My color wheel has a lot to do with how I see everything. Never had to be colorblind to see grey tones, exaggerated whites, and smeared blacks. But this story has nothing to do with them.
Everything… has to do with copper.
Why think of copper when there are so many different layers to what we feast our eyes on? It’s the first thing I saw when I met them. Copper dress, copper tie. With awful bronzelike shoes. They were beautiful, itemized, and everyone knew that about our local couple. But not me I suppose. Ended up stuck in the middle.
I was an artist that helped around their firm. Copper dress girl was copper tie’s girlfriend. Riley. She ran a tight ship and everyone adored her. Though she came to adore me a bit too much.
Copper Tie was head honcho and couldn’t get over how talented I was. Kolt. On and on, I’d hear that from him, everyone was missing out on what I did and would cry when they saw me take off from his firm. Like his girlfriend, he took too much of a shine to me and take off ended in a crash.
They broke up at one point but kept working in the same building. One without the other in a business sense was a disaster so that was worth putting up with their bitterness. The tension wasn’t visible but I felt it in my stomach every time they even mentioned each other by name in passing. Inside screamed to jump ship now or I’d regret it. I didn’t listen.
Kolt came to me and did as always. Well, not exactly. I was refining the newest project and lagged later than usual. He happened to see me and snuck up to scare me. In turn for startling me, I landed a hard smack with a red stained paintbrush. Regaining composure, I laughed as he stood up, a giant red splotch from hair to shoulder. Going to a mirror, he groaned and reached for a rag, rubbing to get the paint off of him.
“Damn it Elias. Turning a joke into a haircut isn’t what I was going for.”
“No one told you to scare me Boss. Consider this a hazard of the job.”
“What’re you doing here so late anyway?”
“Had an idea and wanted to stay until it was done. Shouldn’t you be at home?”
“It’s boring at my place since Riley left. Figure I sort of try to get more on top of things.”
“Anyway, I wanted to grab a late beer. Wanna come?”
My lips instantly puckered while my stomach did a full Olympic split. Going with your boss late at night was questionable. Out for a beer with a single, bicurious boss? Temptation was the devil whispering in my ear. That gut feeling said no no no no no. As usual, I missed the glaring flag and thought it was harmless for a drink between coworkers.
Leaving the studio once it was locked up, Kolt took my hand as if it were a normal thing. Though I didn’t say much, he was happily rambling on about a new client and how the recent project would be done in no time with me there. The more he complimented me, the more awkward I felt with holding his hand and myself. Finally taking a breath, Kolt saw how what he’d been saying made me feel.
“Am I making this weird?” He asked.
“You gonna fire me if I say yes?” I replied nervously.
“It’s weird. Hella weird… Boss doesn’t ask a worker out on a normal night.”
Shaking his head, Kolt raised my hand to his mouth, kissing the knuckles. “We’ve been friends since junior high. I’m just trying to put a smile on your face.”
“Kolt… we weren’t exactly friends then. I tutored our cousin while you flung fruit at us.”
“That all I’m good for? Bad memories?” He teased, playfully biting a knuckle.
“You know it isn’t…” I said, a hard blush on my face. “You were the first person to fuck me… I just don’t like thinking that’s all I meant.”
His eyes shifted, lip twisting while he shook his head again. He tossed my hand down, pushing the button for the cross light. “Already told you that was one time. We’re not together and never will be.”
Sighing, I pulled a half pack of Lucky Strike from my pocket and put one between my lips. “One time doesn’t mean every time you were taking your breakups hard. Stupid fucker…”
I felt his eyes burn my face as I lit my fag, shoving me hard toward traffic. Catching myself, I returned his hateful look.
“Don’t play with fire Eli. I’m not getting rid of you at work because of the badass pieces you do. They’re excellent. You getting hung up over something that happened once and swear I have something for you is bullshit. I’ve been fucking Riley for three years. I’m not gay.”
Rolling my eyes as I puffed, my answer rolled like the smoke I blew at him. “Lie all you want. I’m here to work, not deal with your guilt.”
As we kept walking, my anger simmered at him. Kolt fooled himself by saying it happened once. In truth, he fucked me whenever he was single, as often as he could get away with. He figured that if he said it enough to himself, the more everyone else believed him. More than anyone, he craved me… And I hated knowing. İstanbul Escort Even in relationships, he’d call me for “meetings” and rent a hotel for us to fuck each other raw.
Kolt was bisexual, if not a very self hating gay man. No matter how hard he pawned it off as “a one time thing.”
Reaching the bar, Black Flag, I reached to get my ID for the doorman. Before getting to close, I was in a similar situation of the “one time thing”. Pushed into the brick, met by a rough kiss and grope at my pants. I was always left with two options: fight and get choked or play along and have an easier time. So I softened, letting not gay Kolt have his fun. Sexual harassment? Majorly. Worth really fighting about? No.
The thoughts running through me were the same as before while he practically ripped off my belt. He always got his way, no matter if he had someone else or just seemed to horde any time I had away from work. Kolt hasn’t gotten rid of his one time thing for me since we were young, and wanted me around to blame. Even as he was on his knees, my cock buried in his mouth, the feeling of being trapped by him all these years didn’t leave. My body was forcing out a knot as Kolt sucked and jerked, only to pull away, throw me to the opposite brick wall, and bend over to show his bare ass to me.
Not following his pace, he turned again, yanking me to him, then pushing my cock inside of his asshole. An uncomfortable grunt went past my lips as he kept on, bodies smacking and knot moving closer to my tip. All while jerking himself off, his eyes locked with mine, making sure I knew he was in control. I couldn’t resist enough before I filled him with my unwanted knot, and his dripped onto my sneaker. Pulling apart, he socked me in the face before I could zip my jeans and strut out the alley. Kolt forgot I wasn’t sixteen and could take a punch. Fixing my clothes, I walked out of the alley, a shiner already showing on my face.
As the doorman checked my ID, I asked if Douglas was working. Having a second look, he smiled and was happy to say that Doug was hoping to see me. Managing a smile, I shook off the figurative assault and walked straight to the bar inside. Kolt noticed I didn’t flock to him and instead went to greet someone else. He didn’t own me and it tore him up angrily to realize that. He wasn’t gay.
Sitting on a stool nearby, I stared like a puppy at Doug, waiting until he saw me. And the look that washed over him cleared up the rest of my night. Snaking through the jammed up bartenders, he poured me a splash of bourbon with grenadine and a cherry. Serving it with a smile, he looked at me, face in his hands, leaning on his elbows.
“Hey stranger.” Doug said, trying to contain his excitement.
“Nice to see you cutie.” I replied, smiling coyly. “Glad I caught you.”
Losing the battle to not smile, he returned my smile. “I’m the lucky one honestly.”
“Where have you been? I came by a few nights ago.”
“Uh… you know… A side gig.”
“Did you have to work at Gallows?”
With a sigh, his yes confirmed what I knew. “The bar keeps cutting me out in favor of the girls. Rent keeps going up and my roommate is trying so hard not to help with anything. Blatant fuckery if you ask me.”
Taking his hand, I leaned in closer to him. “Do you need somewhere to go?”
Giving a playful pout, he kissed my hand. “Your loft is small enough without me there Elias. I should ask you to move with me.”
“Don’t worry Doug. It’ll be our little corner of the world.”
“I’ll think about it. I promise.”
“That’s all I ask.”
Getting back to his flow, I sipped my drink and chatted with other bartenders. Right as I started to have fun, a shiver ran up my arm. Spidey senses told me that Kolt was walking up to me. Sure enough, a hand gripped my shoulder hard and he plunked down beside me, basically pushing whoever sat next to me away. His hand never left my shoulder, and he kept squeezing to get my attention. Lucky for me, that shoulder was numb from nerve damage. Not until he decided to smack my drink to the floor, prompting me to look over him.
“You gonna ignore me now?” Kolt asked, a pissy look on his face.
“I don’t know. Did you forget the nerve damage in that spot? Where you cut the nerves?” I responded, deadpan and uncaring of his anger.
“I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!” He screamed as the veins popped from his neck. “Stop blaming me for everything YOU did. Why do you blame me for everything that happens to you?! I DIDN’T DO IT.”
Sighing, I started to pick up glass shards and put them into a rag, still not caring about his tantrum. “You never do anything Kolt. And neither do I. Get over it. We have nothing to do with each other outside of work.”
“You’re my worker and my personal friend. You get me?”
“No faggot. I don’t get you.”
“What did you call me?”
“Faggot. That’s what you’re acting like.”
“I’m not like you! I don’t suck dick.”
“You Maltepe Escort sure like to take it.”
“SHUT UP! LIAR!”
“Then get away and stop harassing me.”
The changes in his tone showed his anger, how I refused to just bend. No one knew about him except Doug at Black Flag but they knew me. Most regulars also knew I was pretty friendly with Doug. So a random guy coming up to me, saying how I was ignoring him, meant I’d been with him in some way. Kolt’s “not being gay” was catching up to him because we weren’t eighteen year olds experimenting anymore. We’re in our 20s and nearing 30, so he couldn’t explain it away.
Angry and now embarrassed, he fucked off, and slammed the spring door shut. Going over to a trashcan, I tossed the glass and looked to see Doug and his hand rubbed my back.
“That’s the Boss?”
“Yeah. The not gay one.”
“You weren’t kidding about his mood. Possessive and you’re not even his.”
“He’s been that way for too long. I’m gonna look for jobs. Want to help me?”
He smiled, gently brushing the back of my hair. “You know I will.”
I stayed behind till last call to wait for Doug. Once everything was closed up, I took his hand and we walked through the streets, among the lights and signs. Along the way, I finally felt calm enough to kiss him. I felt it throw him off, but he dropped his backpack to wrap his arms around me. I wanted to stop, tell him what happened before we went inside… But I couldn’t… The tighter we held each other, the more I fought to say something.
When I finally could, Doug put a finger to my lips.
“You don’t have to explain.”
“Shh. Kolt has done enough to you. And I’m not holding that against you. You’re with me now and we’re staying together.”
“Thank you Doug.”
He smirked, whispering close to my lips. “With you, I’m Doe.”
For a moment, we smiled. He knew what to say when I didn’t. And everything in my life… didn’t matter when we were in the same place. The guilt was shaking me but Doug pulled me back. Through the night, I ached to be with him. But I couldn’t help feeling dirty because of Kolt. Every inch of skin felt dirty, though Doug helped wash me. In our center of the universe, I was dirty.
I wanted so much to be clean.
Riley’s story was different. She’d came to me before Kolt. Sometime before Doug and I got more serious.
We’d been friends a long time and I was the one who introduced her to Kolt. I was happy when they became a couple but not as Kolt decided to push me away as her friend. He’d even menace me away from the one good friend I had, just to have more control over me. Keeping the peace, I kept in distant touch. Riley understood but still hated the situation.
She loved Kolt a lot but felt a greater loss in me. The hurt was the same for us but we ignored it and went on with our lives. As time went on, his possessiveness of me and need to control Riley grew heavily. To the point we’d fought and things were broken. That was the night my shoulder lost feeling.
We’d had a housewarming party for them, seeing as they bought it as the first real taste for success at their firm. Liquor was flowing, everyone could drink and had a glass in their hand. I remembered vaguely everyone having a gay ol’ time. Though… Kolt went off, drunk as all hell, at me because I’d brought Doug.
We were still friends at that point but flirty. And that was the first night we’d kissed. Both of us were blushing, this being the first time I knew how much he liked me. While we talked down from our moment, Kolt pushed Doug down then me away from Doug.
“The hell was that for Kolt?”
“You know exactly fucking why Eli. That guy there doesn’t give a shit about your faggot ass. But I know you like him.” He slowly drolled.
“So what? It’s not your business. You’re dating Riley and not me.”
“Shut the fuck up! I’m talking!” He slurred again. “You’re MY best friend and brother. And I say you’re not dating that guy.”
“You can’t say anything about who the fuck I date. You’re not MY brother or my boyfriend. So go sleep this epiphany off faggot.”
As soon as the word left my lip, Kolt slapped me as hard as he could with his beer bottle, pieces going everywhere. I didn’t realize how hurt I was at that moment, but he kept attacking. Kolt grabbed onto my hair, slamming me into the wall over and over. Grabbing his shirt collar, we wrestled to the ground with friends and coworkers trying to pull us apart.
I’d gotten him into a hold, pulling at his head and neck so he’d pass out or tap. Kolt kept struggling, furious that he was being shown up by me. No matter how hard I choked, he kept screaming with a red face.
“YOU TOOK EVERYTHING FROM ME! HE WAS MY DAD! THEY WERE MY FAMILY! FUCK YOU ELIAS! YOU’RE A SHIT EATING COCKSUCKER!”
I held on harder, Kolt flailing so I’d let him go. Not one person knew things would go bad from there until Maltepe Escort Bayan my arm went numb and a sting flared through my shoulder. We scrambled, blood going to the floor and more fighting. I figured it was a moment my arm pulled a muscle from holding his throat and kept trying to duke it out.
Everything ended after I landed a hard punch to Kolt’s jaw and he stopped moving but kept groaning. A lightheaded feeling showered me, my legs going limp. Doug was the first one to run and help me stand. Everyone else rushed to Kolt’s defense standing him up and making sure he wasn’t dead. Except Riley.
Another friend of Kolt’s, Ross, was the first to notice.
“Lei! Why are you over there? Your boyfriend is here.”
“Kolt started the fight. So fuck off with that. Call an ambulance.”
“He could be damaged and you’re pampering the other guy?”
“Why is it important? Call the goddamn ambulance! Eli is the one bleeding!”
Ross scowled, but pulled out his phone and got them on the line. Despite the numb feeling in my arm, I felt a painful and sharp stabbing from my fingertips to my shoulder. Even with the blood stopped and pressure on the wound, I felt tired but fought through the fogginess to wait for the EMTs. Thankfully two had arrived, one to haul the drunkard I called my friend and one for me, who everyone chose to hate for ‘ruining’ the party.
On the drive, Doug held my hand and looked scared.
“Sorry… for a bad date..” I said with a pained laugh.
“Shh. Don’t talk.” Doug assured. “It’s alright. Was fun until Kolt stumbled over.”
I coughed, the burning in my arm flaring. “Still, I brought you. Should have gone somewhere safer for a date with you.”
“It was an exciting date nonetheless.” He said, kissing my hand. “And… I’d like to try another one.”
Smiling, I weakly responded, “Gladly.”
We arrived at the hospital, Kolt had gone to a different one. In examining me, the doctor initially thought I’d recover until I said the burning hadn’t subsided. In testing with electrolysis nerve therapy, I was told I had partial numbness and likely wouldn’t get it back. While it may not have ruined my work, it makes me a hazard in other areas.
Everything said and done, I was home after a week with Doug. We had a couple of “dates” in the hospital and felt in better standing. But neither of us were really sure despite that. He’d left for the day since he had a shift at the bar and I was wandering around on my own. It bothered me to not feel things like I could in the other hand. I spent a long time staring at my right hand and my left one, not registering the sense of touch though I knew why.
Going along as normal, I saw it was already past 1 a.m. and should get some sleep. Finishing the dishes, I heard a knock and raised an eyebrow at someone knocking this late. Opening up, I was confused to see Riley standing there with a bag.
“Uh… hey. What brings you here?” I asked awkwardly.
Squeezing her bag handle, Riley sighed. “I broke up with Kolt. He tried to rationalize what he did. I had no idea but he wouldn’t give me a real answer. So I decided that was enough. Strangers is one thing. But not my best friend.”
Sharing her sigh, I invited her in and responded with my honest thoughts. “I don’t think I’ve been much of a friend since you and Kolt became an item.”
“How could you say that Eli? We’ve been friends a long time. I knew you before Kolt. And before his dad took you in.”
“Riley, he’ll always have substance in my life. Doesn’t matter. My friends turn into his friends and my crushes become his girlfriends. Even boyfriends. Kolt can’t stand anyone but him being in control of me.”
“Wait… what?” She said, puzzled look and eyes wide. “He… took boyfriends from you?”
Nodding, I repeated. “Yes. I’m not sure if he let you in on that fact. When his dad took me in, Kolt was furious. While he might have played off we were best buddies, he took anything I found joy in. People, hobbies, sports, places. His father tried to kick him down but Kolt found it as more of a reason to keep taking.”
“I’m… I’m sorry Eli. I didn’t know.”
“It happens with a wicked stepfamily. By that, it was just Kolt. His sister was cool. So were his parents. The only other person I had was you.”
“Don’t feel sorry for me Lei.”
“I kind of do. Can’t exactly help it. I chose Kolt and that’s fucked up because you were my friend.”
I sighed again, shaking my head. “Just don’t. Too late to do anything about it. We’re grown up.”
The look of agitation on her face grew once I said that. Riley wanted to protect me but it was a bit slow to begin. After a while, we settled in to have coffee. While making the pot, I turned and bumped into her. Unsettling me more was her arms wrapping at my neck, hands rubbing my shoulders, and pressed her lips to mine. My reaction was to push her down but managed to just put my numb arm between us and push enough for her to let go.
“The hell was that?” I asked, confusion and discomfort written in my face.
“I just… I thought… I know you had a crush on me.” Riley stammered. “I figure to… talk about it.”
Shaking my head, part of me struggled to find patience. “I’m not falling into anything. With whatever Kolt has done and will do until I quit, I have enough to deal with.”