The credit for this opportunity goes to a lot of people. I'd like to thank my critique—ooops. That's my Rita acceptance speech. (Hey. Hell might freeze over. You never know.) Actually, credit goes to the readers who've put down cash in hopes of a good story. So here's a bit of my WIP for fun. And if you see someone doing some crazy car dancing with a lot of fist pumps during your commute home tomorrow—it's me.
Tony Gemetti had a rich fantasy life. No, not like that—except when it was like that—but give him an ordinary circumstance, and he could imagine some pretty weird shit behind it. Like now.
He and his boyfriend Jack had just walked into Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick up something that Jack needed because Jack always needed something to make the house look even more like a picture right out of Architectural Digest. Tony couldn't remember what the thing they were getting was, but he knew after they found it, Jack would let Tony drag him through all the kitchen stuff. Jack the chef would explain what some of the freaky looking equipment was for, and Tony would suggest a much kinkier use for it. Then they'd go home and fuck like something on Animal Planet. Or sometimes they wouldn't make it home. Sometimes they only made it to the car which was fine with Tony, even if they couldn't get up to much since today they’d taken Tony's ancient Rabbit instead of Jack's BMW X-3.
But this trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond wasn't going like that. This was Tony standing alone in the seasonal display area near the front—a weird mix of fans for summer and stuff for kids to put in their dorm rooms and seashell string lights. Jack had said something like "I'm going to get the thing," or maybe he went to the can. Tony wasn't paying attention because there had been this tiny little box that looked like it was made out of twisty ties, and he had to touch it. But now Jack wasn't there. And he didn't come back.
Tony checked out all of the fans, poked at the lap desks—which didn't look to be nearly as interesting as a lap dance—and switched on every one of the snake-necked desk lamps, and Jack still didn't come back. The fantasy thing didn't start right away, because there were still the super fuzzy pillows to touch and candles to smell and a bowl of rocks—people paid money for rocks?—to make fun of. When he put the rocks back into the glass bowl, his elbow caught in a rack of shower caddies and by the time he'd picked them up he knew he'd been waiting at least twenty minutes.
Jack had disappeared.
An alien abduction was too easy. It would have to be something really weird. Tony banked on some kind of government conspiracy. Like he'd go up to the check out and say "Have you seen that guy I came in with?" and they would say "Sir, you came in alone" because Jack was really a deep undercover agent, and some guys in black would erase the surveillance tapes of the store.
Tony would go home, but Jack's house wouldn't be Jack's house, and the pictures of them on Tony's phone would be gone, and their friends Sean and Kyle would act like they'd never heard of Jack. So Tony would have to find him, rescue him from some evil military boss, because Tony was the only one who believed that there had ever been a Jack.
"Hey." Jack appeared at his side, and Tony knocked over the caddies again. He wasn't a klutz. Jack had scared the shit out of him, popping up like that when Tony was halfway to convinced he was the only person on the planet left with a memory of Jack.
"Did you get the covers for the mop?"
"The what?" Okay. Tony had heard Jack the first time. But it took a little time to get back from fantasyland, especially when the return destination was a Bed, Bath and Beyond in Canton, Ohio. So, Jack hadn't been erased. He'd still disappeared for a long-ass time.
"I thought you went to get them."
"I told you I wanted to look at a new duvet. I've been all over the store looking for you."
There might have been a few more acres of towels, shower curtains, and bedspreads than the entire state of Ohio required in this one store, but it didn't take twenty minutes to do a lap around it. Not even two laps.