Sophie's Secrets - Chapter Five

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Marc was watching Thelma & Louise again. His boyfriend had rented it that afternoon from Blockbuster down the street. It was their third time renting it. Something about Geena Davis and Brad Pitt they couldn’t get enough of. The microwave popcorn was warm and gooey. The cat, a fat tabby named Muriel for reasons nobody could remember, was purring loudly on his lap.

“Something bother you at work?” Sebastian asked. “You haven’t said a word all night.”

Marc shook himself from his torpor. Was it that obvious? Sebastian was a graduate student in philosophy at McGill. He was, quite possibly, the chillest guy Marc had ever dated. But not usually that perceptive. Probably due to living inside books in a bubble of his own making in the space in his head where Ancient Greece dwelt. “Pelleteux de nuages” was what many in Quebec called professional philosophers. People who shoveled clouds, which sounded way better in French. There was more than a grain of truth to it, judging by the guy sitting next to him who looked a little bit like Garfield’s owner, whatever his name was.

Sebastian almost never raised his voice. He didn’t appear to be upset or offended by anything and rarely showed anger or frustration. It was as though they’d forgotten to insert the annoyance gene in his body when they built him.

Sebastian almost never raised his voice. He didn’t appear to be upset or offended by anything and rarely showed anger or frustration. It was as though they’d forgotten to insert the annoyance gene in his body when they built him.

It had taken Marc months to get used to it. It was such a change from the newsroom, filled as it was with hunched forms muttering voodoo curses into their keyboards as they squeezed ironic stress balls into submission. Sebastian could never tolerate the frenzied pace Marc lived with every day, to say nothing of the distractions. Working in the media was not what this gentle soul was made for.

Sebastian needed a quiet room to do his reading, noise-cancelling headphones keeping his curly blond hair tamed. Those were an expensive present from his parents when he got accepted into the PhD program. They were so kind, his parents. A stark contrast to his own, who had wasted no time disowning him when he came out after high school. “I won’t have a faggot in the family!” was how his father had expressed his outrage, to Marc and probably the entire neighborhood as well. For all he knew maybe they approved, offering to light a candle in church to thank Sweet Baby Jesus not to have sent them a queer child, too. Hell, not even his mother had said or done anything to defend him. So much for unconditional love.

Marc debated how much to tell his lover. He was by necessity paranoid about his job. He’d learned that lesson the hard way. He should have known tequila shots would open his mouth wide, and in the wrong direction. He couldn’t blame Marianne for delivering his scoop to her newspaper. He would have done the same.

“Nothing,” he was trying to sound reassuring. “I mean, nothing’s bothering me. I’m just thinking about a new assignment I’m not sure how to tackle. I’m running through a few possibilities in my head, but it’s not very clear so far, to put it mildly.”

Sebastian put his arm around Marc’s shoulder. “Care to share?”

He hated that question. And hated himself more for his hesitation. Sebastian wouldn’t steal his story, he wouldn’t discuss it with his philosophy friends, who cared about newspaper stories about as much as they cared about the stock exchange. He would listen patiently, maybe offer a few constructive suggestions, then proceed to keep it to himself. Marc knew this. Yet he couldn’t.

He did it anyway.

“I have to find a working girl — a sex worker — to interview about her work. But she has to be interesting.”

The curls on his boyfriend’s head wiggled a little. “A prostitute?”

“Yep.”

There was a snort that chased Muriel off the couch.

“It wasn’t my idea!” March wondered why he was being so defensive. “But it somehow landed on me. I think the boss thinks girls are more likely to talk to a gay man. Like I’m wearing this on my forehead. Talk to me, I’m homosexual.”

Sebastian smiled. “Who knows, maybe I’d be interested in reading a story like that. Especially given the author. Are you going to peer into their souls? Or is it…” his lovely face suddenly became very cloudy. “Gawd, I hope they don’t make you write about the sex part. I’ll bet those clients are fat and hairy… ew.”

Sophie's Secrets - Chapter Six

"Be ambitious for the work and not for the reward"

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