He didn’t remember where it had come from. It was possible that it had been mixed with his at the cleaners and returned with his laundry. Maybe it had been left behind by someone, although he couldn’t remember ever seeing it on a date or a trick. What he did remember each time he pulled the soft, washed, faded cotton over his long arms—he met men to date when he had this shirt on. He got compliments about the color of his eyes in it. He felt confident in its embrace. It was powerful.
The thing barely held any color, but it wasn’t white. A hint of blue, perhaps a strange pattern that had been over-bleached? The buttons slid easily into their holes. The sleeves rolled up gently, pushed up easily, showed his tanned arms to perfection, highlighted his silver wristwatch.
Tucked or untucked, the power remained. Now, untucked over jeans. Black loafers, of course. He looked into the mirror, playfully turned the collar up, performed a John Travolta dance pose, just for a moment, smiled wide, checking his teeth for cilantro or lettuce that might have avoided the latest brushing. He pulled the collar down, smoothing it into place, pushing his shoulder length curls back and away from his ears.
He chose to unbutton one more button, expose just a bit more chest hair. Other’s had man-scaped themselves into barechestedness, but not him. Even with the graying of that pec covering of thick, curly hair, he still felt sexy with it exposed, at least in this shirt.
That hint of blue called the blue from his hazel eyes to the fore. They sparkled as he thought once more of Jesse and Tony and Shawn, trying to remember if the shirt had been any of theirs. He truly didn’t think so. Those others, those one-night stands, well, he’d never remember all of them; linking them to the shirt would be hopeless.
It must be handmade or tailored; there wasn’t a label or mark. But, perhaps the tag had been pulled out or cut or withered to nothing over so many washings. He’d hunted the internet and downtown boutiques and Goodwills, but he’d never found or seen another like it.
All these years and the fear remained: that he’d be found out. The original owner would see it, his own life having fallen off to nothing since the loss of the shirt. He’d, of course, want it back. He’d want to be happy and sexy and successful again. He’d rip the garment off his frame with joyful satisfaction. It hadn’t happened yet, but it could. It still might.
He checked his pockets: cell phone, ID, cash, a credit card for emergencies, two condoms, a small bottle of poppers. He moved and adjusted his belongings until his pants’ pockets laid perfect. He opened the door, locked it behind himself, and shoved the single key into his pants. Hopefully, tonight wouldn’t be the night they found him. Hopefully, tonight would be another successful night.
Gregory A. Kompes, a gay-contemporary writer, is the author of several books, including Flash Mob, The Middle Man, Tamburlaine, Sky Pirates, and the bestselling Fifty Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live.