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The Shore

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Blackest Night

High Priest of Sloanism
Apr 15, 2004
Depends upon the day and if there is free pizza.
This story focuses on two characters, both of whom are male homosexuals. If this sort of thing bothers you, either refrain from reading this story or overcome your discomfort. The story is not remotely finished and likely will not be complete for quite some time. I will post one chapter per post, to avoid overloading you all. Extreme critique is welcomed, but I can't say I much expect it.


It was a bit of a cold day, not yet rainy but the clouds above were a warning gray that sent most people indoors. Distant peals of thunder, heralded by far and sudden flashes, rolled across the sky as frothy waves crashed against the dock. A flag flopped and fluttered in the wind, the sharp snaps of favric an odd beat to which Aaron set his pace. His boots, thick and warm, thudded against the paved street. Jeans covered all below his waist but his feet, held fast to his body by a black belt of faded leather. The rest of him was bundled up in a coat, black and warm against the air. Green eyes peered out from beneath a nest of short-cropped brown hair. He was huddled against the coming chill, hearing the voices around him through the muffling cloud of a reverie. He’d taken this walk often, past the boathouse, along the pier, always after work, and always with a faint and growling hunger in his stomach.

A loud bang and a half-stifled swear shook him from his routine stupor. The source was unseen, and Aaron continued on his trek towards his house. Another bang, another swear. He looked around again, and down the road on the left was the form of a very irritated man ramming his open palm against an equally resistant door. He was a tall man, though as Aaron grew closer, he saw the man was a few centimeters shorter than himself. The man was dressed in a leather jacket, open despite the wind, and dark blue jeans below a torso covered in a faded green shirt. As he struck the door in frustration once more, a necklace on a short silver chain thumped against his chest. Another swear emanated from the man and curiosity got the best of Aaron.


The man jumped a bit and looked around, hazel eyes beneath a furrowed brow. Those eyes scanned the area, landing on Aaron, the annoyance in them replaced by curiosity. The two men stood on opposite sides of the road, and so their conversation began in shouts.


“Why are you banging and swearing and all that?”


“What are you trying to do?”

The man huffed, gesturing with a passionate jab of the finger at the door. “I’m trying to get home!”

Aaron stared for a moment, then nodded congenially. The man returned to his door and Aaron stared at his back. He remained there for a minute or so, listening to the bangs and swears. There was another noise, quieter, the jingling of keys. Aaron sighed and having nothing better to do, strode across the street. He tried to peer over the man’s shoulder to the problematic door, looking past the man’s tawny hair to see what sort of fight the portal was putting up. The man stuck his key in, turned it, and tried to open the door. Again, he was met with failure.

“Damn door doesn’t work. Hinges’ve been rusted for months and the damned landlord won’t do a thing about it!” The man shouted the last part towards some high window, glaring at empty glass before returning his attention to the issue at hand. Aaron watched for a moment, thinking.

“Well… here, try the handle again. I’ll push against the door.”

He sidled up against the man, resting his shoulder against the wood and planting his feet firmly into the ground. The man looked to him, surprise mixing with relief in his eyes, and nodded. “On three.” He said “one,” preparing with all the readiness in the world to twist that doorknob and have a stranger tackle the door itself. The number “two” passed his lips and Aaron braced himself further.

“Three.” He turned the knob and Aaron pressed hard against the door. As if mocking them, it opened with ease, and Aaron fell rather unceremoniously onto the threshold, letting loose some strange cross between a swear and a grunt. The stranger snorted with laughter at the sight, his mouth turning up in a smile quickly covered by his hand to avoid embarrassing Aaron further. Aaron himself remained on the ground for a moment, contemplating his luck before getting up and attempting to make light of his own misfortune.

“Well, got you in alright.”

The man nodded, still smiling as he put his keys in his pocket. He bent down, lifting a duffel bag from the sidewalk and slinging it over his shoulder. Aaron dusted himself off and looked about the foyer for a moment. It was an apartment building, obviously. The narrow entrance led to a set of stairs, flanked by thin banisters that crept up the wall alongside it. The walls, a pale yellow striped vertically with white, went out of sight along with the stairs, leading to the rest of the building and whichever residence this stranger called home. His mental exploration was cut short by the man’s voice, and the presence of a fairly rough hand extended in greeting.

“That you did, much obliged. Em… name’s Derek. Derek Brodie.”

Aaron shook the man’s hand, introducing himself as Aaron Fletcher. He withdrew his hand after the shake, placing it in his pocket and standing there rather awkwardly for a brief moment. Derek stared at him quizzically for a moment before grinning and pointing up the stairs.

“You’re welcome to come in, you know. Smell takes a bit getting used to, but you deserve something for that tackle of yours.”
Aaron broke out a smile, shaking his head and waving the hand not in his pocket dismissively. “Nah, got a busy day ahead of me. Just got out of work, but that doesn’t mean I’m done working.”

Derek nodded, offering a handshake once more. “Alright then, have yourself a good day. See you around.”

The men shook hands once more and Derek ascended the stairs, still enjoying the memory of Aaron’s fall. Aaron himself watched the man vanish past the corner of the stairs and stepped out into the street once more, leaving the door behind him open. A loud crack of thunder tore across the sky, and the rain began to fall in light and pleasant drops.

Blackest Night

High Priest of Sloanism
Apr 15, 2004
Depends upon the day and if there is free pizza.
It was a week or so before Aaron saw Derek again. Whenever he thought of it, Aaron always recalled the smell of battered fish. Indeed, where he worked and what he did five or six days of the week reeked of the stuff. The place was called Shannon’s, a nice little fish joint that stood in all its blue-painted glory alongside the pier that provided it with so much business. The place irrevocably reeked of batter and fried potatoes, the scents carrying long and far across the docks and ships and bringing to that small place a host of sailors and marina employees. It was famous for the fish-and-chips meal cooked by Shannon herself, an homage to her home. And so, Aaron spent most of his time there shuttling trays of the stuff from counter to table, smiling, and joking, and flirting when necessary to receive that much-desired tip. The standard outfit was a red shirt, any type really, and black pants. The waiters wore aprons with pouches in them, all sorts of various nifty things tucked away within, straws, pens, pads, crayons, a small calculator, and a generous helping of lint.


Aaron looked up from his pad, stopping in the middle of writing the word “medium” and looking about for the source of the call. His customer, a large woman who could perhaps do without fish, looked upset. No matter, a bit of charm and the cow would be all smiles again. Behind the open window into the kitchen and the grille, he spies Shannon motioning for him to come near her. He nodded, leaning down towards the disgruntled woman and flashing her a smile. “Won’t be a moment.” She glared at her, her gaze like knives. Then she sighed, grinned, and nodded, waving her hand dismissively. Aaron took the chance to get away, half-jogging to Shannon’s call. He leaned against the counter, resting his chin atop it.


Shannon had an irritating tendency to never look at the person to whom she was speaking. This time, as words flowed out of her mouth, her eyes flitted to each face in the crowd, making her and her thin self looking even more twitchy than usual. She was a middle-aged woman, no older than forty-seven. Her husband had gone off a few years back with someone not-quite-forty-seven, and if anything, Shannon had been glad to see him gone. She had red hair, cut short and perhaps a bit frayed at the ends. It framed her face nicely, an upturned nose and wide mouth giving her the look of someone almost surely up to some mischief in her mind. Her hands held spatulas and flipped burgers as she looked about, small hissing noises coming from the grill as raw meat was pressed against its heat.

“Listen, we got a big group comin’ in.”

“Bunch of rich people trying to get a taste of local culture?”

She scoffed at this, shaking her head. “I wish. Nah, The Maureen called. They asked fo-“

“The big ship that docked last week or so?”

Shannon’s hand smacked against the side of Aaron’s face faster than he could blink. It was a light thwack, but enough to make him rub the spot where she’d hit him.

“Yeah, that one. And don’t interrupt me. They asked for a table for twelve. I want you to set together six, seven, and eight. That should be enough to seat ‘em all.”

“Alright, when are they getting here.”

Shannon glanced to the clock she’d hung above the kitchen doors. She grimaced, and when she turned her face back towards Aaron, she looked him right in the eye.

“About ten minutes.”

Aaron groaned, resting his head against the countertop, feeling the residual warmth of the last meal that had been there. He cast a pleading look to Shannon, who merely smiled sheepishly and went back to flipping her burgers. Another groan was issued forth, and Aaron rose, trudging to table six and removing its chairs, pressing it rather loudly against seven, doing the same to eight just moments later. He was rearranging the modest cutlery on the tables when an irritated and painfully deliberate “ahem” reached him.

It was his customer, the large one. She looked more cross than she had minutes earlier and Aaron was quickly at her side, apologizing with as much rapidity as he could and preparing his pen and pad. She rattled off an order, each word punctuated with dislike. When she had finished, she turned a cold gaze upon him and informed Aaron that it would be prudent of him to hurry. He smiled, forcing one out for the sake of pleasing her before returning to the counter and ramming the paper with her order on it down with force. He looked to Shannon, muttering.

“And she’d like it if you hurried.”

Shannon sent a fierce scowl at the rotund creature before returning unphased to her burgers. She uttered something beneath her breath that Aaron realized probably contained enough profanities to scare the most rugged of sailors. She continued muttering and flipping burgers, each with more force than the last. As a bit of hot grease shot up towards his nose, Aaron wisely backed away, laughing to himself. He was free, for the moment. The large woman had been sated, if only temporarily, and the crew from The Maureen hadn’t arrived yet. And so, Aaron took this time to breathe. The sky outside the place was blue, for once. The perpetual storms had given way to a wide and empty sky, vacant aside from the glaring sun and the occasional wispy cloud that was so bold to cross the sun’s path. It was windy, like usual, the air pulling itself across the surface of the water, breaking waves in their travel to the shore. The doors to Shannon’s were open wide, and every now and then a breath of fresh, salty air would interrupt the aroma of battered fish. Once you lived in the area long enough, you became accustomed to the sea air, but at times like this, familiarity was a welcome reprieve. It was warm, the last week’s rain long since dried away, and each breeze made one just cold enough to allow one to enjoy it when the warmth returned.

He heard them coming before he saw them. Sailors, shipmen, loud folk whose voices carried far. They were all men, he could hear that, and their voices carried beneath the words the sea from which they’d come. He heard laughter, deep and booming, and he sighed. Sailors were almost always messy people, and if they were to come here and leave behind wreckage, he wasn’t going to stand for it. Shannon had already prepared the mop, stashing it beside the door to the
kitchen in preparation. The crew of The Maureen had never come to Shannon’s before, but if they were anything like their predecessors, the mop might not be enough.

Ah, there they were. A healthy sized crowd, Aaron could count their numbers before he could see their faces. Twelve or so, each laughing, some of them jostling each other around. Noisy, loud, boisterous, the kind of men you’d enjoy watching from a distance, but not likely bring back home to Mom. Aaron turned and went back into Shannon’s, waiting for the men to arrive. The bulbous woman shot him a scornful glance. She waved and snapped her fingers to catch his attention. It worked. Aaron strode with false cheer to her side, waiting and doting upon her to get her out of Shannon’s as soon as possible. The woman had a few choice words to share and as her dissatisfaction became manifest, Aaron could hear the sailors arrive. Emily, a friend of his and a waitress, greeted them. His ears caught their voices as they quieted down so Emily could speak, though admittedly a few of them were still audibly joking with one another. A rustling of feet and the movement of chairs alerted Aaron that the men had been brought to their tables and as the large woman placed a miniscule tip on the table as she left, Aaron heard them ordering drinks. Beer. Lots of it.

Aaron places the woman’s small tip in his apron pocket, picking up her plates and silverware and turning around to head towards the kitchen, his eyes on the ground to avoiding tripping. The last time he’d tripped, he’d sent rum and ice cream soaring through the air. Granted, the food found its table, but it arrived in perhaps the less-desirable manner. The door to the kitchen swung shut behind him and as he places the dirty dishes next to one of the sinks, Shannon called to him from the grill.

“Go out and bring ‘em the beer with Emily, yeah? She can’t carry all of it herself.”
He nodded, and from behind a tray of glasses full of amber liquid, Emily cast him an appreciative glance. He took off five glasses from the tray, putting them on another and lifting it up. Emily smiled, her blown hair pulled back in a pony tail, brown eyes warm and friendly.

“Much obliged.”

“It’s no bother. I’ll help you take some orders, too.”

She held the kitchen door open with her foot so Aaron could follow, walking to the tables with a grin on his face. Aaron circled to the other side of the group, his eyes still on the floor. He rested the tray against himself, gripping the first glass and looking to the first hand that reached for it.


Aaron’s eyes traced the rough hand, moving to the arm, to the shoulder clad in a dirty gray shirt, to his face which bore a smile. Derek’s eyes flashed with recognition, and his smile widened. He took the beer and plopped it down on the table, alcohol sloshing over the edges and drawing comic cries of distress at how big a waste of good beer it was. Derek grabbed Aaron’s arm, his grip strong, thrusting a finger at the waiter and turning to look at his friends.

“This is the guy who got me in my place the other day!” He snapped his fingers up by his head for a moment, thinking. “Em, Aaron! Aaron Fletcher! That’s your name, yeah?”

Aaron nodded, smiling in an attempt to hide the massive blush that had overcome his face. One of the sailors, a short man who looked much akin to a weasel, yet with a beaming grin that cast away any distrust, laughed loudly. Emily placed a beer down in front of him and before he picked up the glass, he pointed a thin finger at Aaron.
“Come on, Derek, you’ve gone and embarrassed him. Look at him! Red as Satan’s ass.”

Another roar of laughter erupted from the table, and Derek let go of Aaron’s arm, casting the waiter another smile. One
more of the men at the table spoke up, still chuckling.

“You know what Satan’s ass looks like, Mike?

“Of course I do, Jody, I see your mother every night!”

A loud “oooh!” resounded throughout the restaurant, bringing light laughter from the few other patrons still within. Aaron and Emily finished distributing the drinks and though they tried their hardest to get some food orders out of the men, they were too engrossed in their own conversations to be bothered. The two retired to the kitchen, looking out at the table of sailors. Emily apparently found the entire group nothing short of hilarious, her cheeks red with laughter. She nodded towards Derek from the safety of Shannon’s kitchen.

“You know him?”

Aaron attempted to busy himself, rearranging the dirty dishes he’d placed by the sink moments ago. “Yeah, I helped him get into his apartment a few days ago. Didn’t know he was a sailor or something.”

“Seem like nice enough guys. He’s a local, then? Where’s he live?”

“Over on Milvey, you know the street where, uh, Christ what’s its name, Frankie’s Pub’s on?”

“Oh, good place. I like the stout they’ve got.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty good.”

“What’s his name?”


“The friend of yours.”

“Derek. And he’s not a friend, I just helped him get in his house once.”

“Seemed he was glad to see you. Kind of cute, too.”

Aaron sighed, forsaking his attempt to organize soiled silverware. He turned to face Emily, leaning against the sink, and as she saw his face, Emily erupted in a giddy fit of laughter. He caught wind of Shannon, herself chuckling as she stood with folded arms beside her grill. Aaron looked to the both of them, both confused and annoyed. The sailors’ voices carried strong through the window, Derek’s words lost among those of his friends. He thrust his hands out expectantly, his eyebrow cocked at the women’s laughter. “What?”

Emily brought her hand up to her mouth for a moment, suppressing the giggles bubbling in her throat. Her ponytail bobbed as her head and neck shook from the retrained laughter. When she did speak, she used a sing-song voice Aaron hadn’t heard since grade school.

“You like him.”


“So wait until they’re done and talk to him or something.”


Emily leaned towards the window, casting her glance to Derek and the rest of the sailors. She stood on her toes for the moment, short enough to require it. Aaron joined her, although he was decidedly less obvious. He pretended to busy himself with the dishes, glancing up every now and again to the man. Their voices could be heard loud and clear, the subject of their humor revolving almost entirely around sex, alcohol, women, and times of their lives that held any combination of the three. Aaron shook his head, a matter-of-fact tone to his voice. “Doesn’t seem like he’s much interested in my type, Em.”

“You haven’t even been listening.”

“Of course I have.”

“What was he like the other day?”


Emily gave him a light thwack on the shoulder, a playful seriousness to her words. One hand rested on her hip. “I said ‘what was he like the other day?’”

Aaron rested his hands on the edge of the sink, looking out to Derek and the restaurant as a whole as he remembered the event. Truth be told, he remembered it quite clearly, right down to the scent of the wind. However, he twisted his face into a look of concentration, a bit of show.

“I dunno. Nice, friendly. We didn’t really talk much.”

Emily nodded, thinking. She too glanced out towards the men before turning her gaze back to her coworker. “Well, what’d he do after?”

“After I let him in?”


“Went to his apartment.”

“That’s it?”

“Well, he invited me up for a bit of food or something.”

His response was an exasperated sigh. “Well why the hell didn’t you go!”

“I… well, I don’t know. I said I was busy.”

“Were you?”

Aaron became defensive here, leaning away from the sink and folding his arms. He stared down at Emily, who remained chipper and determined in spite of him. “I had some things to do, yeah.”


“Remy was getting lonely.”



“Aaron, Remy is a cat.”

A loud snort of laughter erupted from behind Aaron, and he already knew it came from Shannon. Her poorly-stifled enjoyment of the situation was evident, and Aaron rolled his eyes. “Cats get lonely.”

“Yeah, you will too if you don’t at least try.”

“What do you want me to do? Go up to him? Say ‘Hey, I figured you were gay, turns out I’m gay too, let’s go somewhere?’”
Emily considered this for a brief moment, bringing her hand up to her chin in thought. “In maybe a few more words than that, yeah.”

“How do you even know he might be like me?”

“I don’t. But it’s worth a shot.”

Shannon called out to Emily, and the waitress gave Aaron a stern smile before hurrying off to her boss. Aaron looked out to the men at their table. He could hear their jokes, watching Derek out of curiosity and perhaps a bit of fascination. Words, colorful and otherwise, carried strong through the air.

“You remember that time with that girl from Galw-“

“Oh, the one with the blond hair and the spider tattoo on h-“

“She was all over me, mate.”

A peal of laughter erupted once more. One of the sailors, Aaron couldn’t see the face, shook with a deep chuckle. “Rob, she thought you were foul, man.”

“Please, Chris, you-“

“She stomped on your foot!”

Derek began to laugh, leaning back in his chair. Aaron couldn’t help but watch him move, the sailor’s hand rising to stroke his chin, his eyes glittering at the memory. “She had some heels on, too. Big ones.”

“She was just playing hard-to-get.”

Derek spoke again. “I’m damn sure she was playing get-the-fuck-away.”

Rob leaned forward on the table, smiling, but aggressive. He pointed his finger at Derek, wagging it for emphasis. His tongue ran over his teeth as he recalled a memory, one he was apparently certain would grant him victory over something.
“What about when we got you that girl for your birthday out in Plymouth?”

Derek’s smile faded slightly, his eyes widening as he remembered that series of events. Chris’s face bore an expression of
surprised excitement. “I forgot about that one.” He looked to Rob, who was himself fighting to restrain his own laughter long enough to tell the tale.

“Yeah, she was a nice one. Red-haired, tall, you remember. What is it you did?” He snapped his fingers, sifting through his memories. “Ah! You talked to her ab-“

Derek finished his sentence. “About her dog and her last boyfriend, yeah I remember Rob, I was there.” An embarrassed smile played across his face as he brought a glass of beer to his lips. “Wasn’t my type.”

“She was a gorgeous one!”

Derek put the glass down, leaning forward and putting his elbows on the table. For a brief, fleeting moment, Aaron thought
he saw the wheels turning in the man’s head. What was he thinking about? Was he making up a reason?

“She was a street walker, Rob, I’m not going anywhere near that.”

Aaron’s shoulders dropped, an exasperated breath pushing itself out of his mouth. Damn. He turned his head down, his eyes falling to the counter. Before they left Derek, however, Aaron caught something else, or perhaps he just believed he did. A quick glance from Derek, something momentary. Maybe the recognition of some shared secret, an unspoken understanding. Maybe.

Aaron didn’t look back up, in fear the glance he thought he received had never happened. But if it had, if it did occur…
He was reminded of that period in his adolescence, when secrecy was a way of life, and he’d switch through so many masks a day he’d sometimes forget who it was that wore them. He thought of the years of silence, the uncertainty, the after-school “club meetings” with Patrick. Patrick, the first, the one who held Aaron’s hand as Aaron’s biggest secret crept in slow and steady words past his lips into the ears of his mother. He recalled his mother’s surprise, then her acceptance, over both of which he remembered feeling his own incredible shock that she hadn’t expelled him from the family. Aaron thought of his father, also surprised, also accepting. There were Patrick’s parents, who were less kind. Patrick himself had lived with Aaron for a few weeks after that, and Aaron wasn’t truly sure where he’d gone off to by now. Last he knew, Patrick had gone across the pond, looking for a fresh start.

Some part of Aaron, clearly not his rational side, pulled his head back up, directed his eyes to Derek. There it was again, the glance, the recognition. He saw a bit of searching, as well. What was he looking for?
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