Looking for Clues

Looking for Clues

We sat in the dark waiting for the first actors to take the stage. As soon as he entered, I leaned over to my best friend, Giselle and whispered, “He’s dreamy.” I scanned my program like she did. Stewart Harriman; transferred from Syracuse U, theater major,  semester abroad at London’s Old Vic.

I leaned close to Giselle again. “Bet he’s gay.” Okay, I’d hoped he was.

“No way,” she whispered. “He’s straight.”

So, the bet was on. For the rest of  Charley’s Aunt, I scrutinized for lisps or limps, capes tossed with too much flourish, any other theatrical gesticulation that might suggest possibilities. Instead his performance was exquisite, nuanced with tinges of sensitivity, balanced by bravado. Not even an ounce of gay hope. Giselle and I sprinted to the green room afterwards, throngs of underclassmen surrounded him.

But it was Giselle who caught his eye. She was right, straight Stewart was, and straight into her bed he dove.

It was likely for the best, as I was transitioning through yet another fallout with Tom, Dick or Harry. At the ripe age of 21, I felt washed up, a senior who’d been ready to graduate as a freshman. Giselle met me at the Letchworth Diner for brunch.

“Why so glum?” she asked. Ordered an iced tea.

“Where do you want me to start?”

“You’ll be okay, Buzz.” She patted my arm.  “Are you still seeing Timmy?”

“You mean Tommy?” I shook my head no, sighed. “He wanted to see other people.” A plate of steaming french fries arrived. We always shared.

“Maybe you ought to try someone our age? What about Gary?”

“Nope.” I made a face. “Closet case.”

“Fair enough. Donald?”

“Get serious. He’s about twice my size.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know that mattered. Damn, these fries are good today.”

I huffed but I wasn’t really offended. Giselle was just trying to help. “How’s Stewart?” I tried to hide my jealousy.

“He’s fantastic. He drives me absolutely wild. ‘Course, I don’t see enough of him. He’s rehearsing for Gemini, so he leaves at some insane hour. It’s still dark out.”

I pretended to be happy. “That’s nice, I’m glad things are working out.”

“Me too,” Giselle said. She smiled at me. A little piece of french fry stuck in her gums and it made me feel slightly better.

Our senior year progressed, Giselle’s time divided by school and Stewart. They nearly moved in together for spring semester, but he got cold feet. Hmm. Turns out, Giselle told me, it was after he’d moved in with English girlfriend, Evelyn, that things took a drastic, irreparable turn. He didn’t want to repeat that with Giselle. Okay, so add smart to his resume.

I’d begun to hate them by the time spring finally rolled around. Not to mention that we’d done more than just a few theater projects together- all three in Dr. Cho’s Theater History class, as well as Scene Design 2. When Giselle’s lead actor bowed out of her senior project, Why Hanna’s Skirt Won’t Stay Down, I was shocked she asked me to take the lead role. We met that Sunday at the diner.

“Why didn’t you ask Stewart?”

“I did. He’s too busy with his own senior project,” she said.

Of course. “What play did he choose?”

“He doesn’t know yet.”

“When does he have to choose?”

“This weekend. But there’s something else I have to tell you.”

I was all ears. “What’s up?” Her face changed and she looked as if she might cry. “Giselle, what is it?”

“I’m fairly certain…” She looked down at her hands, then back into my eyes. “I’m pregnant.”

“Stewart’s?” I blurted, didn’t mean to. Of course it was him. I took her hand.

A tear slid down her face. “What am I gonna do?”

They’d placed us at a corner booth, so I slid closer to her. “How did this happen? You had a diaphragm, right? Did it break?” Truth was, I hadn’t even seen one before.

“No, it was about a month ago. Stewart was supposed to come over after the cast party for A Christmas Carol. He’d designed the lights, so he felt he had to go. It got late and I crashed. When I woke up around midnight, I was a little miffed because he’d said he would stop over by ten. The next thing I remember, there was pounding on my front door. He was drunk, apologized, then barged into my room. We barely discussed protection before he was…before it was too late.”

I didn’t know what to say. I could feel how upset she was, and for good reason. “I’ll help however I can.” Our waitress dropped off our fries. “What did Stewart say?”

“I haven’t told him yet.”

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About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, writer, editor, and workshop leader, his poems and fiction are widely published in print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Connotation Press, Metazen, Thrice, Literary Orphans and Housefire. He is Senior Flash editor at JMWW and Lost in Thought magazines and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing. He is a six times Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His collections are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps): Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press).
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14 Responses to Looking for Clues

  1. Andrea says:

    Very realistic and probably all too true story. HA! and uh oh spaghetti-o.

    • Gloria says:

      Oh My Gawd, so much of “MY” ego stuff involved in this story and then the brutal truth of one mistake. That hurt my heart for her.
      Love Mom

  2. Dez says:

    This is so well crafted, very realistic, and you feel for both Giselle and Buzz, as well as what might happen with the Stewart development (him? her? both?) Only suggestion I have is possibly plant a hint of Gizelle’s uneasiness earlier in this last scene? Her reveal seems to come on rather fast. Perhaps that is your intention? And possibly their ages?

  3. david says:

    For some reason diners remind me of getting an abortion. Well done… I’m frightened by the sound of the telephone.

  4. Angela says:

    Very realistic. Wasn’t feeling fond of Stewart by the end – all those petty jealousies of his so-called “friend.” Tartar…and well done. x@

  5. Don says:

    Poor Buzz, I felt for him and his pal, Giselle. But ol Stewie can go Blowie!

  6. Betsy says:

    I am back at Brockport right now, at Conners Corners. It’s all so real! 🙂

  7. Beverly says:

    This is a lovely story, great characters and well developed dialogue. You ought to consider writing screenplays. Have you ever thought of that? I can see this as it unfolds and it’s already way better than 95% of what is on TV or in the movie theaters.

  8. G says:

    i am also looking for clues……..i think these characters have run through my life as well as yours………. t
    i enjoy this writing style, it is personal. I can attach to a character if not more and that keeps me interested. I like to see how they interact and act, am i going to like what they do next or like my life will i find that people disappoint other people w/out intending their actions to affect others. keep it coming

  9. Shari says:

    Love this story and I want to see the rest of this. Would you share it all on One Writer’s Life? I hope you will. If not, you have my e-mail address. Please send it if you wouldn’t mind. No pressures but I want to see where this all goes.

  10. tomfroehlich says:

    Being a “Mo” myself I’m a little over the ‘is he gay, is he straight’ story as it IS my life! But nice. Interesting, how we don’t want to be jealous of something a friend has, yet we are. Then when their life takes a turn for the worse, and is even worse than our own, we feel badly for them, but in some sick sense relieved because now we’re not the one with the crappy life. “She’s got the hot guy, but at least I can’t get knocked up!” Why can’t there just be an equal distribution of happiness among friends?

  11. Frederick says:

    I enjoyed this one. Wonder if it continues or if you stop cold like this intentionally? Seems to be a very true voice from life experience speaking here.

  12. carolyn says:

    Reminds me of somebody…actually the way it is written make me want to read more, but then maybe it is stronger just the way it is.

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