Postcards From the Ledge (and Other Extraordinary Folk): Slugger ~ Part A

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 7th Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Fiction

Join me in a stroll through an eclectic collection of short stories filled with gay and straight characters in the mid-Michigan communities of Lansing and East Lansing and surrounding areas as they laugh, love, and find their lives intertwined in inexplicable ways. (Some of the stories - not all - contain softcore male/male sex scenes, and some of the material contained has been previously published on Wikinut by this author and have been modified from it's original form.)

Decisions, Decisions!

(Author's Note: This story like most of the short stories contained in this book were written last winter over a 6-week period during February-March 2014 prior to several of the U.S Federal Court rulings of the past two months or so which have overturned several individual state rulings in the U.S. (Michigan among them) allowing same-sex couples to finally become married. I have chosen not to rewrite any of the stories to reflect this change for many reasons but to allow them to remain in the setting and point in time which they were written which is predominantly the first half of 2014 unless otherwise noted or in some cases of some stories the narrative will take you into the past or the not too distant future. ~ K.P.)

Wilson Biggerstaff had a huge decision to make, and if his heart had anything to do with it a huge announcement also.

You see, Wil was a college All-American shortstop playing for the Michigan State Spartans and several pro teams were interested in him signing a contract when he graduated in June, and graduate he would. Wil had it all brains and brawn. Six feet tall, 185 pounds all in the right spots of perfectly proportioned muscle. Fast but light and agile on his feet, great throwing arm with decent range, and to top it all off a .410 batting average and with power. My God, the Tigers, Yankees, Braves, and Brewers were all chomping at the bit to sign him, and he knew that all were excellent prospects especially the Yankees now that Derek Jeter had just announced his retirement come the end of the 2014 season. That would leave a spot, a huge vacancy they would need to fill, and Wil possessed the street creds to do the job. However, what they didn’t know . . .

Wil was gay. And Wil had a boyfriend, Yale Harvard, and neither of them were too keen on keeping their relationship quiet when Wilson went pro. On the other hand Wil hadn’t come out of the closet at the college level yet at least with a formal announcement for a lot of obvious reasons, and both of them were scared shitless of the unknown.

“Let’s face it,” Wil said over dinner with his lover at Hamburger Harry’s on this nerve-wracking early Friday evening just a week before the pro baseball draft, “if we announce, no matter how positive we put it, I’m still gonna be the Jackie Robinson of the Rainbow Parade in profession baseball. That’s huge, Yale!”

“I know, I know, Dude,” Yale shook his head sadly in response, his blue eyes looking around to see if there might be anyone to catch him rubbing a smudge of ketchup from the corner of Wil’s mouth. “But I don’t want to keep looking over my shoulder like this for the rest of our lives either. So far here in East Lansing nobody has seemed really to care, I don’t think, or at least I haven’t seen any clandestine pics of us appearing anywhere that would necessarily tip off any of the outside world to make anyone think we’re anything more than buds. But sooner or later there will be paparazzi especially if you go to New York!”

“I know Babe, I know.”

“And see,” Yale whispered back, “I hate to point this out, but you really need to be careful about calling me Babe in public and other PDA’s. Somebody’s gonna get the wrong idea or rather the right idea that we don‘t want them to have!”

Wil smiled back sheepishly, “You’re right, of course, but you’re the one who wiped the ketchup from my face!” And then he gave a playful chuckle, quietly, of course.

Yale blushed and replied, “Touche! But I looked around first. All I’m saying is we’ve gotta come to a decision. Seventy-two hours, Wil. Three days. It has to be that if you’re gonna make an announcement, then that’ll give the rags and other noisemakers time to screw us over before the draft and enough time for us to do as much damage control as possible.”

Yale looked over at his pensive boyfriend of just over two beautiful years and noticed how deep in thought he’d sunk and sighed. “Just don’t let it weigh so heavy, Wil. I’m in this with you all the way. You know I’ll still love you and believe in you no matter what.” Yale whispered the last part so softly since they were in a public restaurant that he was practically mouthing the words across the table to his beloved.

“You see,” Wil whispered back almost in despair, “that’s the point! I think you just made up my mind for me. I’m sick of this shit, Yale, I really am! And no amount of money and no amount of hiding is gonna make it right!” Wil stabbed his left index finger in the air to punctuate his frustration at this point. “I’m sick of us hiding behind the Fuchsia Curtain, goddamnit!” Wil raised his voice during the final portion of his tirade to the point that the young straight-appearing couple in the next booth seemed to have caught the Fuchsia Curtain part and gave them a curious look. Fortunately, there was a sufficient enough din on this Friday evening in Hamburger Harry’s to sufficiently quell much of his tirade. However, Yale received the news with more than sufficient mirth.

“All right, Wil, you’ll have my full and everlasting support, and for what it’s worth,” and Yale didn’t look around to see if anyone was watching anymore, because he didn’t give a damn as he reached over and took both of his lover’s hands into his own in an effort to make certain that the last portion of his declaration was underscored, “I think you’ve made the right decision.”

“Thanks Babe,” Will said thoughtfully. And then he chuckled in retrospection as something popped into his head. Looking up into Yale’s eyes, “Do you know what the news people are gonna do when they make the connection between gay and my last name? They’ll have a fucking field day!” And they both start laughing.

“Hey my lips are sealed,” Yale said. And he raised his right hand in the Boy Scouts sign and intoned seriously, “I solemnly swear that I promise never to tell anyone in the news media or otherwise just how BIG Mr. Biggerstaff’s staff really is, of course they wouldn’t believe me anyway. You could hit home runs with that thing!” And then upon quiet reflection Yale looked over at his lover and reflected with that effervescent twinkle in his eyes, “When you announce me as your boyfriend they’re certain to notice my name too, and someone’s bound to notice that I’m not Ivy League!” That got another rise out of both of them.

Wil laughed and threw his napkin at his lover as they got up to leave the restaurant with tears in their eyes from laughter. They agreed that Wil should contact his agent immediately in an attempt to arrange a hasty press conference for the next day to get this announcement out of the way. After all, better to fling it out there now that the agonizing decision had been reached. They’d only been tossing this around for several months, and how relieved they now felt. Yet they both knew in the back of their minds that the circus was about to begin.

Wil's Coming Out Party

Grand Legion, Michigan was the small community just north of Lansing where Wil had grown up though he was born in one of the big hospitals in Michigan’s capital city. However, despite the fact he’d grown up in a conservative smaller community environment, Wil had been nurtured in a loving, strong, cohesive, yet somewhat liberal family unit as the eldest of four children with one younger brother Jackson, two years his junior, followed by their two sisters Alexis and Abigail. Their father Mason Biggerstaff worked as a mid-level civil servant within the Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing, and mother Helen a nurse at the very same hospital where all four children came into the world. And all four children were loved and felt it, not that the family didn’t have its moments, what family didn’t? Yes, Wil thought at one point in his life growing up, perhaps they were a little like The Brady Bunch minus a funny, all-knowing housekeeper, but it was all good.

However, in the back of his mind, he knew his sexual attraction to other boys as he was growing into his teen years was going to affect the entire house. The difference between Wil and the vast majority of gay males at this stage in life was that while he veiled this compulsion in public (and yes, at home also until the closet door opened), he always knew that at some point he would talk about it with his mom. They were too close not to. And somehow he knew she would understand.

That conversation came shortly prior to Wil’s sixteenth birthday. School had just let out for the summer, and he was supposed to be getting ready for a baseball practice which Helen was going to run him and Jackson to. But Wil was acting sort of mopey that afternoon, and he just wasn’t his usual vigorous self with all of his energy bursting and bouncing off the walls everywhere. Helen knew something was up, and since he wasn’t quite ready to leave for practice yet, and it was just the two of them alone in the kitchen cleaning up the lunch dishes, she looked at her forlorn firstborn and gently said, “Okay, out with it. What’s making you so unhappy today Son?”

Wil looked up at his mother rather tentatively with tears starting to form in the corners of his eyes, and he cocked his head slightly to the left as he shrugged his shoulders and let out a long sigh, “I’m gay mom. That’s all. Just that . . . ,” and he swallowed a huge lump in his throat, “I’m gay.”

Helen never even so much as flinched, but rather held out her arms to her momentarily worried son. “Come here,” and he walked over to receive the comfort of her embrace. “I was already pretty sure you were, and that’s fine by me,” she said patting him on the back.

“Oh, thank God!” Wil sighed into her ear. “But how did you suspect? I don’t act girly do I?”

“No, no,” Helen softly chuckled as she pressed her thumbs to the corners of Wil’s eyes to dry the tears that had slipped out of them. “You’re just as macho as ever. But let’s face it. You’re virtually sixteen years old, and you’ve never dated any girls. Makes a mom wonder now wouldn’t it?”

“I suppose so. Do you think other people notice?”

“Maybe, maybe not,” Helen replied, “but do you care? I say fuck ‘em,” she added quietly with a devilish twinkle in her eyes.

“Not really,” Wil smiled back at his mother in amazement. He’d never heard her use that word before.

“Not that you necessarily have to run around shouting it to the world now, unless you want to,” Helen counseled as they both began to laugh. “There’ll come a time when you’re ready for that.”

“No, no, I don’t think I’m gonna do that now.”

“I was just thinking about your safety, that‘s all,” Helen said. “You never know when there might be a couple of idiots running around out there like the ones who did in Matthew Shepherd.”

“Matthew who, Mom?”

“Okay, Wil,” Helen placed both of her shoulders on Wil’s shoulders as she gave him that mom-to-son look. “If you’re gay and you’re gonna exist as a minority member of society in this messed up world, looks like we need to get you educated to a few things.”

And it was from this conversation that Helen Biggerstaff began taking the lead in educating her gay son somehow behind the prying eyes of the family, and for the next few weeks she would visit the huge public library in Lansing and a variety of smaller used book stores there and in East Lansing to locate what she could not only on the topics of safe sex, but just as importantly on Gay & Lesbian History. Wil soaked up this stuff like a sponge learning names like the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, Stonewall, Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepherd, and Wil also learned the profound effect that the AIDS epidemic inflicted upon not only American society but the entire world in general. As he studied all this he remarked to his mother that what he’d been learning should be required coursework for every gay and lesbian in the world as well as their loved ones and supporters, and Helen couldn’t agree more, because every book Wil had read she had also as soon as he’d finished with it followed by a brief mother-son discussion. If mom and son weren’t close enough before all of this, the entire experience brought them absolutely as close as any mother and son could get.

It was shortly after his ‘required coursework’ remark that Wil came out to the rest of the family within the confines of the immediate household and in time the remaining grandparents and ancillary aunts, uncles, and cousins on a need-to-know basis after he began dating Yale in college. Neither Mason nor Jackson were really surprised, and nobody in the immediate household cared. They truly loved Wil for who he was, and if he was gay then so be it. And the general rule for what couple of remote family members who had seemed rather chilly about the idea when notified after Wil had begun his long-term relationship with Yale had been as Helen so tersely stated in the first place, “Fuck ‘em.”

Wil kept this side of himself under wraps for the remainder of his high school years choosing not to rock the boat so-to-speak at small Grand Legion High School, but after he went off to the big university just a few miles to the south and found himself lost in the liberalness and freedom of over 40,000 students not knowing or caring who he was, only then did he allow himself to assume a certain amount of a gay identity to the extent that he began experimenting around with other college guys his own age.

And then halfway through their sophomore year he met Yale. Both of them were pursuing teacher education although his was in Phys. Ed., and he was already making waves on the college baseball team as he had on Grand Legion’s small high school team where he’d made All-State. So professional baseball was a distinct possibility. Who knew yet? But Yale wanted to teach reading, and the funny thing was they didn’t meet on campus of all things. Of course with 42,000 and change attending classes that can happen even when your majors are almost the same and you’re in the same year. But no, Wil and Yale met at church.

One of the reasons that Wil’s family was so progressive and had been so understanding about his sexual orientation was that Mason and Helen had been members of one of Lansing’s oldest and largest United Church of Christ congregations and had voted along with the overwhelming majority back in the late 90’s to make that congregation ONA (Open and Affirming) which basically means open to everyone, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, spotted, fuchsia, black, white, polka dot, striped, you name it. The reality here being that Christ’s table should be open to everyone to partake from, and those who belong to the UCC would be open to affirming this. Not all UCC churches, however, have adopted ONA into their bylaws, unfortunately, only about half, but Wil was reared in one that was, and when he began at MSU he switched to Woodlawn Congregational UCC also ONA and just off campus so much more convenient for him to get to.

It had been at a singles party at the church to which word had gotten around that Yale just happened to show up and the pair met, and well, one thing led swiftly to another. It took no time at all, and Yale became a fixture at Wil’s side every Sunday at Woodlawn, and as far as the congregation was concerned the two were a wonderfully cute couple. And they were by far not the only gay and lesbian couple who attended. Even the associate pastor of the congregation was partnered to her longtime lover of over twenty years and were numbered among the throng.

So as this big announcement loomed, if any news journalist worth his or her salt would have cared to scratch the surface just a little bit, they would have found lurking what was already a huge open secret that nobody paid any mind. The truth of the matter was nobody really cared. And the reason nobody cared, was that everybody loved these guys. Wil and Yale were the Bobby & Ken Dolls of the MSU community only they didn’t even realize it!

(This concludes the 1st part of "Slugger." Next up: Parts B & C which will continue and conclude the story.)

Link to the next story, Part B of "Slugger" . . . Here


Erotic Romance, Erotica, Gay Community, Gay Couples, Gay Experience, Gay Lesbian And Bisexual, Gay Love, Gay Marriage, Gay Marriage Rights, Gay Men, Gay Rights, Gays, Lgbt, Lgbt Community, Sex, Sexual Activity, Sexual Attraction, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Life, Sexuality, Short Fiction, Short Stories

Meet the author

author avatar Ken Painter
Retired Chicago public school teacher. Singer, songwriter, musician, author, & opinionated old curmudgeon. Married to my husband & living in Colorado, USA. Also a father & grandfather.

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