Ken Fleckenstein

The Boy off Steinway St 

You looked just like your picture yet your eyes were more afraid than mine. We learned we both lived in Providence at the same time, had went to the same bars, hated the same clubs, and had the same types though I wasn’t here for small talk and commiseration of our overlapping time periods.

I remember your apartment was dark despite feeling the sun pulsating through your bedroom. You told me you didn’t have an air conditioner and I really wish you had put that in your profile next to your intimately detailed body measurements. You nervously offered me a lime seltzer and told me your ex had just moved out so you had his leftovers and even an old pile of his clothes that sat in the corner. You took a second to point it out and stare at the pile in silence. I could see you were still trying to get over it yet you made sure to tell me you weren’t one for this kind of thing and that you had just made an account because, as a single queer man, that’s what you were suppose to do, right?

I didn’t know.

It would take more soul searching than this to fully understand that. It was not my first and certainly not my last.

You must’ve read my signals wrong as I unbuttoned my shorts so you grabbed your bottle of lube. It was running low and I wondered how much if it was shared between you and the ex I thought nothing of and how many other small things like the lime seltzer you’d ask me to share of his. Your actions seemed so familiar yet your shaking hands understood the weight of emotions breathing down our necks in this dense, thick, summer sweat.

I urged you to slow down but you didn’t know what that meant until I was grabbing my underwear from the corner of your mattress with no box spring. We both had different lessons to learn of desires, needs, and what to do with piles of dirty clothes that belonged to someone that moved out a week ago. I didn’t want to stick around to learn and you didn’t want to try.

Tying my shoes on the way out your cat waltz over to me. With a small pet I asked if it was a boy or girl.

“Oh, he’s a girl but he has male cat energy, you know what I mean?”

Truthfully, I had no clue what you meant; my brain was too ashamed to process the gender fluidity of a feline I’d never see again.

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