Farewell from the Bookshelf!

Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.

All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.

Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!


Excerpt from Better Than Cupcakes by Lenore Black

Summary of Better Than Cupcakes in the Shot Through The Heart Taste Test from Torquere Press:

Mitch thinks there has to be a better way to spend Valentine's Day than working, even if he does like his co-worker, Augie. Everyone thinks Augie is a little odd, but Mitch thinks Augie might be far better than a cupcake.

Being mauled by a bear. Scrubbing the mold off really ancient bathroom grout. Open mic night at that karaoke bar out on the highway, around three a.m. when people are so drunk they think their squawky version of “Free Bird” is an important contribution to the history of music. Mitch Dunnigan had been keeping a mental list all day of worse ways to spend Valentine’s Day than what he was currently doing, manning the security desk at VitamineRegimen, a supplements manufacturer with its corporate headquarters in a strip mall in suburban Terre Haute.

“Watching paint dry. Well, depending on the shade, I guess.” He realized a second too late that he’d actually said that out loud.

He darted a glance over at his partner, Augie Meyers, but Augie remained hunkered down over his notebook, chewing thoughtfully on his pencil, not giving Mitch so much as a what-the-fuck look. Augie was, to put it mildly, eccentric; it was going to take a lot more than Mitch talking to himself to make him raise an eyebrow.

Augie had been with Sure-Thing Security a few months now, but his real passion was inventing. He carried around the same ratty blue notebook everywhere he went, crammed full of diagrams and chicken scratch no one else could make out. He was always working on some thingamabob that was going to make him a million dollars and take him far, far away from VitamineRegimen, Sure-Thing Security, and the entire state of Indiana.

Most of the other guys at the security company hated working with him. That’s one squirrelly little dude, Ray Jenkins would say with a shake of his head whenever Augie’s name was mentioned. If he comes in one day and goes postal on our asses, I won’t be surprised at all, Herb Ritter would chime in.

Augie did have a way of getting worked up about things. Mitch suspected it all went back to his childhood. Augie was a little guy, short and slight, and no doubt he’d been a prime target for schoolyard bullies. It had given him an attitude, the way that often happened with little guys. Beneath the hard-ass façade, though, there was a good person. You just had to get to know him--that was what Mitch thought anyway. Whenever the complaints started up, Mitch just shrugged and offered to switch schedules, so he was the one paired up with Augie.

It made him something of a hero around Sure-Thing, which gave him a good laugh, since he’d rather work with Augie than those other guys any day. Ray Jenkins smelled like old cheese, which was not a fun way to spend a twelve-hour shift. Herb Ritter couldn’t shut up to save his life, which might not have been so bad if he weren’t the most boring man on Earth. Mitch had only heard the epic tale of how Herb had acquired each and every one of his power tools a good billion times.

At least, Augie was colorful. Not to mention easy on the eyes, although Mitch did his best to keep that thought under wraps.

“Hey, buddy, what are you working on over there?” He craned his neck, trying to sneak a peek.

Augie curved an arm protectively around his notebook. “Why?”

Mitch held up his hands to show he meant no harm. “Just curious. I’m not trying to steal your big breakthrough or anything, I swear.”

Augie narrowed his eyes, as if trying to decide if Mitch could be trusted. Apparently, he passed the test, because Augie scooted the notebook over where Mitch could see. The page showed some kind of diagram, hand-drawn, with arrows and measurements and scribbled labels Mitch couldn’t decipher. He had no idea what it was supposed to be.

Augie waited expectantly for him to say something, and when Mitch didn’t, he snatched his notebook back in a huff. “It’s a portable chair that folds up into a backpack. ShamWow and that stupid Slap Chop have nothing on this. Just wait and see. It’s going to be all over the infomercials. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life at this stupid job, staring at these stupid monitors until I’ve got drool running down my chin.”

Mitch nodded. He’d had dreams once too. Football had been his ambition. Ever since his father had taken him to his first Bears game when he was five years old, he’d wanted nothing more than to spend his days on the gridiron. He’d starred on his high school team and earned a scholarship to Notre Dame and managed a season and a half as the third-string cornerback on the Bills before washing out. He’d spent several years doing odd jobs, whatever he could find, while he trained his ass off, hoping to catch on with another team. When that didn’t pan out, he set his sights a little lower, on semi-pro ball. Four years playing in civic centers, to sparse crowds of people who didn’t have anything better to do on a Wednesday night, and all he had to show for it was a pair of busted up knees that let him know whenever it was going to rain.

He hoped Augie’s dream worked out better for him.

Augie went back to his scribbling, a pinch of concentration between his eyebrows, not even pretending to pay attention to the monitors. “Who in their right mind would ever break into this place?” he always asked whenever their supervisor handed out new and improved security guidelines.

Mitch had to agree. He half-heartedly glanced at the bank of screens. A guy working late trudged down the hall to the men’s room up on the third floor. Mathilda, the cleaning lady, pushed her cart toward the next office to be tidied up. Mitch yawned widely.

To keep himself from nodding off entirely, he studied Augie out of the corner of his eye. Honestly, the guy didn’t much resemble an “Augie,” at least not to Mitch, who got most of his ideas about such things from third-rate cop shows. On television, Augie was the beefy hired muscle called in by an organized crime boss to teach his underlings a lesson when he caught them skimming profits from his illegal gunrunning enterprise. Mitch’s Augie was maybe a hundred forty pounds soaking wet, with a peaches and cream complexion any woman would kill for, baby-fine blond hair and blue eyes so big and wide they made him look just a little bit startled.

Mitch had asked him about his name once.

“It’s short for ‘August’.” Augie had made a face. “My mother’s a big Faulkner fan.” At Mitch’s blank expression, he’d added, “You know, ‘Light in August’? I used to ask her why she couldn’t have just named me ‘Joe’. She said I should be glad she hadn’t called me ‘Christmas’.” The corners of his mouth turned down sourly.

Mitch hadn’t really followed too much of that. His own tastes in reading material tended more toward Sports Illustrated and the occasional owner’s manual when he bought a new DVD player or something. The story had given him the idea, though, that Augie wasn’t the only colorful character in his family.

Buy it now from Torquere Press

See more from Lenore Black

No comments:

Post a Comment

Gay Boys - Abstract by Jade