There's Always a But… (by Grant Bentley)

There’s Always a But…

by Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

Sometimes you come across a but … not a butt … but a but,
because however you may have been conditioned to think,
more often than not, there’s always a but.

You ever wonder about how everything is supposed to be either/or? No, me neither. But it seems we’re taught all these either/or things as we grow up. You see, for me, based on what I was taught of the either/or philosophy, I’m straight and I like girls, or I would if I ever dated one, and boys, well they’re great to have as friends.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been told I’m kinda cute. Well, by my mom mostly, but a few other people too. But dating just doesn’t seem to be my thing. I mean, yeah, I know some attractive girls, but I don’t want to spend half my waking hours looking at them, talking to them, or worse yet, paying out most of my allowance to keep them happy. Sorry. 

One of the things I did like doing was volunteering at our Boys and Girls Club. In fact, that’s where I met my best friend Kai several months ago. He was there playing basketball with some of the guys, not very well I might add, and I joined in the game with them. After the game, as everyone was having a snack, he sat with me and we started chatting. Now, I’ve got lots of regular friends, but somehow chatting with him was different. I mean yeah, my friends and I talk, but I don’t know, I guess we kinda just talk crap. With Kai though, it was like meaningful stuff. I dunno, it was different, he was different, and it was cool.

Then as we were chatting this totally hot chick walked towards us, and she didn’t look the slightest bit friendly.

“Hey Kai, let’s go,” she barked.

‘Okay gimme a sec,” he replied.

“Now!” she commanded.

He quickly handed me his phone and said, “Your number … please.”

I handed him mine and we exchanged numbers as fast as we could, and he was off.

“Sorry,” he said as he looked back and hurried to catch up with her. When he did, I could see her barking something at him. He just hung his head and followed her. Now I knew what a bitch was.

It wasn’t an hour later that I got a text from him. We texted back and forth for the rest of the weekend, and every night for the whole rest of the week. We talked about just about everything, and that his sister was the bitch from hell was just one of the things. We talked about school, about careers, about travelling, about dreams, about aliens, about the Mayan temples, about the constellations, about Iceland, about politicians needing to be a special kind of stupid, and whatever popped into our heads.

There was a freedom with him that I never felt with anyone else. Unlike with the guys, there were no typical topics like girls, sex, and partying, no standards to live up to like “I got laid fifteen times this weekend,” and no lines that couldn’t be crossed like saying another guy was good looking or had a nice body. I could say whatever I thought with no fear of comebacks or retaliation. That doesn’t mean we didn’t disagree once in a while but there was never any hostility or put downs like with the other guys. I loved every minute of chatting with him, and for that matter, being with him.

And that was just the start. Within a few weeks we had discussed almost everything there was to discuss, and we were definitely becoming friends, good friends. Then somehow we got into talking about love. What is love, how do you know you’re in love, what does being in love feel like, does your heart really have anything to do with it, and is there such a thing as love at first sight. We got into some pretty deep stuff and during the conversation I got the idea that maybe he was hinting that he thought he might be falling for me. I mean he didn’t exactly say anything, but I got the feeling.

The next weekend when I arrived at the Boys and Girls Club  he wasn’t playing basketball, he was waiting for me by the door. We didn’t even bother with basketball or whatever else was going on. We found snacks and a drink and sat at one of the tables. After our long love talk, one of the things I wanted to do, as nonchalantly as possible, was to let him know I was straight. At the same time, I didn’t want to lose the friendship that had built between us. I mean we actually talked about life and stuff and there was something about him that made me feel totally comfortable. Plus, I thought he was totally sweet, and maybe, just maybe, he needed a friend. 

We sort of got into talking about relationships again, and when he wondered if or why anyone would date his sister, I saw my chance.

“Your sister is smoking hot,” I said and he burst out laughing.

“Seriously?” he asked.

“Yeah, seriously,” I replied.

“Why don't you ask her out then?” he asked between laughs.

“What? No way man.” I exclaimed, “Are you trying to get me killed?”

“What, so if she wasn’t a total bitch you’d date her?” he asked.

“Well yeah, what guy wouldn’t?” I questioned.

At that point he got kinda quiet and the conversation almost died. At one point he turned away from me and it looked like he kinda wiped his eyes.

“No one I know, I guess,” he said quietly.

“So what are you doing next weekend?” I asked, as the subject needed changing and quickly.

“Like every other weekend. Nothing. Why? What’s up?” he asked.

“Well the folks are having a big bar-b-que and I thought you might like to spend the weekend and maybe eat yourself to death. You wouldn’t believe what my dad can do with a steak and a bar-b-que. Mom can make some pretty mean salads and other tasty stuff too.” I told him.

“I’d think that’d be great,” he replied as his face seemed to light back up, “Gotta ask the folks, but yeah, for sure.”

It was about then that his sister walked over, and it was time for him to go, like not now, but right now.

It was Friday before we knew it and Kai was walking home with me from school. After dinner we went downstairs to the rec room. I turned on the TV and we plopped down on the couch, Kai curled up at one end and I sprawled out on the other end. Oddly enough, even though the TV was on, neither of us was watching it. We were talking and, once again, our conversation was all over the place, and after a while it occurred to me, I couldn't remember ever being happier than I was right now chatting with Kai. It was almost 3:00 in the morning when we both started yawning more than talking and headed up to my room. We each did our evening rituals, and were sitting on the end of my bed about fifteen minutes later. I had kinda assumed Mom or Dad would have set up the air mattress for Kai, but nope. I was way too tired to pump it up or care at that point, so I guess we’d be sharing my bed then. It was a double bed so it wasn’t like we had to get too cosy. We stripped down to our boxers, crawled under the covers and I think we were both asleep within about ten seconds.

I did say we didn’t need to get too cosy, didn’t I? Well when I woke up the next morning, he was being pretty cosy. I was on my back and he was cuddled right up to me, one leg over mine, an arm across my chest, and his head on my shoulder. Then I realized that he wasn’t the only one being cosy. I had my arm around him like I was purposely keeping him nice and close. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the whole scene didn’t bother me. Actually I quite liked it. However, when I gave him a little poke and he woke up, he scrambled away from me in a panic.

“Oh God I’m sorry,” he said sounding like he was almost ready to burst into tears.

“Don’t be,” I told him, “I’m not.”

“But you’re straight,” he said.

“And you’re not?” I kinda questioned.

“Oh God Alex, I’m sorry,” he repeated, and this time there were tears.

I immediately slid over and pulled him close so I could get my arm around him again.

“Kai, it’s okay.” I said, “Like yeah I’m straight but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel close to another guy. And I don’t quite know how to say this or even if I should, but I dunno, I mean I’ve got lots of friends but it feels different with you. I feel freer with you, at ease, and yeah, like different.”

“So you don’t hate me?” he asked.

“Oh God no,” I replied, “I could never hate you.”

It was at that point I realized I had to pee, not soon either, but like right now, or we might both be having a rather unpleasant shower.

“I’m sorry but I gotta pee … like right now,” I said as I jumped out of bed and ran for the bathroom.

When I got back he was already dressed and flew by me towards the bathroom as soon as I walked back into my room. Things were a little subdued for a while, but it didn’t take long before we were back to a rather constant chatter about whatever popped into our heads. By mid-afternoon we had both been put to work. Cleaning the deck, tidying the deck, cleaning up the yard, cutting veggies, and basically doing all the bar-b-que preparations. The only thing we weren’t allowed to touch were the steaks.

Four hours, twenty people, and way too much food later, we were downstairs relaxing. The TV was on but I didn’t have a clue what show was on. We were too full and sleepy to focus on it anyway. Hell we were almost too full and sleepy to even talk. Needless to say we didn’t see 3:00 am. In fact we didn’t see midnight. When we were getting ready for bed, he kinda looked at me. I just grinned and gave him the ‘just get into the bed’ look. When I woke up the next morning we were once again quite cosily tangled together. This time when he woke up, he didn’t panic. In fact he didn’t move. Okay well he might have even snuggled up a little closer. That didn’t last long though as the bathroom was once again calling. This time he made a dash for it first.

It turned out to be an awesome weekend and from that weekend on, he and I hung out almost daily. I can’t explain it but it was great. It was the way it was supposed to be. And yes we did more than just talk. We listened to music, watched some movies on TV, played video games, went for walks, went to the pool, helped my folks, helped his folks, avoided his sister as much as we could, and did other regular guy stuff.

A couple of months after the bar-b-que weekend, we had a long weekend coming up and his parents had decided a long weekend at the beach was a good idea. Since they kinda liked me and I was Kai’s best friend, I was invited to go with them. Three days and nights at the beach, sunshine every day and temps in the low 30’s, Celsius that is, what more could two guys want? We got to the motel about 7:30, got to our room, changed into our swim trunks and were in the ocean bouncing off the waves by 8:00. It started to get dark about 9:30 and we heard Kai’s mom’s voice calling us to come and eat. By 10:30 we wandering down the beach, listening to the waves, and chatting about how great it would be to live there. Then by 11:30 we were in our room sitting on one of the beds chatting and munching on leftovers. It was a great start to what I figured was going to be a great weekend.

Finally about 12:30 we decided it was time for sleep. When we were down to our boxers and ready to crawl under the covers, I quickly slid into the bed we’d been sitting on. Kai just sat on the other bed kinda looking at me. After a minute or so I flipped back the covers and patted the spot next to me. His face lit up and in seconds he was curled up right beside me. The weird thing is, I’m not sure who was happier, him or me. And not that I thought about it at that moment, I hadn’t given girls a thought for weeks, any girls. I was happy being with Kai. In fact, I couldn’t wait for the morning when I’d wake up and we’d be all tangled and cosy.

Saturday was an awesome day. We wandered the beach, sat on the beach, made a sandcastle on the beach, and after a lot of persuading we were allowed to take a surfing lesson. I was able to stand up once, for about thirty feet. Kai actually caught a good wave and was able to ride it all the way in and yes, he was standing up. From there we wandered back up the beach. There were some guys playing beach volleyball and they invited us to join them. And believe it or not, we did all right. Then it was back into the water for a before dinner swim. Saturday night and Sunday morning were basically a repeat of Friday night and Saturday morning except the cosiness started a bit earlier, like when we were both still awake.

Sunday we did some more swimming. Kai’s dad bought us tickets for a catamaran cruise around the islands. It was fun but could have been two hours shorter. When we got back we dug around in the sand for a bit, got into the volleyball again for a bit, and then did some more swimming. Then it was for another late dinner, then paddling around in the surf, walking along the beach in the dark, a snack, and bedtime.

As I was laying there waiting to fall asleep like Saturday night, Kai cosied up against me. I glanced over to see if he was asleep. He wasn’t. In fact when my eyes met his, they locked.

“Why couldn’t you be gay Alex?” he sighed.

“It’s just the way I was made I guess. I'm sorry,” I said.

“You actually are, aren't you?” he asked.

“You know, I actually am. I like you a lot. You're the closest friend I’ve ever had,” I replied, “I feel closer to you than I think I’ve ever felt to anybody.”

“Turn off the light,” he said with a sniffle, “and let’s just go to sleep, ’cause you’re gonna make me cry if you keep that up.”

As I was laying there waiting to fall asleep, Kai cosied up against me. I glanced over to see if he was asleep. He was, and I quietly breathed a sigh of relief as I fell asleep.

Thankfully everything was as per usual the next morning. We chatted over breakfast and chatted most of the way home once we were done packing. Then life went on as per usual, like what else is new, and we discussed another almost thousand topics that almost no one cared about but us.

Then it was November and it wasn’t long before Christmas carols seemed to be coming out our asses. Does anybody know how unbelievably annoying two months of that crap is? Apparently not.

Of course, if it’s Christmas your family and your special other need to be seriously analysed for the perfect gift, however inexpensive it may have to be. After considerable though, and trips through places like Value Village, we got the families sorted out. We also learned a few days early they had ours figured out too. I guess his mom and dad got together with my mom and dad, and a trip to Puerto Plata was in order. We figured yeah, okay, we can do Puerto Plata. Unfortunately, there was still him, and there was still me.  This time we went to the actual mall. He went north and I went south. An hour later and we were ready to go home.

 So December 23rd we were carefully packed and looking out a plane window. An hour later, we were carefully unpacking in Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa. To avoid a bunch of explanation, let’s just say there was white sand, water, food, and Kai. We were in and out of the water probably fifty times. And does white sand beat white snow? Oh yeah, and we had a total blast.

That aside though, before we knew it, it was Christmas Eve. Of course, the resort put on a big Christmas Eve do, and many ate and danced till they were sick. We didn’t of course because we’re too sophisticated. We finally did get to bed about 2:00 … am that is.

When I woke up Christmas morning and looked at him, not that I hadn’t before, I found my mind working overtime. I knew he loved me. I knew I liked him … a lot, but did I love him, or better yet if I did love him could I make love to him? Could I … well you know? During all these thoughts though, the one thing that never occurred to me was that it was wrong or weird. In many ways it appealed to me … holding him in my arms, feeling his body against mine, even the thought of kissing him. Still, I’d never even given any other guy a second look, never mind fallen in love with him.

Okay now, that thought stopped me dead in my tracks. What did I just think? Like seriously, what did I just think? Never mind fallen in love with him? That thought said it all. I turned my head and looked at Kai’s beautiful face. Yeah I said beautiful. But it wasn’t just his face, it was him. There was something special about him, and as I lay there and thought back, I remembered I’d felt there was a connection or something there the moment we met. I looked at him again and realized that no matter where you are in life there seems to always a but. It seemed Kai was that but … and did I love him … I most definitely did. And I couldn’t help but smile.

So yes, it was Christmas morning, and yes, we were once again cosily tangled, except this time he was more on top of me than beside me, and this time I had both arms around him. I felt him wriggle a bit before he pulled back and looked at me.

Our eyes locked.

Instinctively I moved my hand and stroked his cheek.

“Kai … I love you,” I said as I slowly raised my head and kissed him.

I think he almost went into shock. Actually, I think we both almost did, ’cause I can't tell you how long the kiss lasted. I can’t tell you how long it took for him to kiss me back. I can’t tell you how long it took for his tears to make my entire face wet. I can’t tell you how long it took for his arms to wrap around me. All I can tell you is that the look on his face when I finally opened my eyes told me I could never be loved more he loved me, and I realized that when it came to loving this beautiful boy, straight I wasn’t, and I couldn’t have been happier not to be.

The End


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This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG13 (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don't want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren't supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!