My Boyfriend Was Gay

It started as a joke. Carlo became ‘Carla’ because of his long straight hair. Though he was not a gay, he just let the joke stuck.

Only Mike, his bestfriend since college, knew the reason behind the shoulder-length hair. He was also the one constantly joking about him as ‘Carla’.

“Carla is so vain when it comes to his hair. He brushes it one hundred times before going to sleep.”

“Is it naturally straight?” Mike’s past girlfriends would ask Carlo.

He just smiled and sipped at his favorite drink, a glass of dark soda. No one knew it was just soda and ice, no rum. He could make it last through the night.

Mike would laugh out loud and answered, “No. Carla always had it straightened in a salon.”

My Boyfriend was Gay

“No matter where you go. You know you’re not alone. I’m only one call away.” by Charlie Puth

Carlo knew Mike’s jokes bordered on cruelty but he just let his bestfriend, simply because Mike was there when his mother died of leukemia.

His mother grew his hair up to shoulder-length because she had no hair due to her illness. For five long years, she suffered being hairless. Her crown of dark straight hair sacrificed to chemotherapy.

The relief that he felt when his mother succumbed at last left him guilty. His grief went deep. He wanted forgiveness for being relieved so he let his hair long after her demise.

Mike knew about this but assumed he had got over her mother’s death. After all, it had been seven years since her death.

For Mike, vanity was the only reason he let his hair loose and swaying against his shoulder.

Carlo never corrected him.

But now, while watching Audra being cuddled by Mike, he felt peculiarly envious. Envy was a stranger to him. He was usually content with his glass of drink and watch the night away.

“I have to go the restroom.” Mike kissed Audra loudly, his hand pinching her bottom. “Can I get you a drink?”

“Um, yes.” Audra nodded to her boyfriend. Her smile disappeared when they were alone. Their other friends circulated among acquaintances as soon as they arrived.

“You don’t talk much, do you?” Audra broke the silence finally. She seemed uncomfortable. They had been staring at each other for what seemed an eternity.

“No.” Carlo croaked. His voice was rusty from lack of use.

He couldn’t take his eyes off her beauty. She had very short hair and eye make-up. Mike liked her girls wear a lot of mascara.

It didn’t suit her. For Carlo, her eyes were beautiful without the artificially heavy lashes.

She was outgoing. He was an introvert. The social life he had was not social because he didn’t mingle.

He would come out of his home office when Mike remembered hauling him out during the weekends. Tonight was one of those weekends.

“How come you became friends with Mike? I mean, you’re… er… gay?”

Carlo smiled sadly. ‘How could he un-stuck that old joke?’ he wondered.

“We’re friends since high school.”

“Oh. So you’re old friends.” Audra nodded, as if she understood.

“You’re into computers? You design?” He decided to change the subject.

“Yes. I am a graphic interior designer.” Audra’s eyes sparkled.

“Do you do offices?”

“I do mostly homes but an office should be easy.” She pulled out a pencil and a small sketchpad from her large tote bag.

Carlo was little bit amazed at the speed things happened. Audra transferred to his side of the table and opened her sketchpad.

“What are your preferences? It’s your home office we’re talking about, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I—”

“Mike described it. It is a mess but, don’t worry, we can work things out.” She was busily drawing lines and round objects on the pad.

“I like things where they are but—”

“When can I visit? Tomorrow?” She pulled out a tablet and checked the calendar. “Yes! Tomorrow afternoon. I’ll ask Mike to drive me over.”

Carlo opened his mouth then thought, ‘You don’t have anything important so it’s okay,’ and closed his lips. He nodded his head and drank thirstily.

They talked of other topics and discovered that they have a lot in common.

“You know, I missed my hair.” Audra suddenly combed her hair. “It’s long, longer than yours but a bit curly.”

‘I’d love it even curly.’ Carlo looked at his empty glass. He didn’t know where that thought came from.

“Mike likes it short and manageable.” Audra laughed self-consciously. “I mean, he has friend with long hair.”

Carlo caught the second hint. “Our mothers were bestfriends. We were neighbors since children and schoolmates ‘til high school. We went in separate universities but remained old friends. Just friends. Satisfied?”

Audra was silent for a full minute while her expressive eyes looked at him. They talked of feelings that he did not understand. Then she blinked and the moment was gone.

“Where—I wonder where Mike was?” She fumbled as she tidied her things into the tote bag.

“I’ll look for him.” Carlo sprung to his feet. He was sweating and his heart was beating fast. What had happened there?

He stumbled as the lights dimmed. The dancing started and couples gathered at the dance floor.

Carlo got two glasses in his hands when something brought his eyes to the far end of the bar. It was Mike’s jacket.

He didn’t need to go there to know what his friend was doing. Mike was up to his old trick, doing another girl while still committed to a girl.

“Have you seen Mike?” Audra smiled brightly at him.

“Do you want to go home?” He remembered she always went to bed not later than midnight.

“I’ll wait for Mike.”

He fiddled with his glass. “I saw him busy with—friends. I doubt if he could take you home now.”

Audra looked crestfallen. “Yes.”

“Um… if you like, I’ll take you home. I won’t be missed here.”

She was doubtful while she agreed. “Well, I’ll just wave goodbye to Mike.”

“No! I mean, he—they went upstairs. The discussion seemed—intense.”

“Oh.”

Carlo moved fast. He took her tote bag on his shoulder and held her elbow. An electric sensation went through her skin to his hand but he didn’t mind. He kind of enjoyed it.

Audra felt it too. She glanced at him. When she caught him staring, her dazed eyes looked away.

They were both silent as he drove in the night. His sensible SUV ate the miles while his mind analyzed the confusing emotions.

“Thank you for taking me home. I guess I’ll just send my goodbye to Mike. He must be wondering where I was.” She was babbling while fiddling with the seatbelt.

“Audra.”

She stopped moving at once. She turned her head towards him slowly. “W-what?”

“I want you to call me if — when you need a friend. Okay?”

She bit her lips, and then nodded. “Okay.”

Without another word, Carlo walked her to the door. Her home was an apartment with two-storey. She shared it with two other girls.

“Goodnight, Audra.”

“Goodnight, Carlo.”

They stared once again. Their eyes seemed communicating once more.

Carlo was first to look away. He waved as he turned away.

‘I’m infatuated.’

He admitted the bewildering feelings while lying on his bed. He closed his eyes and saw her eloquent face.

‘I’m in love.’

He opened his eyes wide. He could still feel the electrifying touch of her skin.

But he couldn’t do anything about it. Audra belonged to Mike, even though he didn’t belong to her.

Carlo’s mind ran in circles until he fell into a fitful sleep. He woke up grumpy and heavy-eyed.

Someone was ringing the doorbell. He groaned as he put down the silent alarm clock.

“Hi! Good afternoon!” Audra chirped when Carlo opened the door.

He blinked. “Is it afternoon already?”

“Yes. One fifteen.” She showed the small face of her wrist watch. “I’m late by fifteen minutes.”

“Oh, come in.” He indicated the room where his sitting room was supposed to be.

Carlo went to the bathroom. He looked rumpled. His stubble was noticeable and his hair was a mess.

And he was only wearing a black boxer.

He shook his head as he repaired his appearance. He was once again presentable when he went out again.

Audra seemed relieved when she saw he was wearing a jeans and a white shirt. His stubble remained but his long hair brushed.

“I — uh — took the liberty of checking your home office. You’re right. Everything is in their right place.” She smiled shakily. “But the other rooms, the living room and dining room, can do a lick of paint. And the kitchen—”, she stopped as he opened the door, “—is a major project!”

Carlo laughed. He was surprised to hear himself laughing.

“The whole house is a major, major project. Please, design everything.” He was feeling reckless suddenly.

“Are you serious?” Audra widened her eyes. “I mean, we must sit down and discuss your likes.” She cleared a side of the dining table then spread her things.

The discussion went while they both drank hot black coffee and ate the fluffy scrambled eggs he cooked.

“My taste is simple. Nothing elaborate. Color? Green and a bit of red.”

Audra nodded as she scribbled away. “Can I add splashes of other colors here and there?”

Carlo thought for a minute. “You can. But please show me the drawings first.”

“Of course.”

No one noticed the lengthening shadows as time went by. They were both engrossed on what they were doing. She, sketching the first drafts, and he, was looking on the fruits of her talented fingers.

“I like this one. Could you make this one white?” He approved two of the sketches at first glance. “I’ll think about these.” He indicated the others.

“Those are initial drafts. I can improve them tomorrow.” Audra looked tired but happy. She finished putting notes on rooms that met his approval.

She stood up and stretched. Her blouse went up and showed a sliver of skin.

Carlo was transfixed. It was not the first time he saw a woman’s ribs but it was definitely the first time his heart galloped. He turned his back to drink a glass of water.

“Oh, look at the time. Mike should be here any moment.”

Audra wandered to his office. She looked at the room by the doorway.

“Is this room included?” The question was just a formality. She was busily re-arranging everything inside her head.

“Make it the last.”

“Okay.” She moved abruptly, turning around and bumping at him in surprise. “Oh.” She ended being held in his arms.

“Audra…”

“Carlo—”

A ringtone sounded loud and shrill. She jumped.

“Sorry,” she mumbled when she turned to the room once again.

Carlo was frustrated when he reached for his mobile phone. It was on the large working desk. His eyes were on Audra. She wandered towards the windows. Her hands were holding her elbows, as though cold.

It was Mike.

“Carlo, is Audra still with you? Can I ask you to drive her home again?”

Carlo wanted to ask Mike what he planned to do with his girlfriend. He restrained his reply. “Yes.”

“Here.”

Audra automatically caught the phone when it flew to her direction. “Hello?”

He went out of the room and out of the house. His fist went straight against the garage door. His knuckle were grazed and hurt like hell.

Audra, with red eyes and puffy nose, came out. She was not looking at him.

“I’ll bring the final drawings tomorrow afternoon. Late afternoon. You know, traffic.” A car stopped in front of his house. “Oh, I booked already. No need to drive me. Bye.”

“Bye, Audra.” Carlo managed to utter when the car was gone.

The next day, he waited until late afternoon. He was holding the phone but he didn’t know what he would say.

It rang. He pressed the button.

“Hello?”

“Audra. Can—can I go there? But—but I don’t have the drawings—” She hiccupped.

“Yes, you can come. Yes, without the drawings!” He almost said, ‘Damn the drawings!’

Click.

Carlo walked around the house as he waited. Damn the traffic! He cursed silently when two hours had gone by.

He ran out when he heard a car. It was Audra. She looked small and tragic as she alighted from the taxi.

“Audra.”

“You—you said I’ll call you when I need a f-friend.”

“Come in,” he invited. He was careful not to touch her. “Coffee?”

“I brought these.” She bought three six-can of beer and a bag of peanuts from a grocery.

Carlo didn’t have the heart to tell her that he didn’t drink alcohol. Instead, he put the cans into the refrigerator.

“I cooked dinner while waiting for you.” He ladled the spaghetti into two plates. He had to do practical things like cleaning and washing the dishes.

“I h-haven’t breakfast yet.” Audra bravely dug into her spaghetti. Her eyes were still not looking at him.

He sat in front of her, watching her eat and drink. He topped up her glass of water.

“That was delicious!” she exclaimed when she swallowed the last mouthful. “Thank you.”

“When you live alone, you learned a dish or two.” Carlo smiled. “You want more?”

She shook her head. Her lips curled inward and she inhaled as though saving breath.

“Mike’s cheating on me,” she blurted at last.

“How—did he admit it?” He guessed as much.

“I heard him and her before the phone line ended.”

He waited.

“And then, I called him back. I ended things between us.”

“That’s all?” he asked after waiting for more.

“W-what else can I do? It was the fourth girl—plus the others unknown to m-me!” Her knuckles were white as she covered her mouth. She bravely stopped herself from crying.

“C’mon, you can cry.” Carlo invited.

“I’m not crying on that cheat!” she screamed at him. “I’m crying because I let him walk over me. I cut my hair just to please him!” The last sentence was said with so much regret.

“You can grow your hair back,” was his lame reasoning. He didn’t know what to say.

“I put on so much gunk on my lashes,” she continued to rant. “I let him maul me in public. Oh, the list is so long I’ll bore you!”

“You can say it all to me.” He got the beer out of the refrigerator, the peanuts in a bowl. He ladled the last of spaghetti and put it in front of Audra.

“We’ve been together four months,” she said more calmly. And she did what he hoped for, eating more spaghetti.

‘Four months, three weeks and two days,’ he computed to himself.

“But we did what he wants and go where he likes. We never did what I want for once.”

“And what is it you want?” He topped up the glass with water.

“Well, I’d want to cook him dinner and stay at home. Watch tv or play chess…” She drank some water. “I guess, that sounds retiring. I shouldn’t be involved with him in the first place,” she sighed as she shook her head.

Silence reigned for a while. Audra was quiet now, her anger gone. She looked sleepy.

“Would you like to sleep?” Carlo caught her swaying in her seat. He held on to her as though she were porcelain.

“I feel sleepy but… isn’t it embarrassing? Sleeping on you…” She yawned as she burrowed deeper in his embrace.

He didn’t answer as he laid her on his bed. After making sure that she was comfortable, he left with the door ajar. He sat on the sofa, facing her. He was feeling peaceful having her under his roof.

Carlo woke as the scratching sound grew furious. He opened his eyes curiously.

Audra was sketching on her pad, her concentration full. Her brow was knitted and her teeth were chewing her lips.

He wasn’t sure but he guessed she was sketching him.

“Done?” His voice was husky.

“Oh. You’re awake,” she jumped when he spoke suddenly.

“May I see it?”

“Oh. It—it is not finished yet. I sketched your office and—and I’m not sure of it,” she finished breathlessly.

Carlo’s eyes smiled. “What if I tell you, you can paint it any color and I’d be happy working in it?”

Audra’s lips opened to perfect ‘o’.

He managed to extract the sketchpad from her nerveless fingers.

His guess was correct. He was the subject but with his hair cut short.

And he was wearing the black boxer.

He looked so manly.

“Do I look like that the other day?”

“From what I remember.” She tried to pluck it from him.

“I don’t like boys,” he said seriously. “Or men.”

“W-what do you mean?”

“Do you feel what I feel?” Carlo held her hand. He felt the satisfying sensation, the electricity that seemed to flow from her skin to his palm.

“Yes…” she whispered back.

“It’s you I want, Audra. And I’m willing to wait.”

“Carlo…”

“I’m also having my hair cut.”

“No! You don’t have to cut it.” Audra’s fingers combed through the lustrous strands. “It’s beautiful.”

“But not manly.”

“Oh, Carlo!”

“What say we’ll have our hair grow back?”

She was speechless.

“Then, if your heart is mended by then…” He let it hang.

“Thank you for understanding, Carlo.” Audra’s eyes sparkled with happiness.

“I understand girls,” he said simply.

The next day, his crown of shoulder-length straight hair was cut and now preserved in a glass jar.

The next weeks were spent his house. It was being renovated before his eyes. Audra supervised workers while he worked in his office. At night, they played chess or watched a movie on tv.

It was a month before Mike could call him.

“Hey, bro, long time no hear! Whazzup?”

“Fine. What about you?” Carlo stirred the sauce. He checked the water if it was boiling.

“Well, I broke up with that crazy girl Audra. She was so uptight and she thought me as gay as you.”

He decided to switch off the fire to stove when Mike mentioned Audra.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, with your hair long—”

“Where are you?” he cut in. He walked toward the office and stopped in front of his computer with a large monitor.

“At the office. There’s a new bar just opened—”

“I’m video calling you.”

“What the—you cut your hair short!” Mike looked years older than his true age. His nights of hard drinking and womanizing ways were starting to show on his appearance. Or the video was not good on him.

“And I don’t regret it.”

“Carlo, where are you?” She was just finishing up the den when he started cooking dinner.

Before he could switch off the video, Audra was on the screen too.

Carlo waited for the bomb to drop.

“Oh, hello, Mike. Save your invitation for the next opening bar. We have something to celebrate tonight.”

“Audra? Is that you?” Mike turned a sickly white. His eyes bulged.

Audra shook her head with bouncy curls. “Yes. Goodbye.” She switched off the video call. “Sorry about that,” she said contritely.

“No, it’s okay.”

“I know, he is your bestfriend—”

“Was. My bestfriend is gone. The Mike I knew would never joke about my hair because he was aware of its meaning.”

“I’m curious but I can wait.” She dimpled at him.

“I’ll tell you about it one day.” He promised seriously.

“Now, about that something we’ll celebrate tonight…” Audra drew nearer.

“What’s the occasion?” Carlo’s breath caught.

“You said we both grow our hair first.” Her fingers combed his hair. “But I say, we can’t wait. The feeling’s too strong. Can you be my boyfriend?”

“Yes,” he agreed huskily, imprisoning her in his loose embrace.

“Kiss me…”

Their lips communicated silently.

Inspired by song: “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth

Lyrics:

One Call Away (Charlie Puth)

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away

Call me, baby, if you need a friend
I just wanna give you love
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon
Reaching out to you, so take a chance

No matter where you go
You know you’re not alone

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away

Come along with me and don’t be scared
I just wanna set you free
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon
You and me can make it anywhere
For now, we can stay here for a while
Cause you know, I just wanna see you smile

No matter where you go
You know you’re not alone

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away

And when you’re weak I’ll be strong
I’m gonna keep holding on
Now don’t you worry, it won’t be long
Darling, and when you feel like hope is gone
Just run into my arms

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one, I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away

I’m only one call away

(Courtesy: azlyrics.com)

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