Breaking the Seal Lee Hitt Perhaps it’s the many, many drinks clouding your vision, but tonight, you notice something different about the way Jackson, your presumably hetero coworker is acting toward you. Maybe it’s just the change of atmosphere — coworkers having an office party at a bar — or maybe it’s something else entirely. When Jackson notes you are entirely too intoxicated to make it home on your own and offers you a ride, you decide to find out if there was any double meaning in that offer.
Breaking the Seal “You broke the seal,” Jackson says when you return from the bathroom. “I don’t know what that means.” You’ve had so much to drink, you barely know what anything means. You barely have your feet on the ground. “You’ve had a fuckton to drink. Then you went to go pee. Once you’ve peed for the first time after having that much to drink, you won’t be able to stop.” He’s right. You piss six more times during the course of the next two hours. Each time you have to slide your way out of the booth, awkwardly maneuvering around him. He’s worked with you for almost a year, but you’re not exactly in the body contact stage of friendship. When you pass him a stapler, you’re conscious of whether or not your fingers touch his. They don’t. When pushing off from the table for your seventh trip to the bathroom, the glasses clink together, an empty one falls over and cracks. Everyone laughs. You stumble down the hall to the bathroom and release another hot stream into the urinal. “It feels like I’ll be peeing forever,” you tell Jackson after your trip to the bathroom. “That’s what happens when you break the seal,” he says, his hand squeezing your shoulder. “You pee forever. There’s no going back.” Everyone is at the bar celebrating Krista’s last day at work. It’s a small office, about six people, and everyone gets along like a house on fire. But people have lives of their own. You don’t often all hang out together, and you barely remember the last time everyone did. That might have been the time Jackson and Krista ended up going home together, but that wasn’t something anyone talked about. That party wasn’t anywhere near as loud as this one. You hadn’t had anywhere near as much to drink. You’re surprised the raucous party tonight hasn’t been booted.
Returning to the booth after your eighth trip to the bathroom, you realize that everyone is wrapping up for the night. “To Krista! Best boss ever!” Everyone hoots and hollers. You can practically feel the bartender’s relief that you’re leaving. But as the cash piles up on the table, you realize why he let you all stay. You’re tempted to tuck one of the twenty dollar bills into the collar of his shirt but, no, you’re not that drunk. “I’m not going to be able to drive,” you say quietly, almost as though you’re only speaking to yourself. Jackson puts his hand on your thigh. You feel the warmth of his palm through the denim of your jeans. “I didn’t have much to drink,” he says. “I can drive you home.” “But...my car...” you say. “We can come back to get it tomorrow.” “But…my car…” you say again. You’re beyond the point of understanding simple logic. You’re worried about your car — what if someone steals it in the middle of the night? But who would steal your car? Even you barely want your own car. You go along with Jackson’s plan. His hand on your thigh is reassuring. You know you’re repeating yourself, but as far as you can recall — and your recollection is pretty hazy at the moment — he’s never touched you before. Lars, the sales rep, has a habit of running his index finger across yours each time he hands you a file folder. But Jackson keeps his distance, never making skin-to-skin contact. Not even letting you borrow a dollar or taking some M&Ms from your hand. Or has he? What does it matter? Why are you obsessing over this? “Okay,” you say, barely remembering what you’re saying okay to. Jackson takes your keys and makes sure your car is locked while you say goodbye to everyone. You step outside, and the skin immediately ripples up your arms. It’s snowing hard. “I’m cold,” you say. “You must have left your coat inside,” Jackson says. He returns inside to get it. You stand still, your hands in your pockets, shivering, until he returns. He drapes it over your shoulders. You’re in that dreamy,
boozy state where a kind gesture like this one feels like a come on. It’s the coat that’s warming you up, you tell yourself, not Jackson. His car is somehow colder inside than it is outside, like those underground caves that remain chilled even in the heat of summer. “It’s cold,” he says, in that small talk way of stating the obvious. “It is. But you don’t look it,” you respond, in that drunken way of trying to give a compliment and completely failing to do so. “Uh, thanks. I guess,” he says, but he smiles at you, raises his eyebrows. He turns on the heat. In the pitiful interior light of the car, you notice what a nice smile he has. His cheeks dimple slightly. He must have shaved that morning. He looks better without the two-day lawn of stubble spreading across his face. Without it, his face looks narrower, more sculpted. His eyes reflect the dim light, magnifying it. Flakes of snow cling to his eyelashes for a second before dissolving into the air. With your eyes bathed in liquor, Jackson is a magnificent sight. You’d never considered him attractive before. He engaged your hetero filter, which enveloped you full strength since leaving college, rendering any heterosexual man invisible. They’re not worth the trouble, you told yourself.
About the Author
Lee Hitt lives and writes in Southern New Hampshire. His first story, â€œThe Power Man,â€? is featured in Best Gay Erotica 2014, published by Cleis Press. He is currently working on an erotic short story collection while his alter-ego writes a memoir. Visit him at leehitt.wordpress.com.
Published on Sep 26, 2014
Perhaps it’s the many, many drinks clouding your vision, but tonight, you notice something different about the way Jackson, your presumably...