Monday, April 14th, 2014
It was 7:35 am on a Monday and Theo hit his snooze button. Just five minutes more, he thought for the second time that morning. He knew the extra five or ten minutes wouldn’t really make a difference, but his head was pounding with a headache and his desire to leave the bed was practically non-existent. He wondered if he still had some aspirins in his bedside drawer but couldn’t bring himself to move. When his phone’s alarm blared once again, he forced himself to get up, closing his eyes to fight the intensification of the pain in his head.
He turned his alarm off and turned on the flashlight on his phone to check if he had any aspirins in his drawer. Luckily, he had three left. He took two and hoped for the best. Taking the charger off his phone, he got up and grabbed a towel, before walking out of his room to have a shower. It would help him feel more awake. Maybe he shouldn’t have had wine for dinner at his parents’ place, he thought.
After using the bathroom and having a quick five-minute shower, Theo went to his room and put on some briefs, a light blue dress shirt, and a pair of black chinos. He folded his sleeves up to be able to withstand the humidity of Macau as he exited his room to have breakfast. It was already 8 am and he had an hour to get to the office. Alice had already left as she started work earlier, so Theo had the kitchen all to himself.
Theo grabbed his usual smoothie ingredients and the blender to prepare himself a green smoothie. He also prepared two slices of toast. That would keep him full until lunchtime. After eating the toast slices and drinking the smoothie, he brushed his teeth, grabbed everything he needed, and left the apartment. He still had forty minutes to get to his office.
The walk to his office was a pleasant one. There was a fresh breeze and the streets were almost empty. A pleasant contrast to how the city would look like in a couple of hours. He arrived at the Venetian and noticed he still had ten minutes to spare before he had to be at his desk. He smoked a cigarette at the staff smoking area and checked his social media notifications.
After stubbing out his cigarette, he chewed on an Eclipse mint and then took the elevator up to his office floor. As soon as he stepped into his office, he greeted his work colleagues, politely engaging in some small talk about the weekend, before sitting at his desk. There were some treats on top of the file cabinet. It was customary at the office for employees returning from their trips to bring some treats to share with co-workers. He would check the goodies after reading his emails and setting his list of tasks for the day.
Halfway through the morning, after two long hours of using an ERP system to verify the items that are past due for delivery, contacting suppliers, answering emails, Theo needed a cigarette. He headed to the staff smoking area and took a cigarette out. Once his poison stick was already lit, he started scrolling through his social media feed before abruptly getting a phone call from his friend, Joel.
Oh, Theo thought, he must’ve returned from his trip.
“Hey, Joel, what’s up?” He said as he answered the phone.
“Theo, my man. Just got back from Malaysia!” Joel’s voice sounded quite lively and cheery. Theo smiled at his friend’s enthusiasm.
“Nice! How was it?”
“It was amazing! But I can tell you more about it if you’re free for lunch. Today is my last day off and I am going to be around the Cotai area anyway.”
“Sure, I should be out of the office by 1 pm. Where do you want to meet up?”
“How about at Portofino?” Portofino was an Italian restaurant located within the Venetian. Theo had eaten lunch there occasionally when he was too lazy to eat in the Taipa village area or when he didn’t feel like eating at the employee food court.
“Sounds good, I’ll let you know when I’m on my way out from the office,” Theo said as he put out his cigarette and began making his way back to the office.
“Okay, cool. ’ll see you later!” Joel hung up. Theo used his employee card to access the entrance to the elevator hall. He called for an elevator as he ingested some breath fresheners, getting ready for the second round of work.
After another steady stream of email replies and calls, Theo’s workload had finally calmed down and he just had to reply to two more emails before going for his lunch break. As soon as the clock struck 1 pm, he had just finished replying to the second email, so he grabbed his wallet. Everything else was already in his pocket. He sent Joel a text message, saying, “Omw.”
The Venetian was a pretty big hotel, so it would at times take a five or even ten-minute walk to get to places. Theo knew a couple of shortcuts, so he didn’t take long to get to Portofino. Joel was already sitting at a table, his white linen shirt contrasting with his deep tan. Even in his day off, he still wore business casual clothes. He may not flaunt his family’s wealth as much as some other people he’s met, but he still liked to look his best at all times.
“Hey! Long time no see!” Joel stood up to greet Theo with a hug. Joel was his best friend from high school. They had both studied at the International School of Macau and even though they didn’t see each other as often because life could get quite busy, they would meet up every so often to catch up.
“Hey! And wow, you look so tan!”
“Two weeks sunbathing at the beach... You should try it sometime. It was just what I needed after slaving away at the office for months...” A relaxed smile spread on Joel’s face. The last time Theo had seen him, he had been so tired and stressed having to balance work as well as studying for the bar exam, “Michelle wanted to stay longer, but sadly duty calls...”
“You definitely deserved it and once again congrats on becoming a lawyer!”
“Thanks, man. I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t been real with me when Eva broke up with me. I would’ve given up...”
Theo still remembered Joel’s struggle in his final year at university. His high school sweetheart broke up with him just after Christmas break and Joel ended up failing that year. Theo had been there to listen to Joel when he was feeling down about having to stay an extra year at university and told him to not give up. He knew Joel’s dream was to become a lawyer, so he told Joel to forget about his ex and focus on becoming his best self. It took Joel a lot of drunk nights and some time to fully recover from the breakup, but he persisted and managed to finish his law degree the following year. He had also met his girlfriend, Michelle shortly after graduating. It was clear from the sparkle in Joel’s eyes that he was much happier with Michelle.
“No, it was all you,” Theo said as he picked up the menu to decide what he was going to have.
“No, seriously Theo. I owe you one,” he looked at Theo, sincerity emanating from his eyes, “if you ever need me, I’m also here for you.”
“You’ve already helped me a lot,” Theo gave Joel a meaningful look. Joel and Alice had both helped Theo when he was going through the break up with Jason. “Anyway, what are you ordering? I’m starving!”
“I’m having the Mare pizza. Are you ready to order?”
“Yeah, I’m probably having the Pasta alla Carbonara. Oh, there’s the waiter,” Theo raised his arm to call the waiter over. The two friends placed their orders before Joel turned to Theo and asked him, “So, how about you, how’ve you been? Any news?”
“Well, this weekend was eventful. Do you remember Flávio?”
“Oh, your booty call?” Joel teased Theo.
“Please, don’t call him that,” Joel laughed at Theo’s annoyance, “Well, it’s over now anyway. I was a massive asshole to him.”
“What did you do to him?” Joel asked, suddenly feeling curious.
“I went over to his place when I was drunk, couldn’t finish so I told him to finish himself off, so it’s safe to say he finally realized that he can do better,” Theo dejectedly said.
“Ouch, that was definitely not your finest moment,” Joel grimaced.
“Definitely not,” Theo felt a pang in his heart whenever he thought back to the night he decided to embrace his darkness. With a resigned shrug of the shoulders, he added, “But what’s done is done and I can’t go back and change. Best I can do is respect his wishes and leave him alone.”
Joel nodded sympathetically, not wanting to give his friend any more hell for his actions.
Not enjoying the awkward silence, Theo decided to lighten up the conversation, “In other news, I have a date tonight.”
“Oh, wow! You move on pretty fast! Look at you being all thirsty.”
“In my defense, the guy who messaged me to meet up today is pretty attractive and didn’t send me a dick pic,” even though Joel wasn’t into men, he didn’t mind it when Theo would talk to him about his promiscuous sex life.
“You have to tell me how it goes. Who knows, he could be a keeper,” Joel gave his friend a hopeful nudge.
“Nah,” Theo shook his head, “I think he’s only looking for fun, which is fine by me.”
“You haven’t dated anyone since Jason,” Theo cringed when he heard his ex’s name, “When are you finally leaving the Grindr hookup life and settling down?”
“When I run out of options on Grindr,” Joel rolled his eyes at Theo’s sarcastic answer just as the waiter set their drinks on the table.
“Haha, very funny,” Joel deadpanned, “I’m serious though.”
“I was being serious,” Joel gave Theo a pointed look, “I don’t know how to answer your question... I mean, I’m open to the idea of meeting someone. I’ve been open to it for a while now... But I guess I have to meet the right person.”
“Oh, that reminds me. Some colleagues from work have invited me for some drinks on Friday at Kam Pek and David mentioned that this guy I know is also coming. I think he might be your type.”
“And how do you know what my type is?” Theo raised an eyebrow at his friend.
“Well, I don’t,” Joel didn’t even try to lie, “But I guess you could say he is attractive and he seemed nice when I met him at a company dinner.”
Theo was not impressed by Joel’s half-assed attempt at convincing him that David’s friend would be a good match, but decided to play along.
“You know I’m always up for drinks at Kam Pek, so I’ll definitely join you. And if my date tonight doesn’t go well, I can always try to seduce this guy you know,” Theo teasingly smirked at his friend as he took a sip from his drink.
“Yeah, keep drinking. Maybe the water might quench your thirst.” Before Theo could retort, the waiter interrupted their conversation to set their meals on the table.
The two friends ate and Joel told Theo about his trip to Malaysia, eagerly narrating his adventures. Theo thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Joel. Even though he spent more time with Alice, because they lived together, he had known Joel ever since he was six.
They had grown up together and Joel had been at Theo’s side during the awkward and cringy puberty years. He was the first person Theo came out to when they were both thirteen. He was there when Theo first started dating Jason as well as when they broke up. And Theo was there to carry Joel home after he drank himself to oblivion during his rough patch.
After everything they had been through together, there was nothing he could tell Joel that would break their bond.
Once they’d finished their meals, Theo noticed looked at the time. “Shit, I’m already late,” He scrambled to take his wallet to pay for his half of the bill.
“Oh, I’ll get this,” Joel raised his arm to call a waiter standing not too far from their table.
“Are you sure?” Theo was itching to get up and return to his office before his manager noticed his absence.
“Yeah, you can treat me to some drinks on Friday,” Joel added with a cheeky grin.
“Sure,” Theo smiled at his friend as he got up, getting ready to leave, “Anyway, I have to get going before my manager notices I’m late. It was great seeing you again though. Send Michelle my regards.”
“Will do. Now, go on, I’ll handle the rest. See you on Friday!” Joel waved him off.
“See you!” Theo said as he exited the restaurant and quickly headed back to his office.
Luckily for Theo, his boss had also gone out for lunch, so he managed to slip into his office without arousing any suspicions. He logged onto his account and noticed that he had a couple of emails awaiting his reply. It’s going to be a long afternoon, Theo thought. After working for another three hours, the nicotine withdrawal was finally catching up to Theo, so he got up to go for a cigarette break.
As he smoked his cigarette in the staff smoking area, he logged onto his Grindr account and noticed he had a new message from Liam.
Liam [2:30 pm]: ”Just to confirm if you’re still down for tonight."
Theo quickly typed out a reply.
Theo [4:12 pm]: ”Yeah. 9 pm at the roundabout near the Stadium right?"
Liam wasn’t online at that moment, so he would have to wait for his reply. He put his cigarette out and threw it into the already overflowing ashtray, before heading back to the office. As he was going up the elevator to his office floor, he felt his phone buzzing, letting Theo know he had gotten a notification. He unlocked his phone as he stepped out of the elevator and noticed Liam had already replied.
Liam [4:17 pm]: ”Cool, I’ll see you later then!"
Theo sent Liam a thumbs-up emoji, before pocketing his phone and heading back to his desk with a smile on his face. The remaining work hours almost seemed to drag on forever. Theo kept on looking at the digital clock on his screen, willing it to move faster. Luckily for him, the headache he had felt in the morning was gone and he didn’t feel too exhausted. He didn’t really want to show up to his date feeling sleepy and looking like a zombie.
As soon as the clock struck 6 pm, Theo almost sprinted off his chair, having luckily completed all of his tasks for the day by then, so he didn’t need to work overtime. He smoked a cigarette as he walked home with a skip to his step. When he arrived home, Alice had already arrived and raised a suspicious brow at Theo, who had a wide smile plastered on his face.
“Hey you, what’s with the smile? Had a good day at work?” Alice enjoyed sipping on both the literal as well as the metaphorical tea.
“Actually, yes. Had lunch with Joel at Portofino, but this,” he pointed at his smile, “is because I have a date tonight?”
“When the hell did you set a date up?” Alice looked at her friend in disbelief, “Last we talked you were still feeling down about what happened with Flávio.”
“Well, after you left my room, I got a message from this guy and he invited me over tonight,” Theo spoke nonchalantly.
“Wow, that was quick. The guy must be really attractive for you to want to meet him after one day,” Alice amusingly teased, “Let me see.”
Theo took out his phone and clicked on the Grindr app before looking through his messages to find Liam’s profile. “Here,” he said as he handed Alice his phone.
“Okay, wow. He looks like Godfrey Gao! Even I’d tap that!”
“I know! But hands off! You have Jamie,” Theo retrieved his phone before walking towards his room, “Anyway, I have to get ready if I want to be there on time.”
“Are we still on for dinner or are you eating on the way?”
“Might get a pork chop bun on the way. Haven’t had one in a while.”
“What?” Alice fake gasped, “You’re leaving me to eat dinner all alone?”
“You’re always ditching me to go over to Jamie’s,” Theo deadpanned.
“That’s true,” Alice laughed. Alice frequently stayed over at Jamie’s place because Jamie had a bigger bed and a scooter, so she could drive Alice to school.
“Anyway, gonna get ready. You’re gonna make me late!”
Theo grabbed a towel from his room and rushed to the bathroom to take a shower and use the toilet. He started thinking about whether he would top or bottom with Liam. He usually preferred to top. He wasn’t really keen on bottoming and hadn’t done so in a while, so he hoped Liam was okay with bottoming. They hadn’t really discussed that. Maybe they should’ve.
Once he was freshly showered, he dried himself off, wrapped the towel around his waist, and went back to his room to finish getting ready. There was a pile of laundry forming in his hamper and he was running out of clean clothes. Guess I have to do my laundry tomorrow, Theo thought. He looked at his closet and decided he was going to wear a blue Cuban collar shirt with an Aztec pattern paired with some faded grey jeans.
Alice wolf-whistled as Theo left his room to use the bathroom mirror to style his hair and check his outfit.
“Looking good, Theo. If you were straight, I would be all over that,” she unashamedly gestured to Theo and his outfit.
“I’ll tell Jamie she should be concerned,” Theo smirked at Alice, before focusing his attention back on the mirror to style his hair.
“You wouldn’t dare!” Theo looked back at Alice through the mirror and raised a challenging eyebrow, “I’d still choose her over you anyway. Even when you’re looking fine as fuck.”
“I’ll still take that as a compliment. Anyway, I will probably be back late,” Theo admired his reflection on the mirror. He had to agree with Alice, he was looking good that night. He went back to his room, once he was satisfied with the way his hair looked. He sprayed some cologne underneath his ears on his neck and grabbed everything he needed before leaving his room to put his shoes on.
“Have fun with Godfrey Gao! Send me a message when you get home,” Alice said as Theo stepped out of the apartment.
“Will do! See you tomorrow,” he closed the apartment door and locked it.
Theo hadn’t been that excited for a date in a while. He hoped everything would go well as he waited for the elevator.
Thoughts of the dancer he yearned to see again had finally taken the back seat for a day.