Same day, Friday, as Chapter 1, but in the evening.
Friday evening - fifteen minutes after the "Cocktails and Canapés" gathering, at the inn…
After 7:00 PM, Commerce Street, the hilly, main street of Provincetown, changed from being a street to being a promenade. No cars were allowed and it rapidly became populated with men and women, who were out and about for dinner, shopping, or getting an early start on bar hopping.
The feeling in the air was one of jubilation and celebration. The sound level wavered up and down, with a laugh or shout flaring above the pitch. The music of Cher, Gloria Gayner, Patti Labelle, and other gay icons spilled out of the various shops, restaurants, and bars that lined both sides of the street.
The gang from Pittsburgh walked down the middle of the street together, enjoying the sights and sounds of the town. In the moving, weaving crowd that surrounded them, the casually dressed mixed with the elaborately costumed. Almost on every corner were drag queens or female impersonators, handing out flyers or verbally hawking their show or musical review.
Justin was an artistic sponge, absorbing and memorizing all that he saw, felt, and smelled. The sun had started its slow descent into the horizon, casting long shadows. He caught glimpses of the deep blue, sparkling sea behind the rows of shops and houses on his left. The air was breezy, aromatic with hints of honeysuckle, and almost salty to the taste. It felt so fresh and crisp – so unlike the hot, humid, muggy air in New York and Pittsburgh. Sea gulls fly over head and called to each other. Every moment was an inspiration to him, and his hands clenched and unfurled with the anticipation of re-creating all that he saw.
Without warning, Emmett grabbed Justin and whisked him into a tiny, three room, one-story house that had been converted into a shop, and sold vintage clothing.
"Honeycutt, what the fuck!" Brian yelled after Emmett, but was ignored. He was forced to follow them into the shop.
The rooms of the shop were very small and crammed full of clothing hanging from everywhere. It was a jungle made of clothing - clothing racks were pushed close together, which made it difficult to walk around; garments hung down from the ceiling, and the walls held wooden shelves that sagged with the weight of stacked clothing.
Brian felt a pinch of panic at the nape of his neck when he entered the shop. At first glance, he couldn't see either Justin or Emmett; it was as if the clothes had swallowed them up. He heard their voices and moved in that direction.
"Justin? I swear Emmett, when I get my hands on you-"
"Oh, Brian… You get so pushy… We still have time before our dinner reservations. We need to shop now, before all the good pickings are gone by tomorrow morning! " Emmett's voice drifted to him, muffled by the clothing jungle.
"What the fuck… Emmett! This place is giving me hives. Justin?! Stop moving around so I can find you. Jesus fucking Christ – what is this shit? It's filthy – there's dust all over it. Don't touch ANYTHING, Justin! This shit may have deadly diseases living on it!"
Justin came out from behind a pair of orange, Capri pants that was hanging from the ceiling. "Look Brian, don't you think Debbie would like this?" The blond held up a knee-length tee shirt, and on its front was an actual picture of a curvaceous, bikini clad, female body. If someone put it on, it would give the illusion – at least for a moment - that it was the wearer's actual body.
In a low, firm voice, Brian directed Justin to "Put it down! Fucking Honeycutt! If you want to shop, there are plenty of other shops up and down this fucking street, with clean clothes in them! Look at this shit." Brian had pulled down the hanging orange, Capri pants, inspected it, and said, "Look! This is polyester!" He made a disgusted face and flung it to the side.
Emmett's muffled voice could barely be heard. "Stop calling me, Honeycutt."
Brian then grabbed the tee shirt away from Justin, and read the label. "What the fuck!" He held the garment's label up for Justin to see. "Recycled materials! Do you know what that is? That is a road ridden, toxic, smelly truck tire that you just touched, Sunshine! Let's get out of here before we become contaminated with something."
He grabbed a laughing Justin by the wrist and hauled him out of the store.
Upon exiting the store, they were nearly run over by five men on roller skates. Each man on wheels wore a baby-doll style, short dress and a big, bouffant wig. Their unique appearance was highlighted by the fact that each one was individually dressed and bewigged in just one color of the rainbow.
The guy in all purple grabbed Justin's free arm and tried to pull him along, calling out, "Come play with us!"
An alarmed Brian yelled out, "Hey!" then pulled a shocked Justin back into his arms and pushed the skater not too gently away. "He's not yours!"
The purple man called back, "Selfish!" and continued down the street.
Instead of cursing a wild streak, Brian snickered and then laughed out loud. He looked around at all the sights, and then down at his beautiful partner and smiled broadly. The absurdity of the moment had grabbed him. He had vowed 15 years ago that he would come back to P-Town as a success and hopefully with a nice piece of eye candy standing at his side.
Well, done and done. But I didn't realize that I would have to pull the eye candy out of a clothing trash bin and save him from being whisked away by a roller derby reject… but I'd do it all again… the last 15 years… and before… as long as it meant that you and I would end up right here, at this moment, together like this…
In the Kinney style, instead of saying the words, Brian decided to show his partner his feelings. He surprised Justin when he wrapped his arms around the younger man's waist, and picked him up so that they were eye-to-eye. Brian then laid a soft, deep, sensual kiss on his lover. When they both drifted back to awareness, Brian said, "You wanted me to kiss you in the center of town and in broad daylight… we're almost in the center of town and its broad daylight..." He cocked an eyebrow and waited for an answer.
Justin's eyes were still a little unfocused and a crooked, goofy smile had spread across his face. He was so giddy from the kiss, that all he could manage to say was, "More." Brian was happy to oblige.
Michael and Ted shouted simultaneously: "Knock it off, you're holding us up!" and "Can't you keep your hands off of each other for five minutes?" respectively. Neither lover paid them any mind. However, Brian did give them the finger, but he never broke contact with Justin's mouth.
Thirty minutes later…
The six friends had built up a nice appetite from weaving through the crowds and shop-hopping. They eagerly filed into the "Lobster Pot," one of the oldest restaurants in P-Town. Brian stated that it was a favorite of the locals, and in his opinion, that was the best recommendation that the restaurant could have.
They were escorted to a table in the back dining room, which overlooked the town's harbor. This was their first, real good look at the ocean and all the men exclaimed with wonderment and appreciation.
The gang enjoyed a seafood feast, ordering practically every kind of crustacean and mollusk on the menu. After everyone had overindulged, belts had to be loosened, and chairs were pushed back from the table. The gang moaned and groaned and berated themselves and each other for being gluttons. As they relaxed and let their food settle, they joked and teased each other, and reminisced over good times from the past.
Then, the gang decided to discuss their plans for the rest of the weekend… And like all families, their discussion had moments of guff and strife.
Justin was in charge of the agenda, and he relayed the information with the intensity of a general talking to his troops. "Okay! Here's what I planned. Tonight, after dinner, do some more shopping and then just relax, because tomorrow is a big day… Brian, stop fidgeting, we'll go to some of your kind of stores, too. Okay, now tomorrow, we spend the morning on the beach or by the pool-"
Brian curtly interrupted his partner. "The beaches in this area are for shell hunting, not swimming unless you have a wet suit. It's freezing-ass, cock shrinking cold out there in that water. I plan to keep my dick in working class order, so I'm going to frolic in the inn's heated pool… when I'm not in hot tub… or rolling off of Justin."
The gang reacted as expected. Ben waited for the insults to subside and then urged the youngest of the group to continue. "Please go on, Justin. Though I'm sure Brian knows the plans, but I don't and I want to hear them."
Justin pacified Brian with a quick kiss to his cheek and then continued. "Okay, so tomorrow, pool or beach in the morning and then at ten-thirty, we are going whale watching! The company is affiliated with the University of Boston's marine biology program-"
Emmett scrunched up his face in confusion. "Whale watching? But, we're not lesbians."
Ted quickly reprimanded Emmett with an exasperated, "Em!" Ben was equally unhappy with Emmett. It perturbed him that the man would be so offhandedly rude to Justin, and to lesbians. He folded his arms and pursed his lips, which spoke volumes.
However, it was Brian's behavior that rubbed salt in the wound. Emmett's statement triggered a laughing jag in the executive. He enjoyed himself, laughing at his lover's expense, until he unwisely took a drink of his beer. Immediately, he choked and sprayed the beer all over his place-setting.
Justin had been giving Brian the stink eye, but begrudgingly came to the aid of his partner. He thumped on Brian's back, helping him clear his air way.
The sting of Emmett's inadvertent insult had hurt the blond and it showed on his face. "Em… you guys… you don't have to do any of this…"
Ben couldn't stand watching Justin's self esteem take a nose dive, so he came to his rescue. The professor always came to the aid of the underdog… but, seeing a sad face on that particular blond never sat well with him. He glared at Emmett and Brian, before he addressed Justin with heartfelt support.
"I think it's an exciting idea, Justin! I've always wanted to go whale watching and this a perfect time of year, because they are migrating south… They are following instinctual patterns that were biologically established through a million years of evolution... I'm not sure if you all are aware of this, but the blue whale, the world's largest mammal, was hunted into near extinction by the turn of the twentieth century. And now, almost every type of whale in the sea is on the endangered species list. We could possible see at least… oh, maybe four or five types of whale in this area… maybe more… There's the humpback whale, the sperm whale, the minke whale… um… what is it… damn, I can't remember all of the names of the types; I'll have to look them up. This an incredible and rare opportunity-"
"Jesus Christ, Justin! I'll go… but only if you make the professor stop torturing us with his lecture and have him wave down for the waiter. I can do with another beer… my last one didn't go down so well." Brian chuckled to himself, enjoying his own pun.
Ben good-heartedly threw his arms up in the air, "Lecture over, you drive a hard bargain, Brian… Waiter?" Ben flagged down the waiter and Brian ordered another round of beverages for everyone, and a dessert named, "Death by Chocolate," for Justin.
While they waited for the waiter to return with their order, Emmett attempted to win his way back into Justin's good graces. That took all of 2 seconds; Justin loved Emmett like an older brother and forgave the older man's slight as soon as he began to talk.
"Justin, sweetie… I really wasn't trying to mean… It came out wrong. Since lesbians like animals… and I thought-"
"Em… enough with the animals… lesbians… whales… whatever, leave it alone." Ted had to interrupt Emmett, he was afraid that his friend was going down the same slippery slope, again.
However, Emmett didn't appreciate his help. He loudly sucked his teeth and stared down his friend. "Ted-dy, I don't need your help... Justin understands me perfectly. Now, baby, finish telling us about what's on your agenda. I'm sure it's divine."
"Um… okay… well… After the whale watching… we can do lunch, shop… take nap, or whatever. Our dinner reservations are at 7:30 tomorrow night, at the Rose and Thorn Restaurant; it's in the hotel and separate from the dance club that Shampagne mentioned. Then, at 9:00, we have the presentation in the dance club… Now, on Sunday - we sleep in and have brunch at the inn, and then drive over to Truro, that last little town that we passed by, and visit the winery there. They supposedly have very good, summer fruit wines. Then afterwards, we do whatever – it's our last night, so everyone does whatever strikes their fancy… you guys should do whatever you want to do this weekend… I just thought that it would be fun to try some new things… but, don't feel obligated…"
Ted perked up, because something that Justin suggested really had struck his fancy. "Winery? Did you say winery? Really? Okay! Now that's something that I'd really like to do. I've always been interest-"
A concerned Emmett interrupted his friend, "Justin, it all sounds wonderful, every little bit… But, Teddy, you can't go to a winery, because…. You know…" He waggled his head from side-to-side, alluding to Ted's addiction problem. "And Ben can't go either, because you know." Again, he waggled his head, this time referring to Ben's HIV status.
But to Justin, he said, "It'll be fabulous! The boys have health issues, so no-go on Sunday for them. But, don't you worry; I'm going to go to look at fish with you tomorrow and then we'll go to that winery together on Sunday! It sounds so very chic and sophisticated – wine tasting... We'll be socialites, out for the day, enjoying the fresh, country air, while sipping on our chardonnay."
Brian crossed his legs and flounced his hand out at Emmett. Then, with a lisp, he quipped, "Girl, I can't wait! We'll wear wide-brim hats and lots of pearls!" Emmett, who had forgotten about Brian, couldn't think of a witty or rude enough comeback, so he stuck his tongue out at the entrepreneur. Brian responded with a dry, "Never happening…"
Ted patiently waited for the two men to finish their bitch-off, before he corrected Emmett. "Wine was not my poison… I don't drink liquor… because it was a trigger. But wine never has been a problem, and you know that, Emmett. I… I have a glass, once in awhile… Plus, with wine tasting, you don't drink as much as sip and spit. And, it's not so much the wine, as the wine making that I'm interested in. I've always wanted to take a wine tour and see how they make it… Thanks, Justin. You're helping me check off a bucket list item."
An edgy Ben added his retort to Ted's with, "Excuse me, Emmett, but I can and do drink wine, in moderation. I am quite capable of managing my health issues all by myself… but thank you for your concern… I've been to wineries, but not for some time. I look forward to it, Justin. I'm in."
Emmett had become visibly upset; he felt everything he said had been misconstrued. "Why is everyone kicking my donkey tonight? All of my good intentions have gotten twisted-"
Michael, who had been suspiciously quiet, spoke out. "I get sea sick and I can't drink wine unless it has ice in it."
The gang looked at him for several long moments, and then all began talking at one time, except for Brian, who laughed above the fray. Eventually, Michael was convinced that solutions were available to all of his problems.
Thank you so much for reading. Your comments are very appreciated