background: This was a short story I wrote that was loosely based on the amalgamation of events that happened to a few people around me years ago in university. I don’t know what I wanted to do with it, but I think it was largely meant to just be about how badly we all misperceive those around us and their motivations.
“He doesn’t like me, he thinks I’m an asshole and that I don’t like him.”
“I mean I doubt he thinks you’re an asshole Ray, but he probably doesn’t like you very much, especially after the way you were acting last night.”
“How was I acting last night?” Ray asked, stepping back off the curb and raising his hands up defensively, “We went out to the club, and as usual, the girls were all over him and ignoring me! And then he peaces out with those local guys to hit up some other club and doesn’t even invite us along!”
Will, who Ray had been talking to on the bustling street corner, couldn’t help himself as he collapsed laughing and had to grab a lamppost to stop from falling over “He– He – He didn’t leave with those guys to go to another club!” Will gasped, “He left with them to -”
“Don’t try and cover for him Will, he ditched us, and just cause you two are so tight you’re taking his side on this!” Ray paused for a second, and stepped back on the curb, as he realized he was blocking the bike lane and the cyclists were none too happy about it, “I mean, I know I can be kind of an ass sometimes, but I just have a hard time talking to people, thats all ok?”
“Ray, bro, he didn’t leave with those guys to go to another club” Will continued undeterred, “he left to go blow them!”
Ray’s brow scrunched up under his messy head of brown hair, and his blue eyes darted around Will’s face, looking for understanding, “What… You mean… You mean he’s gay?” He finally murmured, staring at his feet as his face turned bright red.
“Yeah dude. Why do you think Chelsea and Sam are always wanting to cuddle with him? I mean, when have you ever known a woman to want to cuddle with some dude they weren’t dating, especially after some other girl did it too?” Will continued, throwing an arm around Ray’s shoulder as they made their way down a narrow crowded street. “You really didn’t know?”
Shaking his head and trying to regain his composure, Ray said “I had no clue! I figured Sam and Chelsea had just gotten sucked in by his classy charm. I mea-”
Will had started doubling over in laughter again as they continued down the street, this time supporting himself on Ray, much to the amusement of the onlooking street vendors. “You have got to be the most clueless dude. Is that why you were so grumpy with Chelsea the other day? Because she was cuddling with him?”.
Will was clearly needling Ray and Ray’s face went bright red again, “Come on man, you know I liked her”.
“Liked? What, now that you know she isn’t bumping uglies with Sean you’re over her”
“I’m just being realistic dude, she doesn’t like me, and if she did before I was an ass to her in the dorm, she sure as shit doesn’t now.” Ray shook off Will’s embrace, which was waning anyways, and stepped up to a vendor’s display, gesturing to a pack of cheap cigarettes. “I mean, him being gay doesn’t change the way I acted right? Plus I heard she was seeing some Adam anyways.”
“Adam? I hadn’t heard, but whatever man, I can’t keep up with all that drama. There are way to many other, more interesting women, around here to worry about than the quibbling of the foreign exchange kids…” Will said, snatching a cigarette from Ray’s new pack as he started opening it, “Got a light?”
Reaching into his pocket and grabbing his lighter, Ray rolled his eyes and said “Yeah yeah… Big man on campus, just cause you’re a little older than us don’t make you more interesting. And besides, its easy for you to criticize, you’ve already got someone.”.
There was a long silence as the two men stood in the crowded alley, taking deep drags from their respective cigarettes and watching as the street traffic passed by, watching them. Ray standing there in his plaid shirt and blue jeans, and Will in a dark buttoned up shirt and kackies, they both made the drab weather look like a sunny day.
“Lets head back man, I wanted to check out that new show I bought from the DVD guy. You wanna come along?” Ray asked, starting to walk up the alley.
“Nah, I’ll catch up with you for dinner. I’m gonna talk to Jing about some stuff on the phone.” Will said, rolling his eyes.
“Oh, relationship stuff?” Ray asked, clearly uncomfortable.
“Yeah… I’ll tell you about it later at dinner”.
“He hates gay people, I’m telling you. Did you see the way he treated Sean at the club last night? He bought everyone a round of drinks and conveniently forgot that Sean hates dark beer!”
“I don’t think he hates gays Chelsea, I just think Ray’s kind of socially awkward. Like he wants to be friendly but he doesn’t know how.”
“I guess…. Why was he such a jerk to me the other day too? Like so what if I didn’t want to go out for a drink and hang out with Sean instead, its not like we made plans to go out. And anyways I’m still trying to turn Sean,” Chelsea snickered looking at her phone and adjusting her hair. The girl sitting across from her just rolled her eyes and went back to eating her pasta.
After a silent moment the girl asked “Does Sean know you’re trying to turn him? Because he might think that’s really offensive, like if a girl was trying to make you like her.”
“Ew Sam. Don’t be gross. And besides, Sean’s not gay, he just acts like that because he knows it drives girls like me nuts! If he didn’t like it why would he hang out with me!?” Chelsea snapped, staring at Sam defiantly grinning.
“Because you feed him free drinks on lady’s night? Because he’s a nice guy and doesn’t know how to say no to people? Because you insist he comes out when you go out, even when he wants to stay in and study?” Sam half mumbled, stuffing pasta into her mouth as she realized what she said.
“You bitch.” Chelsea ejaculated, staring at Sam deadpan, “This is because you like him isn’t it? All this talk about him only hanging out with me for drinks is because you want him all to yourself right? NO! I know its because you’re still mad about that mid-term. Its not my fault you drank that much whiskey and were too hung over to take the test! You got to take a make-up test for partial credit anyways!”. Chelsea had tears streaking down her cheeks as she stood up and walked out of the restaurant. On the way out she passed a man who seemed genuinely concerned about her. She just shook her head and walked passed him.
Sam stood up to greet the man as he walked up “Hey Sean. Sorry about that. Chelsea was being a grade A bitch again. Still wanna hang out this afternoon?”
“Ok Sammy, but what did you say to her? She seemed really upset. Was it about that Adam guy?” Sean inquired, taking Chelsea’s seat at the table and picking at her uneaten food.
“Nah. It was kind of about you- Well, you and Ray.” Sam said, shrugging at Sean.
“Me at Ray? What about Me and Ray. Did he say something to her about me? I have this feeling he might hate me, but I don’t know why.” Sean said, taking the menu from the waitress and flipping through it.
“Well it started out that way, Chelsea thinks he hates you because you’re gay. I disagreed.”
“I’m not sure if thats it, he doesn’t really seem like the type to hate gay people, is he? I mean he does have that redneck drawl to his voice, but he’s so nerdy.” Sean said, pointing at the chicken Caesar salad and nodding to the waitress.
“I don’t think he hates gay people Sean, but I don’t think he likes you very much, I just don’t know why. He was rude to Chelsea too. He got really annoyed that she was hanging out at your place the other day.” Sam said.
“What other day?”
“The day you said she tried to kiss you”
“Oh that day. She was acting so weird. I bet she probably said something mean to him first. She told me she thought he liked her, I bet she treated him like shit. She always treats men like shit.” Sean said, rolling his eyes and shaking his head exaggeratedly. “That still doesn’t explain why she was crying. I don’t think she’s the type to get that upset if someone hated gay people”.
Sam sneered at Sean as she sipped at her wine and said “Well, that was how the conversation started, but she got upset because I told her off for – for being a bitch”.
“You told her off? For what? Now I gotta know!” Sean exclaimed, leaning over the table and smiling at Sam expectantly, his newly delivered drink in hand.
“It was about you. I- I shouldn’t. It would be bad, for both of you.” Sam said hesitantly, staring away from the table.
“About me? What did that bitch say about me? I swear! She’s always bothering me, its like she thinks we’re all here on our rich daddy’s dollar to drink and fuck. Some of us have to keep a 3.5 GPA if we don’t wanna lose our scholarships!” Sean touted, “Was she talking shit about that guy I hooked up with last week? Because that was none of her business and I have no idea why she got so upset, its not even her business if we used protection or not!”
“She likes you. Ok? There I said it. She likes you Sean, and she doesn’t think you’re really gay.” Sam said, starting to blush as she refused to make eye contact with Sean, staring at his shirt.
“She likes me?! You mean like suck suck bang bang likes me?! What is wrong with her! I mean I kind of suspected, what with the weird cuddling all the time, but then you kind of do that too, and I’m just used to some women acting weird around me because I’m gay. But the ‘accidental’ rubbing against my junk, the walking around topless when I’m in her room thing, and then theres that kiss! Oh that kiss! We have a couple drinks, she insists we cuddle and watch a movie, and I turn over because I’m falling asleep and she tries to french me! I couldn’t believe it! But now it all makes sense! She doesn’t think I’m gay?! What a bitch! I- I-” Sean had to pause a moment to catch his breath and calm down, as he realized the rest of the restaurant was starting to stare. Calming down Sean turned to Sam, who had withdrawn into herself and was staring at her half eaten pasta and breathing uncomfortably. “You told her off for that? For me?” Sean asked comfortingly.
Clearing her throat, Sam said “Yea- I mean- yeah, she was being so creepy, thinking she could change your sexual orientation. She could get plenty of good men, but she chooses the one good man who will never be interested and decides she’s going to turn him straight? Its so fucked up!”
“Right? Makes you feel bad for Ray, thinking he likes a girl like that…” Sean said, pausing for a second, “Speaking of which, do you think he has been a dick to me because he thinks I’m with her!?” Sean questioned, raising an eyebrow in disgust as he asked.
Sam just stared at Sean for a silent moment, then both of them replied in unison “NAHHHHH!”. After another short pause Sam said “I think he’s just like that, yah know? He already just doesn’t like most people, he always seems so arrogant, like in class he always knows what the teacher is saying and quickly responds, like he doesn’t think we know what he’s saying too? And then you being gay… I mean I guess he could be a homophobe, but he could just be jealous because you’re in a higher level than him, Kerry said he was acting kind of weird the second week of classes to her, like asking about her level and how much Chinese they had studied, like he wasn’t impressed and he was trying to show her.”
“Yeah.. He does seem to be pretty wrapped up in learning Chinese. Mike said he rarely comes out cause he’s always trying to prepare for the tests, doing his homework and stuff in his dorm. Maybe its harder for him, being older” Sean said, then they both started laughing.
“He isn’t that much older, is he? He’s like 24 right? Why’s he still in college? I guess he must be really lazy, maybe this is his last chance before his parents cut him off?” Sam said, taking a sip from her drink and staring blankly towards Sean.
“Who knows. Lets forget about him! I feel like I need to go out for some me time, I can’t stop thinking about Chelsea and how gross she is! You wanna go hit the Clover?” Sean said, almost uniterested in Sam’s answer, as he waved down a bewildered young Chinese waitress and asked for the bill.
“Nah, that place is all old people and its too expensive. Everyone’s been going to that tiny bar lately, lets go there first, I doubt Chelsea will be there, it isn’t really her scene.” Sam said, awkwardly, trying to avoid eye contact with the waitress as she paid, speaking the amount in slow drawled Chinese, clearly hoping there wouldn’t be any difficulties with the check. The waitress took the cash and returned a moment later with her change, and then the two promptly made their way out of the restaurant, past a number of other expatriate guests making their way through dinner.