~~“Gah,” I cry out as I am rudely awakened by my oversized cat, Ernie. He’s hungry and wants attention,
“Ernie, you fat bastard.” I mutter, though fondly as my hand rubs the furry, ginger head that is thrust insistently into my face. He immediately strikes up a loud purring sound: like the idling engine of a Harley Davidson Motorbike. He isn’t really fat; he’s just a very big cat with oversized paws and too many toes. He looks like he’s wearing mittens all the time. He’s the stupidest, friendliest, most affectionate cat I’ve ever known, and despite me calling him every derogatory term I can think of he just keeps coming back for more.
Maybe I should rename him Mason! I chuckle to myself. But I know for sure that wouldn’t piss Mason off: he would probably be flattered in some perverted, weird, Masony kind of way.
Ernie demands more caresses as he pushes hard against my hand then rolls over onto his back and does that stretch that cats do, exposing their underside and arching backwards in feline pleasure as I stroke his chin and stomach,
“Slut,” I chuckle, then, “Ouch!” as he grabs my hand with all four enormous polydactyl paws. He doesn’t often use his claws. This morning he must be feeling a little too neglected because I have slept later than usual. I tip him off the bed and he stomps off in a huff. Sod him. He’ll be back in a few minutes, I’m certain, for more lurve.
I glance at the clock and groan. The time is nine thirty and Mason has arranged to pick me up at eleven, or rather he told me and I grunted back a reply. I am apparently very good at grunting via text, so Mason tells me.
I groan again and rub my fingers through my messy red hair. It’s no coincidence that I have a ginger cat; it is my colour scheme after all. My hair is probably a little too long, but I just can’t be arsed to get it cut. I don’t need short, neat hair to do my job. In fact I probably don’t even need to get out of bed to do my job; but I do need to get out of bed if I don’t want to be answering the door to Mason Heights in a T shirt and boxers, however that may thrill him.
I swing my legs around and plant my feet on the floor. Mason Fucking Heights: What the fuck is his problem anyway? How in the name of hell did I let him talk me into a lunch date with him? Is it a date? I have to assume it is, since he is gay and so am I, although how he even knows that is fucking beyond me because he never asked and I have never told anyone here.
I bury my head in my hands. I know being gay is not such a big problem here. This is LA after all. About three hundred miles from here, in San Francisco, is the biggest gay community in the world. An hour’s flight and I could be standing up to my neck in openly gay men. A very far cry from where I grew up, in the slums of Glasgow.
Mason is a prime example of how being openly gay is just accepted, he’s Mr fucking Popular. However I have had a very different upbringing and I have a very big problem letting anyone know anything about myself let alone my sexual preferences. It’s just easier, in my experience, to keep it all to myself.
Because when you open up to someone you just get the crap beaten out of you.
Whilst I’m pretty sure that Mason would never do that I still can’t get my head around it all because I am just not good at reading social situations. I don’t allow people to get close but Mason has managed to worm his way in somehow. I avoid people unless I have to work with them. I only speak to people outside of work when I can’t avoid it. The rest of the time I speak to Ernie, because he doesn’t expect me to say anything special or funny or witty or clever. He’s just worried where the next meal is coming from, and that feeling I know only too well.
So you’ll excuse me if I find socialising difficult, because I have just never had any practise; and you’ll forgive me if I find it difficult to believe that anyone would be in the slightest bit interested in a five foot six, redheaded computer nerd for anything other than my computer programming skills, because no one ever has before; and you’ll forgive me if I think that Mason fucking Heights is a pain in the arse for trying to get past my exterior armour. It’s there for a reason and I’d rather it just stayed put, thank you very much. It’s much easier that way, much less painful.
My phone buzzes loudly on my bedside table and I jump a mile. Shit in hell, I am going to friggin’ turn that damn thing off. I glance at the screen. That fucking ridiculous picture of Mason blowing a kiss at me; well not really at me, but it seems that way in the picture; appears on the screen and I groan.
I don’t even know why I’m surprised it’s him because no one texts me at the weekend. In fact no one texts me at all unless it’s to do with work; until that is, I gave my number to a texting guerrilla (that’s as in terrorist/ mercenary, not the banana eating kind that sit in the rainforest all day making films with Sigourney Weaver; that’s spelled Gorilla anyway).
Hey there and good morning, Scotty Dog. How does he even manage to sound cheerful in a text?
He must have texted me every fucking half hour since I last saw him two days ago. Well maybe not that often, but often enough for me to wonder how he was supposed to be getting any work done because he was too busy exchanging niceties with me.
Scratch that: he says nice things: I tell him to fuck off.
How does that even work? And when did I start thinking that the things he says are nice? He just compared me to a fucking Scottish terrier, a dog that everyone thinks is cute, but they’re actually the worst tempered, yappie, ankle biting little shits….. Oh right, I get it now.
Will you please fuck off and stop calling me that? Bloody Yank freak. I text him back, angrily.
I think I might just call off our lunch date just because of that. Where did he get off calling me that anyway? And who did he think he was, texting me at nine thirty in the morning on my day off? Which was hardly a day off from him because he would be here soon and I’d have to make conversation with him and that is hardly a day off for me; that is bloody fucking hard work.
Not content with just abusing me by text he has hit call. Does he have frigging ADHD or something? Can’t he just let me get ready in peace? He’s going to see me in like an hour’s time,
“What?” I ask, ungraciously, and then feel bad, because has he really done anything wrong? AAARRRGH! I silently scream,
“Don’t be like that, Doug.” He says in his silky smooth Californian accent, “I’m sorry if I woke you.”
“I was already up.” I say, feeling a little guilty for snapping, but not that guilty, “and I wouldn’t be like that if I didn’t have to read your stupid texts at yon bloody hour in the bloody mornin’”
“Oh ho, Doug, somebody got outta bed on the wrong side this morning?” Why is he even thinking about me and bed at the same time? Why am I even thinking about him thinking about it?
“What side of the bed I sleep on is none of your bloody business.” I snap. What the hell am I saying? I slap my forehead, “Did you have a reason to call me, or were you just being an annoying arse?”
“I love the way you say that word. I think I might just record it and have it as my ringtone when you call me.” Is he fucking for real?
“I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. Why would you want my voice as your ringtone?” The anger has gone from my tone though.
I can feel something building in my stomach. I don’t really know what, since it’s unfamiliar and I hope I’m not coming down with food poisoning from the lunch that he is going to spoil by talking while I eat it,
“Your voice is just fine, Doug.” He tells me and it pisses me off how he can just dissipate my anger like when you put washing up liquid in a greasy bowl of water.
I want to be angry and irritated with him but the thought of him having me singing out “Arse, arse, arse.” Every time his phone rings is just so ridiculous it’s actually funny.
Is that what that feeling is, it’s not food poisoning it’s, well, laughter?
I bite my lip to hold it back because I don’t want him to hear. Because he seems to be making an effort to make me laugh and I’m not going to give him the satisfaction; because maybe, just maybe, if he does it once he’ll stop trying.
I must have been silent for too long,
“Doug?” He sounds concerned, his tone quiet and subdued. Shit, I can imagine his face: the expression the same as it was on Wednesday when he thought I was going to unequivocally turn him down,
“I’m still here, Mason.” I sound quiet too because I am so totally confused by all this that I forget to be pissed off,
“I-I just w-wanted to check everything was still fine for today.” He says and he’s stuttering again, like last time. Do I make him nervous? I slap my forehead again, this time as an admonishment because of course I make him fucking nervous. I’m always fucking angry with him, when he’s done nothing wrong except try to make me laugh.
No one has ever tried to do that before,
“E-everything is still fine, Mason.” I reassure him, because it sounds like that’s what he needs, reassurance. And I have suddenly developed a stutter too. Then he is back to his usual annoying, arsehole self,
“Great, Dougie, I’ll be there at eleven. See ya.” The call disconnects and I throw my phone down on the kitchen bench in disgust.
I have made my way there and put on some coffee whilst talking to him. Who says that men can’t multi task? It’s hardly rocket science though, making coffee.
Ernie pushes up against my legs and I remember he hasn’t been fed yet. I put some food into his bowl and he only gives me a cursory glance before tucking in. That’s about right. He’s got what he wants; now he’ll ignore me until he wants something else; although that isn’t strictly true, since he is my one constant companion. Wherever I am in the apartment he seems to be, even when I am in the bathroom.
I sit at my breakfast bar and sip my coffee while I look through yesterday’s mail. I get bills mostly and a whole bunch of junk. This pile is no different. I sigh and put the letters to one side. I drain my coffee cup resigned to the fact that I can no longer delay the inevitable. I have to get ready. I rarely eat breakfast. I know I should and there is no reason, now, why I can’t. It’s just a habit I have never formed.
I walk into the bathroom. Ernie almost gets shut in the door as he follows me in at the last minute,
“Ernie, what the fuck?” I exclaim, “You stupid cat. I’m having a shower and you’ll get wet.” I pick him up with a grunt, because he is quite a heavy lump, “You need more exercise you fat lazy bastard.” He purrs as I rub his ears then I deposit him outside the bathroom and get on with my ablutions.
Thirty minutes later I am ready. It never takes me long. My hair is still wet but I never owned a hairdryer so I wouldn’t know what to do with one any way. I figure it will be dry by the time Mason comes and besides, if he thinks I’ve made a special effort he might think I am looking forward to this outing, which I am not, am I?
I’m not sure I want to go, but I think I might be just a little curious as to where we are going, since Mason has refused to tell me. Of course I haven’t actually asked outright, but you’d think he would at least tell me, or give me a clue. That is so fucking annoying.
What the hell does he want from me? Because he’s gonna get a real shock when he doesn’t get it, whatever it is. Then he’ll leave me alone and I will be able to just go back to eating on my own and doing my job and coming home to Ernie.
Me and my cat: that’s all I need: me and Ernie and no one else right?
The door entry buzzer sounds and I jump a mile because I am sitting right on top of it. I didn’t even realise I was sitting so close to it. I glare at the monitor and there he is, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Did I really expect it to be anyone else, since I don’t know anyone else? He’s smirking into the camera and I can see his blue eyes twinkling even though the image is black and white. Mason fucking Heights.
If I don’t really want to go on this stupid date and I don’t need anyone but myself and my cat then why is my heart suddenly pounding?
A/N Not much of Mason in this, sorry! Although you will notice that he is constantly on Doug’s mind. What is that all about?