Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNo 09: Day 2

"Oi, mate! Can you give me a hand here?"

I don't believe this is happening. By the look on the man's face, neither can he.

"You're naked," he says, all open mouth in unshaved jowls.

"My girlfriend's turfed me out, innit! Shoved me out of the door and won't let me back in. She says she's calling the Bill if I make a scene!"

Which is a lie, of course. After I asked him to break us into the building, Sam spent a couple of minutes gazing at the warehouse frontage, a thoughtless consideration of possibilities. Then without warning he stripped naked and hid his clothes under the wheels of a van parked a dozen metres down the road and, crouching, waited for someone to walk by.

"What do you want me to do?"

I watch the man's surprise meld into a smile across his face.

"Can you help me get into this place? I've got some overalls in there, but the key's in my trouser pocket and my trousers ..."

Now he's grinning. "This is a joke, innit! You got cameras stashed somewhere."

"No, mate, honest!"

There's no doubting my host's ability to lie with sincerity, but I can feel an acid of panic start to form in Sam's stomach when the man pulls a ring of keys out of his own pocket and jangles them.

"I don't know what's going on, but I do know you ain't got no clothes stashed in my building. So tell me what this is all about, yeah?"

And Sam stands up and smiles back at the man, shrugging his shoulders. "I'm not lying about the girlfriend, mate – well, I was lying about the 'girl' bit. See what I mean? I can't go in the pub for help: they don't like the likes of me in there ..."

It takes me less than a second to rummage and strain through Sam's memories to confirm the truth of that statement. I hadn't realised that this street is less than a mile from where he grew up; Sam had built up a detailed mess of information on his local pubs long before he reached the legal drinking age. This pub had a nasty reputation.

But why tell the stranger about his preference for men?

And then I felt it: a cool slice of communication between Sam's eyes and his heart, skin, mouth – like a gentle spit of iced rain foretelling of a storm to come.

Sam calls it gaydar. I call it spooky, the way one human can identify others attracted to them, a microsecond change in the chemical balances of both bodies – a means of communication beyond my understanding, or even intuition. And yet it happens all the time, and it's just happened here.

Sam's standing naked in the street, and the man who stares at him likes what he sees.

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