Andy doesn’t enjoy going to dinner with his father, but that doesn’t stop him from showing up at Doe’s Steakhouse every other Friday at eight o’clock exactly. His boyfriend thinks he’s some sort of masochist for putting himself through the specific form of torture that is Robert Cady. Maybe he is. All he knows is that even when he decides he’s not going to meet his dad for dinner, going so far as to plan some sort of date night with Mark, he ends up throwing on a sports jacket and getting into his 2015 F-Type Jaguar to drive downtown, sometimes with Mark yelling after him that one day he has to tell his dad ‘no.’
“Erin is going to be the death of me,” Robert says by way of greeting, unbuttoning his suit jacket and sitting down across from his son.
“Her or her department?” Andy asks, tracing over the restaurant name embossed on the leather menus in front of him.
“Both. I don’t know what Janet was thinking when she hired that woman.”
The waiter, the same one they’ve had for a year now, the one that occasionally blows Andy back behind the restaurant, brings them both a glass of merlot. He takes away their menus without asking for their order, knowing they always order the same thing.
“What did Mark say?” Robert asks, because that’s what the dinners are about, aren’t they? Pumping Andy for information gleaned from the only boyfriend his dad has ever acknowledged. This bisexual thing is nonsense, his dad said the first time Andy brought home a boy. If you like girls, he said, why not just date girls?
But Mark was different. When Andy brought him home, Robert was over the moon. Nothing could be better than his son dating the only child of his boss.
“He was on the phone with his mom earlier today,” Andy says. “Something about loosing 15 percent of her bonus?”
Robert launches into a long explanation about the switch from quarterly to bi-weekly pay and Andy spends the next hour giving his standard response. No, Mark didn’t say anything else. Yes, I’ll ask if Janet tells him anything more and call you if she does.
Andy never calls him.
The blow job from the waiter is lackluster tonight, which could have something to do with the fact that Andy still can’t remember the guy’s name. It takes him too long to come and when he does, the guy spits it out on the ground.
He stands up and wipes off his pants, giving Andy enough time to put his dick back in his jeans and try to figure out what he wants to say, something that’ll make him feel less guilty when he’s never felt guilty before.
“Would you like to go out to dinner sometime?” Andy asks.
The guy pulls out a cigarette. “Don’t you have a boyfriend?”
“Right.” Andy’s eyes water when the wind blows smoke into his eyes.
“It’s not that I’m actively opposed to dinner with you,” he says. “I just don’t think I want to be part of an affair.”
“Aren’t you already part of an affair?”
“An affair implies some sort of emotion, right? You don’t even remember my name. No emotion there.”
Andy doesn’t know what to say to that so he doesn’t. He leans back against the wall of the restaurant, trying to figure out what he normally does in this situation. He just leaves, doesn’t he? Says something like ‘see you around’ and walks back around to his car. Why isn’t he doing that tonight?
“It’s Mark, by the way,” the guy says, more smoke blowing into Andy’s face. “My name.”
Of course his name is Mark. Does it count as cheating when he has the same name?
“I’m probably going to forget that,” Andy says, even though he’s certain he won’t. How did he forget it in the first place?
“Doesn’t matter,” he says. “Today was my last day.”
“Oh.” Andy’s upset by that. Why is he upset?
“You going to say you’ll miss me?” Mark says.
“Will you miss me?”
“Not much to miss.” He throws his cigarette on the ground and stomps it out with his foot. “All you do is stand there.”
Andy isn’t sure how he ends up on his knees but he does. He can’t remember the last time he blew Mark, his Mark, but giving a blowjob is not something you forget how to do.
“You’ve been holding out on me,” he says when it’s over, when Andy’s scraping the dirt off his jeans.
“You never asked.”
“True,” Mark says. “See you around.”
He walks away and Andy is left standing behind the restaurant wondering when he stopped knowing how to live his life.
Kameron Morton is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing with a minor in African/African American Studies. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in FLARE: The Flagler Review and STORGY Magazine. She currently works as an Assistant Nonfiction Editor for Pithead Chapel and interns for the podcast I’m Afraid to Ask. Her website is here.