The Chase

Phillip Meets Chase

Phillip wanted to celebrate his promotion to National Creative Director of New Accounts. He’d decided to invest in a completely new downhill ski package: Rossignol skis, Nordica boots, poles, gloves, goggles, and the Roffe warm ups and jacket. He asked around and discovered that R.E.I, on Yale Street, was having an autumn sale.

He’d wandered into the store, shocked by the enormous space, the buzz, the caffeinated salespeople, several of whom acknowledged him with a “Been helped?” or “Know what you’re looking for?” which he politely declined. And suddenly, there he was- exactly what Phillip was looking for, though he hadn’t known it.

“Hello,” the man said, directly, openly.

Phillip was disarmed by his unwavering stare, immediately self-conscious, as when one wonders, is there food in the corner of my mouth? Sleepiness in my eyes? Did I brush my teeth before I left the house?

“Hello,” Phillip managed. He felt his heart accelerate, and grabbed the closest rack of women’s leggings to steady himself. “Do you, you work here?” What a stupid question. Of course he did, why else wear a name tag?

“Name’s Chase,” he said, holding out his hand.

Phillip noticed the calluses and tan, smooth skin, taut fingers. He was scared to shake, his palms were sweaty and he was sure he would stammer more. “Ph- Phillip,” he said with a nod. Did Chase wink, or did he imagine it?

“Very nice to meet you, Phillip. And what brings you to R.E.I. today?”

Oh, he was smooth and his teeth were perfect and god he hoped he was older than 18, was he? Yes, he had to be!

“I’m looking, thinking about-” Get it together. Phillip had to look away, at the rack of hiking boots adjacent. “Uh, any skiing packages on sale?”

“Great.” That smile again. “We’ve got some super promotions right now.”

Did he say super? Phillip nodded.

“Are you interested in downhill or cross-country?” Chase turned to walk toward the ski department, then turned back. Phillip wondered if he’d been caught staring at his rump. “Or both?”

Once again, Phillip felt tongue-tied. Was it him, or did Chase have the most seductive smile he’d ever seen? “Downhill.”

“Me too.” Chase lifted his hand to high five him, but Phillip had no idea what he was doing. Chase turned and walked away once again.

Nearly an hour later, Phillip was outfitted with fifteen hundred dollars worth of new gear. He’d overspent his budget, but had no control once his need to impress Chase was unleashed. At the register, Chase was ringing him up when he’d asked, “Ever do any climbing?”

“You mean, like rock climbing?” Phillip asked.

“Yeah, I wondered because I have a friend who built a climbing gym in her garage. Just wanted to know if you’d be into checking it out?” Chase handed him his Visa and receipt, grinning.

Was this a date? Phillip began to breathe a little heavier. “That sounds fun, but I have to warn you, I’m a virgin.” He blushed. “I mean, I’ve never climbed, indoors or outdoors.” He tucked his receipt into his wallet.

“Piece of cake,” Chase said. He walked around to Phillip’s side of the register. “You look fit,” Chase said. “It’s like climbing a tree. Ever done that?”

Phillip nodded, deciding this was not the time to talk about his fear of heights. He was in a trance, and at some point he was going to wake up.

Then Chase said, “C’mon, I’ll help carry these bags.”

The sun was high in the sky. The light of a lovely day danced off Chase’s sandy- blonde curls and turned the downy hair on his arms almost reddish-blonde. Phillip, although intrigued, was still confused. Was he blowing this out of proportion? He would rather know in advance, instead of getting his hopes up. Already at 25, he’d racked up his share of unavailable men: married, partnered, addicted, closeted. He was still tossing around the options in his head.

Chase placed the extra bags in Phillip’s trunk, turned to him and handed him a slip of paper that simply said: Chase 342-7107. “Call me?”

“Okay! Yes, I sure will,” Phillip said. “And thanks for all your help this morning,” he mumbled.

“Hey, my pleasure. Thanks for starting my morning right. I gotta head back in. Enjoy your weekend in the Emerald City.” He held out his hand again and Phillip shook it, firmly this time.

And, at last, Phillip relaxed slightly, sharing a lopsided smile that turned into a full, beaming, goofy grin. Their eyes locked. Phillip would never forget that initial contact.

He turned to get into the car watching Chase walk back toward REI.

Suddenly Chase stopped. Made a motion for Phillip to roll down his passenger window. He said, “Oh crap, Phillip, I forgot! Happy Valentine’s day!”

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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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11 Responses to The Chase

  1. Andrea says:

    Adorable story! Butterflies and stumbly mumbly ways are wonderful. What a great gift for Valentine’s Day! Thank you. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  2. Don says:

    This is great, a part of something larger, and longer, perhaps? I believe I’ve heard you talk about Phillip and Chase before. Is this a section from your novel? Fantastic, either way and how apropos that you nailed it for Valentine’s Day. Single I am, but you give me hope that one of these days, my Chase is out there.

  3. Shari says:

    Very sweet story, would cause the reader to revisit how one has met their partner, spouse, lover or another. And I especially enjoyed how flustered and bumbling Phillip seems, and Chase is just a lovely person. Very real. I had a few questions: where does Phillip work, you mention his promotion at the beginning and it seems like a big company, what industry. And toward the end, the sentence that begins with ‘Already at 25…’ I wonder if that might want a little more details. It certainly made me inquisitive about Phillip’s past more, yet might be a little too “summed” up? Either way, another great blog, and I hope we get more of these two?

  4. Angela says:

    “The light of a lovely day danced off Chase’s sandy-blonde curls and turned the downy hair on his arms almost reddish-blonde.” My favorite part 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day!

  5. Karen McQ says:

    Phillip and Chase–I know them!! Loved reading about how they met, and the title was great. My only suggestion? I would have started at paragraph two, (not that you asked for my advice–heh).

  6. Dez says:

    For a straight guy (at least last time I checked!) this was the most wonderful story about two gay guys meeting that I have ever read. You told us just enough, and both Phillip and Chase are so real. Vivid lives, and I like how REI was the store in which they meet. Now, just wondering, will these two guys come back in some more of your stories? I know we ask often, those of us who comment almost daily, but these two are just asking for more of their stories to be told. Your blog might be just the place to make this happen?

  7. david says:

    OMG how did you do that?? I’m already helplessly in love with Chase, and I don’t even know why? Well done.. just pure magic.. I’m tongue tied too.. say that 10 times fast… giddy with delight! Thanks

  8. Beverly says:

    I adored Chase, love Phillip. Want to hear about them again, and again. Ever consider writing a book about them? Do it, please?

  9. Suzi says:

    LOVE IT! Can we please see the rock climbing date now?

  10. theprayerlady says:

    Oh Wonderful… Love, lust is great. You’re amazing with your words and I lived this one. Love you so, Mom

  11. tomfroehlich says:

    As always, you make me walk in his shoes. Simple experinece and you made so much happen.

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