Jake sat in his car but did not start the engine. He was sad and shaken by the fight he had with Kate. She disrupted him when he was chatting with Jord, he left the chat room the moment she entered his office, but it was too late. Her resentment for having quitting his job, their lack of money, his lack of sexual desire was now increased by her suspicion about him having an affair.
He looked at the semi-detached house where he lived since their marriage. Bishopstown was his place. He lived there all his life, his parents were still living at No5 Woodbroke Grove. It was a quiet part of Cork city with residential estates from the sixties inhabited by middle class families. The house they rented on Bishopstown Court was only a two bedroom semi but it was enough for now. The day was bright and sunny, but at 7.30 in the evening, it was pitch dark and chilly. All his neighbours were inside, the street completely deserted. He toyed with the idea to go back home and try to speak with Kate. He did not have an affair, and had no interest in women. This was the problem. He opened the iPhone 6 Plus, and logged in M4M connecting with Jord666. No answers, this frustrated him, he joined the chat room, without connecting with someone. Immediately incoming messages were hitting his page with the same questions, was he free tonight, would he like a threesome, or not, would he want just to chat. Jord had disconnected.
A sudden rage engulfed him. Kate ruined everything with her nosy behaviour. He did not want to leave her; he just wanted to experiment something new and disturbing. Until recently he would not have fantasized to make love with a man. He was ok with Kate, sex never was his forte. He was a nerd, when he was young, studying computing at CIT, he was socialising with a small group of students who preferred spending time together working on new software, and playing the card game ”The Magic, The Gathering”. It was the best time of his life. School was the worst time because of the bullies. Writing software, playing RPG, and doing some hacking was his life.
He did not plan to marry a woman or take a serious job, until he met Kate at a family gathering. The shy mousy little brunette spent the evening with him and they dated several times. He was twenty eight and still a virgin, but this did not bother him. His parents were surprised when after three months they told them that they will marry and live together. This was not the only surprise, his job as assistant engineer at EMC stunned them. They were all happy, the newlyweds settled in this house on the same part of Bishopstown and four years after baby Grace arrived. All could have been for the better but for the fact that he resigned from his job.
The four years spent at EMC, were particularly boring for him. The tasks were easy, but it was a position of technical support. No creativity was required, and his only interest in life was to create. During this time he renewed contacts with Alex Garland, one of the card players, and they decided to build their company. The ultimate goal was to complete a new game and sell it on the market, but currently they were working on a new kind of firewall, to reinforce the security of non IT businesses. The money earns by their company will be invested in the new game. They were patient, and took Markus Persson as role model. Like the creator of Minecraft they left their jobs to work only on their project. In fact he left his job, because Alex never took one. Life could have gone like that but for Kate who was not supporting him, and the virtual encounter with Jord in a chat room in the Deep Web. Jord was a wizard, and he seduced him immediately with his vision of the future. At the beginning it was only hackers’ war stories, then Jord invited him on M4M a gay site with a difference. Having no experience in gay relationships he could not see the difference but Jake was intrigued, and excited by this. Jake was in these thoughts when the chat window opened.
“You’re back hot stud.”
Jake did not like being called like this; this unsettled and in some way flattered him.
“Yes since five minutes.”
“You know! Why didn’t you connect with me?”
“I didn’t like that you left abruptly without a word. Don’t do this again.”
“Sorry my wife was here.”
“Are you joking, you’re married.”
“Not for long, after we meet you’ll change your ideas on life.”
Jake was uneasy, the comments scared him a little; suddenly he was not ready anymore to meet Jord tonight. The idea to disconnect and go back home struck his mind. It was the easy thing to do.
“Hey hot stud are you here.”
“You changed your mind for tonight?”
Jake did not reply. Part of him wanted to go home, part of him wanted to cross the line.
“It’s up to you, this is your choice. I understand this. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye.”
Jake was sweating and losing his inhibitions, and fears, he keyed his reply.
“No we meet tonight.”
“Good, a simple change, we will meet at “The Blue Parrot”, and then we’ll go to my place. So if you don’t want, we’ll just share a drink and Hasta La Vista.”
Jake felt better.
“Ok where is “The Blue Parrot”?
“On Mardyke Street, behind the Courthouse.”
“I see, I’ll be there at what time?”
Jord disconnected and did not reply. Jake inhaled deeply and started the Astra.
Jake drove slowly. He was sweating profusely. He engaged the old Astra on Bishopstown Road and followed the road until the junction with Wilton Road. This was his usual way to go to the company. He did not pay attention to the succession of two story houses, and the small retail outlets for car parts, second hand clothes and Chinese take away. This was Cork, the juxtaposition of residential estates to shabby commercial areas. On Wilton Road, the outlets left the place to modern buildings near the beginning of the UCC campus. The traffic was light until he reached the junction with Mardyke Street which was the continuity of the road from Killarney. Day or night he enjoyed the sight of the UCC Park, with the Boole Library and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery. At the corner of UCC main entrance and the junction with Washington Street he turned on the left to follow Mardyke one way street. He passed the bowling, on his right and slowed the car when he reached the Mardyke Tavern at the corner of Little Hanover Street.
He never was a clubber and this part of the city with its clubs, pubs and shabby buildings frightened him a little. Thinking that all this shadow area of the city was just at the back of the Courthouse and Washington Street was surprising. Seeing a vacant spot, he parked the Astra and cut the engine. It was 8.00pm and the appointment was in thirty minutes. Jake did not know what to do. He scrutinised the street, few cars passed by him, but several passerby walked along the sidewalk by group of three to seven or more people. They all wore hoodies and sweatshirts, drinking cans of beer or Red Bull speaking and laughing loudly. From his car Jake could see the entrance of the club, a rusty iron door, with a big blue parrot painted on it. His throat was dry, he needed a beer, he was sweating, and a headache was beginning. Jake knew well the symptoms, it was fear. He did not have them since he left the school. The symptoms were there each time the bullies chose him for their awful games. Needing reassurance he connected again on the M4M website, and this time connected immediately with Jord.
“You arrived at the club hot stud.”
It was not a question, more an affirmation. Jake did not pay too much attention; the words from his friend reassured him.
“You’re not in the club; you’re in your car.”
“Yes” How Jord could have known this. Jake was more and more uneasy, and frightened.
“Jord how do you know this?”
“Ha Ha I know you hot stud it’s only 8.05 and the meeting is at 8.30, I was sure you’ll wait in your car.”
The words embarrassed Jake. He resented the disdain in Jord message. He will show him that he was not frightened.
“I won’t wait in my car, I just rested few minutes and I’m on my way. I parked only few metres. Here I am, see you in the club.
“Sure hot stud”
Jake pushed the bell and automatically the door opened. He breathed deeply and entered in the gay club. Surprisingly there was no difference with a traditional club. Several customers, males and females were drinking at the bar; some couples were sitting in the booths around a tiny dance floor. Unsteadily he walked to the bar and sat on a stool. The two men chatting on his left did not pay him any attention. He was not sweating anymore but he shivered from cold. It was like having influenza.
Jake lifted his head and faced the barman. The man was young early twenties and smiling. His face was thin, sporting a neat trimmed black beard, and his hair was cut close to his scalp. He did not look gay.
The word of the barman brought him back to the reality.
“What do you drink?”
“Have you got some beers?”
The barman laughed and with his arm showed the impressive display behind him. Seeing that the customer was uneasy and looked distraught, Ross understood that the skinny man facing him was a first time visitor, a newbie like they called them with Cindy. Regularly, men and women not always young pushed the door, by curiosity, or because they did not know what to do with their homo or bi-sexuality.
“Irish beer or foreign beer what’s your choice?”
“I’d like a Murphy.”
“Good choice. You’re from Cork.”
“Here we are. My name is Ross welcome to “The Blue Parrot”. It’s your first visit; I don’t remind a previous one.”
“No I’ve never been here before. It’s really a nice place...very quiet...”
“It’s only 8.15, until 11.00 it’s more a pub atmosphere than a club one. If you want to stay to see this we offer a range of snacks. It’s not grub food but we do ham and chicken rolls, and tomato pepperoni for the veggies. “
“I won’t stay long I’m waiting for a friend. Jord this is his name, you certainly know him because he chose the place.”
“Jord...let me think how he is?”
Jake was embarrassed, he looked like a fool. He never met Jord, and never saw a picture of him. He could not explain this to the barman.
“He’s average, medium height, not skinny like me, but not fat. He has a goatee and a shaven head.”
Ross smiled and understood that the newbie had certainly no date, but was here alone. Ross knew that feeling attraction with the same gender could unsettle many people. He served two more beers at the guys sitting at the counter, whispered to Cindy to deal with the bar few minutes and resumed the discussion with the newbie.
“I could see one or two men fitting your description but I’m not sure. By the way what’s your name?”
“Your friend will be here soon, do you want another beer?”
“I don’t know.”
“You drained this one, take a second one, relax and enjoy the evening.”
The words calmed him, he began to relax, recognised the music, an old Bowie’s song. He looked around and saw men and women quietly enjoying the evening. The atmosphere was soft and cosy. In five or ten minutes Jord will be here and something new will happen to him.
“Thanks Ross I will take another Murphy.”
Ross brought a second pint; Jake gave a tenner for the nine Euros costs, and enjoyed the taste of his beer. Ross was now discussing with a tall man wearing black and having a raven ponytail. Jake watched them with envy, they looked so happy and at ease. His iPhone vibrated. Jake checked the message. It was from Jord.
“Meet me outside.”
Jake stood up made a sign to Ross and left the club. On the sidewalk Jord was not here. The iPhone vibrated again.
“I’m behind you hot stud.”
Jake turned and saw a silhouette in the alley next to the club. The man waved him signalling to enter the narrow alley, then suddenly Jake had the impression that the ground fell under him.