3rd Excerpt for Chasing the Horizon by Scotty Cade

June 14, 2014

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Okay, Guess who???

I’m here with the last excerpt and question. Good luck everyone. Remember, don’t post your answers any earlier then two o’clock, EST. I’ll see you at the cocktail hour with drink and winners in hand.

Scotty

You’re almost a blond now, Holt,Garner mumbled as he glanced at his wavy, shoulder-length locks in the mirror. His hair was now way more blond than brown from all the sunny days he’d spent on the docks at the marina in Savannah, not to mention his days at sea. But he also realized he was only going to get more blond the longer he stayed in Key West and chuckled when he thought about the blond jokes that Hank and Thompson would certainly bestow upon him.

He leaned into the mirror as he applied moisturizer to his evenly tanned and mostly unwrinkled skin, mentally patting himself on the back for remembering to apply sunscreen on a regular basis.

He took a step back from the mirror and studied his slender face and strong jawline and frowned. God. I may not have many wrinkles, but the older I get, the more I look like Dad. He felt the familiar waves of sadness and guilt that normally washed over him when he thought about his father, but over the years he’d learned to keep them at bay. Mostly.

He forced the feelings back down as he scanned his naked body in the mirror and felt a little bit of pride. “Not bad for thirty-six,” he said. “At lest the old physique hadn’t turned on me yet.” He followed his broad shoulders and muscular chest down to his small waist, flat stomach, and naturally strong legs. “I guess all those years at the gym really paid off.”

He’d spent almost nine years behind a desk, and during that time he’d been obsessed with the gym, so afraid he was going to get fat and flabby.

He stepped out of the head and stood in front of his open closet door. He folded his arms across his chest and patted his bare foot. It’s your first night in Key West, Holt, and you only get one chance to make a first impression, so what’s it going to be?

Deciding he wanted to fit in, he settled on a pair of well-broken-in comfortable jeans that rode low on his hips and a neon green Nautica T-shirt. He slipped into his brown leather boat shoes, put on his brown belt, and stood in front of his full-length mirror. I guess this will have to do.

It was still a little early, so Garner decided to have a drink before he ventured out for his first night on the town. He opened a bottle of chardonnay, poured himself a glass, and climbed the companionway stairs to the cockpit. He settled in front of the steering wheel, kicked his shoes off, and propped his feet up.

It was a beautiful evening; mild in temperature and the sun was hovering low in the sky, as if defiantly refusing to dip below the horizon. Garner took a sip of his wine, leaned his head back, and closed his eyes, soaking in the last warm rays of sun. At the sound of footsteps on the dock, Garner’s curiosity got the best of him, and he opened one eye to see who was approaching. He raised his head and sat up straight when he saw Mr. Clean casually making his way down the dock. As the stranger approached, Garner began to feel very silly. The guy didn’t look near as scary as he had this morning and not the least bit intimidating. Yes he was still bizarre looking, but as he got closer, Garner could see that he was dressed in form-fitting blue jeans, a tight gray turtleneck, and black high-top tennis shoes.

Normal everyday attire, he thought. No spiked leather vest and pants with chains leading to his wallet. No shit kicker boots either. Just everyday clothing.

When he reached the stern of AquaTherapy, it appeared as if the man was going to stop. Garner’s heart skipped a beat in anticipation of what was to come. But instead, their eyes locked and Garner held the stranger’s gaze. After a few seconds, the stranger simply nodded, flashed a smile, and kept going.

Garner nodded back and followed the stranger’s movements down the dock.

What struck Garner as odd was the stranger’s familiar hollow stare. His crystal blue-gray eyes produced the same effect Garner had experienced when he’d gazed into Thompson Gray’s emerald eyes for the first time. The flecks of gold and the depth of green in Thompson’s eyes had had a major impact on Garner back in Savannah, but despite the rich color, they too were hollow, almost void of any emotion.

After the man disappeared through the marina gate, Garner continued to stare like he could still see him. He was startled out of his thoughts by his cell phone ringing. He unclipped the phone from his belt and, without looking, slid his finger across the bottom of the phone and put it to his ear.

“Hello.”

“Glad to hear you’re still alive,” the voice on the other end of the line said.

“Thompson?” Garner said, breaking his trance and smiling into the phone. “I was just thinking about you.”

Thompson chuckled. “Do I dare ask why?”

“Probably not,” Garner replied.

“Oh geez,” Thompson said. “You’re right. I probably don’t want to know.”

“How the hell are you guys? Hank okay?”

“We’re great. Missing you though.”

“I miss you guys too,” Garner said with sincerity.

“Where are you?” Thompson asked.

“Just got to Key West this morning.”

“That’s great,” Thompson said. “Now that you’ve arrived, if you’re going to stay put for a while, Hank and I would like to try and figure out a time when we can both get away so we can come to see you. If you still want us to, that is?”

“Hell yeah,” Garner replied. “I can’t wait to see you guys.”

“Hold on, let me put you on speaker,” Thompson interrupted. “Hank wants to say hi.”

A few seconds later, Garner heard Hank’s voice sounding so happy it brought a smile to his face. “Hey, Gar, how’s sunny Key West?

“So far so good,” Garner replied, keeping the mysterious Mr. Clean to himself.

“Oh come on, is that all you have?” Hank teased.

“Give me a break,” Garner replied. “I just got here and I’m a slow starter.”

“Who are you trying to fool?” Hank asked. “I remember the day we first met. Slow starter, my ass.”

Garner chuckled. “Okay. Guilty as charged.”

Thompson cleared his throat. “Hey, guys? I’m listening. For Pete’s sake, the last thing I want to hear about is how you two flirted with one another the first day you met.”

Garner heard Thompson huff like he’d been elbowed in the ribcage or something, followed by a muffled “ouch.”

“Okay, fine,” Hank said over the speaker. “But at least tell us about the trip?”

Garner filled them both in on the details of his voyage, and before he knew it they were saying their goodbyes with promises of seeing each other very soon.

Garner stood and shoved his phone into his pocket just as the last remnants of the sun dipped below the horizon, leaving behind only the hues of oranges and yellows filling the western sky. He stared at the colorful display for a few minutes, downed the last of his wine, and took the empty glass down below. He checked himself in the mirror one last time. “As good as it’s gonna get,” he whispered to himself before grabbing his keys and heading topside again to begin his first night in Key West.

Walking along the dock, Garner recognized a new bounce in his step and realized he was looking forward to being with people again. Being on the water alone had been one of the best mind-clearing practices he’d ever experienced, and this particular leg of his trip had given him plenty of time to reflect on Hank and Thompson and the part he played in helping them. But as a psychiatrist he also knew how important human contact was to the spirit. Mr. Clean’s bizarre mug popped back into his mind again and he chuckled. Well, some human contact, that is, he thought.

Shaking his head to scatter the image of shaved heads, tattoos, and piercings, he tried to focus on what he wanted for dinner. “A real dinner?” he said to himself, feeling excited about his evening.

After walking few blocks, Garner turned onto Duval Street. The heart of Key West was buzzing with activity, and he didn’t know where to look. Standing in the middle of the street, he almost felt like he was in a mini Times Square. Bright lights filled the early evening night, and the sounds of the city mixed with music; cheerful voices and laughter were alive and bursting with anticipation.

Glancing up and down the crowded thoroughfare trying to determine where to go, he was mesmerized with the sights. There were tanned muscular half-naked men in every direction, some paired off and holding hands while others were obviously cruising the crowds looking for, well, whatever they were looking for.

Garner chuckled. It had been a very long time since he’d had been to Castro Street in San Francisco, where this sort of thing was expected, but this was Florida for God’s sake, the home of retired grandparents.

Standing on the street taking it all in, his voyeurism was abruptly interrupted by a loud noise much like a honking sound one would identify with a kids birthday party clown. When he turned, he realized his initial summation wasn’t very fair off. He instinctively jumped back just in time as a very large drag queen on a bicycle in full regalia and honking a horn flew by, shoving a flyer in his face. He accepted the flyer rather than get run over and read an advertisement for a drag show later that evening at The Crystal Room Cabaret in a place called La Te Da. He smiled, folded the flyer, and stuck it in his pocket.

Deciding it was definitely time to move on, Garner looked down Duval Street in each direction, and after careful consideration chose the way with the most activity. He weaved into the oncoming foot traffic and matched the pace of the other lollygaggers. Suddenly he had the overwhelming sensation of feeling like a kid in a candy store. Being well… Garner, the reaction took him totally by surprise, but instead of analyzing it as he normally would, he just went with it. Before very long he felt energized and the previously identified bounce in his step was even more pronounced by the way his boat shoes almost floated above the concrete. There was something interesting to see in every direction, and he reveled in the sights. After ten or so blocks, he absentmindedly reached up and rubbed the back of his sore neck. The perpetual smile on his face broadened as he realized he’d been moving his head from side to side for so long, afraid to miss anything, he’d totally given himself a crick.

Once again folding into the ever-moving crowd and feeling comfortable with the rhythm of the night, Garner casually strolled along the crowded sidewalk. He soaked up the informality of his temporary new home, slowing every now and then to take in the beauty or bizarreness of a piece of art placed in a gallery window and then he’d once more pick up his pace until something else caught his eye.

About an hour into his leisurely stroll, Garner’s stomach not so subtly made itself heard and began to protest the lack of attention. He quickly shifted his focus and began to search for cafés and restaurants that caught his eye, stopping to check out the menus posted proudly on the busy sidewalk. He eventually settled on a little restaurant called “Square One,” suddenly hungry for herb-roasted chicken and good ole home-style mashed potatoes.

Garner stepped inside and looked around. He noted the place was very crowded but still had that intimate feel and so far, he was very happy with his selection. He slipped the handsome host a twenty and asked for a small table tucked away in the corner with a view of the dining room and smiled appreciatively when he got exactly that.

After ordering a glass of wine, a salad, and the roasted chicken that had prompted his patronage as well as had his mouth watering, he sat back and simply watched. The romantic restaurant was filled with couples holding hands and cooing, some straight, some gay and lesbian, but everyone obviously feeling very comfortable with their public displays of affection. Garner thought about how far society had come in just his lifetime and realized that in some small way, his generation had helped to carve out a better life for today’s gay youth. He took a small bit of satisfaction in that.

With more than half of his journey on the water behind him, Garner was more relaxed than he’d been in a very long time. But again, instead of analyzing it, he went with the totally foreign feeling and smiled when he suddenly thought about his friends back in New York. “Uptight” was the word most of them would frequently use when asked to describe his personality. But right here, right now, uptight couldn’t have been further from the truth. He suddenly thought about the rainbow sticker his best friend Greg had adhered to his boat the day he left New York. When he’d found it, he’d known exactly who’d put it there and called Greg and gave him a shitload of grief. The only response he’d received was “If you’re going to cruise your uptight ass around God knows where, at least people need to know you’re gay. How else are you gonna get laid?”

The sticker hadn’t exactly gotten him laid yet, but it had had its benefits. It had been the way Hank identified him as gay when he’d come to tow his boat to a marina for repairs, and little did he know at the time, but that little sticker would put him right in the middle of an emotional love triangle with Hank and Thompson that would test his libido, not to mention his skills as a psychiatrist. But in the end it had all worked out the way it was supposed to, as do most things, and it hadn’t gotten him laid per se, but it did get Hank and Thompson laid. So in the end, he guessed Greg was right.

In the next few minutes his dinner came and was well worth the wait. Best roasted chicken he’d ever had and he savored it to the bitter end. After one more glass of wine and a few bites of Key Lime Pie, he paid the check and ventured out once again onto Duval Street.

He looked at his watch and saw it was nearing nine thirty. He pulled out the piece of paper he’d shoved in his pocket and read the details about the show in The Crystal Room Cabaret at La Te Da. The flyer read, “The Crystal Room Cabaret at La Te Da featuring John Webster and the many faces of the Crystal Room. And Special Guest, direct from Provincetown, none other than the Divine Miss Richfield.”

“What else do I have to do?” he said under his breath, checking the address and starting out for the club. “What the hell, it sounds like fun.”

 

Question: What was the name of the restaurant Garner chose for dinner?

7 Responses to “3rd Excerpt for Chasing the Horizon by Scotty Cade”

  1. Hannah B. says:

    Sorry, I didnt see the time-frame of 2 pm and I already answered the first 2 questions.

  2. Hannah B. says:

    He chose a little restaurant called “Square One,”. Thanks for this fun giveaway.

  3. Trix says:

    Garner dined at Square One.

  4. Antonia says:

    Square One. Thanks for the great excerpts and the chance to win!

  5. Debra E says:

    Square One. Thanks for the excerpts and contest. :)

  6. H.B. says:

    He decided on a little restaurant called Square One. Another wonderful excerpt! Thank you for the giveaway =)

  7. ScottyCade says:

    Yayyyy! 3 for 3! Good going. I’ll announce the winners as soon as I get my scotch and water. :)

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