Although I don’t always base my fiction on past experiences…at least not the storylines…I do sometimes re-examine things I have experienced in a broad sense. I’m talking more about emotions and situations, not actual events and settings.
The western town in “Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy” is fictional. I didn’t even name it because I didn’t see a need to do this in a short story. For all intents and purposes, this is a town that could be found anywhere in the US. And what the two main characters experience could be something any two men might experience anywhere in the world.
The basic plot revolves around Mike and Noah. Mike is a big strong cowboy who never admits to being gay or straight. Noah is gay. There’s no doubt about this in his mind. But Mike doesn’t like labels and refuses to classify himself in any category.
Mike is married to a woman and stuck in a loveless marriage. This has nothing to do with Noah. Mike’s marriage was over long before he met Noah. Mike and Noah only meet in a dark rest area along the interstate on the outskirts of town and make love in the backseat of Mike’s car because there’s no place else for them to go. In small towns two men don’t just walk up to a desk clerk at a hotel or motel and get a room together.
This part of the story I based on personal experience. Before I met Tony, I thought I was in love with a married ex-marine. He didn’t like labels and he refused to call himself gay. That wasn’t a problem for me. I understood his feelings and respected them. The problem for me was that I knew he would never leave his wife or his bad marriage, and I eventually broke off the relationship. It wasn’t easy either. It was hard on both of us. But in the end we both knew it was the right thing to do. I only wish we’d done this before the wife found out about us. Trust me, it’s not fun being chased around a rest area in your boxer briefs by a large woman in track shoes carrying a baseball bat.
I swore after that experience I’d never get involved with a “straight” married guy again. No matter how good we were together, I wouldn’t let it happen twice. However, six months later I met Tony. We were both in college, both instantly attracted to each other, and wound up in the backseat of my car the first night we met. You can imagine the expression on my face when Tony told me on our second date that he was “straight” and he was engaged to a stewardess (this was that transition time when we still called flight attendants stewardesses). I’m putting the word “straight” in quotes because like the married ex-marine I had a fling with, Tony didn’t like labels either. He’s still not fond of them.
Lucky for me it was different with Tony. Twenty years later, we’re still together and going through life the best way we know how. But it wasn’t easy at first. I not only had to get Tony to commit to a relationship with me, I also had to deal with a vicious bleach blond stewardess who wasn’t above playing every dirty trick in the book. Unfortunately for her, to make a long story short, she underestimated my skills and eventually found it impossible to compete.
Of course the storyline in “Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy” isn’t based on my experiences. And the ending is a little different than what happened between the ex-marine and me. But I wanted to write about “straight” men who are attracted to, and fall in love with, gay men…even though they don’t like to be labelled gay themselves. It happens, and more often than most will acknowledge.