Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Gift Of The Monkey

The Gift Of The Monkey
by Chris Dangerfield

I had been around our local mall, like a race track, four times already. All I needed was a pit crew to replace my Nikes, and tank me up with a Jamba Juice, and I’d be off again. My buddy Rob hadn’t even arrived yet to help.

Already the mall’s Muzak loop and I were old enemies. It was going to be a mother-fucking long day. If I had to hear Britney Spears singing her own special sexy rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” one more time, I was going to either bleed out my ears or kill myself by jumping off the second level and impaling myself on the 60-foot blue plastic tree in the middle of the mall. It was wearing every ornament ever created that was blue... I mean blue? Really? What the hell? Blue, plus enough glitter to kill anything that wasn’t made of plastic. Winter fucking wonderland.

Starting with that kind of spirit of the season, how could I go wrong? I mean, we’re two days out from Christmas D-day, so I should have been happy that I was so far ahead of the game. I usually didn’t shop at all and, if I did for some reason, I’d just go out and grab something on the day of Christmas Eve. So I was way ahead, but I felt like crap about it all anyway. Yes, was I in a mood.

What was it about Christmas? I hated it. Everyone was so fucking happy and jolly and they clearly expected you to be overjoyed about it too and they made it quite clear they didn’t understand why you weren't, when you clearly just weren’t. And let’s face it, unless you had a ton of dough, then the holidays seriously sucked. I definitely only had a small amount of money, and this was the first year I’d ever had to buy a present for anyone that mattered. So guess what? Yep, exactly, walking in a winter wonder-suck.

I’d been doing my best to be happy for Jessie on the ramp-up since Thanksgiving. Hell, the last thing he needed was to find out that he’s living with Scrooge McFucking Duck who hated Christmas. Let’s face it, not having money at this time of year sucked more than I do and that’s saying something. Damn, even the jokes in my head were effed up.

Anyway, like I said, I was on my fourth pass around our local mall. Why is it that there are stores you never ever saw anywhere else in the world... in a mall? I mean how did anyone make enough money selling Orange Julius or only candles? I went into the Candle Emporium, sort of in desperation, and then spent twenty minutes spaced-out while counting over 367 different scented candles. I mean, really? Really? Since when were there enough people in our crappy little neighborhood all out, like busy-bees, buying potpourri-scented candles to keep these stores in rent money? Fuck me. It’s hard to imagine. Of course, I couldn’t buy Jessie a candle. I hated Christmas and candles. Okay, (lie) candles were at least useful when the power goes out. I’d never seen a real use for Christmas.

I was extra anxious about the lack of time. Christmas Eve was tomorrow and I had sweet fuck all of an idea for Jessie’s gift, let alone anything purchased or wrapped. So, I had started pretty early this morning and Rob couldn’t meet me here before 11:00 am anyway since he had to work an early shift at his sporting goods store.

At 9:00 am I had stopped at Hot Dog On A Stick to get breakfast. What? It’s meat, dipped in bread batter, on a stick – a totally efficient breakfast that I could eat and still keep on shopping. That way I wouldn’t be lying. NO LYING. God. I had to keep shopping. I was getting desperate. I had to get Jessie something great. Something worthy. I owed him. I owed him a lot.

~ ~ ~

Jessie and I had been working on a lot of stuff. Some things were just about how to have a healthier relationship and some things had to do with the fact that we had a special relationship. Jessie was a Top and I... definitely got that. At first I thought it was nuts, but I’d grown to understand it’s sorta right for the two of us. Apparently, there were Rules for Tops and their Monkeys – that’s what Jessie said anyway.

One of the rules was about never lying. Jessie said a Top always needed to know the truth in order to be a good Top. I know it sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s so fucking not. I never mean to lie. I love Jessie and I wanted to tell him the truth, but sometimes it got confusing. He said there was no difference between a big lie and a small lie. I didn’t know that I agreed. We had a big talk about it, but anyway, he said I had to eat breakfast and that Tops got to decide this stuff because it's their job to take care of their family. (What?) Okay, I liked being considered family. But breakfast? So he’d gotten very specific about it lately and he checked. God help me, he actually checked. Well, it’s sorta a good thing because some days I wouldn’t eat breakfast at all, and I have to admit, I got these headaches cause my blood sugar went down. But that wasn't the fucking point. I’m 21 years old. Breakfast! Shiiit.

He said that if I could eat proper meals and didn’t forget them and then not bite his head off, then he’d agree that I could make up my own mind. But as long as I was going to skip meals and then bite his head off he was going to pay attention to what I put into the mouthy end of me and also pay closer attention to the necessary color on the other end of me. Fucker thinks he’s so funny.

Anyway, breakfast was just general trouble easily avoided by a race to the kitchen for a banana and a bagel. He’s not a maniac. Oh boy, but lying was Rule Number Fucking Two. On that he was a maniac.

I’d learned that it wasn't good to lie to my Top, but shit, it’s just breakfast. He shouldn’t care so much, but he did. Like, seriously care. I hated it. (Lie) Okay, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t understand really. No one had ever given two craps if I ate before and sometimes it's just not convenient. One day, I told Jessie I was too busy for breakfast and he just gave me one of his Looks as he clarified things.

“Don’t be.”

I was like, “What?”

“Don’t. Be. Too. Busy.” He said that as he looked at me over the top of the sports page. Like it was just that easy. WTF? Just like him saying that made it so.

I know it’s hard to believe but sometimes I’m a tad sassy (let’s just say sometimes I didn’t think very fast) and so I rolled my eyes at him and said, “Puhleeze, it’s just breakfast, not the end of the world.” Jessie just looked at me real kindly with those eyes of his and then dropped the paper on the table and lightening quick snagged me and spun me around real fast and swatted my butt with those damn titanium hands of his right on my boxers. Just four times, but really damn hard. You could hear the cracks echo in our apartment. Fuckers stung like hell, just those four. I let out a really loud yelp and he leaned in close and said, “Your health is more important to me than anything and therefore – it is the end of the world – got it?” Fucker raised his eyebrow at me, which always gave me a shiver.

Well, what did you say to something like that except, “yes sir.” So I ate breakfast. It seemed safest.

I’m not a wuss, really, but I must admit I kinda liked it when he said stuff like that. I know it’s wimpy of me, but no one ever said anything like that to me before Jessie came along. I never knew what to say back to him when he talked like that... except ‘yes sir.’ I know it sounds weird, but I swear it doesn’t feel weird when it’s happening. He said it’s cause he’s my Top and it’s the way we were made for each other. (WTF?) As long as it made sense to him. I love him, even if he’s crazy. I like that he said that stuff. So, I guess maybe I’m a crazy one too.

So, I started eating breakfast. He didn’t give me too much grief about what, as long as it was mostly healthy. I like bananas and cereal. I like Cheerios. He drew the line at Sugar Smacks or doughnuts. He made good oatmeal and he’d make enough for two. I like that. I hate to admit he’s right, the fucker. I feel better at work, but I’m not telling him that. He already thinks he knows everything. I won't admit it, but sometimes I think he knows a lot. If not everything, at least a lot.

The Top thing though, I think he’s got something going with that. The first morning I skipped breakfast – the very first – I was making macaroni and cheese for dinner, that night after work, and he came in and dropped his bag and his work stuff in the hall, and while he was getting a beer, he asked me what I had for breakfast. I swear I didn’t even hesitate, I just said oatmeal. I wasn’t even looking at him when I said it and he went completely quiet and suddenly he was like right behind me, almost touching. I remember thinking, What? How? I turned around and he had those damn black eyes of his on me. There was a long long pause. I can’t help it I got super nervous.

“Are you sure you want to stick with that answer?” I remember thinking that there was no way he could know. “Rule Number Two?” he rumbled quietly into my ear. “You’re sure? Last chance.”

I swear I was having heart palpitations, but I wasn’t going to just wuss out because he gave me a hard look. I’m not a pussy, just stupid. So, I nodded. I know... stupid. But I wasn’t going to let him spook me over a fucking breakfast that supposedly took place eight hours ago. He just looked at me and then pulled out a chair and sat down.

“What?” He started to unbuckle my belt and unbutton my Levi's. “What?” I tried to hold onto my pants, but he just batted my hands aside and slid my pants and underpants down. I was trying to wiggle away at that point telling him to stop and trying to push his hands away and was moving absolutely nowhere. He captured my flailing hands in front of me and reached around behind me and placed his large hand on my bare behind and gently drew me in toward him. I was scared and wriggling pretty fiercely and swear I screamed at him to, “LET ME GO!”

And he did. He let me go just like that. I stumbled back with my pants around my ankles and looked at him. He just looked at me, a little sadly and very kindly, and right on fucking cue my fucking traitor eyes started to run. He just looked at me calmly and held out his arms. I’m such a wimp I just kept crying and walked right into them and he wrapped me tightly in his arms and I just cried. He didn’t say anything. He pulled me onto his lap and rubbed my back until I started to calm down. Honestly, I don’t know why. I don’t know why I cried and more importantly, I fucking had no idea why I told him the truth.

“I didn’t have any breakfast.”

“Okay.” he said quietly.

That’s when I learned that I couldn’t really lie to him and, more importantly, that I didn’t really want to.

~ ~ ~

“Would you like to look at our Wildflower gift pack?” I snapped out of my breakfast memory and onto the cute semi-goth girl at the counter who had her hand on a nice looking wooden-stamped box full of scented candles. I guess I’d been staring at them and didn’t realize it. I must have looked confused. “Are you trying to find your girlfriend a gift? I know, I hate it too when it comes down to the eleventh hour and I still don’t know what to buy my girlfriend. I wish she liked candles cause I get a 30% discount, but most of our inventory smells flowery and she’s not a flowers type of girl. You know?”

“No... erm... uhh...” The shop girl was really pretty in a gothy way and didn’t really look like any lesbian I’d ever met so I was a little surprised by how open she was, but I guess I shouldn’t have been. No one would have ever thought Jessie was gay either. He’s more dude-ish than most dudes. Rob always said I didn’t seem gay, but I always felt like it’s tattoo’d on my forehead. I tried to pull it together.

“Umm... my boyfriend (that felt good) isn’t flowery either. I’m just stuck for any good ideas.” It felt good to say it out-loud like that, but ‘boyfriend’ seemed like kind of a watered down word for what Jessie was to me. ‘Partner’ made it sound like we were in business together, ‘Significant-Other’ made it sound like we had just filled out a form at the Department of Motor Vehicles. None of them sounded like the love of my life, a guy who paddled my bare ass, and was my Top and my husband. Shit, we’d only been together a year and I didn’t always know what to call him in public. I just didn’t want to freak him out.

So for now, I just called him my man or my boyfriend. Being totally his would be cool. I could only hope that with time... Hey, right now I’d settle for a good gift. Sorta goth-girl was cool for someone who worked in a candle shop. She definitely made the place better. “Cool.” she said. “You’re gay too. How long have you been together? What does he like? Maybe I can help.”

Huh? What did he like other than bossing me around, spanking the crap out of me when I break the Rules, making me eat breakfast when I’m not hungry and being completely fucking impossible to find a Christmas gift for. (Lies) I blushed. No, he’s never unfair to me. I was just mad about this whole gift thing. She was nice and just trying to help. Shit, maybe she had some secret lesbian gift buying super-power that would help. I was getting nowhere by myself so I told her some of the basics.

“He’s the best... Um, he’s old... twenty-nine.” She just nodded, but she didn’t seem to judge me for being with an older guy, so I thought maybe her girlfriend was older too. I had just turned twenty-one, I think she was my age or younger. “He’s a total guy. He’s very practical and sorta traditional and he’s awesomely good looking and...” I glanced back at her and realized that I had started to ramble. She just smiled at me with that look women get when they realize you’re in love.

“Erm... uh... anyway, he’s a really good person and I’m lucky he’s even with me.” She gave me a little smile when she replied.

“I know how you feel. My girlfriend is older too. She’s the best. I didn’t have much money this year so I made her photo album. I hope that the fact that I made it myself will make up for the fact that I didn’t have any money for something nicer.”

I just stood there like a goon with my jaw hanging open. Why didn’t I think of that? I wanted to cry, but of course I wasn't gonna. Not in front of this nice lesbian in a candle store. What a good idea. I’m so stupid. I swear. It’s times like these that I really wondered what Jessie was doing with me. Candle girl was way smarter than I am. She must have seen something in my face.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay. You’ll find something good for him. He must be special.” I nodded. “Look, the holidays are always stressful so don’t worry. I’ll bet that candles aren’t the answer for him” She smiled a really nice smile that didn’t seem very gothy at all. I told her thanks about six times and left. Crap, she’s right. I should have made something. I wasn't very artsy. I mean I didn’t paint or anything. I only had $139. I had saved up everything I could. I know it seems like a fucking boatload of money, but when you want to buy something really good for someone who is the best person you’ve ever met... Well, it wasn't that much at all.

~ ~ ~

Well, after my melt-down lie-face moment about breakfast on mac-cheese night, he refused to talk about it any more. Not in a mad way, he just let it go. He calmed me down and cleaned up my face with his handkerchief, stood me up, and pulled up my pants. I apologized like seven times and he just pushed me toward the mac and cheese.

“Monkey, why don’t you put dinner in the oven so we can eat.”

I was completely confused. First, I didn’t eat breakfast and then I flat out lied. I didn’t know how he knew that I lied, but he knew even before I had said anything and now he was acting like it was over and we were done. I went and put dinner into the oven and then kind of edged myself out of the kitchen like he was some sort of unexploded bomb. He just sat there reading the sports page again and that was that.

After dinner we watched television on the couch and he still didn’t say anything. About 10:00 pm he collected his stuff and started to head off. I was floored.

“Where are you going?”

“To bed.” he said, over his shoulder.

“Are you mad at me?” I didn’t mean to say that, but it just popped out.


“Do you want me to come too.” I hollered at his retreating back.

“Always. Whenever you’re ready.” He went into the bedroom and I sat there on the couch in shock. We always went to bed together. He never gave me a choice. Fuck. He didn’t sound mad, but something was wrong. Probably fifteen minutes later, I went in and joined him in bed. He didn’t say anything, but he pulled me in close like normal.

“Sorry.” I said again.

“Don’t worry. We all have off days.” We went to sleep. Well, fuck. As usual, he fell right asleep and I lay there awake for a long time feeling his breath on the back of my neck. I’m not a genius, but something was wrong.

I woke up the next morning in a foul mood. He was already up and eating oatmeal. He didn’t wake me up like he usually did. I grumbled my way out to the kitchen. The oatmeal pan had already been cleaned and was in the drainer. I made a dicky point of saying that I wanted Cheerios anyway. He just said ‘good’ from behind his paper. Later, he kissed me and let himself out as if all was well.

I was a horror all day at work until my boss sent me home an hour early. Apparently, I was a fully efficient professional and a total little misery and, according to him, I should go home an hour early and feel better, which I did and yet didn’t. Then, I listened to the voice-mail to find that Jessie had to work late and wouldn’t be home for a few hours. Okay, first things first. I cooked dinner and I waited – Caesar salad and chicken breasts. He still wasn’t home. And then he called again and told me they had a project that was working overnight and that I should eat and he’d be home as soon as he could. So I ate alone. I hated it.

Let’s face it, I’m a mess alone. I forgot to turn on lights or heat or anything and I stayed up watching television until about 11:00pm, in the darkened living room, and he still wasn’t home and I’d be fucked if I was going to call him. I’m not a baby. He said he had to work. Finally, I went to bed. Our bed is big and it’s really cold without him. I swear, I’m not a wuss but I hated being alone. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was mad at me for the breakfast thing. It’s just not like him to fuck around with my head, though. He always meant what he said. Of course, I was still wide awake when he got home, about an hour later, and crawled in with me. Fuck me I was not going to cry when he wrapped himself around me. He’s so warm and I was so tired after not sleeping much the night before that I fell asleep in about five minutes.

He didn’t wake me again the next morning. I woke up late enough that he had cleaned the kitchen and there was just a note on the old table saying, “I love you Monkey. Busy day. Gotta run. Love, J”

I got home that night to find that Jessie had bought my favorite pepperoni pizza for us. He gave me one of his big hugs and a serious kiss when I walked in and told me to get my comfy clothes on and we’d eat pizza and watch some TV. That was unusual. Usually, we ate first. I was a total wreck at this point and yes, I totally fucking hell admit it. I burst into tears. Jessie just picked me up and carried me into the living room and sat us both on the giant leather couch.

“Shhh shhh... What’s wrong Monkey?” I was a total wreck and a fucking wuss and I couldn’t answer for a minute.

“I don’t know....” I wailed.

“Come on. Come on.” He was totally rubbing my back. “Did you get fired?”

“What? Nooooooo....” Fired? WTF?

“Well, what’s wrong, love? I can’t help if you won’t tell me. Are you in trouble?”

“I don’t know!”

“Ahh.” he said.

What? What the fuck is ‘ahh’ supposed to mean? He pulled me onto his lap and kissed my head. Why the fuck was he kissing my head? I was totally confused and then he confused me even more as he whispered into my hair.

“Well, what would you like me to do?”

I had no idea. What did I want him to do. I was on his lap and he smelled good and he rubbed my back and I was totally fucking incoherent and the last couple of days had been a total misery...

All of a sudden it was like a light snapped on in my head and I knew what to do. Fuck. Fuck Fuck. I also knew I didn’t want to do it. Jessie must have felt me tense up, but he just kept rubbing my back. As usual, everything was fucking my fault. I had lied – Rule Number Two. I had fucked everything up and he had been amazingly decent. I didn’t deserve him. Why was he still here?

~ ~ ~

Before I left, the goth candle girl wished me good luck and suggested some store called Coach. I left and wandered and then I spent a good amount of time chatting up the awesomely cute boy paid to stand in front of the Abercrombie & Fitch store. Every holiday they hired some model who stood out in front of the store wearing shorts and no shirt or just jeans hanging low off his hips or something, which is both hot and silly considering it’s 40 degrees outside, but he was cute so I felt it was my duty to say hello and rescue him from the giggling high-school girls. Girls have no gaydar. Please, he was clearly gay – way too cute to be straight. I did not tell him I have a better six-pack. I’m not that mean and if I took a job like that Jessie would do a rainbow coalition number on my butt. I did not tell him that either. No way.

I know that there’s nothing in A&F that Jessie would wear. He wasn't the overpriced fake-wrinkled clothes type. He wore simple basic man clothes and everything he wore looked seriously hot on him. Buying clothes was not one of my gay super powers. I’m not a genius with color or fit or any of that. The birthday shirt a store-guy talked me into buying Jess last year was still in his closet. Yep, eight months. Not worn once. Okay, I didn’t need a piano to fall on me to get the idea that it was not a winner. So, just say no to buying clothes. I took the old watch-face out of my Levi's pocket – 10:15am. Rob should be here soon. Thank God.

I went to Macy’s. They had lots of clothes, but I’d already decided a big nadda about that. I thought about buying him a leather jacket, but there was nothing nice for $139. All the good stuff was way way more expensive. Jessie had simple taste, but also really good taste. None of his clothes were crappy. Let’s face it, you didn’t get that good soft leather for $139. I finally found a jacket that seemed sorta Jessie-level to me and it was $423. Erp... nope.

Listen, I don’t want you to think I’m cheap. I just only had $139. Okay, it’s like this. When Jessie and I moved in together we could have got a better apartment, cause Jessie made a lot more money than I did. He’s a Project Supervisor for an architectural/contracting firm. He’s really good. Super anal and super organized.

I’m just a combination bar-back, inventory manager and part-time bartender at our local dive. The owners liked me because I was good with their computer and I kept the back room in good shape... well, and all the waitresses and a lot of the customers liked me. Still, Jessie made a lot more money by a long shot. It figured – he didn’t care at all.

Anyway, I was crazy about Jessie and when he brought up moving in together I thought I’d croak. However, I didn’t want him to think I was a loser or a leech so I insisted on paying half of everything. So we had gotten kind of a crappy old apartment cause that’s all I could afford, but he didn’t complain. So we split mostly everything. I know he buys more groceries, but he doesn’t say anything and I can’t really fight it, so we both just pretend I pull my own weight. Someday, I really would. He said it didn’t matter. Like I’ve said before, he doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

Our first big Top/Monkey argument was when he discovered I owed a bunch of money on my credit card. Whoooeeee, he was not having that. When he found out how much I owed I thought he’d leave me for sure, but instead he insisted on paying it off. He said he wouldn’t have me paying those interest payments for nothing and that as a couple it was ‘our’ money now. I refused. That took three days of arguing. He just kept asking me if I trusted him and I kept saying he was going to leave me because I was a loser and he finally just spanked me – thoroughly – until I calmed down and shut up with that crap. Anyhow, our 50/50 deal had stuck, but he knew it was tight for me. He said I was just being proud. Well fuck, may be, but that’s why I had $139 dollars and no credit cards. He didn’t care, but I did.

I stopped at Wetzel’s Pretzels and had a large soft pretzel, no salt. Hey, I don’t like those big salt chunks, okay? I wondered if this counted as lunch... erm... probably not. Shit. I was going to have to eat a proper lunch. I so wasn’t going to lie to him again. I wanted him to trust me and I’m a super sucky liar, as you’ve heard. I also had to think about what I was going to do. $139 or not, it had to be something ‘great’. He deserved the best and I’d be in luck if I could get to something even ‘good’ for that amount.

~ ~ ~

So two freakishly miserable days after my sucky stupid breakfast lie, there I was on his lap, on the couch, and I had that light bulb moment. I realized what the problem was. Fuckity fuckeroo. I remember being scared to death, but I couldn’t go on like that and I knew it. I untangled myself from his lap while he look puzzled. I went to the bedroom. Oh god, I was so fucked. I went and rummaged in the bottom drawer of his nightstand and got the little oak paddle and went back out to the living room. I held it out to him. He looked me right in the eye and I could see he knew.

“I lied to you about breakfast.” I watched as he nodded at me and took the paddle out of my hand.

“I know.” he said softly and then he was just quiet. He was not going to make this easy. Fucker. (Lie) No he’s not.

“How come you’re not mad?”

“Monkey, the Big Rules are there for both of us. To make us a stronger couple. To make me a better Top and you a better... Monkey.” I wasn't sure why he paused, but he kept going. “I’m not the police. It’s up to you if you want me to be your Top. I can’t help the way I’m built. I love you and I want to help and I’m always going to be your Top. I just sort of can’t not be. It’s really hard for me not to want to take care of you, but I can’t make you do anything you really don’t want to do.”

I just stood there in front of him sitting on the couch. Him holding that paddle and me sorta fidgeting and then I did what I should have done two days ago. I skinned off my clothes. And if you don’t think that’s super-ginormous mother-fucking hard well then you are just bat-shit crazy.

I laid myself across his lap... nothing happened. I craned backward to look at him.

“Umm... are you... ?” He wasn’t making anything easy.

“Monkey, you have to ask.” What? “Two days ago you yelled at me to ‘let you go’. I love you and I’m never going to force you. I’m your Top and you are my Monkey because it’s right for us, but it has to be right for both of us. So you have to tell me what you want.” Such a fucker (lie) making me ask out loud. Okay, I deserved this, but shiiiiit. That was worse than a spanking.

“Jessie. I’m sorry, please give me... um... whatever... erm... I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just got scared.” Well, fuck me with a stick. Even that pathetic little speech was hard to say with my naked ass in the air.

And then he brought that little paddle down hard across my right cheek and I thought, Hell! I was wrong. That hurt a lot more than saying it. He proceeded with my left and then he just wailed away with lots of wrist action and lots of sting on both sides for what felt like at least two hours (lie). Okay, it just felt like a long time and I was definitely crying and burning by the time he was done.

I started to push up and he just effortlessly held me down with his left hand and rested the paddle on the center of my bottom.

“What?” Oh, hell yeah, I sounded nervous.

“Okay, do you plan on eating a decent breakfast?” And with that, he brought that fucker down with a solid smack right down the center of my already nuclear butt.

“Yes! With bacon and OJ and broccoli and healthy stuff like that. I promise.” I wailed all that in Academy Award worthy fashion. He apparently, felt my sincerity.

“Good babe and, more importantly, do you plan on always answering truthfully when I ask you questions?” And another monster crack with that sucker on the same spot. I practically levitated off his lap, well I would have except for his big hand.

“Oh, yes yes yes? The truth and... only... for sure.” Somewhat garbled, but delivered loudly and with fervent passion.

“And this would be about...” Delivered, with a final crack on, you got it, that same spot. Fuuuuuck!

“RULE NUMBER TWO!!!!” I detonated.

He wedged the paddle between the seat cushion and the armrest of the old red couch and I rubbed my tear-stained face and runny nose on his Levi's. He deserved that.

“Hey!” He swept me up to suspend my butt carefully between his legs while I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck and we sat there for a good while, with him rocking me, while I calmed down. He nuzzled my head and whispered into my ear.

“You okay, Monkey? I’m seriously proud of you for handling things this way. It takes a big man to admit they’ve done the wrong thing and make things right.”

Another quiet time elapsed while, in spite of the burn in my backside, I felt good. I leaned back to look at him.

“So we’re okay? You still love me?” God, my voice sounded really small to my own ears. “Did I clean the slate okay?” Oh god, let him say yes.

“Monkey love, we were always ‘okay’ and I’ll always ‘love you’. He squeezed me tighter which felt good after the last two days. “Hey, I know we Tops are a bossy bunch, but it’s because we want the best for you now and forever. It won't always be easy but, like right now, if we’re both willing to try to do the right thing then we have a chance at being the best we can be. Right? Honesty with each other. Rule Number Two. That’s a big. I’ll do it for you, if you will do it for me and we’ll both try our best as we go.” I must have been feeling better because, as god is my witness, my mouth can be like uncontrollable clockwork.

“So if you lie to me, then I get to spank you?” I teased. He just leaned in and eyeballed me real closely with one of those black eyes of his and suddenly I wasn’t sure I wanted to tease him so much.

“Is that what you’d really like to do?” He said it very directly in all seriousness and I realized that maybe I wasn’t sure at all. Maybe that didn’t sound nearly as fun as I had thought it might and I might not be built for it at all. He’s all muscle on muscle and a lot bigger than me and I think my brow must have furrowed as I tried to imagine how I’d get him over my lap. My confusion must have shown, because he let out a big laugh.

“Don’t worry Monkey, we don’t have to do that. I’m just saying that we’ll both work at keeping the Rules and keeping things working their best.” Then he squeezed me again. “We’ll figure it out together.”

In that moment, I felt so loved that I thought there wasn’t much I wouldn’t do for this man. And that was the truth.

~ ~ ~

So, that’s what I was sitting thinking as I was finishing my (not a proper lunch) Wetzel’s Pretzel and remembering Jessie forgiving me for being a crappy liar and how much I loved him. Of course I was also thinking that I was an idiot for not having checked to see if we had run out of oatmeal before I’d lied (he told me that later when I accused him of reading my mind). I was also thinking that Macy’s sucked for only having pleather jackets for under $200 and wishing that Jessie liked to cook more because Williams-Sonoma had a bunch of pans for under $139, but that’s like buying your wife a bowling ball because you like to bowl and I was basically starting to get really hacked off about Christmas all over again when Rob walked in, spotted me, and sat down.

“How’s it hangin’?” Rob considered himself a wit, but he was my best friend and just a couple years older than me. He liked to tease me about most things, but there wasn’t a mean bone in his body.

“Low and mean, bro, low and mean.” You could see that we were both genius wits of the male sort and our greetings tended to run to the intellectual side. However, now with that out of the way – there would be arm hitting later, guaranteed – we could get on with the real business.

“So, why are you are you moping in the pretzel section? You planning on buying the big man a pretzel-of-the-month subscription?”

~ ~ ~

Rob liked to call Jessie the ‘big man’ and he skirted around the whole Jessie telling me what to do thing. I knew it was going to come out one day. Rob spent way too much time over at our place, but he hadn’t asked any tough questions yet. Though he’d given us a couple of good hard looks when Jessie told me to do something and I scampered off to do it. I definitely didn’t want a confrontation with Jessie in front of Rob. Jessie wouldn’t humiliate me, but his idea of what counted as humiliation and mine were two different things.

Sometimes, Jess thought if you didn’t want ‘attention’, as he called it, then don’t do whatever you’re going to do. So I’m careful. Jessie was mellow about it all and just said to let Rob ask what he wanted, when he’s ready. He said that he’s a good friend and he’d understand. I told him, yeah! Easy for you to say, you weren't the one being bossed around and beaten half to death for breathing wrong. Jess had just laughed his deep laugh and scooped me up and into his arms like a kid.

“You are absolutely right you poor, poor guy and how much ‘beating’ do you think a lie like that one just now deserves? Hmm? Something extremely painful I’m sure. Do we own a cane? Or a strap or something?” I 'Eeeeped' loudly and tried to scramble out of his arms. Although, he was joking – I’m pretty sure – I got nowhere.

“I think I have some extra correction tools we haven’t used in my case?” I gasped again in outraged horror.

“We don't own a cane or a strap... do we?” Even joking I think I glanced around nervously like some torture device might suddenly be hanging on the coat rack.

He gave me a mock hard stare. “... I doooon’t know... do we?” Okay, getting unfunny here. Jessie had one hand under me though, thoroughly feeling up my butt during this whole exchange of questionable humor, and my Levi's were getting tight in front, but it was clearly time to change the subject anyway. So, I had squeezed my arms tighter and buried my face deeper into his neck.

“I just don’t want Rob thinking I’m a freak.”

“Hey, hey...” he rumbled. “There’s no chance of that. Rob loves you. I love you more. First off, I don’t think he would. Second, I think Rob is curious about us, but doesn’t know how to ask, so try to be nice when he does. Sometimes when people are nervous they don’t ask in the best ways. Just remember he’s your friend.”

“I know... it’s just that I’m...” I trailed off kinda pathetically.

“Monkey, listen, I know that our relationship isn’t like everyone’s, but there are more people who have domestic discipline relationships like ours than you might think. You are not a freak. You are just a person who is strong enough to know what’s best for them.” Okay, that made me feel good. He put me down. “Also, just think on this. Rob sees you and me happy together all the time. I think Rob is lonely and would like a relationship of his own. Maybe not like ours, but who knows what is right for him. So some of this may just be natural envy.”

Well that was a lot to think about and I remember we went off to the grocery store and, for a change, I didn’t talk most of the way there.

~ ~ ~

So anyway, Rob was being funny as usual.

“Noooo, Jessie hates pretzels. Says they’re all empty carbs.”

“How much do you have to spend?”

“$139...” I replied rather sadly.

“Hey that’s not that bad. We should be able to get some good stuff for that... right?” I know he was trying to get my energy up. Like I said, he’s a good friend.

“Not so far. I can’t just buy him crap. I’ve been to the ‘Luv Sac’, trust me it’s not what you think. Lady’s handbags, little ones with sequins, which apparently my wife absolutely must have.” He obligingly laughed. “Then I went to Burberry. They have some good things if you like to dress like an Englishman.” Rob shook his head no as I said that.

“Nope. You’re right, that is not Jessie.”

“Exactly, so I walked by a place called Lane Bryant...” We both simultaneously snorted and shook our heads no. Rob laughed.

“Also no on Victoria’s Secret next door.” The laughing was cheering me up a little. I told Rob about the pleather jackets I could afford at Macy’s and the nice ones I couldn’t. He did agree that a leather jacket of the right type would be very Jessie, but not a cheap one. We walked down the aisle and looked at the very odd mix of shops. I mean who thought those shops up?

“Jessie is very good looking.” Rob was looking forward when he came out of left field with that. “You’re a lucky bastard to be with a guy who is sex on a stick.” We walked in silence for a minute. “Of course, he’s bossier than two wives.” It’s true, but I slugged him hard on the arm on general principles.

“HEY! I didn’t mean anything bad. Sorry. I like Jessie, but you’ve got to admit he’s pretty... um... in charge... if you know what I mean.” I pulled back to slug him on the arm again, but he dodged away. “Stop that. I just mean... I was only...” He gave me a sideways look. “Todd, can I ask you something?” My heart skipped a beat.

“Sure, what?” I replied

“Is Jessie good to you... err... I mean is a he... are you... safe?” He must have seen the horrified look on my face cause he kept going. “I don’t mean anything bad, I like Jessie and I know you’re crazy about him, but sometimes he seems kind of stern and he’s big...” I waited out a big pause as we walked. “He’s not abusing you... that’s all... right? You’re okay?” I breathed a sigh of relief. That was just my friend watching out for me.

“Yes, I’m totally fine Rob. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me and he would never lay a finger on me that we hadn’t agreed to.” As I said it, I realized that was the absolute truth, but just for fun I leered at Rob and wiggled my eyebrows in my best lecherous way. Then he hit me really hard on the arm. I looked at him in outrage.

“Oh, nothing... just turn-a-bout and fair play. Be glad you’re only getting one.” He just looked forward and frowned. I had to laugh. We continued on past a store that sold five million rubber Crocs in every color under the sun. No way was Jessie into Crocs. Also, have you ever seen how many baby stores there were in a mall? It’s like every third store was a baby supply store. Definitely not something we’d be needing. I wonder if we’d ever adopt? Whoa. That was a weird thought. We passed a bunch of trendy clothing stores that I didn’t trust myself to buy anything Jessie would wear in. Finally, I pulled out my watch to check the time. 1:00pm, lunch time for sure. I looked at Rob.

“What do you want to eat?”

“What did you have for breakfast?”

“Hot Dog On A Stick.” Rob made a gross face.

“You sick fuck, you’ll eat anything. Do you know what’s in those things? I punched him again, but not very hard so it didn’t really count.

“Yes I do and it’s the breakfast of champions, but you don’t have to tell Jessie.”

“Trust me I’m not getting in the middle of you two and your healthy food issues, Dr. Atkins.” He was ready and dodged the arm punch this time.

We agreed on Panda Express. I got the Orange Chicken and rice and he got Beef & Broccoli. We sat at the formica counter and planned our attack. I had reached the point of despair.

“Rob, I’ve been around this mall seven times now. Four before you got here and three with you. I don’t want to give him a gift certificate, he’ll just think I’m a lazy shit. I don’t know what to do?”

“Dude, finish your heavily sugared and fried chicken nuggets and we’ll cross down and check out the shops over that way. I’m sure we’ll find something.” That was one of the many things I liked most about Rob, he’s just super positive and he’d often kept me going when I was ready to jump. I pulled out the old watch again from my pocket. It was too old and I couldn’t get a watch band for it anymore so I just kept it in my pocket. It was almost 2:30pm.

“Rob, eat up we gotta go. I’ve got to get this done and get home.” I got up to empty my tray in the trash. Rob followed. We wandered down the other hallway. Fudge, mall security, kids play area, JCPenney and at the corner my goth lesbian’s Coach.

Coach. Lots and lots of leather stuff. Nice stuff. I went in. Rob backed up and followed. At first I thought it was just super nice wallets and ladies handbags, but then on the back wall there were leather briefcases. I mean really super nice leather briefcases. In black and light and dark brown. All kinds of bumpy and classy ones with buckles and straps on the front. I think I was just sort of staring at the black one.

“Would you like to see it?” She was a very pretty Latin girl dressed in high style and those stiletto shoes you wondered how girls walked in. I nodded. “Here.” she said, pulling it down. “Go ahead, you can open it.”

It smelled super good. Like leather car seats or something and the leather was exactly the kind of leather that the $800 coats in Macy’s were made of. Super soft and nubbly. I opened it and it was big and had smaller pockets on the front and then the middle had two big compartments and smelled even better. Then I saw the price tag and went cold. $548. Well, forget that. I smiled and handed it back to fashion girl who put it back on display.

“Thanks. That’s a beautiful bag. We’re going to look around some more, but maybe we’ll be back.” I lied. I grabbed Rob and eased him out of the store.

“What?” he said, bewildered. “It was perfect. I’ve seen Jessie’s old bag. It’s the same size and it’s ratty and he’s had it as long as I’ve known you two.

“Rob... did you see that price?” I glared at him for want of something better to fucking seriously glare at. “$548. That’s so far out of my price range it might as well be leather harvested by sacred virgins from Tibetan yaks... or something.”

We both sat down on one of those cement benches they scatter about the mall and I put my head in my hands. Oh, you can trust me, I was not going to cry in front of Rob... but I wanted to. I was just tired.

“Listen, Todd... I know you don’t like to, but let me loan you...”


“Just listen, asshole. This is a special situation. How many times have you been around this mall. That bag is perfect for him. I know it and you know it. I know you’ll pay me back. You have to get it. It’s just...”

“Rob, just stop... please... I can’t. Jessie knows I don’t have that kind of money and he sure knows I don’t have a credit card. He’ll ask. Oh, ho trust me he’ll ask. I can’t buy him a present with your money, it’s just not right.” I held up my hand to stop him from interrupting. “... and I’m not going to lie about it. Case closed.” He glared at me.

“You are such a stubborn little shit.” He hit me on the arm, but it wasn’t hard. His heart wasn’t in it.

We sat quietly for quite a while watching all the holiday shoppers go by. It was the day before Christmas Eve so it was mostly harried looking men and the occasional mother hoping for a bargain. Like us, the desperate.

“Todd, can I ask you something?”


“That old watch you always have. Where did you get it?”

“What? Oh, that. It’s just sentimental old crap. You know I don’t know who my real folks are?” Rob just nodded. Old news. The kind you got out of the way on a good drunk when you first got to know a good friend. “Well apparently, it had supposedly been my dad’s. My bio-dad’s. It’s old enough. Well that’s what they told me. It’s crap, I just sorta keep it just to remind me that I was someone’s kid once... whatever happened. You know?” Trust me, Rob knew all the dirty details, so this conversation wasn’t as emotional as it sounded. He looked at me kinda keenly.

“Do you think it’s worth something?” He had a plotting gleam in his eye, the one that he got sometimes. It could mean the solution to all your problems or just the beginning of them. I just looked at him blankly.

“I don’t know. I’ve always had it. I can’t buy a band that looks right with it, way too expensive. It’s old, so I don’t know, really?” I pulled it out and we both looked at the face. It said Universal Genéve on it. It was all silver and old-fashioned looking but in sort of a cool way. There were three small faces – one on each side and one on the bottom. I think one was seconds, but I wasn’t sure what the other two were for. Rob looked at me for a moment, kinda carefully, and I thought, here it comes, he thinks I’m gonna punch him again...

“Have you ever had it appraised?” He just stared at me and I stared blankly back. He clearly could see I needed help. Rob’s folks have money so he knows money stuff.

“Umm... no?”

“It might be worth something. Do you think you might be willing to sell it if it was?” I could see by his face he was serious.

“Umm... I don’t know?”

That was the truth. I never thought about it. On one hand it was the only thing I had from my real bio-dad ever to prove that I wasn’t a pod child left on Earth from some failed invasion, but on the other hand it’s not like I ever knew him or that he meant anything to me. He and my bio-mother couldn’t be bothered and gave me up at birth. I got adopted by nice people, which was why I referred to the mysteriously missing originals as ‘bio’ mom and dad.

My adopto-folks were mostly sweet and cool, well until I turned gay and then they were uncomfortable, but they still tried to be cool. So I didn't hate them or anything. I just wasn’t what they had signed up for, but they also didn’t throw me out and they were mostly nice, so that’s something. So this old watch was the only thing from way back then. Still, this was Jessie we were talking about. Jessie who paid off debts for me. Who loved me even when I was an asshole and did supremely stupid things. Jessie the sexiest fucker I had ever been around and he seemed to think I was decent looking too. I mean, between the two, there was no comparison.

Rob was still looking at me like he’d just gone Good Will Hunting and solved the ultimate math problem. I stood up.

“Okay Einstein, but I don’t know how to have your left testicle appraised let alone this old watch. What if it’s worth shit? It’s old. It might not be worth anything.” Rob shook his head.

“No it’s ‘vintage’. That’s possibly valuable. Let's go ask a watch shop. They can at least tell us if we’re wasting our time. Listen if it’s worth shit, then we’ll buy Jessie some purple Crocs.” He wasn’t fast enough this time when I hit him, but he still smiled as he dragged me off to find out if I was a new billionaire.

Five minutes later, I was going to go into Zales, but Rob said no. Then there was Kevin’s Jewelers, but still apparently that wasn’t the right one either. Finally, he decided that the answer was Romano’s Jewelers.

“Why here?” I gestured to all the display cases fronting the exterior.

“See all the watches.” There were some real beauties. “Look at this Baum and Mercier... see...” I leaned in. It was really expensive and rich looking. “It’s old. They buy and sell vintage jewelry here. They should be able to tell us what kind your watch is and if it’s worth anything.” He must have seen my face. “Todd, you don’t have to sell it. We’ll just ask.” I will say this, Rob does have testicles and when he wants something he goes for it.

We went in and all of a sudden I felt young and grubby. Jewels everywhere and watches with jewels and jewels with watches and jewels on jewels. Shit. I so didn’t belong here with my ratty old piece of a watch and a measly $139 to buy Jessie a Christmas present. I think Rob knew I was feeling all emo and bolty because he had his hand firmly gripping my arm. He drew me over to an older man sitting behind a glass counter filled with sparkling watches.

“Excuse me, sir. Would you have time to take a quick look at an older watch for us and tell us if it’s anything you recognize?” Rob was super good at dealing with rich people type things. He worked managing one of his father’s sporting goods stores, mostly because he liked to make his own pocket money. So he knew how to talk ‘rich’ when he had to.

The old man brought out a black velvet board and set it on top of the glass and then opened a drawer to get out a little black eye glass thing, which he put to his eye. Rob nudged me and whispered, “Put your watch on the black thing.” So I did.

The old guy brought it up to the black eye thing and studied it every which way before setting it down again. He proceeded to talk to Rob as if I wasn’t there which was actually okay with me since the whole thing kind of freaked me out. Old watch-guy just sorta went into robo-jeweler mode.

“It is a 1940’s classic Universal Genéve Compax. It is one of the most affordable and underrated collectible watches out there. Stainless Steel. The movement is considered quality and it’s 45mm lug to lug. A very high quality watch with features that are uncommon. The quality is reflected in the beauty of this watch after all these years. This one is not in perfect condition but quite close. It is a significantly affordable collectable and it will wow most watch connoisseurs.” I was totally lost, but Rob looked both pleased and unfazed as he talked with him.

“Does it normally appraise for anything and if you were to purchase a watch such as this to prep for resale, what would you consider it worth?” I think my jaw dropped. This was my friend who I regularly punched in the arm and called a butt-head. The old man looked back at the watch laying against the black velvet.

“Well, I’ll be honest with you since you seem like such a nice young man. If you were to clean this, properly band it and put it on full auction there is a chance that you might get somewhere between $2,795 and $2,995.”

Sister Mary Greenbacks... did he say what I just thought he did?

“Now, if we were to purchase it to prep for resale here at Romano’s... Well, I’d have to confer with the owner, but after cleaning and restoration and providing the correct wrist band... I’d expect to be able to get you something around $1,800. Rob tried not to look too pleased.

“Thank you, sir. Let me discuss this with my friend.” He scooped the watch off the counter and grabbed my arm, towing me out into the corridor where the evil Muzak loop had just rotated around to “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. I was completely confused. Rob, however, was very excited.

“Dude. $1800 bucks. Hello? Hello?” He gave me a shake. “Duuude, do you understand they will buy this very watch for $1800 bucks here and now. Todd, that’s the Coach bag, plus tax, and at least $1,300+ left over for you. You're good to go.”

I was still in a bit of a state, but for Jessie I was good, and I nodded yes.

Two hours later, we walked out of Coach with a beautiful perfectly wrapped box the just screamed ‘rich’. It also had the toughest coolest most awesome black-leather briefcase I’d ever seen swathed in tons of snow white sparkly tissue paper inside.

Rob had to drive home. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I couldn’t stop the tears running down my face. Fucking traitor face.

Rob didn’t say a word.

~ ~ ~

I nestled the present under the Christmas tree. I didn’t talk much that night. I think Jessie was worried, but I told him the holidays made me wuss-up and apologized for ruining his day. He just looked at me super kindly and asked me if there was anything I needed to tell him. I assured him that I was okay. No Rules broken. I promised. He still looked worried and pulled me onto his lap. He got up once to answer the phone, but other than that we watched TV and ate popcorn until bed time and then we snuggled up and I tried to mellow out. I promised myself I’d be normal by morning.

Well, that was a lie, but only to myself. I took forever to fall asleep and I woke up just as weird as the night before. I swore I would not ruin Christmas Eve for Jessie so I plastered a big smile on my face and got up to start cleaning. He was getting out of the shower with just a towel wrapped around him and using another one to dry his hair. I got a good look at him in the hallway. Hot fucker. He was worth a hundred watches.

“Monkey!” he hollered over the vacuum. I turned it off. “I have to go out for a couple of hours and check an emergency job. I’m so sorry. I promise I’ll be back just after lunch. I’ll help you finish cooking and we’ll have Christmas Eve dinner together and open presents.” I ran over and hugged him – wet towels and all. “Hey babe, everything is going to be okay. Don’t stress. Okay?” I nodded and smiled. He nodded and smiled back.

As I was walking back to the vacuum, he snapped me on the ass with his wet towel. “Oww! Butt-head!” I yelled at his retreating back. He just laughed and went to finish getting ready. Yes, I love him.

I cleaned. I cooked. I defy anyone to make that crap apartment as Christmassy as I did. Okay, I’m not the king of cooks, but I could do ham and potatoes and a basic salad. Jessie was home by 2:00pm just as promised and with a really good pie for dessert. Such a Top. I kinda liked that. Anyway, he helped set the table and finished putting the food out. I just kept looking at him thinking he was the best thing that ever happened to me and worth all the watches in the world. And he was.

Dinner was good. Simple, you know, but good. Jessie helped me clean up as usual and we had the dessert he brought in the living room by our little tree. We put a Christmas music DVD on the stereo and sat for while cuddled up looking at the tree. I crawled onto his lap and curled into a ball.

“Monkey, I’ve never been happier than I am with you.” I looked up at him. God, that was so what I needed to hear right now. For some reason I think the whole watch business just made me think about people giving me away and it kinda stuck to me. So fucking stupid I know. That happened so long ago with people I never knew. There was no reason that it should matter now.

“Jessie, there's no one in the world better... than you. No one.” I was starting to wuss up. Well, I suppose it was inevitable for me when the sappy talk started happening. I hate being the family cryer, but sometimes it just is what it is.

Jess eased me off him and got up.

“Here. Monkey, I wanted you to have this in hopes that it can bring you all the good things you deserve all year long.” He handed me a present nicely wrapped in glittery green paper in a weird shaped long tube. I shook it, but I could not figure out what it was. Jessie just looked at me expectantly.

I opened it and pulled out a long thin rattan cane. My face when I looked up at Jessie must have been priceless, because he started laughing so hard he started snorting. I dropped the damn thing and jumped on him, everything else forgotten, and started pounding on him as hard as I could.

“You butt! You totally evil Top butt-head. You bought me a cane? You shit!” I continued to try to pummel him, while he continued to fend me off rather effortlessly, laughing his ass off as he explained.

“I got it to help you...”

“Help me? Me? You dick.” I was sort of on top of his head by now pounding on his back. He could not stop laughing and snorting. The humor part was trying to allude me.

“Yes. You said you were worried about being able to explain all your heinous beatings to Rob once the day came that you had to make clear how I abuse you. So I thought you’d need a cane to help him understand how you suffer.” He was laughing so hard at that point that he could barely get that speech out. The fucker. He was so dead and this was so not funny (Lie). Okay, it was funny and I was sort of laughing too.

“Fine, I’m getting that fireplace we talked about and this is the first thing I’m burning.” I climbed off him panting, both of us still chuckling. “I still think you’re an evil Monkey abuser.” He grabbed me in a big hug that lifted me off the ground.

“Well that’s true. Here, this one is better. Or at least I think you might like it better.” He handed me a big blue box with a giant thick white ribbon on it. It looked rich. I unwrapped it slowly. You know sometimes you just didn’t want to tear the paper. I took the lid off to see the last thing I ever expected. I slowly drew a brand new Sony PlayStation 4 out of the box.

There was a minute of true Christmas reverential silence... until I screamed and started jumping around the living room like a demented... erm... well... monkey. It was just true. Jessie just sat there with this giant shit-eating grin on his face watching me while I bounced and babbled.

“You giant sneaky Top-fink. You said we couldn’t have one. You said you hated these games. You said the devil created these to destroy families. You LIED...” He put his hand up to stop my bouncy speechifying.

“Well, we are going to have rules about when it gets used. I definitely want to see you once in a while, but I don’t want you to have to go to Rob’s every time you two want to play. And I had to make up some of those things because a certain highly snoopy Pink Panther type Monkey might have torn this apartment apart searching for his gift if I hadn’t diverted him.” His grin was still deservedly big. It was the best gift ever created and made me even more sure I had done a good thing with mine.

“Oh. My. God! You got all the new games too! You are the most awesome person in the universe. Let’s hook it up and play RIGHT NOW!” That got me a dry look. “Psyche. Kidding.” I launched myself back into his arms while holding a handful of the latest games, two of which promptly fell behind the couch during the confusion of hard-core kissing that lasted for a minute or two. Hey, it was a gift deserving of serious kissing.

Finally, it was time. I went over and got the Coach box out and handed it to him. He looked satisfyingly mystified as he opened it and then, when he finally got the miles of tissue paper out of the way, he pulled out the black leather case. The whole room smelled like Christmas tree and new leather. It was amazing. Better yet, I had never seen him with his face that completely stunned.

He was speechless for a whole minute. He’d run his hand across the leather and then look at me and then smell the bag and look at me again, kind of like he’d never seen me before. Then he dropped the bag on the couch and grabbed me and kissed me one of those bruising kisses that leaves me breathless and makes my pants too tight. The kind that seem to go on forever. It was a perfect Christmas kiss for sure. I had done good. He just kept opening the bag, closing it and then stroking it. I was totally stoked.

Needless to say, more Christmas kissing ensued, but I’m gonna say it anyway. It was the freaking best. Then he gave me one more kiss and went over and pulled out a little box from way under the tree.

“Monkey, this is just a small something I know you’ve been looking for. I found it on-line.” I was totally mystified. I had no idea, really. I unwrapped it and burst into tears. Fucking wuss tears... again. Yes, it was a watch band. The watch band. An antique. Clearly made for the watch I kept in my pocket. Jessie knew what it was. I was incoherent.

“I can’t... Can you return it? Was it expensive?” All this pouring out of me in between tear filled breaths.

He reached behind him, dug between the couch cushions, and pulled out another box and handed it to me with a look of concern. I was still crying and I was definitely a little goofed up at this point between hyper-happy and super-sad and just confused and... oh well, I didn’t know what exactly.

I opened the little box. Maybe you guessed. I couldn’t breath for a second. Jessie reached over and rubbed my back and watched me kind of cautiously. It was my watch. The watch. Sparkling clean. A watch I now had a band for. I might have just stared at it forever if it weren’t for Jessie.

“I hope you don’t mind Monkey, but your friend Rob called me last night.” I remembered the call he had to take last night that I thought was for work. “He told me about you selling your watch to get my present.” Jessie pulled me onto his lap for about the 607th time in the last two days and talked into my hair. I think I was a bit delirious. “Monkey that bag is the nicest thing anyone has ever given me... ever! However, the fact that you’d give up your dad’s watch to get it is beyond my imagination. You are without a doubt the most generous person I have ever met.”

Well you can imagine, here I was already tearing all over and then he gave me back my watch – something I didn’t even know I cared about – but apparently, I did and then he tells me that? Well that started the serious waterworks up again. He held me tight and rubbed my back and made little noises in my hair.

“I didn’t think I cared about it. You know I never knew them and it’s just a watch, right? It shouldn’t matter.” I looked up at him with some sort of confusion. His eyes were very kind.

“I know buddy. It should be that way, but it never is. Even parents you don’t know are still parents. It’s kind of fucked up, but that’s the way it is. You’ve seen how effed up my parents are. They’re kind of miserable and I don’t even like them very much, but I can’t forget them no matter how hard I’ve tried. Don’t worry buddy, you and I are just alike.” He shifted me a little so he could look at me.

“It’s okay to have this watch to remember your bio-dad by and maybe think something good about him. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You know? I know it’s rotten they had to give you up, but you don’t know why. Right? Maybe they had to, but maybe they didn’t want to. When you look at that watch, try and think of that if you can.”

He pulled me back in and I cried myself out for a while.

Then we made a large ceremony of taking all his work stuff out of his old ratty brown bag and transferring it to the new black bag and ooo’d and aww’d over it appropriately. After that, we got out his little fiddly tools and attached the new watch band to my old/new watch and fussed over that also.

It was very late when the dishes were washed and put away. Used wrapping paper was trashed and we finally turned the Christmas tree lights off. Jessie went to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. I told him I was going to go and get those two PS4 games out from behind the couch before I forgot.

I ran back out to the darkened living room. Joke or no joke, I was not going to leave a cane lying on the living room floor. That evil stick was being marked for permanent disposal... except it wasn’t where I dropped it. I hurriedly searched the immediate area, underneath the coffee table and the couch, by the tree... everywhere. The room wasn’t that big. It was gone.

No doubt, a certain sneaky damn Santa-Top had taken it. Tricky fucker. When had he done that? Tomorrow, I was going to go all Pink Panther on his ass and find that nasty thing. I had to laugh. If he thought my butt was living in the same apartment with a cane he had another thing coming.

I brushed my teeth and headed to bed, only to find the bedroom empty. I figured Jess forgot to turn a light off or something and started to crawl into bed until I heard a throat clearing sound from the doorway.

“Ahem...” I glanced up to see my man wearing his new leather case off one shoulder and not another stitch, sublimely nude in the bedroom doorway in his best sultry come hither pose. Okay, the pose was a little goofy but the body was to die for. SOLD. Wrap him up, I’ll take two.

I snorted and lept out of bed also totally starkers, except for my new/old watch which I couldn’t take off my wrist. Actually, I really couldn’t. The new clasp had some trick to it that I needed Jessie to help me figure out, but right now it was perfect. So I struck a better pose modeling both my ‘vintage’ watch and my naked self. Jessie laughed out loud as he set his bag down by the door and then with a predatory look he growled and lightening fast, darted across the room, grabbed me up and dumped me on the bed. Just like that he was on top of me, covering me completely, and kissing me like there was nothing else in the world but me.

We spent many, many hours having what seriously qualified as the best holiday sex I’d ever had. Jessie seemed to think it was also worthy of a high holy day. It was definitely the wee hours of the morning before we both passed out in a tangle of blankets.

~ ~ ~

I did’t know too much about the three wise men or about gold, frankincense and myrrh, but I will say that black briefcase got used every day and, even though Jessie denied it, I swear I had seen him fondle the leather when he thought no one was looking.

The watch? Well, that watch was in a category all it’s own. How did you rank a gift you didn’t even know you wanted? Jessie ended up being right about something else too, sometimes I do look at the watch now and think maybe, just maybe, he didn’t have a choice when he gave me away. I don’t know what’s true, but like Jessie says, then why not? I can think anything I want. Oh and I didn’t even punch Rob in the arm for telling Jessie. I know, I’m getting soft, but it was Christmas.

However, the best Christmas gift I had ever, without a shadow of a doubt, received was that night’s love making marathon with a man who meant everything to me. It totally consumed me, as the clock passed from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day.

Now that was a gift I’m not sure even the Magi could give.

The End.

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