Susan raised her eyebrows at Jeremy, who said, "Silas, you've obviously had too much to drink, and now you've outed yourself at work. I thought you didn't want to do that?"
"Fuck it," Silas said, taking a sip of his drink.
"Cool, I can take off this too-flipping-hot shirt." He did so, exposing the announcement on his t-shirt.
"I won't tell anyone," Susan said, blushing.
"Doesn't matter," Silas said. "He's going to out me from here to the Canadian border one way or another. Might as well start getting it over with."
Jeremy gave him a startled look and shook his head.
"Oh come on," Silas said. "You're the one saying, 'How can you work with people who don't even know you? How can you stand it?' And you're the one wearing the screwball t-shirt."
"Well, nobody will hear it from me," Susan promised.
Silas grinned at her. "You're a good woman, Sue. It's not going to matter who says what – so long as my little pain in the ass here is around, people are going to figure it out. So again I say, fuck it."
"Might actually be good for business, you know," Jeremy suggested. "Creative gays are en vogue."
"Nope," Silas said. "The world is beyond thinking gay guys are cute. It's back to every day bigotry now."
"You don't know that," I said, although my words were like mush so I'm not sure any of them understood me.
Jeremy said, "Yeah, but... in a sense, that stuff served its purpose – a lot of people don't give a shit about gay or straight. Which is a lot more than I would've said when I was in high school. Even people your age are coming around."
"Well, thank you very much for that ray of sunshine. Want to show me the silver lining now?"
"You know what I mean."
"Yes, I do." Silas glared at his drink.
"Wait a minute," I said. "Some of us are okay."
"Jessie-mine, you are definitely not okay," Silas said, laughing. "Should we call a tow truck for you, or a cab?"
"I don't care," I said. "Call Sam. Call whoever you want. But listen, I don't care if someone's gay or straight. And it doesn't look like Susan cares. I mean, sure, she looks a little shell-shocked, but God, Silas, your being gay makes straight women cry themselves to sleep, so who can blame her for being surprised? You don't hate him for it, do you, Susan?"
"Only a little," she said, with a smile. "Once I cry myself to sleep, I'll be fine."
"See?" I said. "Whoa. Have to pee."
I slid off the high bar chair and barely caught myself when my knees buckled. "Whoops. Drunk. Still have to pee."
"Do you need help?" Susan asked.
"Nope," I said, "I got it." and pointed myself in the right direction. "Got it, gots it." I stumbled my way to the ladies room. I fell into a stall and it seemed to take an hour to unfasten my jeans. "Damn."
A voice floated to me through the door. "Do you need some help in there, Darlin'?"
It was a familiar voice, the voice of someone I knew I liked, but I couldn't place it for the life of me. Too drunk. Definitely too drunk.
"I'm too drunk to pee," I answered, and then started laughing. "Oh shit, I'm gonna wet myself."
The stall door pushed in and I started to fall, then braced myself with my face against the wall, half leaning against the toilet. "Shit, shit," I said, and leaned my forehead against the cool metal.
Strong, cool hands helped me upright. "Jessie, right?" she asked. "Do you remember me?"
I definitely knew that calm, beautiful voice.
It took some effort, but I focused my eyes on her face. "Alex? Oh my God. Where you been, Alex? Hashn't seen you in moths. Monthes. Forever." Alex was a friend of a friend, and I hadn't seen her in a long time.
"I haven't seen you either, baby. Here, let me help you with your jeans."
She got me unfastened and I shooed her out. "Okay, I got it. I got it."
I got the job done, but man, buttoning up was just as complicated as unbuttoning. "Alex, you still here?"
Oh God. Was she waiting for me? I knew her, sort of. I had maybe a little crush on her along while back, and seeing her again, maybe I still had one.
I battled my way out of the stall, then leaned against the sink to look at her. "Hi," I said.
"Hi, yourself," she answered.
"Sorry, I never drink, but I'm juss, jess falling all over the place. Thanks for helping. You look beautiful. Haven't seen you in forever."
"I know. What have you been up to?" she asked.
"Oh just, you know. Stuff. My mom died, my brother came out. Crazy shit." I don't know what happened then, but I started to cry.
"Aww, sweetie," she said, and then her arms were around me, strong and tight, and it was more of a hold than a hug, and I leaned right into her, and it felt good.
And then she kissed me.
On the mouth.
I must have looked shocked, because she said, "I'm sorry. I've had a few too many, myself. Bad boundaries."
I got the giggles again, which was better than tears. "It's okay. I don't mind."
The bathroom door swung open just as Alex let me go. "Did you get lost, Jessie? Sam is here with a tow truck." Susan looked me up and down, and raised her eyebrows.
"I had a wardrobe malfie... malfu... problem. But we figured it out. Alex, come and meet my husband, Sam."
Alex greeted Sam with a familiar kiss to his cheek, helped me climb into the back seat of the truck, and then helped him select our musical journey home.
They talked over the music as I stared at them, bleary-eyed. They talked like they knew each other, like they were friends. And I couldn't figure out for the life of me how Sam and Alex would even know each other.