WARNING: This story is intended for mature audiences. It contains coarse language, material that some would consider offensive and sexual content. It also contains possibly triggering material amongst which explicit mentions of depression, suicide, physical- sexual- and drug abuse. Read at your own discretion.
Dylan was lying on his new bed in his new apartment in a new city staring at the ceiling. The sun shone bright inside the room and cast unusual shadows on the white surface. Jagged stripes the remnants of a hasty paintjob. Dylan sighed.
Aw well… He wasn’t gonna paint it over again, this would have to do. Maybe he could hang a world map over it again, so he could stare at it to decide where to go next. Then again, that would only remind him of Sean and him staring at it together like they used to, and he couldn’t use that. Nah, the stripes were going to have to do.
Dylan glanced at his phone. He wanted to DO something instead of lying here with his thoughts. But he was tired. Physically tired from moving, mentally tired from everyone that helped him move reminding him that it was okay to cry. He knew it would be okay, it wasn’t as if he thought he would be less of a man if he shed tears, but he just couldn’t. He had tried crying over Sean, letting his emotions out, but there was nothing there, just emptiness.
The mattress wobbled as Apple jumped up. The black cat had finished scouting out his new home, and came to collect due petting. He was doing pretty well with the move. Dylan hoped he could get used to the small apartment instead of the house with the huge garden he spent the past years.
For now, Apple seemed perfectly fine. He purred as Dylan stroked his black fur and pawed at the blanket in a rhythmic motion. Dylan was glad he had him. If he hadn’t, he probably would have felt thoroughly alone right now. His friends were still back in the town he used to call home, but staying there with them would’ve hurt more than leaving. He needed to leave, start over. This was the beginning of his new life and he was going to make the most of it.
Dylan glanced at his phone. It was time to get up and get ready, unless he wanted to start his workday in the paint-stained shirt and sweatpants he had been sweating in all day.
“Sorry Apple…” Dylan excused himself to the black furball, now drooling on his shirt. “I know it’s your first day here and you need some attention, but I’m going to have to go now.”
Dylan rushed to get some clothes on. He needed to look great tonight, first day at the job and all. He put on his black skinny jeans and the blue Italian-cut blouse that Sean had said complimented his eyes, and pulled it over his head. His black hair was a mess. The sides were so short they didn’t need much attention, but the top resembled a mop, and that just wouldn’t do. He got inside his bathroom, picked a comb and some hairspray out of the box with the bathroom label on it and made himself fashionable.
As he fed his cat some sardines (the move had been stressful for him too, Apple could use something nice), Dylan spotted the ring. He grimaced as he pulled it off his finger and looked at it, turning it around in his hand a couple of times before putting it on the sink. He’d figure out what to do with it tomorrow, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to start his new job with everyone asking questions he didn’t want to answer.
Dylan was ready to go and checked his phone again. It was 7.43 PM. His job started at 8. Dylan wasn’t used to living so close to his workplace, but this definitely had some perks. He smiled as he locked his new apartment and made his way outside.
A cheerful voice behind him startled Dylan. He turned around and spotted a young man closing the door to the apartment next to him. His blonde hair was covering about half his face and was clearly dyed as it didn’t match the dark brown of his eyebrows. He had a piercing in one of them. One in his lip too, Dylan noticed. Sexy, he thought, then felt horrible about himself thinking something like that about the first guy he met. Then again, he would probably be worse off if he had suddenly stopped thinking lip-piercings were attractive. As was the rest of this guy, actually. He was about the same height as Dylan, but slightly leaner.
“I’m Ian, are you my new neighbour?” the guy said, which ripped Dylan from his assessment and made him flush in shame. He scolded himself inward for checking out his neighbour, slapped a smile on his face and walked towards the man that had just introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Dylan. And yes I moved in today.” He stuck out his hand and Ian shook it.
“Nice to meet you.” Ian’s smile was dazzling and went all the way up to his eyes. The lip-piercing was already teasing him. If it could talk it would have shouted ‘play with me’.
Pulling his thoughts out of the gutter, Dylan nodded his head at Ian and returned the greeting. “Yeah, nice to meet you too, but I’m in a little bit of a hurry. Catch you soon!” Then he quickly turned and hurried out of the apartment building. Catch you soon, what the hell was that?
Dylan cleared his head with a deep breath as soon as he got outside, crossed the street, and walked around the block towards the bar. It was really just a five-minute walk to his new workplace. Dylan knew this, but he smiled about it all the same.
The streets smelled vaguely like urine. It reminded him of the many times he’d been to the pride parade with Jasper, years ago. It seemed ages back, but the city of Amsterdam hadn’t changed its smell in all this time. Aw well, thought Dylan, he’d get used to it.
As he entered the rainbow decorated building a cheer went up from the bar. “Dylan! Right in time!” Brett called out. Brett was the owner of Mercury (after Freddie) and the one that had bestowed upon Dylan the wonderful opportunity of managing his bar as he was preparing to set up another one across town. They were going to be working in tandem for a month, after which Dylan was supposed to take over completely. He didn’t have any experience managing a bar, but he had years of experience working at one when he was in university, and he’d been the HR manager at his former workplace, so he was confident he could pull it off.
“Not sorry you left your well-paying job for this shithole yet?” Brett teased with a half-smile. Dylan could see in his eyes that it wasn’t completely a joke.
“Nah, happiness is more important than money Brett.” Dylan replied.
“If you say so handsome, I’d prefer the big bucks though.”
“That’s why you’re the one that’s franchising and I’m the one that’s gonna take care of this dump for you, yeah?”
“Exactly.” Brett smiled. It was a genuine smile, Dylan could tell by the creases next to his eyes and in his cheeks deepening. It was funny. Brett was an old guy clearly not accepting his fate. He had his greying curls dyed about every two weeks, lest someone’d notice. He’d had multiple hair-implants as well, as far as Dylan could tell and had recently had an eye lift. Brett was clearly fighting his age. It made Dylan wonder if he’d be doing the same in a couple of years. He couldn’t imagine himself doing anything like that, but he couldn’t imagine himself going bald either… So, who was to say he wouldn’t?
Together they went over the specifics of the inventory, the cashier system, music booth and some details about the guys he was going to be working with. Specifically, some juicy gossip that Dylan was sure he wasn’t supposed to know anything about. Yet now he did and it was a little mind-blowing.
To at least start out professional, he put all the things you shouldn't want to know about your new co-workers out of his mind, and focussed on finding out if it was true that Danny would really look like a Danielle.
He did. Danny came in ten minutes before the bar opened, wearing platform heels, a mini-skirt and a crop-top. His pink hair was up in a ponytail, tied with a bow.
“Hey, you must be Danny!”
“Hell, yeah I am sugar, so you’re the new boss-man are you?”
“I’m Dylan, please don’t call me boss-man or sugar. I’ll be the manager of this place if I survive this month, but when we’re tending the bar together, I’d like to be just your colleague Dylan alright?”
“Yes Sir.” Danny joked as he saluted and clacked his high heels together loudly.
Dylan rolled his eyes and noticed another guy coming in. He was black, broad-shouldered, tall and had a short thin lined beard more resembling a tribal tattoo than facial hair. The sides of his head were shaved in similar pattern, but exactly the other way around. It made the big guy’s head look like a piece of art.
Dylan walked over to introduce himself and was met with a scrutinizing look.
“So you must be Dylan?” his voice wasn’t quite welcoming. This man’s entire demeanour suggested he was going to be a challenge. Dylan estimated him in his late twenties. Probably had wanted his job.
“I am. You’re Tim, right?”
“Yup.” The tall man said, straightening his shoulders to show off the four inches he had on Dylan in both height and width.
“Nice to meet you.” Dylan said as he held out his hand. Tim didn’t take it but scoffed and gave him a mock smile as he turned and strode to the door marked [STAFF]
Well, we’re off to a good start, Dylan thought sarcastically.
“Don’t mind Timmy, he’ll get used to you.” Danny said encouragingly, touching Dylan’s shoulder lightly. Dylan smiled at him and proceeded to open the bar.
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