. He watched Olin mixing some kind of drink in low tumblers.

"There. I didn't have any vermouth so you'll have to settle for this." Olin flicked a long lighter and set both drinks on fire. "Paris is burning, Jake-ee" he walked in and handed the flaming drink to Jacob.

"You've got to be kidding me." Jacob stared down into the flaming purple drink. 

"Not for a second." Olin blew his out quickly and gulped it down. "Ahhhh..." he breathed harshly, then nodded at Jacob. "Drink it down, Jake, you don't want to looze the booze- and you obviously need it more than me.  Actually, you look like you could use about ten of these."  He raised his eyebrows as if contemplating making more.

Jacob blew out the flame and drank the warmed liquor, then coughed. It burned all the way down - heat and alcohol. "Gezus Christ!"

"Now, now. Don't drink much?" Olin asked.

"A beer would have been fine, Olin."

Olin plucked the empty glass from Jacob's hand and set it next to his own on the counter. "Beer." He spoke thoughtfully. "Tsk, tsk, Jacob. Why would you want something so boring?" Olin strutted into the Living room and picked up the cat.

"I don't remember the cat."

"Oh, Pussy?" Olin said. "Oh, that's Pete's. I got her for him about a year ago."

Jacob stood and walked to Olin to pet her.

"She's a little temperamental at times, but a good cat." he dropped her back on the couch and she walked away giving him an annoyed look and a tail flick.

"When's Pete going to be back?" Jacob asked, now appreciating the warmth of the drink and the grape aftertaste - it was like a hot, dum-dum sucker.

Olin crooked a finger on his lip as he thought. "Wellllll... he's in Cleveland right now helping Dexter with a gallery, most of the time he does some work for the places here in Columbus, but he had a few offers out of town. I think he should be back by Sunday night."

Jacob nodded. "He's not going to mind me staying?"

"Oh, No, Jake. I talked to him right after you called and it was just fine with him." he walked past Jacob and down the hall to the first door on the right. "He's a great guy, Jake, you'll really like him."

Jacob followed as Olin flicked on the light revealing a rather large bathroom. The shower curtain caught his eye first: a black curtain with a huge, circular, white moon and the silhouette of a howling black wolf scrubbing its back with a hot pink brush.

"We have this NU-cle-ar water pressure and all the hot water you can handle. We don't pay water around here so I usually take long, relaxing showers" he opened the curtain and pointed to the hand held shower massage "a lady's best friend in the shower...  but it doesn't do much for me." he closed it back.  "Nice massages though."  He opened the medicine cabinet under the blazing bathroom lights.  "I cleared out space in here for you, so you have room, and I keep the rest of the towels behind you in the closet." He turned and opened the door revealing the towels, a few other bathroom toiletries, and a sign that ran across the back of the door saying "THIS CLOSET IS FOR TOWELS".

Jacob stared. "Did you decorate all this?"

Olin smiled. "I'm not that nearly this creative." he said. "when Pete moved in here he took over in the decorations department. We fought tooth and nail over that damn shower curtain, and those stupid fucking smurfs, but he got his way." he shrugged, then pulled Jacob into the bathroom to show him the full length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. There was a grinning cut-out of Mel Gibson's face where one might see his own, above it a sign read "you look Mahvellous".

"My god." Jacob muttered.  "How in the hell do you- ?"

"Oh, that's not all." Olin laughed. "he has things like this all over this apartment. Everyone else seems to love it, but living with it is practically madness.  Pete has me beaten in the whole 'quirky-fag' department.  I'm humbled."

Olin reopened the bathroom door and led Jacob out, then strolled into the spare room.

"He changes it all the time, too, so at least it's never bor-" Olin flicked on the light in the spare room just in time to trip over Jacob's bags.

"Sorry." Jacob helped him back up then placed them on the bed while Olin began rifling through the dresser drawers.

The guest room was unlike the other rooms in the apartment. It was decorated in somber, conservative, shades of brown and cream, old family pictures, some black and white, some faded Polaroids, hung from the walls and sat arranged on the dresser and chest of drawers. The bed was a simple twin bed with waist high posters and a simple flower patterned bedspread. The curtains were plain cream cloth with dark brown valences and brown ties.

"This is where mother stays when she comes up to visit." He continued opening the drawers and looking inside. "You can put your clothes in here, not a problem, we don't-" he stopped and looked in the drawer with distaste, then drew out an enormous black dildo. "He's trying to make sure that Mom dies of a heart attack on one of her visits..." he sighed angrily and then used the dildo as a 15 inch pointer as he spoke. "Every time she comes out here he goes the The Chamber and buys one of these DREADFUL things and then hides it in here for her to find." He gave Jacob a sidelong look. "And you know how she can be."

Jacob laughed.

"I'm surprised she hasn't just kicked it already. She's going to be seventy four in October and her poor little heart just can't TAKE that kind of surprise all the time."

He motioned to the headboard with the dildo.

"The last time she came out here Peter rigged up a set of plush handcuffs on that poster so she'd get caught in them." he looked bewildered. "I don't even know how he did it or how she got her hand into them without noticing, maybe when she was making the bed, I don't know." he tapped the end on his chin as he spoke. "The poor thing was so surprised."

Jacob lifted his hand and removed the black monstrosity from Olin's hand and placed it back on the dresser. "Sorry, I just can't take you seriously when you're waving that dildo around."

Olin laughed and patted Jacob's shoulder. "He really is so clever, I know I couldn't have done it." he paused, then began sorting through the rest of the drawers. "Anyway, she was trapped in here for three hours while Pete and I had gone off to dinner." He withdrew a six foot strand of assorted flavored condoms from another drawer, thought for a moment, then dropped them back into the drawer.  "By the time we'd gotten home she was practically in hysterics."  Olin removed certain items and left others - presumably for Jacob.  "I got the biggest lecture: on my lifestyle,  my choice in men,  and the fact that good Christian men, even gay ones, didn't go around handcuffing themselves or their mothers to bedposts."

Jacob laughed and sat on the end of the bed while Olin collected the rest of Peter's surprises. "I really wish I could have seen that." He said.

"Oh, no you don't!" Olin said, shocked. "that one almost got me disowned!'

He doubted that Aunt Raena would ever do such a thing. Olin had been one of the favorite children in the entire family. It was more likely that she got the biggest laugh out of it when they were out of earshot. She probably adored Pete.

"Well, I'll take this stuff out of here and you can get a shower or some sleep." Olin said trying to balance everything in his arms. "I know we're going to have so much fun. I have about fifty thousand places to show you."

Jacob stopped Olin before he left. "I really appreciate this, Olin, I've had a really rough time lately."

"Hey, Jake-ee, you're my favorite fag. I'd vote for G.W. for you, and that's saying a lot." he smiled.

"Seriously, I don't know what I would have done."

"Let's not get too weepy here, Jake. This queen can stand so much before I go into sugar shock. You're family, in two ways, Jake, don't sweat it." He closed the door behind him.

When he was gone, Jacob collapsed on the bed, exhausted.

Later, after he'd showered and relaxed, Jacob slept and dreamed without nightmares for the first time in two days. His sleep was interrupted only once- when his hand found a coiled bullwhip hidden lovingly between the mattress and the wall.

Next: Jacob a week later

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