The Second, Part Three

This post is part of a blog series entitled, Memoirs of a Ghost.  For more information, click our About page, and check the bottom of this post for previous entries.

Man in Window
It was the third apartment we had been to that day.  Nice, basic, but a view to kill for.  Asher was in another room on the phone – business, as usual.  He had been such a life saver, though, letting me crash on his couch after the split with Bruce.

I didn’t know what I would have done without him.

I inhaled deeply, turning back around to take in the room.  Asher was such the hustler when I was with Bruce, I was puzzled as to why he insisted on us having separate rooms in our search for a new place for us to share.  It seemed that I was the one who had to exercise all of the restraint before.  The one night with Mitchell aside, I didn’t want to be one of those guys who is already sleeping with Mr. Next while still connected to Mr. Right Now.

I sauntered back into the room he was in just as he was finishing up the call.

“So, you like it?” he asked, slipping his phone in his pocket.

“I do.  It’s like a blank slate … a place to start over,” I mumbled, my arms crossed across my chest.

“Good thing.  I’ve already put a deposit down.  You can pay me back later.”

I raised my eyebrows at the way he seemed to already know what I would accept.  It was true that I liked a take-charge personality, but it almost seemed that Asher was measuring my neck for a leash.

“Let’s go.  We’re having a guest over tonight, and I want to make sure everything is set before he arrives.”

“A guest?” I asked, following him to the elevator.

“One of my best friends in the world,” he said, jamming at the down button.  “You’re gonna love him.  We go a long way back.”

I nodded.

“He travels a lot – just like me – except that I don’t get to hook up with him much in between, so we get to learn what has happened in his life since the last time I saw him.”

***

He assigned me to chopping salad vegetables.  He wrapped his arms around me to demonstrate how delicate the cucumber chips must be.

“Anything thicker might seem provincial,” he snickered, before kissing me ear.

I have to admit; he was a better cook than I.  I couldn’t pronounce half of the things he was making, but in all honesty, I really didn’t want to either.  All I could think about was the insistence on two bedrooms.  True, we hadn’t made love yet, and I wasn’t really in that much of a hurry to, but the whole direction our relationship had been going up until that day had certainly been overtly romantic on more than one occasion.  Now, I couldn’t tell if that was our destination, or if I had made assumptions about someone who just really wanted a platonic companion.

He came over and picked up my tray, looking it over once or twice before wrapping it and setting it into the refrigerator.  “We could have done better,” he smirked.  “But it will do.  You should probably shower and change.  He should be here in an hour.”

I opened my  mouth to speak, but decided against it.  I would meet his friend; and I might move in with Mr. Sarcastic … but there was definitely going to be a discussion about the future of our relationship.

***

Emir seemed happy to see Asher; very happy.  Ash had introduced me by name, then whispered something into his ear.  Emir’s face seemed to change a bit, but then they disappeared into the living room while Ash pointed me toward the kitchen, apparently for me to finish setting up dinner.

I didn’t mind; but the sounds of laughter and catching up from the front were a little intimidating.  When the table was complete, I had to stand there looking at them for four or five minutes before I could get their attention about the food.

Sitting down, Emir finally spoke to me.  “Tell me about yourself,” he said, chomping down on his translucent salad with his dinner fork turned downward.  Ash would have most definitely made a remark if my salad fork weren’t nestled just perfectly in my right hand.  I was making a mental note to add this to the list of a future discussion.

I smiled, and dabbed my mouth, and talked about my short time in the virtual world.  He laughed I finished.  “No, I meant your real life.”

Wow, I thought to myself.  Had anyone been so bold as to ask me about my real life?

“I-I … I’d really rather not to discuss it, if that’s ok,” I stammered, laughing off the question.

It was the last time I was referenced for a while.  Emir regaled us with his tales of visiting the Burning Man event and the Grand Canyon, and proceeded to pass around pictures of his time there.  It seemed a little odd – this small piece of the Real invading our created world – but it kind of filled out the impression I was making of Emir.  He was a guy that moved around a lot – that didn’t sit still for long for anyone or anything.

Kind of like Asher.

Ash looked at me as he stood.  “I’ll get desert,” he said, gathering our plates.

Emir playfully slapped my arm once we were alone.  “Congratulations are in order,” he said, smiling with genuine affection.

I smiled back, pretending to nurse my wounded arm.  “Thank you … for what, though?”

“The relationship … you and Asher.  He told me you were his new boyfriend.”

I swallowed hard.  New boyfriend?  We weren’t going to share a room, and had barely exchanged fluids.  Yes, this conversation was going to happen as soon as we were alone!

I smiled and nodded slowly.  “Well, I just hope I’m not one in a long line,” I said, laughing.

“I wouldn’t know, but I am his last boyfriend.”

I coughed a little.  “Wow … I’m sorry … I hope this isn’t too awkward.”  I put down my napkin and touched his arm in assurance.

He shrugged.  “Well; I think we both know how Ash can be.  I would have just preferred to learn that I was his last before tonight.”

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Damage

This post is part of a blog series entitled, Memoirs of a Ghost.  For more information, click our About page, and check the bottom of this post for previous entries.

Phan in Repose with Guest

I sent the notices about the time the music started.  We had a new DJ, and more than the usual regulars were starting to drop in.  Megan, Bruce’s best friend, was a no-show once more, and I had been appointed referee for the evening.

“Sure; whatever,” I had replied within a second of the initial text.

“What’s with the attitude?”  Bruce shot back.

“You and I were supposed to go out tonight …”

I could see his typing come across my phone. “What do you expect me to do?  Shut down the club every time …”

“I don’t expect you to do anything,” I shot back.  “I said I would be there.”

I thought about the exchange as DJ Blaze’s tunes started to wash over me.  I was really getting into the mood of the rhythm, wanting the music to numb me of the disappointment I was feeling over this whole so-called relationship with Bruce.  The week before, he asked me to stay behind one night until after close … he said he had wanted to discuss something really important.  That whole night I had been on edge – we had only been dating a few months, but could it be possible that he was really wanting to move to the next level?

We had gone to his office, sat down next to each, and he popped the question.

“I was wondering … maybe …” Bruce asked nervously; a shy grin inhabiting his face.  “… if you would want to buy into the business.”

I was mortified.  “Whaa…”

“I know it’s a lot to think about … I wouldn’t expect you to answer right now, but if you bought in half, just think of the expansion we could do.  I’m thinking 24/7 international … we’d have to start off maybe with six or twelve hours at first, but I’m thinking we could really give all these other clubs a run for their business.”

I had stood quickly, and made some excuse up about needing to get up early the next day.  It was most definitely going to give me  pause to reconsider quite a bit.

My phone went off, disrupting my thoughts.

Continue reading “Damage”

The Second, part Two

This post is part of a blog series entitled, Memoirs of a Ghost.  For more information, click our About page, and check the bottom of this post for previous entries.

At the Cafe

There was something about Asher I couldn’t put my finger on.  I sat there in the deli listening to him tell me about his life … traveling the globe as an international sales rep.  Logging on at stops around the world; he had friends in every time zone … or at least that’s what he said.

I nodded as I sipped my tea.  It seemed all too unbelievable.  I would see him pop up on my list almost every day, and if he lived a live half as well rounded and successful as he made himself out to be, why was he spending so much time in Second Life?

“You don’t believe me,” he laughed.

I turned crimson.  Was I that obvious?   “Not true,” I muttered.

“I tell you what,” he said, pushing his plate away.  “Tomorrow’s Saturday.  I’ll be in Prague.  If you log on around lunch your time, I’ll take you to this awesome club … mostly French, Dutch and Germans … but I think you’ll love it.”

I was thinking through my potential day.  No plans in the real or otherwise, and nodded hesitantly as I wiped my mouth.  “Sure, why not.”

He reached across the table and touched my hand.  I could feel the electricity as it moved up my hand, and I pulled back instinctively.

“What’s wrong,” he asked.  “Sorry … maybe I misread …”

I interrupted.  “No … you’re fine.  I …”  Was it true that I was fine?  I could feel my face flushing hard.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want the touch …

“You know I’m seeing someone, Ash,” I continued.

“And what was it you told me the first time we went out … you actually hardly ever see him unless you’re working?”

“I’m not the kind of guy that sees other people when I’m in a relationship.”  I was a little flustered, yet when I looked at him, it was hard to resist those eyes that saw through every wall I was throwing up, and whose energy made me long for the next time they would show up at the club, or as a text on my phone.

“It’s not going to last.  You know it as well as I do.  You’ll take so much, and then you’ll leave.  And … I’m a very patient man.”

I laughed, slightly embarrassed.  “I would never ask someone to …”

“We can be friends in the meantime.  We’re already friends … I look for you every time I log on.”

So do I, I thought, but I wasn’t going to admit it out loud.

“There’s this place their building by the Blake Sea … some sort of replica of the Italian Rivera.  They’re going to have rentals … we could be roomies!”

I was going to reply that I was already living with Bruce … I knew whatever reply that would lift easily from his lips would easily justify why it still wouldn’t be a problem.

But that wasn’t it.  Despite my own internal protestations, I was slightly more excited about the prospect of living with this man who was invading every aspect of my sensory experience.

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The Second, part One

This post is part of a blog series entitled, Memoirs of a Ghost.  For more information, click our About page, and check the bottom of this post for previous entries.

Phan is a Dancing Man

Lights were flashing.  I had been less successful at getting rid of the visual pollution as I had been with the marketing campaign.  I had merged Bruce’s* fascination with Dante’s Inferno into something slightly more sensual, making the signs for and becoming one of the hosts for the club.  My real life work schedule did not always allow for much in the way of a regular commitment, but his main hostess (and best friend) was a frequent no-show, and so I played the role of club flirt and greeter, keeping the crowd engaged and out of each other’s IM boxes.

“Cómo estás esta noche?”

I looked around and saw a slender man dancing nearby.  His hair was black as night, his complexion slightly darker.

“No habla,” I replied, with a smile.  I blushed a little; he was staring right at me.  I had been working with Bruce for two months then; and was living with him as well.  The work always came first, but I was happy for the company and the exposure.  The attention, when I did receive it, was always a little unnerving.

Some people always took it the wrong way.

“LOL,” he replied.  “You had said ‘Hola!’ when I walked in.  I presumed you were bilingual.”

I smiled.  “I should be, but sadly no.”

He introduced himself as Asher*.  “I’ve seen you around … with him.”

“With who?”

“The club owner/DJ guy … your profile says he’s your boyfriend.”

I nodded.  “It’s been quite a ride … two months.”

“I’m sure it has been … with you doing most of the work.”

The presumed intimacy was annoying.  “Excuse me?”

“I can read prims just like you can.  The things in here that make a difference … the notice postings.  It’s you.  Heck, the crowds are slightly bigger when you’re here.”

I turned around and tried to ignore him.  “I’m sure you’re wrong.”

“He’s using you … and you know it.”

I typed quickly.  “We have different talents!”  I collapsed the IM immediately.  I didn’t want to hear another word of it.

What was true that most of the time Bruce and I spent together was centered around the club.  His dream.  I had privately worried that I was more his business partner than his lover.  He had made such an offer already – he wanted me to buy in to half of the sim.  While it was intriguing, I wasn’t sure I wanted that kind of responsibility … after all, I had only known the man for all of two months.

“You know what I’m telling you is true.”

Why was he doing this?  Even if he was calling out my worst fear, who did he think he was? “Are you stalking me?  I can have you …”

“No no no … lol,” he said. “I’m sorry … I’m a little assertive.  I call them as I see them, and I don’t like seeing people used.”

“I’m here because I want to be; of that, I can assure you.”

“No you’re not,” came back at me quickly.  “I can read you like a book … the effort you put in here, the way you defend him.  You want something more, and he’s not giving it to you.”

I could feel my face flush with embarrassment.  “I-it’s none of your business!”

He didn’t respond, and he moved away from me for a moment.  I deleted his IM and focused on my work.  Who is this pretentious asshole anyway?

“You’re right.  I’m sorry.”

I didn’t respond.  We were coming up on the second hour, so I made all of my usual and customary announcements in the club groups, the DJ group, and a few that we had posting privileges on.  I reminded the patrons to tip everyone working that night.  By then, I would have usually started a side conversation with Bruce … nothing too heady as to not distract him from his DJ duties.

But that night, I didn’t.

I didn’t know Asher from a hole in the wall.  He was probably just trying to get laid for all I knew, and the stories of people trying to start mess with in the club business in SL are and were then legendary.  I knew we had targets on our back, but what he had said had struck a nerve.  Sure, he was probably making it up based on a few hunches … but for me, he had verbalized fears I had harbored for more than a couple of weeks.

I wanted Bruce.

I didn’t want his goddamn club.

 

(*not his real avatar name)

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The First

This post is part of a blog series entitled, Memoirs of a Ghost.  For more information, click our About page, and check the bottom of this post for previous entries.

Phan Dancing

I had just created Phantom, and quite literally looked up “gay club” in search and landed in the first place it took me to.   The sim was made to appear like a busy street intersection – stores littered the bottom level of each mid-sized building, with each street anchored at the end by either a club or a larger store.

I looked both ways, almost out of habit, when I heard a familiar ping.

“Hey,” popped up in my IM.  “I’m Bruce.*  Interesting name!”

I turned around to size him up.  His avi seemed a little older looking than mine.  Brown hair below the ears.  A leather jacket.  Not really my type, but I could almost imagine a smile coming from his face as the typing warning continued in my box.

“Roman was already taken,” I typed quickly.

The typing stopped, then a quick “LOL,” followed by: “You’re clever.  I like that.  I was going to ask if you were just born yesterday … and it appears that you were.”

I nodded.  “It’s not my first avatar.”

“Hmmm.” he seemed concerned. “I can tell. How many do you have?”

“How many what?”  I asked innocently.

“Alts … I don’t really trust people with dozens of alts.”

I had to ask what he meant by “alts,” but once I figured it out, I laughed.  “No … I killed the other one off.  I’m just me now.”

It was true.  I had created two avatars in the span of the New Years Eve prior … the second one on the back end as I didn’t really like the last name on the first.  This was the one I had lived on in SL for the better part of eight months learning the ebb and flow of social activity and commerce in this new world.

I crashed and burned … and a couple of months later, decided to start over.

“You want to see my new club?” he asked.

The little quip about trust was a little weird, but the idea of a club intrigued me. I agreed, and within a moment we were inside a post-apocalyptic design he had purchased from a previous sim owner.  He showed me the shops, the exterior, and the club he was building atop the entire structure.  The club itself was an explosion of color, particles and spotlights.

He talked about DJs he was lining up, cross promotions.  I was more impressed by his ambition as he told me what he had wanted to accomplish there.

“Are you single?”  It seemed to come out of nowhere.

I blushed.  “Well, I haven’t really had time to …”

He interrupted.  “Maybe I can take you out sometime.”

I smiled in real life … this ambitious man, wanting to take SL by storm with his new club, somehow saw something in me he wanted to explore.  I looked around the club; there was so much potential.  I figured I could be some sort of influence – perhaps a moderator to the obvious excess, and assist him with marketing.

I swallowed hard.  I was getting ahead of myself.  All he wants is a date, I thought to myself.  Why put more expectation on something than there is?  Say yes to the date … you might actually get laid!

I looked up at him and nodded.

He smiled and took my hand.  “Let me show you something else.”

 

*not his real avatar name.

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