March 2006



"Benny, the modern supermarket is the place to meet women."

Fraser took firm hold of a shopping cart and bravely marched inside Calandroís Supermarket. He entered the establishment with the sole intention of verifying the validity of Ray Vecchioís claim. Focused on his mission, Fraser failed to notice the sign in the front window announcing it was triple coupon day.

Entering the fresh produce department with cautious determination, he sensed he was in jeopardy the moment he stopped to admire the display of Louisiana grown strawberries. Women with hungry gazes surrounded him immediately, and he couldnít help but picture himself as a downed caribou set upon by a pack of starving wolves.

"Excuse me, kind ladies."

Fraser offered his apology with a gracious smile. He then expertly extricated himself from the circling predators attempting to trap him in place. Casting a wary glance in all directions, he maneuvered his cart into the vegetable section and paused briefly to peruse the excellent selection of fresh cucumbers. His attention was captured by a particular specimen, and he lightly caressed its impressive length while fondly remembering a most enjoyable encounter with . . . .

All improper thoughts were abruptly derailed when one long tapered finger with a sharp, crimson-colored nail grazed the top of his hand. Caught by surprise Fraser jerked his hand away and watched in utter dismay as a mountain of cucumbers tumbled down around him. Female volunteers from all over the store, customers and employees alike, rushed to his aid. When more than one hand wandered away from the rescue mission and accidentally brushed against his groin, a vibrant blush of embarrassment stole across his cheeks.

By the time the eighth woman whispered her breathless apology in his ear, Fraser decided enough was enough. He bolted for safety, dragging his cart away from the danger zone. His visit to the produce department had proven to be a complete disaster, and a trip to the meat section of the store was completely out of the question. He didnít care how wild in bed, as Ray put it, those shoppers were likely to be.

Fraser pondered the truth of his friendís advice while seeking shelter in the nearly deserted candy aisle. Yes, it appeared that the modern supermarket was, indeed, the place to meet women, and, no doubt, any willing and able-bodied man could, with very little effort, procure an eager candidate to spend the rest of his life with. Therefore, he surmised, it stood to reason that the modern supermarket was also the place to meet those of the male gender.

Fraser dared a glance in the direction of the produce department and quickly ducked back out of sight when it appeared the owner of the crimson nails was testing the air for his scent. "As far as I am concerned," he quietly declared, "Ray may avail himself of Chicagoís entire female population until his heartís delight." Fraser noticed a handsome fellow shopper glance his way and offered the man a tentative smile. "I, on the other hand, will concentrate my efforts on the males of this fair city for they are entirely much more to my liking."

It was during the year he had played hockey with his friend, Mark, that heíd discovered he most assuredly favored boys over girls. Throughout the following years, his preference was substantiated when every date, every relationship that involved a member of the fair sex, ended in ruins. Women and he simply did not mix, and no matter how hard he tried, Fraser realized he would never be a partner in what society deemed as the perfect union between two humans. Not that he minded. He had accepted early on in his life that he would always be looked upon as different, and his fondness for men only reinforced that fact.

"Being different is a good thing, right, Dief?"

Fraser tapped a finger against his forehead, reminding himself that his constant companion was not at his side but at home visiting Maggie and her pups.

"Donít you dare try sneaking any of those chocolates into the basket, Stanley Kowalski! Theyíre not on the list. Besides, I think itís absolutely ridiculous for a man of your age to be putting candy in his coffee."

An unseen voice admonished one of the two men standing beside him, and Fraser immediately felt a surge of sympathy for the balding gentleman who visibly cringed. He spared a moment to offer a kindhearted smile to the man before returning his gaze to the stranger who had caught his attention earlier. Moving a step closer, he admired the blondís trim frame and briefly wondered how it would feel pressed tight against his own. Closing his eyes, he allowed his imagination free rein and sighed with longing at the thought of holding the man naked in his arms, of having him writhe in pleasure beneath him, their arms and legs tangling as they sought the ultimate joy of climaxing together.

"Excuse me."

The subject of his fantasy bumped into him, losing his grip on the item he was attempting to remove from the top shelf in front of him. The bag of candy hit the floor, and Fraser wasted no time in bending down to retrieve it. His hand collided with that of the strangerís. Glancing up his apology died on his lips when he gazed into eyes that were as blue as the winter sky back home. In that very instant his mind disengaged from his heart, taking with it every notion of reason and respectability.

Softly he whispered to the man who would most certainly haunt his thoughts for the next millennium.

"Would you be so kind as to allow me to kiss you?"




"Come on, Stella. The trafficís at a dead stop, and itís hotter than hell." Ray turned off the highway and pulled into the parking lot of Calandroís Supermarket. "We can kill two birds with one rock. Get out of this fucking heat and pick up those groceries you needed."

"The word is stone, you idiot, and if you had gotten the AC fixed like I told you, it wouldnít be so hot in here." Stella opened her purse and pulled out her compact, deliberately trying her husbandís patience while she checked her appearance.

Ray recognized his wifeís ploy and rolled his eyes. "Give it a rest, Stella. Iíve been working 12 hour shifts this entire week. When in the hell was I gonna find the time to take the car to the shop?" Ray slammed the driverís door shut behind him and followed his wife into the store. "And itís not like you wouldíve offered to take me back and forth to work even if I had gotten the car to a mechanic."

Stella ignored her husbandís last comment and removed a folded piece of paper from her purse. She tore it neatly in half. "Here is your part of the list. Donít take all day. Iím expecting a call from the DAís office at 5pm, and I donít intend to miss it." Leaving Ray standing in front of the line of cashiers, Stella walked swiftly in the direction of the deli.

Ray glanced down at the list his wife had given him and found his gaze distracted by the light glinting off his wedding band. "Tell me again why I married that dame?" He grabbed one of the hand-held baskets and went in search of the candy aisle. "You married her," he muttered under his breath, "because Joe Campesi dumped your sorry ass for that damn science nerd, Charlie Betts."

Frowning, he distractedly ran a hand through the new haircut he sported. Only he and the Man upstairs knew what pushed all the right buttons for Ray Kowalski, and it sure as hell wasnít women. Yeah, yeah, Stella had been his childhood friend and, consequently, his high school girlfriend, but that was only because Ray had seen up close and personal what the football team had done to one of his gay friends. The thought of getting the shit kicked out of him was enough to send him straight into Stellaís arms, who, as a matter of fact, had wasted no time in dragging him to the altar.

Over the years, Ray had become an expert at hiding his desire for men, giving into temptation only when work took him far away from home. He hated with a passion cheating on Stella, but sometimes the hunger had gotten so overpowering that he just couldnít resist losing himself in the arms of another man. His nights of illicit passion had been few and far between and had gone a long way in easing his suffering. The itch didnít hit him as frequently as it had when he was younger, and nowadays, more often than not, a quick hand job in the shower took care of his needs.

Unfortunately, jacking off only satisfied the physical hunger. The hunger in his heart was a different matter all together, and lately Ray found himself thoroughly dissatisfied with his life and with the lie he was living. He wanted to come out of the closet, come clean and tell Stella the truth. Well, maybe not tell her face to face. Maybe tell her in a letter, with himself safely hidden in the frozen wasteland way, way north of Chicago. His wife was a vindictive woman, and wouldnít think twice about inflicting bodily harm upon anyone stupid enough to upset her plans for the future.

Ray shook his head and heaved a sigh of frustration before starting down the candy aisle in search of his favorite sweet. Not in a million years would Stella ever understand what truly made him happy. His parents, his friends, the cops he worked with -- none of them would, either. None of them would ever understand how much Ray ached for the love of a good man. A man who would hold him tight, kiss him soft and make him scream for joy. A man like the one in his dreams.

"What the fu---" Ray stared in disbelief at the stranger that came barreling around the corner, his wobbly shopping cart nearly plowing down a display of animal crackers. ĎChrist in a kayak! Itís him,í he thought.

The need to meet the tall, broad-shouldered stranger was so strong it nearly took his breath away, and Ray moved forward as if guided by an invisible hand. This was the man he had seen in his dreams the last few months. The one who, almost nightly, pulled him into a gentle embrace and took him on an adventure that left him panting and sweating and covered in spunk. This was the man who whispered his name as he claimed his mouth in a kiss that left Ray tasting his lips long after the dream was over.

ĎFuck!í Ray clutched his chest when the stranger aimed a timid smile in his direction. ĎWhat do I do? What do I say? Heís so fucking beautiful. His hair, those eyes, that mouth. Maybe, maybe I could . . . .í

"Donít you dare try sneaking any of those chocolates into the basket, Stanley Kowalski! They are not on the list. Besides, I think itís absolutely ridiculous for a man of your age to be putting candy in his coffee."

Ray came to a complete stop. Stellaís annoying voice had shattered his dream of possibilities in less than five seconds. "Shouldíve known. Shouldíve known it was too good to be true." Pinching the bridge of his nose he surrendered his fantasy and got back to the business of shopping.

"But Iíll be damned if Iím gonna let her dictate what I can and canít buy." Ray defiantly reached for a bag of Smarties, grunting slightly when he was forced to raise up on his toes and fumble for where the candy sat at the far back on the top shelf. Overbalancing, he bumped into his dream lover and immediately lost his grip on the bag he had finally managed to grab.

"Excuse me."

Ray was already in the process of kneeling down when his hand slapped against that of the strangerís. Immediately a spark of electricity raced up his arm, causing his breath to catch and his heart to pound. He stared unblinkingly at the hand and wondered if it was soft or callused. Wondered how it would feel sliding across his chest, its fingers playing with his tits until both were hard and aching.

Ray shut his eyes and groaned aloud at the thought of that hand moving lower in order to coax another part of his body to hardness. The image was so real, he nearly reached down to cover the hand with his own and mold it to the column of flesh that was testing the strength of his jeansí zipper.

Opening his eyes, he gazed up at the handsome stranger and was on the verge of offering him his thanks when the man whispered a question that totally blew Rayís mind.

"Would you be so kind as to allow me to kiss you?"

The bag of candy hit the floor again.

"Fuck, yeah!" Ray hoarsely answered, his gaze immediately zeroing in on the lips that were being nervously licked.

The dark-haired man blushed, and Ray couldnít decide if the blush was because the stranger was shocked by his own outrageous question or because of the enthusiastic reply it received. Whatever the reason was, his innocent reaction only made Ray want to kiss him that much more.

Seconds passed and neither man moved. Finally Ray took matters into his own hands and guided his dream guy to his feet, leading him down the aisle and into the alcove that housed the public restrooms. Checking to see if the coast was clear once they were inside, Ray was caught by surprise a second time when the stranger circled his waist with his arms and pressed his open mouth to the nape of Rayís neck.

The gentle caress scorched his skin, and Ray cried out helplessly, "Oh gawd! More." The need to taste the heat of that mouth had him spinning around. He reached up and framed the strangerís face. "Kiss me," he begged, dragging a thumb across the manís lower lip as an added incentive.

The stranger moved slightly to the side, and when he tilted his head forward to comply with the fiercely spoken request, light from the bare ceiling fixtures bounced off of Rayís wedding band. The reality of his infidelity along with the sound of a familiar shrill voice repeatedly calling his name slammed into Ray like a sucker punch to the gut. He stumbled backwards as all the air in his lungs left in a rush.

"Shit!" Struggling to catch his breath Ray dared a glance at his silent companion. His heart broke at the look of hurt and confusion directed at him. "I . . . I . . . if only things were different," he whispered, more to himself than to the man standing before him.

Unwilling to leave things as they were, he took a step forward and lightly traced the curve of the strangerís cheek. "Iíll meet you in your dreams, Handsome."

A protest formed on the lips Ray would have given his entire lifeís savings for the chance to devour. "Donít," he cautioned. Pushing his luck, he spent seconds committing the manís face to memory while caressing the tempting whorls of an ear, the strong line of a jaw, and the contours of a shifting Adamís apple. Reluctantly he removed his hand and, without a backwards glance, exited the restroom. He knew the stranger followed him outside, but thankfully the man did not pursue him any further into the store.

"Stay there. For Christís sake, stay there."

Fighting back the emotions that threatened to choke him, Ray reclaimed his abandoned basket of groceries and went in search of the lie that was his life.




It was shortly before dawn when Fraser jerked awake after hours of tossing and turning in his sleep. He sat straight up, gasping for breath. The sudden move dislodged the top cover of his bedroll and revealed the slick film of semen that coated his belly. Shivering at the touch of cold air on his bare skin, he futilely searched the shadows of his one bedroom apartment for the man who had just given him such unbelievable pleasure. Sadly, after a very long moment, Fraser conceded that the shadows were home only to the memory of what could have been.

"This is entirely your fault, Ray Vecchio," he informed his absent friend. "Never again will I be able to shop at Calandroís Supermarket without searching for that man."

Fraser hung his head and sighed. Perhaps it would be prudent if he found a different establishment at which to purchase his provisions.

"Maybe locate a store that delivers?" he inquired of the sleeping wolf on the cot beside him.

Lying down, Fraser pulled the covers up to his chin. A full hour passed while he restlessly shifted from side to side. Finally he settled on his back, one hand sheltering his quiescent shaft while the other touched his lips. His lonesome plea echoed throughout the darkness.

"Donít leave. Kiss me. Please stay and kiss me."