My partner and I had just moved from a drafty old Victorian in San Francisco to a great 1920s Deco building in Oakland. It was my partner's first day back at work, and I was emptying boxes and settling in. I needed to phone the maintenance guy about a leak in the bathroom ceiling, but I couldn't find the number anywhere. I hoped that when I took the laundry upstairs I would run into someone who would have it.
As I reached the laundry room, I saw that the door to the roof deck stood open. I carried my basket of laundry to the washer and casually turned to look through the door. Brent, the straight guy from the top floor, lay stretched out on a lounge chair, sunning himself and reading. I had met him briefly at a party thrown by a young couple on our floor just the week before. Maybe it was the booze and maybe it was wishful thinking, but when Brent first came up to me that night and started talking, I felt that 'gaydar' thing kick in.
He had left the party early because he was going into the city with some friends. After he'd gone, the other neighbors started talking about the girlfriend he'd been living with when he first moved in, saying what a bitch she was, and how she wrecked his car, and how he finally kicked her out. This was the first time I'd seen him since hearing all the gossip.
He must have been lying in the sun for some time, because rivulets of sweat were running down his chest and beads of it glistened in the hair on his chest and on his thighs. I couldn't see what he was reading -- maybe a textbook -- and he didn't seem to notice me. I dropped the quarters into the slot and poured the detergent into the water that was rising in the tub.
I waited for the tub to fill and start sloshing around before putting in the dirty clothes. As I put in the last of them and closed the lid, I looked up to find that Brent had stepped inside and stood leaning against the dryer next to me. I lifted my eyes to look at him but couldn't help pausing on the bulge pressing against the thin fabric of his baggy trunks. When I finally did look up, he smiled. I felt awkward and froze for a moment. My mouth went dry. I remembered that I needed that phone number.