A Night Out
by Jane Carnall
Dedicated to Fred Blake
He had not quite believed it would happen until it did. Then he stood up, with an involuntary smile of pure pleasure, feeling the youth and strength in his body. He glanced at his watch; he had eleven hours. Eleven hours less two minutes enjoyment.
He stripped briskly, folding his clothes tidily on a chair. The new outfit was like nothing he had ever worn in his life before, but he had carefully planned it, and dressed, ignoring the strange feel of the odd clothing. He'd had to risk guessing his new size, and had realised that all the clothes would have to go through the wash several times, if they weren't to look unnaturally new. But he'd guessed well enough.
Blue denim jeans. White cotton T-shirt. A second hand black leather biker's jacket. Socks weren't a problem. Trainers - they felt oddest of all, light and thin on his feet.
He went to the wardrobe, opened the door, and looked at himself in the mirror. Young man in his early twenties, a face he had almost forgotten. Hair still carrot-coloured, not sandy-gray. Unlined, unscarred, unhurt. The heavy jacket made him look even skinnier than he was.
His eyes had never changed, not in thirty-five years. What did that say about his fifty-seven year old self - or his twenty-two year old self?
He wasn't good-looking. He never had been. For the first time he let himself wonder - what if this doesn't work? If I can't find him? If he isn't interested? And he answered himself; then the hell with it. Young for the night, enjoy it.
No ID of course. Cash, a single key without any identifying mark, and a surreptitiously acquired "member's card", the sort handed out free over the bar at most gay clubs. Enough for a night out on the town.
There were two ways to leave his home unobserved; one of them was strictly for emergencies, because it involved a scramble that would be painful at best. He took it with ease tonight, leaping down and landing neatly on the balls of his feet. That was what these trainers were for, he all but bounced, grinning at himself, and then set out at a run for the pleasure of running.
It was a warm June night. Doyle was taking advantage of this guaranteed night off to make it up with Claire. Or maybe Pauline. Bodie had wondered aloud what to do with his night, but when it came down to it, he knew what he'd do. Go to the Phoenix, or somewhere, and maybe find a nice quiet trick to spend the night with. He hadn't been anywhere in months, and there was a limit to how much celibacy or near-as-dammit anyone's right hand could take. And meaning no disrespect to the tougher sex, but as far as he was concerned, women were near-as-dammit.
Bodie bought a beer, wincing at the price, and backed up against a wall, propping himself at the right angle, and surveying the landscape. No one instantly interesting. Doyle never understood, but Bodie actually liked this part as much as anything else, watching and being watched, and knowing everyone there was available.
Two lesbians passed him, going in to the bar, talking about some Australian dykish soap opera, and Bodie grinned a little. Well, everyone here was gay, anyway.
He was halfway through the beer when he knew he was being watched. Someone had just come in; new chicken by the looks of him. He had stopped in the doorway and looked round the dimlit room and now he was looking straight at Bodie.
Young. Slim. Redhead, as far as you could tell in this light. Wearing a heavy leather jacket, but it looked worn enough that it might really be a biker's jacket, and anyway he wasn't wearing boots. Or keys.
Chicken wasn't to Bodie' taste. And this guy looked young enough that he might not be legal yet. Still, such obvious and immediate interest was kind of flattering.
The young man headed straight for the bar, paying for his lager with a pound note and waiting for a moment as if he expected change. Bodie grinned at him, and after a moment, he smiled back, a little awkwardly, and came over.
"Hello." He had a Scottish accent, mild but unmistakable.
"Hi. You come here often?"
The man shook his head, smiling. He was a bit shorter than Bodie, built well enough (Bodie glanced down; yeah, and where it counted), but Christ he was young.
"Just down from .." Bodie hesitated, guessed it. "Glasgow?"
"Aye," the young man said, sounding surprised.
"I'm from Liverpool," Bodie said, and the other nodded.
The stood there a while drinking; Bodie couldn't think of anything more to say. He looked nice, but young.
"Have you got a bike?" he asked eventually.
The young man hesitated. "No .. had to sell it."
"Pity. What was it?"
"Honda CBS 550."
"Good bike." Well, Doyle had had one once, so it must be. Bodie just knew how to ride them. They talked about bikes for a while, the young man seemed knowledgeable, and interested, but not enthusiastic. But then the average teenage biker clone would sooner have sold himself than his bike. He was very serious, it was oddly appealing. Bodie found himself wanting to tease him, to make him smiled something more than swiftly suppressed half-smiles.
"Don't know much about bikes," Bodie finally had to admit, "Got a friend who's keen. He had a Honda CBS once, sold it to by a Kawasaki Ninja."
The young man looked mildly impressed, and nodded, taking another drink. "Good friend?" he asked.
"Oooh, the best," Bodie said, briefly camping. "Shame he's straight."
That won him a full smile; Bodie grinned back. He was a nice guy, too nice. They finished their pints.
"Buy you another?" the young man offered.
Bodie hesitated. "Listen, don't want to pry or anything, but .." he shrugged, "how old are you?"
He expected justifiable annoyance, but the young man only laughed, quick and oddly self-confident laughter that made Bodie revise his estimate upwards. "I'm twenty-two. How old did you think I was?"
Bodie shrugged, a little embarrassed, a little amused. "Eighteen. I can see now you're older, though."
A short silence between them; the young man was looking up at him, amusement dying on his face, suddenly serious. Bodie kept his hands by his sides with an effort, keeping the grin on his face. "I'll buy you a drink," he offered. "What'll you have?"
"Lager," the young man said. "Light. Thanks."
He sounded a little breathless. Bodie turned away to the bar, fumbling the money out of his pocket, feeling a little breathless himself. The bartender was someone he knew.
"Didn't know you liked chicken," he said very quietly, while drawing Bodie's pint.
"I don't," Bodie said through his teeth, "he's new here."
When he turned back, carrying both pints carefully, the young man wasn't watching him; he was standing looking at the men on the dance floor. He looked wondering. Well, he might be over the legal age, but Bodie would bet he'd never been to a gay bar before. It wasn't legal in Scotland, yet, was it - they were talking about legalising it next year. Something about the expression on his face was too old for twenty-two, something hurt. Bodie recognised it and knew the young man was trouble.
He looked good, though, and the trouble was he was looking better to Bodie the longer he looked. Bodie nudged him with one elbow, passing him the pint of lager, careful not to touch. "By the way, I'm Bodie, what's yours?"
"George. George Andrews."
"Well.." Bodie lifted his glass. "Cheers, George."
"Cheers." They both drank.
I wouldn't mind having you, Bodie thought, wouldn't mind it at all. Strip off that bloody silly jacket and you look good, sweetheart, and I'll bet you look good all bare and hard. Red all over. Read you all over, with my hands, have you gasping.
But Christ, you're young, and someone's hurt you, and the last thing you need is a hard man screwing you and leaving you. One night stands only for me. Can't afford to get involved.
The DJ put a new record on, a slow one, and the young man put his glass down and nodded to the dance floor. "Want to dance?"
"Take your jacket off."
Bodie put his glass down beside the other, moved with him towards the floor. The same men, and a few women, who had been jerking to the disco beat moments ago, were now mostly wrapped around each other and moving slowly, still under the blazing disco lights. Bodie wrapped his arms around the younger man, moved with him to the treacle-slow rhythm. The man's head was tucked down against his shoulder.
He could smell the clean soapy fragrance of the man's hair, unexpectedly soft against his face. His body knew what he liked, he could feel the lift and swell, enjoying it, enjoying the other man's arousal. Their bodies fit well together, moved well together, even if the other man was a little clumsy on his feet. Unpractised.
Moving his hands over the thin cotton, liking this, Bodie knew who he was going home with tonight. The hell with tomorrow. That could take care of itself. This guy wanted him, it was mutual, and it was going to be good, so good, slow and good.
The record oozed to an end, and the DJ put another fast one on, while Bodie and the other man headed off the dance floor. Hand in hand. Bodie grinned, passing him his glass, and the other man glanced down at their linked hands, looked back at him, and smiled.
Heartbreaking. Young. Too goddamn young. Bodie gave the thin hand he was holding a final squeeze and let go.
No. Because I'll take you to a hotel room and we'll screw and then if I give you my number it'll be a fake and if you give me yours I'll never ring you. You find someone your own age. Someone who won't fuck and run.
He glanced at his watch. It was nearly twelve.
The young man was watching him, still with that intensity, and Bodie decided to forget about being sensible and just take him. What's the point of being a right bastard if you can't be a right bastard? He knows what he's doing, or if he doesn't he should, it'll be good experience for him. Learn you can't trust a pretty face, right?
"Getting late. I'd better be going."
"Going anywhere special?"
"Just home. Alone."
The young man's face fell. A long way.
"Nice meeting you," Bodie said firmly, to stop himself saying anything else. "I'll see you around. Take care."
He turned away and went towards the door, preventing himself, with an effort, from turning around and going back to the young man with those blue, disappointed eyes. You'll get over it, kid. There's never a lay that's worth all that grief. Anyway, sweetheart, you're not my type. I like them older.
I'm a bastard. I'm just not that much of a bastard.
After he'd given Bodie and Doyle their orders for the day, Bodie added, "Can I report in private, sir?"
"Aye." Cowley's voice was dry and flat. It was embarrassing for both of them, and both of them tried to minimise embarrassment by keeping it impersonal. Doyle left with barely a hesitation in his step.
"As per standing orders, sir," Bodie said, military as hell, "I slept with a man last night."
"Joe Mowatt. Met at Traffic, took him to the Russian Hotel."
"All right, 3.7."
Bodie nodded and left, and Cowley noted the name and places on a small filing card. His hand was not completely steady; he focused down, made it.
Joe Mowatt. Not George Andrews.
And I'm damned if I understand why.
-- THE END --