Another Chapter Done

My manuscript gets another chapter as I drown myself in fruity lifesavers and bottles of Flight beer. Unlike the skeletal chapter five I tapped out last night, I created a fleshy dish for chapter two—mainly because Honza Poliak is my current darling.

We all have darlings, that one character in our ensemble that snares us and evokes hyperfocus until our brain drifts to another.

Unlike the other three bound for college, Honza got a job and recently moved into an apartment. The chapter begins with his first day at a computer-aided drafting company and ends at his apartment, cruising porn, stalking Vik Fenarski’s blog, and mulling his final rugby match.



Before today, Pittsburgh felt like a small town with big buildings.

He spent a childhood in Shadyside and sprouted his first pubes in Northview Heights, the skyline out his window failing to impress until he glanced at it from this height.

 “Honza Poliak?”

“Yes, sir,” he said, shaking an extended hand.

“Jonathan Greer.” The man’s glasses appeared thicker than his, and he possessed a scratchy voice destined for a cancer kazoo; the pack of Salem’s jammed into his front pocket, shortening the timeline. “You’ll be working for me on the infrastructure team.”

“Thank you, Mister Greer,” he said.

“Call me John, please.” Greer’s lips spread and spoke of the company’s excellent dental coverage.

They exited the barren yet bright reception area, a massive space surrounded by windows. The flat beige carpet hosted four giant rubber plants, their spines twisted in desperate bids for sunlight.

“My father-in-law’s brother is a Honza.” Greer pushed the button marked ‘18’ and presented a closed-lipped smile when the elevator door closed. “He’s Czech,”

Honza adjusted his glasses, as he often did when nervous.

“My adoptive parents each had a great-grandparent from Prague.”

“Your pop was Sid Poliak,” Greer said. “He was a good guy.”

“Yeah,” Honza said. “I miss him.”

“My old man passed when I was in college,” Greer’s voice drifted. “The Poliak’s adopted you?”

“When I was a baby.” Honza cleared his throat. “I know little about my birth mom except that she was from Poland.”

“Sometimes that’s for the best, you know,” Greer assured.

Honza nodded in agreement as the elevator doors opened.

Another sunny space walled by windows teemed with activity and stunk of colognes and coffee. Grouped couches and chairs broke up a sea of cubicles, and as Greer led him through the maze, they passed the occasional snack cart loaded with wrapped pastries and candy bars.

Narrow fridge cases loaded with soft drinks and water stood against the far wall. Before Honza could read the labels on the bottles within, Greer stopped within a tiny space set between four cubicles, one of them empty but for a large monitor and standing hard drive.

“This will be your primary workspace.” Greer pulled the chair out for him. “You can do what you want with it, just no naked women, burning incense, signs with foul language, or rude mugs.”

Honza placed his laptop in the chair and found the other three turned on their swivels, watching him intently. Each of their monitors displayed computer-generated blueprints, the stuff he’d spent the last four years learning to make at the vocational center blocks from his high school.

“This is Dolores,” Greer said, arm extended to a matronly sort wearing a black t-shirt emboldened with a purple labrys. “She supervises any new projects that come down the pipe.”

Honza lowered his gaze. “You’re a Xena fan, huh?”

“Yeah, and I’m also a dyke,” she said, a matter of fact. “Let me know if that’s a problem for you.”

Greer dropped his head in discomfort.

“None of the guys I ever dated had problems with dykes,” Honza spoke and extended his hand. “I don’t think I will either,”

“Aw, man,” the girl in the space beside him groaned.

Dolores shook his hand. “This one’s a keeper, John,”

The young man beside Dolores guffawed like a teenager.

Sure, his words felt like bullshit; he was gay, but nothing Honza ever did with his teammate after school qualified them as dating.

“This is Beth,” Greer eyed the black-haired girl in the Steelers hoodie and faded blue jeans. “She’s our graphics cleaner and apparently only here to find a boyfriend.”

“I’m giving up,” Beth said, her nasal voice cheerful.

Greer then sighed. “This is Craig,”

Moon-faced, blond, and blessed with a Nordic nose, Craig seemed like a Nazi’s wet dream until you got to the wheelchair.

“He’s our resident horn-dog,” Beth teased.

Dolores added, “Yeah, a legend in his own mind,”

“You see the disrespect I put up with?” Craig leaned over and shook his hand.

“You’ll be starting Wednesday,” Greer said. “Now, you need days off in December?”

“I played rugby in high school, and my team made it to the quarter-finals.” Honza sat at his cubicle and felt the seam of his dockers tug at his crotch. “The league awarded captains, and certain players from the final six teams, with a free trip.”

“That’s cool,” Craig said.

“I could tell you played sports,” Dolores nodded. “Your ass and legs look like one of those Greek statues,”

Greer folded his arms. “Del!”

Craig and Beth laughed, and Honza’s face burned through his smile.

“It’s not sexual harassment,” Dolores whirred. “Just an observation,”

“You played rugby?” Beth said, excited. “What team did you play for?”

“All Saints,” said Honza.

Beth clapped her hands together. “Oh wow, and you were the captain?”

Honza nodded, again pushing at his glasses.

“I went to Judah for girls,” said Beth, her brown eyes gleaming. “My cousin is a freshman at our brother-school, and he’s playing rugby for them this year.”

Honza let slip a sad sigh. “Judah, yeah, they beat us in the quarters,”

“Ouch,” Craig said. “Nice one, Beth.”

Beth sucked her tongue. “Sorry,”

“No college plans?” asked Greer.

“I want to focus on getting experience,” Honza said. “The tech school was good and all, but I think hands-on work like this will serve me better than two more years in a community college classroom.”

“That’s how I did it, kid,” Dolores said.

Greer grinned. “Same here.”

“The dinosaurs around here didn’t need degrees to get hired,” Craig said. “They just came in off the street, set up the computers, and were hired on the spot.”

Honza smiled as Beth laughed.

“You better not get good and leave us,” Greer said.

“It’s good to have you here, kid,” Dolores said, turning back to her screen. “I like having another normal person on the team to offset being stuck with these breeders,”

Honza joined in their laughter.

Wood Street’s crowd formed a line as Bus 71 bounced to a stop. Empty seats beckoned as the stink of heated concrete faded within the cool confines of padded seats and hard plastic walls. Bose ear-tips jammed in tight, Honza brought out his Zune player and chose a song longer than his ride to Brenham Street.

Today, he made it in time to hop onto Bus 83.

Tucked in the back row, he listened to something frantic by She Wants Revenge as the murky Monongahela flashed through the cables of a bowstring bridge. Construction barricades hobbled the northbound lane, creating a line of traffic that made everyone aboard appreciate city transit.

The bus rolled onto East Carson Street, where vacancy blight plagued the South Side Flats, and Honza had scored a top-floor apartment for five hundred bucks a month.

Dad once said that lots of empty buildings with sale signs in the window were harbingers of better times—hopefully, those times would wait until he paid off his school loan because his rent proved sweeter than he anticipated.

Honza crossed the street to a three-story red brick box with a face of eight windows.  The colorful patches in the top row glass were quilts Honza had tacked up for curtains. The ad for this place touted his narrow one-room unit as a penthouse, laughable considering the reality of the one-room loft and its adjoining bathroom.

Still, he appreciated his newly married banker brother Marek providing the security deposit and first month’s rent. Trudging up the stairs, he noticed the first-floor apartment’s front door still contained a realtor’s lock around the knob.

Honza unlocked his red steel door and kicked his shoes off on the tiny linoleum patch the realtor unashamedly called, a foyer. A brick wall ran down one side of the elongated space with three large windows breaking the monotony.

Mom’s thick quilts made a rightful dungeon, but navigating the darkness came easy with no furniture to trip over. Memory guided him past the built-in kitchen and fridge, and another few paces brought him to the unfurled futon beside his desk.

The bathroom door creaked when he pushed through.

A pull of the chain revealed tiny white and gray hex tiles on the floor, a row rising obtusely where thick caulk bordered the side of his long porcelain tub. The pedestal sink contained a razor, a can of shaving cream, and a Gundam head holding his toothbrush and tube of toothpaste.

He stripped off his clothes under the unforgiving strobe, hanging his pressed shirt on the doorknob, and draping his new trousers over a rod meant for a shower curtain. Glasses off, he snatched up the soap bar and worked up a lather under the water stream. He washed his face and behind his ears, making a right-mess of the sink after splashing his face clean of the suds.

Honza cursed his eyes in the mirror, one an ordinary brown, the other greenish and drifting too far right. His childhood myopia was worse in the lazy eye, but he wore a contact in his left during rugby matches, seeing clearly if he kept the right one closed.

The bottle-bottom glasses trained his right into position, and he’d bravely worn the damned things today and felt good upon having heard no whispers. Spectacles back in place, he left the bathroom door cracked walked the sliver of light it afforded back to the kitchen. Beer can in hand, he cautiously stepped naked to his desk and found the towel from yesterday still spread out on the chair.

The hoppy beer felt good going down. Cold beer gave him headaches, but unlike dad and his dark room temperature pilsners, Honza preferred the light and crispy brews. Four years without dad still felt strange, though he had inherited dozens of the man’s button-down 60s-style shirts; Mom wanted him to have them.

As if on cue, the silver flip top on his thigh vibrated. His mom’s number displayed on the unit’s small screen, the number ‘5’ in brackets beside it. He tossed it unopened onto his futon and finished his beer.

Honza checked his email after booting up and saw that Nowel CADD sent new employee paperwork for review. Marek attached ultrasound photos to his message—he and his wife Mel expected a boy. A reminder came from The State Rugby League sat beneath it, providing a date for the excursion sign-ups; snowboarding and hot guys—Honza couldn’t wait.

Not that he would ever approach a hot guy out in the wild. His face barely passed muster for attractiveness, and his eye remained constant barrier to anyone desperate enough to consider him worth fucking.

Four new emails remained from his former coach.

Honza highlighted and then deleted them unopened.

After clicking through to his usual haunts, he entered the URL for Talk2Me, a local ‘men for men’ forum.

A long column appeared under the hook-ups wanted header, and he filtered the results to display only those listings with pictures. An image of swollen pecs with two large brown inverted nipples topped one message stating: ‘Need a strong mouth to help tease them out. Will you train my nips for me?’

Honza grabbed his sketchbook and penciled out a chest and nipples missing their nubs. He then drew a much smaller chest with tiny nipples fully hardened. Women’s breasts followed; one with tiny nipples and another with teats the size of quarters.

“Dude, if I was hot enough,” he whispered. “I’d come over and suck your tits.”

Other listings sought models for gay erotic photography; one photo featured a buff man in sudsy water having his body washed by two thin twinks with very long legs.

Turning the page, he sketched a faceless muscled man on a tiled bathroom floor. Next came a long-legged man with feminine features soaping the chiseled body with his feet. Unlike the emaciated boys in the photo, Honza’s version possessed long hair, a toothy smile, and defined pectorals.

“Viktor-chan,” he sang. “I bet you’d make one hell of a wash-room whore,”

Honza tossed aside his sketchbook and closed the Talk2Me screen.

Tapping at the keys, he spelled out ‘Viktor Fenarski,’ ‘Judah Lions,’ and ‘Blog Slog’ in the search form box. Search results placed the Judah Academy private high school site at the top, followed by a listing for Fenarski Funeral Home.

The remaining entries detailed a journal at Blog Slog called ‘Viktory Lap.’ Opening the link, he stared at a series of photos dated for this week.

Viktor Fenarski, a tall red-head with a big smile, played for rugby rivals, Judah Academy. Honza’s team, All Saints International, faced off against Judah in Reading last year during the state high-school championship. ASI made it to the quarters, losing 21 to 27 to the Jewish high-school team.

Honza had been too focused on winning that game to notice Fenarski.

 Watching the game afterward, he saw himself tackling the young man and recognized him from Judah’s varsity swim team. Svelte yet defined, the leggy beauty now swam inside his head like a catchy tune.

Pictures taken at the beach appeared first on the page.

Adam Rozen, the fastest runner Honza chased in his four years playing rugby, stood beside the taller Vik in the surf, Roz’s glasses coated with seawater. Like Honza, the trim and fit senior wore contact lenses during games—but the muscular wing’s eyes were normal behind his specs.

Honza enlarged a thumbnail that looked interesting.

Long red hair contrasted with pale sand as Vik’s lithe body lazed upon a Sailor-Moon beach towel. Clad only in tight blue bathing trunks, a bump appeared under the neon yellow drawstring. His taut midriff indicated a ribcage without showing the bones, and the swell of his defined chest boasted two perfect round areolas with dimpled nubs.

“How are you this fucking perfect?”

Feeling his arousal growing, Honza scrolled further down the page and brought his cursor over an entry dated the night of their match in Reading.

He clicked it, revealing a safe-for-work picture of Vik standing naked before a long mirror, a giant purple blotch covering his hip. He turned around in the image beside it, displaying finger-shaped bruises across the back of his thighs, just below his exposed buttocks.

The caption beneath both read: ‘Never been tackled so hard in my life. ASI number #15 left me something to remember. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.’

Honza closed the window out and turned from his computer.

Desperate to force a line-out, he’d tackled the loose-head prop after the young man caught the kicked ball. Honza had attacked low, clutching the tall man’s thighs to force him off balance. The stubborn Vik wouldn’t budge, so Honza had dug in and rammed his shoulder into the prop’s side, toppling him.

Shame wet his eyes and tightened his throat; as always, the shower proved the best place to cry.

The loss to Judah had ended one of the best and worst years of his life. Senior year should’ve been awesome and taking his team to the state finals should’ve been awesome, but like all of life’s best meals, those good things came with a side plate of shit.

The year before Honza entered All Saints as a freshman, Coach Federov took over the rugby club. A towering brute with a soft-spoken mien, he sought out the troubled and the bullies for his new team. He’d personally recruited Honza with talk of knowing his dad from their middle-school boxing days.

Sophomore year saw many of Honza’s friends on the team, along with noobs looking for camaraderie. Everyone hit their stride as Juniors, with ASI playing in Reading for their first state championship.

Boys from all over Pennsylvania had descended upon Reading, all rugby players, some of them gay. Honza’s friend from his elementary school, Lubomir Gubenko, played for Victory Catholic, and he made no show of hiding his interest in boys. After catching up with the chubby player, Honza had approached Coach about an invite to an after-match function.

Coach quickly vetoed it, saying rivals don’t party with each other.

That should’ve been the first red flag.

Honza never questioned Coach’s views, since the man had given him a place on the team. Like his dad, Coach had channeled Honza’s aggression away from boxing by putting a rugby ball in his hand.

Still, unsettled by a couple of teammates speaking ill of Lubomir, Honza had revealed his sexuality on the bus ride back to Pittsburgh; this led two other boys to do the same. Coach had made it clear that gays were a fact of rugby life, and if anyone had a problem with them, they had no place on the team.

This acceptance bred trust, the likes of which Honza hadn’t known since dad died. With that trust came confidence. Honza had been named captain during his senior year, and Coach appointed their sophomore shot-caller, Arkady Sharp, as his vice-captain.

A rugby prodigy, Sharpie had transferred from a Chicago high school.

Short and thin, he his long brown hair tied in a bun on his head, leading rival teams to call him Samurai Sharpie; apt since other players had been calling him Hittori Honza since his boxing days.

Moody by nature, Sharpie possessed a fickle temperament; if he liked you, he treated you well—if not, he acted as if you didn’t exist. His skill on the pitch had bred resentment. Many seniors had come to Honza with reservations about Sharp, unaware that Sharp’s plays were Coach’s plays; he and Honza were to never deviate from them.

One night, while Honza had been practicing kicks after sunset, Sharpie joined him, and the pair drilled until almost ten. In the showers later, Sharp had steered the conversation toward pro players he found attractive.

Honza had expressed surprise when Sharp admitted to being bisexual and finding Honza attractive. Caught off guard, he’d failed to react when Sharp dropped to his knees and began licking his cock.

After finishing him, Sharpe had asked him to return the favor.

Honza hadn’t been a virgin.

After dad passed, he’d felt an urge to act on his desires.

One day, while waiting for a bus back to Northview Heights, a sex worker named Wanda had asked him for a date. He thought she was teasing, so he admitted to having no interest in women. Wanda smiled back and said she hadn’t transitioned yet, so she still packed the right equipment to make him a man.

The next day, fifteen-year-old Honza had taken offer.

Two glorious months and a considerable amount of his allowance had enabled Wanda to make a man of Honza in her Sheridan apartment.

She had kept her large breasts in bra since Honza expressed zero interest in them, and she’d guilted him about it; she’d spent good money on big titties only to have them ignored by her favorite customer.

Honza found her nipples beautiful, though.

Wanda had taught him to kiss, fondle, and touch. She’d schooled him on sucking dick and getting his dick sucked, and thanks to her, he’d learned how to finger and then fuck, an asshole.

One day he’d asked if could ‘suck her pussy’, and she laughed and said he’d made her day. Honza never understood why asking her that made her so happy; all he knew was that her penis had felt good in his mouth.

That brief yet fulfilling experience with Wanda had made his relations with Sharpie feel wrong. The boy had insisted they hide their relationship from the team; though Honza would never attach the word relationship to what went on between them.

Once a week, Sharp accompanied Honza home for some oral. It had always occurred in the dark, with Sharp wearing his headphones since Honza’s groaning sounded gross. No kissing, hugging, or nipple-play had been allowed, and Honza couldn’t touch Sharp’s hair or face while blown.

Honza expressed frustration at the lack of intimacy, so Sharpie had offered up his ass; desperate to bond, Honza took him up on the offer. One night, however, he’d lost control and kissed Sharp’s back when done. The hostility expressed before Sharp had stormed was a tipped domino for Honza.

Lovers most of the season, he had supported Sharp on the pitch; his teammates had grown angry at Honza’s constant white-knighting of a miserable young man guilty of intimidating others as part of his call-playing style.

It had all come apart during the game against Judah.

Coach’s toxicity appeared with shocking clarity, forcing Honza to set aside his misgivings about Sharp. Honza had taken a stand against Coach at halftime, and finding support amongst his teammates, he’d alienated Sharp.

Afterward, a freshman wing named Kristof tearfully revealed that Honza’s decision to ignore Coach’s edicts had given him back his love of rugby. Many others had embraced Honza after the game for the same reason, but the validation couldn’t counter the heartache that faced him locker room later.

The water ran cold, and Honza turned off the shower.

He dried himself and ventured naked to the fridge, hungry for anything chewable, but all he found was a Gatorade and a dried hardening lemon. Pulling on a pair of Adidas basketball shorts, he grabbed the least smelly of his Godzilla t-shirts. His bare feet in some sneakers, he locked the door behind him and ventured out.

Summer still owned September, but he regretted not drying his hair better when he stepped into the chilly grocery store. Just two blocks from his apartment, the Big Eagle usually offered dozens of pre-made meals at its deli, but nothing remained this late but empty black shelves.

A box of frozen Ellios in hand, he shuffled up to the checkout counter, grabbing a bottle of sprite and strawberry yogurt from the cold case beside it. He adjusted his thick glasses and nodded when the elderly man ringing him up at checkout suggested a ‘slim-jim’ for the protein.

Honza chewed on the jerky snack while walking back to his apartment, his elevated mood dove as he rounded the corner. Coach Fedorov’s graying blond hair shone under the streetlight, and his signature loose-fitting tracksuit looked freshly washed.

“Before you get angry,” he said, arms uncrossed. “I just want to say some things.”

Honza faced him. “You’ve said and done enough,”

“Don’t take your anger with me out on your mother.” The man’s voice shook as he spoke. “That’s all I’m asking,”

“Fine,” said Honza, walking to the door.

“Did you get the job?” he asked.

Honza refused to turn around, nor did he answer.

“You don’t have to tell me,” he added.

“No, I don’t.” Honza said, then sighed. “Just leave me alone, please.”

“Honza, I’m sorry,” his sounded sincere.

“Please don’t come back here,” Honza said, closing the door behind him.

A plastic bag sat in front of his door containing one of mom’s plastic containers. Warm stuffed peppers in tomato sauce and a side of white rice—Honza’s favorite.

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