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Simplicity Ch. 03

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Thus began one of the happiest points in my life. I was on top of the world for what seemed to be the longest of time. I knew that the other shoe had to fall sometime, but I just wanted to enjoy it for the time being. Duke and I became something akin to brothers. We were inseparable. We spent many nights and days like the one at the café and even though he was going for a law degree and I a doctorate we didn’t start getting into special classes until our junior years, and so it worked out that a lot of our basic classes, the ones that everyone has to take, threw us in together.

We were an odd pair, him the tall silent southern gentlemen and I the constantly rambling blonde twink. Many people assumed that we were together, which only served to make me wish for it to be just so. Still friendship is a start isn’t it? Not all relationships are built off sex, at least that’s what people have told me. I never really tried that method.

For all of his observing, I did some of my own. I came to learn the many traits and mannerisms that made Duke, Duke. He was quiet, extremely so, unless he was talking about something he felt passionate about in class or, in rare cases, at some of the parties that we attended together. I’d never met anyone that could carry on an intelligent debate inside a frat house with three glasses of scotch in their system before I’d met him.

He also tended to read non-fiction unless it was poetry, to which his favorite authors were W.H. Auden and A.E. Houseman. He never read any aloud but I would sometimes read some of the titles off of the shelves when I was bored. He loved history and that was about the only thing that I could get him to talk about with him actually saying more than two sentences. I learned more about the Second World War, the Civil War, presidential terms, Lyndon Johnson’s weird quirks, and other random trivia than any man should ever have to be subjugated to. Weird part was, as anti-history as I am, it never bothered me. That’s not to say that I was extremely interested in the subject matter, merely listening to him talk.

Toothpicks were a constant at pretty much all times and I rarely recall seeing him without one. I found out that his two favorite colours were blue and purple, and that Richard Nixon was his favorite President.

All of his political views were mostly conservative except for certain issues. For example he was for gay marriage, yet disagreed with the way the economy was being run under the current administration. He liked the idea of government healthcare, though felt as if we were going about it the wrong way. He called the extremes of both parties “straight jacket cases” and insisted that no side was completely right and that he was likely as wrong as everyone else.

He also had humility going for him. He didn’t value his own self that much, telling me once that “I’m no catch, merely the fish that jumped in the boat.” I had a hard time believing this and told him of such.

“Duke, you’ve got tons going for you and you don’t even realize it. You’re smart, kind, and not exactly ugly if I should happen to get a vote.” While I started to worry that I was giving away to much information, he just blushed and tried to wave me off.

“You’re just saying that because you haven’t been on so much as a night out for coffee with anyone but my boring ass since we got here. I’m not that great, you’re just developing Stockholm syndrome.”

“So what, just because my love life has been slower than average doesn’t mean that I’m blind or being corrupted by osmosis. You’re better than you’re giving yourself credit for Duke and I vow to make you see that.”

“That’ll happen right about the time that my ass grows wings and flies around the moon.” It didn’t seem as If I was going to convince him of his good qualities just yet.

Then came my concern with his social life, or rather lack thereof. The only person that he seemed to talk to on a regular basis that went beyond grunts and short answers was me. I never once heard him on the phone with family or friends from back home. I’d always meant to ask him about that, but still hadn’t figured out a good way to do so. For some strange reason it seemed as if I was the only one he really talked to. Part of me felt sad that he was so closed off and, jealously, a bit happy that I had him to myself.

However, this is not to say that we were open books with each other. I had things that I didn’t really want to talk about and, at times, you could see his eyes drift off somewhere else hd porno when you’d broach certain subjects such as family. That had to be a sore spot. He also wouldn’t talk too much about what his home was like for him. The most he talked about Virginia was in relation to the beauty or the people and places that he missed.

“You know something Luke?”

“What’s that Dukey?”

“I was just thinking of a little hot dog joint the next town over back in Virginia. Those crazy bastards would put soy sauce and mayonnaise on the hot dogs. Sounds like shit, I know, but they’d drive you crazy to have another.”

Little things like that, but never anything that revealed anything more than a tourist’s travel guide would and I don’t recall ever once hearing him call the place home. It made me want to know why.

I’m what you’d call a people person. I like crowds and conversation is my forte. I usually keep a group of friends around me at all times, yet it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I never had any close friends. The groups that I’ve been a part of were always based on convenience. No one ever went out of their way for the other. I started to pull away from that.

With Duke, it was as if things changed. For some reason I couldn’t get enough of the man and for his part he seemed to at least tolerate my presence. That may not sound like a compliment, but Duke never showed affection that well. He’d smile or chuckle at a joke and would be cordial with all, but intimate with none. If he didn’t like you he’d just ignore you. The most I ever saw him show any affection was with the occasional hug he would give me and to be fair I usually forced him into those. Every now and then he’d hug me as a greeting or farewell.

He couldn’t hide his heart though. More than once I witnessed random acts of kindness perpetrated by him with the complete absence of any expectations of recompense or thanks. More than once I’d seen him drive a stranger back to their dorm after a few too many. More than once I’d seen him go out of his way to help others.

There was this one time when we came across a tall blonde and a short redhead with a large stack of boxes by the library’s rear entrance.

“What would you say that they’re doing Bambi?”

“I don’t know. Should we ask them if they ne-…”

Before I could even ask if we should interfere he was crossing the street to see for himself.

“I guess that answers that.” I said to myself.

With his usual soft baritone, he asked the ladies what they were doing. Turned out that the library had gotten a new shipment of books and Stacey, the blonde, and Becky, the redhead, were the only volunteer workers that the library had on staff at the moment. The boxes at the door were the only ones that they’d managed to drag to the door thus far.

“We’d be happy to give ya’ll a hand.”

An hour later we had the truck unloaded, the boxes in a storage room, and two enthusiastic college girls begging for our numbers.

“There aint no need ma’am, we were just heading for a coffee anyway and Luke and I don’t mind a little extra work, do we Luke?”

“Not at all.”

“Now come on, Becky and I can’t just let you do all our work without doing something for you.” Enticed Stacey.

This was accompanied by a volley of eyelash batting and her impressive amount of cleavage being thrust towards us. She’s not exactly subtle, is she? Becky wasn’t as forward, but she was eying me up quite a bit.

“We certainly appreciate it, but Luke here don’t bat for your team and I’m a confirmed bachelor myself. However, you’re more than welcome to join us.”

Becky instantly transferred her attentions to Duke. Strange, that. I’d heard the bachelor comment myself and felt my mood sour a tad. That had to mean that he was straight, otherwise he would have listed himself in with me.

“Oh, we’d love to”, chimed Becky.

As we walked, Duke went back to his quiet self despite numerous attempts at flirting by the newest additions to what was once our two man entourage. That left me to make the small talk which, much to my satisfaction, diverted their attentions from him somewhat. I’m a little jealous and nervous, and at that point a little annoyed, so fucking sue me.

I found out that Becky was a junior studying interior design and from New York, while Stacey was native to Vermont and here for her final year of a sports medicine degree. Stacey was clearly not the brains of the operation, which isn’t to say brazzers porno that she was stupid, only less smart than Becky. Occasionally they’d try to get Duke to talk only to be rebuffed with a short answer to whatever question they’d asked.

When we arrived at Stan’s, our café from before whose name I’d discovered on our second visit, they headed for the ladies’ room while Duke and I ordered. I took the opportunity to ask the question that I’d been dying to for the past ten minutes.

“If you’re not interested in a date then why did you invite them along?”

“Seemed rude not to. I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t have you here to distract them.”

I wasn’t sure if I should be a little pissed that he’d pawned them off on me or thankful that he wasn’t interested in their obvious offers in the slightest.

“We could always eat quickly and feign a reason to leave if you don’t wish to deal with them further,” said Duke quite formally. What is he, a butler?

“No, and what’s with the butler speak?”

He shrugged and replied, “Seemed funnier in my head. Get ready, here cometh the queens of subtlety.”

That earned a laugh that I couldn’t suppress in time.

“What’s funny”, asked Stacey.

Shit.

“Uh-“

“Fellow over there dropped his bagel.” And in slides Duke with the save.

“Oh, well at least we can chat inside and away from the cold in here”, she said through what had to be the world’s biggest smile.

We all sat and talked for about a half hour before Duke and I got up to head back to our dorm. Not before trading numbers, though. Thankfully, they seemed to get the hint that Duke was genuinely not interested by the end of our time together.

They weren’t that bad once they stopped flirting. Becky was smart and provided some interesting conversation. Stacey was spontaneous enough that the subjects changed often. Duke even came out of his corner a bit.

This was a sign of things to come for us. They became an added component to the two man band that we were, creating a mixed sex quartet. We’d go to plays together, museums, study groups, a few concerts, and everything in between. Duke remained quiet, but not as laconic as before. Stacey was a big partier and typically dragged the rest of us to which ever sorority was having a block special that weekend. We drove the girls home each night and they’d kiss us each on the cheek before we left. We were never really close, just friends for a season I suppose.

That’s how things went for quite a while. Christmas came before I knew it; I was set to go back to see my dad in Milwaukee and Duke was to go home to his native Virginia. However, my dad and I weren’t the picture of familial happiness. He’d been bitter ever since my mother’s passing and he still wasn’t exactly fine with the homosexual thing. Duke knew all of this from our many conversations. He never asked, I just rambled like I usually do.

We were packing up our things to prepare for our trips just before we were each due to leave. To be honest, I was packing while he sat beside his suitcase on his bed; I may have been caught up watching his ass while he packed and thus he was finished while it looked as if I hadn’t even started. I really need to get back in the dating pool before I snap like a twig from all the pining. Oh, who am I kidding?

I’ve been so caught up in Duke that I hadn’t even tried to date this semester. The biggest problem isn’t that I haven’t drawn interest, it’s that all the other men that I’ve come across all get mentally shot down with one screening question: “How do they measure up with Duke.” And just what did I get for my observations? Not a damn thing, that’s what. I still don’t know if he’s gay. I had managed to convince myself that his bachelor comment was just a ploy, to ward off the girls’ advances, in an attempt to hold onto hope that a new existence would spring into being. Also, I’d given up on the idea of trying a fling or two. For some reason it just didn’t appeal to me. Looks like I was stuck pining for a while longer.

Speaking of the devil, I glanced back over my shoulder to find him standing behind me looking almost nervous. The hell? Since when does Duke get nervous?

“Something wrong Duke?”

“Uh…are you and…shit… are you and your dad gonna be… well…good with each other for the…uh, break?”

Wait a minute, Duke was asking something personal and looked very much concerned despite the nervousness, and was he stammering? He seks filmi was too adorable not to; I pulled him into a tight hug to ease his mind a bit.

“Thank you and I’m staying with my grandparents, not that loon.”

I pulled back to look him in the eyes and he looked relieved, if still a bit pensive.

“Glad to hear it, but if you need anything, remember that you can always call.”

He’s just full of surprises today. Wait a minute… a thought suddenly occurred to me.

“Duke, are you going to be alright going home?”

A bit of surprise overtook his face before his usual mask fell down as it did when I mentioned something that he didn’t want to talk about. Still it was rare that I saw him surprised. Was he surprised that I had asked about him? He broke out of the embrace that I still hadn’t relinquished and turned back towards his bed.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine”, came the mumbled reply from over his shoulder.

Well shit, that ruined the moment didn’t it? I was a little hurt that he didn’t think that I’d ask about him. Must rectify that immediately. I must drill it into his head that I care, that he’s not alone, not only to increase my chances, but because I do find myself caring about him and don’t want him to feel as if he’s all by himself.

“Hey, Duke. You be sure to call me if you need it too.”

With a slow turn of the head to glance at me from over his shoulder, I could see a small smile and hear him say, “Sure thing Bambi.” I couldn’t think of anything else to add.

I finished packing and we hugged as we parted ways in the parking lot, him to his ragged truck and me in my little Escort. As I drove to the airport I tried to think of ways to get him to open up more. I’d seen a new side of the man that I quite liked and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop now. I made my way through security on auto pilot and wished more than anything that I could peer into a magical crystal ball and see just what made him tick. Here’s a New Year’s resolution for you: find out if Duke is datable. That can’t hurt me. If he’s straight I back off, if otherwise I’ll try and get myself an interview with Duke and Jack Emotional Services Incorporated.

Unfortunately for me, Vermont in the winter is quite snowy, who woulda thunk it. My flight got canceled, but not before four miserable hours spent sitting in the terminal and a strenuous phone call to my grandparents explaining that I’d be fine on my own for one Christmas and a less pleasant call to my dad in which his reply of, “Fine”, was less than touching. Resigned to my fate, I trudged back to my car and drove back to the dorms feeling less than ecstatic.

I wonder if Duke managed to get out of the city. I remember him telling me that he couldn’t afford the plane ticket and was going to drive the thirteen hours down instead. Just how deep is the snow? Maybe he’ll wreck. Oh God, I should call and make sure that he’s ok. No Luke, he’ll just think you’re bugging him because you got stranded and knowing Duke he’ll turn around so that I won’t be alone. I’ll give him a few hours more before I call, that way he’s be at least halfway and won’t be able to turn back just for me.

So that’s how it worked out that I was sitting on my bed watching the Weather Channel as I checked the weather reports on my laptop for the entire east coast when I should’ve been in Wisconsin.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and reached for my phone.

“Yes Luke?” I should be mad that he doesn’t sound surprised to hear me calling.

“Afternoon Duke, how’s the trip so far?”

“I’m just outside of Wilmington Delaware, so on schedule. How goes Wisconsin?”

“Not so good. They canceled my flight due to all of the snow, so I’m back at the dorm watching TV. Doing fine though, I might even try to read one of your books if you don’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t mind and just why the hell didn’t you tell me that you didn’t make it home? I’d have turned back.” he said with a large amount of annoyance in his voice.

“That’s exactly why I didn’t call you until now. I’d say that Wilmington is a bit far to pull an about face. Anyway, i just wanted to check in, you have a nice Christmas Dukey.”

“I will have my revenge Bambi, you’d do well to take note of that.” I like the sound of that.

“I can’t wait, now put the phone down and drive you idiot, I know that that was a horn. Take care Duke.”

“Merry Christmas Luke.”

With that I sat my phone down to charge on my nightstand and skyped my grandparents until i fell asleep.

OoOoOoO

Thanks for reading and all your comments. I know that the chapters aren’t lengthy, but if it doesn’t read right to me than I omit it. Some ideas suck and I try to be cognizant of my own shittier ideas. Thanks again and enjoy.

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