“Sure is November,” Mitch remarked as he stared out the window and watched rain droplets splatter against it, then slide down the glass and leave tiny channels of water. It was the night of the unplugged show, or the open mic, or whatever it was that Jodie had changed it to for the hundredth time that week. At only 6pm it was already pitch black outside, and the downpour made it sound as if the building was under attack by gunfire.
If he hadn’t committed to this, Mitch would be curled up on the couch under the granny square blanket and watching some random episode of Nova with his girl Estrella. At the very least, the atmosphere was laid back, which he preferred. Of course -and rightfully so- Jodie had hopes that this would be a major success, but Mitch always liked a more intimate setting.
And then came the rush, which killed that vibe entirely.
About 15 minutes before he was due to play, the bulk of the Monument Wrestling Academy body poured in, overtaking the bar and grabbing almost every available seat. From the small stage where he set up, Mitch shot a look at Jodie; in exchange, she shrugged and grinned at him, playing it off as if she didn’t replace the flyers that he tore down.
Trailing behind everyone was Toby, his tall frame sticking out even amongst wrestlers. He scanned the room and lit up when he spotted Mitch, then disappeared, presumably to grab a drink. Mitch was surprised that he came at all, since he’d been so determined to get out of this. If Toby was notable for anything, it was his gratuitous use of asking for forgiveness later.
Yet he came, and Mitch was admittedly impressed. There was a long and winding road ahead that was by no means easy -should they embark upon it- but each passing day it seemed more likely than the last. Could he spend his days with Toby? Perhaps, given enough time it wouldn’t be such an impossibility.
Mitch checked his phone, saw that there were under 5 minutes to go, and grabbed his guitar. Before he sat down on the wooden stool, someone tapped his arm and he stopped in place. “Hey, take this,” came Toby’s voice, and Mitch spun around to see him extending a water bottle.
“Thanks,” Mitch grinned and accepted it.
“I’d say good luck out there, but I know that you don’t need it,” Toby gave a lopsided smile of his own. He lingered while the seconds continued to count down, as if he sought preferential treatment here. For nearly a decade, he’d been handed countless opportunities to sneak his way to the front of the line and secure boyfriend status, but seldom did he take advantage of it. But not this time, not when the rules were clear.
“You’re right,” Poking his tongue out as he reflected on how to respond, Mitch elected for polite indifference and gave a dismissive wave. “Thank you for the water. Now go sit.”
Toby snorted. “You’re so pushy these days,” he said before doing as he was told.
“I’m assertive. My therapist says it’s a good thing.”
“Maybe I like it.” Toby threw a wink over his shoulder, and Mitch shook his head. He took a sip from the water as he watched Toby take an open seat by Louis, and readied himself for the barrage of texts that Lou was bound to send during the show. Setting the bottle by his feet, he perched on the stool with the guitar in his lap and adjusted the mic.