Postcards From the Ledge (and Other Extraordinary Folk): Some Men Go Just Where They Want (Story 2) ~ Part B

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 2nd Jan 2015 | 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 its original form.)


Upon returning home a few days later Gavin put the music for Down Home Country Blues which had been kicking around in his head into an audio file on his computer by singing the song into his mike hookup. He then sent the lyrics in an e-mail with the audio in an attachment off to Eric, and told him that he hoped he could use it.

Eric responded the next day with his usual thanks and excitement that yes, he thought the lyric was strong and didn’t require any changes, and he also liked the basic musical idea, but it would require a bit of his own special brand of musical magic as they were coming to look upon it. Gavin had no disagreement with that. And so it would go. If he should have any further brainstorms, they would love them. Also, Eric informed Gavin, that there was some buzz that they were all in line as possible nominees for CMO Awards which would be coming up in the fall, the Rainbow Chaps on the strength of their first album and Gavin as a songwriter on the strength of his first song. Eric was giving him a heads-up that his anonymity may be soon to run out. Thanks, Gavin thought. Gee, thanks. More like, shit!

Rather than tell Harley, Gavin asked him to come over to his desk and read it for himself from the laptop when he got home later.

Harley just began smiling, broader, and broader, and the further he got into the e-mail he kept massaging the shoulder muscles of his most beautiful and yet somewhat terrified-of-the-future lover, and as Harley read the last nugget which unveiled the most terrifying aspect to Gavin Harley just stopped the massaging and leaned down to kiss Gavin’s right cheek and whispered in his ear, “I know this bothers you, but will you still love me when you’re rich and famous?” And then he leaned back with the most devilish of grins looking at Gavin just waiting for an answer.

“Oh stop!” Gavin laughed while Harley just broke up. “I should know better than to look to you for support!”

“Oh Babe! Now that’s not fair. You know you’ve got my support.” And Harley kissed him full and long then pulled Gavin up into his muscled arms to remind him that everything was all right. “You know I’m just funnin’ you.”

“I know,” Gavin sunk into the embrace. “I don’t doubt you for a moment.” And he smiled at Harley. “But I just really needed your arms around me right now, because when this thing gets out we’re gonna have to hide behind closed doors more than ever to kiss, and hug, and do our thing, because the PDA’s aren’t gonna wash so easily with everybody unless we hide over at Embers or down at No Limits when we’re visiting my mom.”

“Gotcha. But then Todd told me there’s a few gay bars in Nashville too,” Harley reassured him. “It might be the home of the Bible Belt and a lot of conservatives live there, but it’s become a cosmopolitan city too, you know.”

“I know, and those you just mentioned would call us their seedier side now wouldn’t they?”

“Well, of course they would,” Harley agreed, “but we’ll just have to educate them now won’t we?”

“Sorry Dude,” Gavin said shaking his head back at his starry-eyed lover. “I’m a teacher, and I hate to disappoint you, but I know better, Harley. You can’t educate folks who are unwilling to be educated. Now I do agree, however, that we can educate the fence-sitters, and that’s where our best bet lies, but those so-called Christian fundamentalists, don’t waste your time. Their drowning in their own self-righteousness.”

“Then we’ll just be us, and those that like us do, and those that don‘t, so be it.”

“That’s all anyone can do.”

“Amen to that”

The Word is FINALLY Out

Shortly after Gavin began his third go-round at Pines Junior High the nominations were announced for the CMO awards which were to be held in Nashville during the first week in December, and sure enough Did I Leave My Wife For This? was nominated for Best Song of the Year which meant that Gavin and Eric were nominated for the honor as co-songwriters. The curiosity in the category came in that Brave New World was also nominated for Best Song and since this was co-written again by Eric Lindstrom along with his fellow bandmate Todd Steffey, Eric held the unique position of competing with himself. And true to predictions the Rainbow Chaps had been nominated for the Zenith Award which goes to the most promising new act. The one disappointment shared by all was that Brave New World failed to be nominated for Best Album of the Year. All of the guys thought that perhaps maybe the collection was considered too gay, but then the nominated songs were gay, so the question as they saw it was were the nominations a bone-toss or was there some real recognition there. Only time would tell. At the very least the nominations in and of themselves were historic.

As soon as the nominations were announced it didn’t take long for the local media in the Grand Rapids and Wyoming area to figure out the name connection and begin asking questions, and Eric and Todd had already been forewarned to be truthful. So it didn’t take long for Pines Junior High to begin getting phone calls from the press. Knowing this would be the case Gavin had the good sense to have a sit-down with his principal Tom Dunbar the day after the nominations were announced a full week in advance of the disruptive phone calls.

“You what?” Principal Dunbar looked at Gavin like he didn’t exist. “You wrote that song?”

In the principal’s defense, Gavin thought, he didn’t exactly snarl it, “Yeah, I wrote that song. And it’s been nominated for an award by the Country Music Organization in Nashville. Best Song of the Year. I’ll need just a couple of days off to attend the ceremonies, but that’s what I wanted to forewarn you about. I just wanted you to know about this in case the press or any media try to make a circus out of this, because that’s the last thing I want.”

“Well, I appreciate that, and thanks for the heads-up,” Dunbar said. “But if you don’t want a media circus, then why do you want to go to the award ceremony?”

“Well, I’ve been nominated for a prestigious award,” Gavin had a puzzled look on his face. “Maybe I should explain. I’m not ashamed of this song nor of the fact that I wrote it. When I said that I don’t want a media circus, I meant that I don’t want anything with regard to my writing of this song to affect the relative peace and quiet of this school. I cherish how I work with my kids here too much, and I want to keep all of the business associated with this song as separate as possible. Does that make sense to you?”

“Yeah I see your point,” but Gavin could still see a scrunched up looked on Dunbar’s face who then plowed on. “But the fact remains that it’s a gay song!”

“Well, gee, Tom. I suppose it is!” Slow down Gavin, he told himself and breathe, because he could feel himself already flushing. “If we’re gonna throw a label on everything then I’m a gay man who just happens to be an over-qualified 8th grade gay Science Teacher with a Master’s Degree in Earth and Natural Sciences in his 3rd year here but with 13 years teaching experience, and I happen to have had a commitment ceremony a couple of years back with another gay man a gay rancher, and not only does the whole staff know this, but all my students are well aware of this too, and my gay lover whom I call my husband in private, and I wish I could call him that legally, but don’t even get me started on that because that’s a whole other discussion I’m sure you don’t want to listen to, and yes, on top of all of this I wrote a gay song, because there are gay people in the world Tom, and some of us were even married to women before! God forbid! Consider yourself forewarned.” And with that Gavin turned heel and walked briskly out of Principal Dunbar‘s office.

When he recounted the conversation in minute detail to Harley later that day, the cowboy rancher listened intently yet not betraying his emotion to Gavin until he’d heard all the details before commenting, and then he said, “Probably not the best way to handle that situation.”

“Why?” Gavin asked quietly almost looking hurt. “How would you have handled it?”

“Right cross to his mouth. They’d have been looking for his teeth down his esophagus!” Gavin started laughing. “I tell you, Dude, he wouldn’t have known what hit him that’s for sure, and I’ve still got a good mind to go over there and give him a good working over for you. Nobody’s gonna talk about us that way, and nobody’s gonna talk to my Gavy like that, the damn sonofabitch!” And then as quickly as Harley’s tirade had escalated it ended with him sweeping up his beloved into his muscled arms and kissing the hurt of the day away.

Eventually Gavin just swooned in Harley’s embrace and moaned with delight, “Mmmm, my man!”

They moved silently as one into their queen-size bed and turned off the light as all else was quickly forgotten.

However, Principal Tom Dunbar would not be one to forget. He was the boss. He was the one in charge. The head honcho. The big kahuna. It didn’t matter to him one iota that during the previous two years at Pines Gavin had never missed a day of school for any reason. He’d never even been late. His work record was absolutely impeccable. He was well-respected by the staff. Gavin’s students loved him, loved his teaching methods, learned well in his class. Gavin was even reasonably popular among the parents neither overloading their children with useless mundane homework nor teaching only to the tests simply because such had become the fashion among certain administrative circles. No, Gavin walked tall among the rare teachers who could actually teach, but he was gay, and he was smarter than Tom Dunbar. Gavin had done nothing to make him feel that way and probably didn’t even realize it, but Tom knew it and it was making him miserable. But he had some power, and he could wield it.

So regarding the matter of the two days off which Gavin needed to attend the award ceremonies in Nashville with his lover Harley? Denied.

Countdown to Ceremony

The events of their romantic encounter that evening after Harley’s brief tirade had so deeply touched and affected Gavin that it inspired him into action the next afternoon. The resulting effort took a little longer than his last one up on Sleeping Bear, but still at just under an hour Romantic was a good solid lyric, and when Harley came in a short while later from the Double H and read it the tears which formed in his eyes told Gavin all he needed to know that at least he had one fan of the song. For him Harley was fan enough but probably a good harbinger of events to come.

He sent it off to Eric again right away who was happily surprised at receiving it because they were still looking for a couple more songs to fill out the new album which the band was already in rehearsals for and scheduled to begin recording in two weeks. Eric said that while the tune needed a little reworking as usual, other than that Romantic was a lifesaver for them. And by the way, Gavin should know that Turnipseed had thus far given the album project the working title Down Home Country after his song which was being geared as the title cut, and this album would be steered toward a more mainline appeal with still a nod to their gayness. “We’re embracing a little bit of everybody,” Eric had written. Title cut! Gavin thought he might just faint!

When Harley read the news he let out a holler which was most certainly heard all the way up to Traverse City! Of course there was dinner and dancing at Embers.

When December rolled around though and it had come time for the otherwise happy couple to leave for Nashville and the awards ceremony, because they’d already decided to attend despite Gavin’s denial of permission for time off from work, the question still remained of exactly how to handle the delicate situation.

In the back of the limo on the way to the Grand Rapids airport on the evening of their departure, Gavin took out his cell phone and called the sub center arranging for a substitute teacher for the next day. He was coming down with a bad case of the flu. The Blue Flu. Once again later the next afternoon in Nashville Gavin repeated the ruse with his sub center for the following day prior to his and Harley’s departure for the evening’s portion of the awards ceremonies which brought a smile to Harley’s lips and prompted him to ask, “Have you thought about what you’re gonna do if they see you on TV tonight and decide to make a big deal about it?”

“Yup.” Gavin just grinned back at his most beloved significant other without offering further comment.

“Well, you gonna quit?” Harley looked puzzled at his partner’s failure to explain. “You know I’d fully support you in that, well, really in whatever you decide.”

“I know you would,” Gavin smiled with eyes shining. “One of the many, many things I love about you Babe, but no I’m not gonna quit.”

“In that case will you let me go over and rearrange that smarmy sonofabitch Dunbar’s face a bit?” Harley couldn’t hide his glee in asking that question as he broadly smiled.

Gavin just shook his head and laughed it off, “No, no I’m not about to let you go to jail over this though I’ve gotta admit I’d like to hang a picture of Tom’s face on the wall after you got done with him. Maybe turn it into a jigsaw puzzle or something for us on a lazy summer afternoon.” And they both started laughing at that last thought.

“Okay I give,” Harley submitted, “what are gonna do?”


“Nothing?!” Harley looked at Gavin’s goofy grin like his lover had lost his mind. “Okay Lover, now this isn’t like you.” Harley looked at him warily. “What have you got up your sleeve?”

“Okay,” Gavin confessed, “nothing at first. You know the old saying give them enough rope to hang themselves, right?” Harley nodded. “Well, this is all predicated on if they stir up a stink in the first place about me being here tonight which of course we suspect they will. My plan is to just roll with the flow for a while and try to be a good little boy. So far other than these two days I’ve never missed any time from school and my teaching record is perfect. Now what they can do, and what I suspect is gonna happen is they’ll use this to deny granting me tenure at the end of the year sort of like saying don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

“Can they do that?”

“Oh yeah,” Gavin replied, “the school board can do that, but they really need to put together a decent case to do it, and it usually involves some kind of minor technical teaching problems in the classroom. I’ve got no problem there. Plus there are about a half dozen of us district-wide up for tenure, and if I’m the only one denied tenure, oh well, my plan my dear sweet love is to go off into that good-night . . .” and Gavin shot Harley his best shit-eating grin here, “and sue the crap out ‘em!”

“I like it!”

“I don’t expect to get anything out of it, but there’s a principle here,” Gavin said as Harley nodded vigorously in agreement. “A lot of us, and by that I don’t only mean gay folks but I also mean teachers too, have been lying down long enough, we’ve been at the mercy of school boards, non- professional educators who don’t know or understand a goddamn thing about what goes on in the classroom, but they hold the axe over our professional lives and let me tell you too many of them just love to wield it! Well, let me tell you Harley, quite frankly this award ceremony is giving me a little national exposure, and goddamnit I’ll use the hell out of it if I have to!”

That’s my man!” Harley then pushed Gavin into a secluded alcove and wrapped his burly arms around his partner planting a huge kiss on his laughing lips only moments before the cab they’d ordered pulled up to the curb in front of their hotel and whisked them off to the award ceremony and their future.

And the Award Goes to . . .

It wasn’t the night for Gavin or Did I Leave My Wife For This? to win for Best Song nor did the Rainbow Chaps take home the Zenith Award. That went to the new group Outback, and everyone knew all along that their main contender for the award would be this mixed guy/girl group, because they were damn good. No one was denying the fact. However, everyone still celebrated the night away, Turnipseed included, because the Best Song award did in fact go to Eric and Todd for Brave New World, and the trade papers would be a twitter in the morning about how a major musical award had gone to a gay songwriting pair about a gay country song with a positive gay lyric. And the beauty of the whole evening appeared to be that unless anyone was looking very, very closely Gavin seriously doubted he had been even seen on national TV, because the songwriters being the virtual nobodies in most cases didn’t have their faces flashed in the screen when their names were announced. So unless they won and appeared onstage to accept and speak, they likely weren’t even to have been noticed.

The awards ceremony was a Thursday evening telecast, so Gavin’s absence had been for a Thursday and Friday from school while they also stayed in Nashville for the weekend flying back home late Sunday morning. So when Gavin reappeared in school that Monday morning he did so with a certain amount of trepidation inwardly ready for whatever repercussion may be headed his way and yet still operating under one of his usual mantras which he applied to all situations anymore and not just the classroom, never let them see you sweat.

Nothing at all was said. Nothing other than Tom Dunbar who happened to pass Gavin in the hall at one point during the day and shot him a smarmy grin saying, “I hope you’re feeling better.”

“Thanks Tom,” was all Gavin replied not slowing his step nor smiling in return. For the remainder of this year Gavin had vowed it would be strictly business between the two of them, and he was thankful when he didn’t draw Tom’s name out of the Secret Santa bowl in the teacher’s lounge the next day. When school recessed for the holidays a week and a half later the frigid conditions which existed between the principal and his 8th grade Science teacher were exceeded only by the even colder conditions outside the school building as the snow fell with promises of a white Christmas to come.

(End of Part B of this story).

Link to Part C of "Some Men Go Just Where They Want (Story 2)" . . . Here


Country Music, Gay Community, Gay Couples, Gay Experience, Gay Lesbian And Bisexual, Gay Marriage, Gay Marriage Rights, Gay Men, Gay Rights, Gays, Lgbt, Lgbt Community, Short Fiction, Short Stories, Songwriter, Songwriters, Songwriting, Teacher, Teachers, Teaching

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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