I'm sorry, but I have always been a little cynical and recent developments have only strengthened my cynicism. I am having a hard time trusting people now. Let me explain.
We are the Kelly's, Raymond and Jackie. Our marriage was only six months old when we moved into our first home. A condo in a very nice area and it will do for a couple of years. We have plans for family but for now apartment type living will do.
Jackie is a tall girl at 5 feet 10. She goes well with my 6 foot 3 inch frame. Her hair is auburn and worn long, half way down her back. Green eyes and a slender build complete the Irish girl look that helped win my heart. Me? I'm tall as I said, with a dark complection and in good physical shape. I clean up pretty good. Jackie is 22 and I'm 26.
My wife is an intelligent girl, she married me didn't she. She is smart but very naive and trusts people much more than I do. I am always warning her about being too trusting and tell her it will cause problems in the future. I must be psychic.
The apartment across the hall was empty when we moved in. It was sold about six weeks after we set up our home. The new tenants were two guys, Josh Randle and Franklin Johnson. We met while they were moving personal items into their new place on a Friday. To be neighborly, I helped them move their things into the condo. Josh and I seemed to be carrying the bigger items, but Franklin seemed to limit himself to the small items and not many of them. Josh and I ended up doing most of the work.
Josh was the smaller of the two. He was about 5 feet 8 and weighed maybe 150 pounds. I would have guessed his age at around 40. He was pretty strong though and held up his end when carrying the items that needed two people to move.
Franklin was bigger. He stood 6 feet 4, and that was even taller than me. For a tall man he had a husky build. I think he was about 34 years old. He should have been the one helping me with the heavy items.
The next Thursday, Josh knocked on our door. He invited Jackie and me to dinner at his condo at 7:00 on Saturday. He said that dinner would be both a thank you for my help and a chance to get to know his new neighbors. Good idea, I thought as he seemed like a very nice guy. I checked with Jackie when she got home and she agreed that it was a good idea. I called Josh and accepted his invitation.
We crossed the hall and knocked on their door exactly at 7:00. Josh told us that it would only be the three of us as Franklin had an appointment. He could possibly join us later. I looked around their place and was amazed at how much had been done in just a few days. While at dinner I told Josh how great the place looked. He seemed to appreciate it.
"I decorated it myself," he told us. "Of course I'm an interior designer so it's my thing. What else would you expect a gay man to work at?" He laughed and searched my face for a reaction.
Josh informing us that he was gay surprised me a little. I had never had much contact with any gays. I'm not homophobic but I was surprised at his statement. "Really" I said.
"You didn't know I was gay did you?" Josh seemed to think my reaction was funny.
"Yes I knew, but I didn't know you were an interior designer," I shot back at him.
Josh threw back his head and laughed. "Good one Ray, I think I've under estimated you."
The next two hours were spent just talking and getting to know each other. As we were leaving, Franklin came home and I introduced Jackie to him ... His eyes opened wider and then narrowed as if he were a predator on the prowl. His reaction to Jackie bothered me and my instincts said something was wrong here. I have learned to trust my instincts about people. Jackie of course being naive never noticed the way Franklin looked at her. We thanked Josh and stepped across the hall to our place.
Jackie was very impressed with Josh and his talent. She jabbered on until we both went to bed. I was going to warn her about Franklin, but she began to kiss me and I lost my train of thought. Anyway Josh is gay, Franklin is his roommate, and therefore Franklin is gay. Isn't he? I must have read his expression wrong when he met Jackie.
Ten days after our dinner, Josh invited Jackie and me to attend a fund raiser dinner and dance. "It's not for gay pride or anything, Ray," he assured me. "The proceeds will help an abused women's shelter." He seemed concerned about my feelings about gays.
"Josh, you are more homophobic than I am and you keep making excuses to me. I have never said or thought anything about you except that you seem to be a good person and that you sure know how to cook. Give a rest will you?" I smiled at him because I wanted to put him at ease about my feelings.
I checked with Jackie and accepted his invite. That evening at home Jackie asked me, "Are you okay with going out with Josh."?
"You too? Look, I don't care if Josh is gay. He seems like a nice guy and a good neighbor. That's what I think of him. What he does in private is none of my business. But somewhere, sometime, Josh has been attacked or persecuted because he's gay."
"I think you're right, he has been hurt. What do you think about Franklin? You didn't mention him just now," Jackie said.
"I don't know him as well as Josh. I guess he is okay, we haven't spent as much time with him so I don't really have an opinion on him yet."
"Don't give me that. I saw your reaction that night after dinner at Josh's place. You didn't like the way he held my hand when we were introduced. I saw it in your face and your eyes. What's wrong with Franklin?" Jackie was more observant than I thought, or I was more transparent to her.
I hesitated before answering. Jackie motioned with her hands for me to say something. "Okay, you won't agree or like it but I'll tell you. It started when I helped them move in. Josh and I worked our butts off and Franklin did as little as possible. He would have sat down and watched us if Josh hadn't kept giving him looks. The other thing is the way he looked at you when you met. It was the look of a big cat stalking his prey."
"You're crazy, Ray. Franklin is gay, he isn't interested in me or in women," Jackie said.
"I told you that you wouldn't agree," I said. "Look, I haven't had much experience with gays, but I have been around players and Franklin has the look of a player. I'm not sure he is gay and I want you to watch out for him. You have a tendency to trust people too much."
Jackie was getting mad. "I'm ashamed of you Ray. First for you to think that I would cheat on you and second you are insulting a nice man. A nice man that you admit you don't know very well. Franklin and I had coffee the other day and talked for over two hours. He is charming, intelligent and interesting."
"What? Why did you feel a coffee date with another man was okay?" I was beginning to get angry myself.
"It wasn't a date, he just asked me to go for coffee with him. Anyway, it's not like he would make a play for me," Jackie was a little indignant with me. "And when did it become necessary for me to have to get permission from you to do anything. Am I your slave now?"
"Take it easy Jackie. I haven't accused you of anything, but you must have been uneasy about meeting Franklin or you would have told me about it. All I'm asking is that you keep your guard up around him. Okay?" I put my arms around her and held her to me. Things were still a little cool around our place for the next day or two.
By the night of the fund raiser everything had smoothed out between us and we were back to normal. Jackie looked stunning in a floor length lavender gown. It was low cut in the front and even lower cut in the back. plus she had her hair up off her neck. She looked so good that I had thoughts of staying home and making love. I had bought a new suit so I wouldn't look shabby next to her.
We had a good time at the gala. Jackie danced with Josh a few times but most of the time she was with me. She danced with Franklin once, although he did sit beside her at our table and they talked a lot that evening. I didn't like it but kept myself from saying anything.
Josh had ridden with us to and from the party. As we were saying good night in the hallway, I said something about it being strange that he and Franklin hadn't gone together. Josh laughed and then when he saw I was serious, gave me a funny look. Jackie and I went into our place before he could say anything more.
Getting ready for bed, I was wondering if I should say something about all the time Jackie had spent talking with Franklin. She had almost ignored everyone else at the table, including me. If I didn't say anything it would bother me for a long time, perhaps build into something more than it should. If I did say something to Jackie, it would probably cause another argument. I'm not real good at holding things in, sometimes to my detriment.
"What was the deal with you and Franklin tonight?" I sort of hunched my shoulders waiting for her response.
"We were just talking Ray. He works at a hospital and we know some of the same people. I know how you feel about him so I only danced with Frank one time," she answered.
"Now it's Frank? You ignored the other people at the table, including me. Every time I tried to talk to you, your back was turned to me as you talked to Franklin. It was like I wasn't there as far as you were concerned." I was starting to get mad.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ignore you," Jackie said. "But we were only talking.
"I warned you about him before but you just got mad at me. What is worse is that you defended that ass. I'll tell once more, he is a player and will try to seduce you. That's all I've got to say."
.... There is more of this story ...