Story uploaded at the request of the lovely Esquirella. She's not too bad for an American /grin.
Warnings: m/m relationships, m/f relationships, frequent references to racism, excessive alcohol use, and probably a good few more things that I've currently forgotten.
Twenty-four hours ago I was pondering whether advertising for a 'gay/gay friendly' housemate in the local paper was or wasn't a good idea. Ten hours ago Matthew, my sole respondent, rang asking if the room was still available. Four hours ago, he moved in. A quick move, sure, but he's just come down from North Queensland, from some remote little town in the middle of nowhere, and needed accommodation, pronto.
He's not a bad-looking man, if you go for the sort that have tatts and stretched piercings and shaved heads, and to be entirely fair, he seems nice, but he really isn't my 'sort' at all. Not the sort of person I'd speak to, not the sort of person I'd be friends with, or the lover of, and definitely not the sort of person I'd share a house with. And yet, here he is, eating pizza and drinking fourex, looking utterly unperturbed.
'You can use the phone, you know,' I point out. 'If you need to call anyone, that is.'
He looks up with a lopsided smile, revealing white, slightly overlapping teeth. 'I'm sweet thanks. I wrote to my parents, told 'em I'd found somewhere to stay and I'd give 'em a hoy if I was in trouble.'
I nod and return to my surreptitious inspection of his tattoos. Given that on his right bicep is a naked, large-breasted woman, I'm curious as to whether he falls into the 'gay' or 'gay friendly' camp. My innate sense of gaydar suggests the former, but who gets a tatt of a naked woman if they're not attracted to them?
'Do you have a boyfriend?' I inquire nonchalantly.
Matthew pauses, holding his slice of meatlovers in mid-air. 'No. Do you?'
Damn, I should have known that he'd ask the moment I asked. 'I have a sort of boyfriend. He's married though, so you won't see him much.'
He looks at me as though I just confessed I had a stockpile of strange men's briefs in my room. Which I don't, but he certainly looks that taken aback.
'His wife doesn't know,' I explain. 'It's just sort of…. Well, he's gay, but he's a professional and comes from a good family and coming out isn't really an option.'
It's an excuse that's always sounded terribly weak, but tonight it sounds worse than usual, as though I'm condoning the fact that Ian considers it perfectly acceptable to have a secret double life, never fully giving himself to anyone, never having to make promises to anyone but his wife, his employers and his family - everyone but me, actually. By rights, I should know better. Actually, I do know better, it's merely that I'm unable to withdraw from Ian's grip; I'm too safely ensconced in the relationship and so reluctant to risk life on my own. Truthfully, that's part of the reason I wanted a housemate; I've decided that the people I associate with aren't really that nice a group and I'm interested in meeting other people, making new friends.
'How old is he?' Matthew inquires.
'Forty-two.' Great, now it sounds not only am I stupid enough to be having an affair with a married man, but I've just revealed married man in question is old enough to be my father.
'And you are?'
'Twenty-four,' I reply, wishing to change the subject. 'You?'
'Twenty-two,' Matthew replies, returning his attention to his food. 'Shit and I thought I was bad.'
My interest in his coming out isn't unfathomable; I'm always interested in how and when people shared the news with their parents. 'How old were you when you came out?'
'I kinda told them in the letter I sent this morning,' he replies, giving me another lop-sided grin. 'Y'know, I'm figuring on the distance between Dad and me being my saving grace.'
'Are you serious?' My jaw is basically on the floor. This guy wrote to his parents to let them know? Visions of the possible repercussions swamp my mind; angry parents writing angry letters, making angry calls or, worst of all, unexpectedly visiting.
'Yeah,' he nods his head, bemused. 'Thought it was best. Wouldn't mind seein' their faces as they read it though.'
I'm still just a little shocked and there's something peculiar about the glint of amusement in my new housemate's eyes as he continues.
'It's really kinda funny actually,' he tells me. 'I was a skinhead for six years, spent my time hassling fags and shit. I'd love to hear what my Dad has to say when he finds out I am one.'
The mouthful of pizza I'm currently chewing nearly chokes me. I should point out here that I'm not white. Australian, yes, and my mother's white whereas my father hails from Malaysia. I was raised in this country, and my accent is purely Aussie, but there's not a person in the world who'd mistake me as pure Caucasian.
'Are you kidding?'
'Nope,' Matthew shakes his head. 'Stupid huh? I was such a little cunt, but I think now maybe it was just denial or something. Left it all behind maybe a year ago and decided to move to Brissie a few months ago to try and find a boyfriend or something.'
'And are you planning on telling any potential boyfriends you used to beat up gay men?' I ask before I can stop myself.
Matthew flushes slightly and gives me an apologetic grin. 'I'll have to I guess. See?'
He takes off his shirt and shows me his back, revealing a huge, black swastika. I've never seen anything like it close up, but it's hardly as though I've previously been overcome by the urge to associate with neo-nazi's. Simply seeing the mark is enough to make me uncomfortable and it's a relief when he pulls his singlet back over his head.
'Well now you know a little about me,' he shrugs. 'What are you like?'
'What am I like?' I repeat, relaxing. It's odd how I'm so relaxed in his company, as though he were a brother or a long lost friend rather than an brand new, ex-skinhead housemate with whom I have nothing in common except my gender and sexuality. 'Boring I guess. I work in IT. Ian's my sort-of-boyfriend. He's really just a fuck buddy, actually. You'll meet my friends, not that any of them are particularly interesting. And…well, that's it,' I shrug helplessly. 'I'm pretty boring.'
Matthew shakes his head. 'Nobody's boring. Everyone's life is interesting.'
'Not mine,' I argue regretfully. 'Truly, if it was, you'd be the first to know.'
He laughs, his pale blue eyes flashing with amusement, before he crushes his beercan in one hand and throws it into the bin. 'Well, it's good of you to let me live here. I swear I'll have a job by the end of the week and you'll barely know I'm here.'
All I can recall is the awful two months I spent after graduating from University, desperately looking for work. I feel kinda bad for Matthew, thinking that this job-searching may end up being a little demoralising.
'I don't care as long as you pay the rent,' I joke with him.
'I'll get a job,' he replies confidently, scraping his chair out of the table. 'Uh, I think I'll go unpack, okay? And probably take a shower and have a sleep, so I'll be seeing you tomorrow.'
As he heads up the stairs to his bedroom, I realise I'm disappointed. I wanted to spend the night with him and instead he's unpacking, showering and having a sleep. Reasonable activities, but still ones which eat into 'my' time with him.
How ridiculous I am; expecting my housemate to be my new best friend. The poor guy, if I don't chill, he's going to really think he's moved in with a freakazoid. I wrap up the leftover pizza before settling myself in front of the television with cheap cask wine and my cigarettes, watching terrible Saturday night television and trying not to think too much about my new housemate.
He is rather interesting though, despite that ugly great tattoo on his back. Ick, and the fact that he's beaten up people just because they weren't white and heterosexual. That leaves an unpleasant taste in my mouth, to say the least.
Damn. This is going to be interesting.