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Once In A While

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Brad has spent almost half of the night in this small bar.


Last night was the most surreal and bizarre night he’d ever had in his whole life. It was supposed to be a nice trip with his fiancée to their old professor’s house, but instead turned out to be a nightmare. Those strangers in elaborate costumes, the explosion in that lab, body bags in the freezer still leaking blood, and the dramatic yet solemn death. Everything was far beyond his wildest dream in the past twenty something years of his mediocre life. And Janet…Oh sweet Janet, his fiancée, whom he was in love with and had vowed to love forever. Brad closed his eyes painfully. He could see her slim figure, curly blonde hair and her clear blue eyes, sheepish but always spoke of love. However, those sweet memories faded as another scene came to his mind. Janet, and the “creature” with muscular body and handsome appearance, had wild sex in that lab with dim lights. Their bodies intertwined and they fucked like beasts. Every cry and moan of pleasure was like a stab in his heart, leaving him bleeding inside.

Brad swigged another glass of beer. It was close to midnight, and if he was sober enough he should have realized most of the people had left the bar. However, he was too busy sinking himself in alcohols and melancholy after the betrayal of his lover. The mere thought of Janet waiting for him in the motel which was a few blocks away (or had she left already?) made his stomach twitch. Frustrated, he was going to order another glass, while a warm hand pressed on his own. There was no force from that hand, but he stopped without even realizing it.


He looked up and found a young man with dark wavy hair taking the seat next to him. He seemed to be in the same age as Brad. With a casual wear and short stubble on his face, the man looked as if he just graduated from college. He smiled at Brad (okay, maybe it was a bit awkward) and all the latter could see was the genuine concern in his eyes. “I’m sorry if I bothered you, but my friend, it’s not a good idea to have another glass. I was sitting at the other side of the bar and I saw this is your sixth one-”

“That’s none of your business,” Brad snapped, pulling his hand back. “Plus,” no one will care, no one. Hot tears welled up in his eyes, and fell silently into the empty glass in front him.

The young man flinched at his tears. He reached out to his pocket hurriedly to find a white silk handkerchief when Brad took off his glasses hastily to brush those tears away. Brad pressed the soft fabric on his bloodshot eyes (he noticed there was a capitalized “J” sewn with golden thread in its corner). When he calmed down a bit, he turned to the young man, smiling apologetically. “Thank you, and I apologize for my rudeness. You see, I just had something with my, uh, partner…” his eyes reddened again as he thought of Janet.

“Oh,” his new friend paused, quickly realizing what had happened. “I see. Well, actually I guess I had the same issue with my boyfriend.” He lifted the glass in front of him and swirled the clear liquid in it. “If you don’t mind you can talk to me.”

Brad stared at the man with glazed eyes. The warmth in those thoughtful dark eyes and the slight creases around them when he smiled made him feel relieved all of a sudden. He exhaled slowly, and started. “Last night I found my fiancée with another…guy, and they were,” his voice broke as he couldn’t help letting out a sob.

The young man blinked. After one or two minutes, he said gently. “I think you may want to have a talk with your fiancée first? There might be a misunderstanding, or she did it for some reasons…”

He was interrupted abruptly. “No you don’t understand! We have exchanged vows; have promised to always be faithful to each other! She, she betrayed our vows…” Yet, he couldn’t ignore the little voice in his head, mocking at him in a sweet and vicious tone. Did she? Was Janet the only one who broke their vows? Didn’t he himself indulge in the passionate kisses and sinful touches from that crazy scientist as well? “Right…I’ve also betrayed her. Our love is not pure, would never be pure anymore…” He buried his head deeply in his trembling hands with self-loathing.


His new friend was silent for a few minutes, as if he was trying to digest the information from his incoherent confession. Then he turned to Brad with a little sad smile. “I’ve also been betrayed…long time ago, by my closest friend.” His voice was gentle, but Brad could feel the pain in it.

Brad opened his mouth trying to ask something but gave up since he couldn’t find a proper way, yet the young man seemed to read his mind. “Yes, we are still together, though we just had a fight today…” his voice trailed off as he gave a wry smile.

“But why did you…” forgive him? Brad was utterly taken into the story, probably because the bitterness in those brilliant dark eyes resonated so deeply in his heart that he even forgot about his own miserable experience. He felt anger rising in his chest as this young man seemed to get hurt again by his treacherous lover.

Under the dim lights, Brad could barely see the other man’s eyes shining with a glint of tears. “Because I have also used him, and hurt him. I suffered from his betrayal, but I also saw him regretting, praying to someone he’d never believe, and blaming himself to…death. ” He looked up and met Brad’s eyes. His voice a bit shaky, but his eyes are warm and steady, as if he was looking at his beloved. “After all these happened, I never doubted his love for a second, and I knew he felt the same.”


“Even if you may think that your love was stained by the betrayal, it would be purified again if you choose to trust each other, to give your love a second chance.”


Trust. Brad mumbled the word, which sounded ironic and ludicrous to him now after what happened last night, but then it brought back the memory of those beautiful old days, when he held her hand for the first time, when he gathered up the courage to ask her out, and when she threw herself into his arms with shyness in her lovely blue eyes. Even when those mad aliens pulled out a gun at them, she held his hand tightly and didn’t let go despite shaking frantically. He was so distracted by the blinding jealousy and disappointment that he forgot Janet probably felt the same way. She was angry and sad by his betrayal, and could not resist the temptation from that mad scientist, just like him. However, they also chose to stand by each other’s side. Now she’s probably still waiting for her fiancé in a motel in this small town, if she hadn’t lost faith in him yet.

Brad grabbed his coat and jumped up from the chair (he almost stumbled if his new friend didn’t instinctively catch him). He needed to go back to that motel, to Janet, to hold her tightly in his arms. Some thoughts needed to be cleared and vows needed to be restated. There might be fights and tears, but as long as they still love each other, he would do anything to save their love. He was desperate to tell her that there’s a long way to go, and he still wanted to hold her hands and walk with her to the end of that road, because –


Dammit, Janet, I love you!


He hastened to the door and came to a halt, turning back to his new friend, who was left alone at the bar counter, with a grateful and apologetic look. The young man, who seemed to be least concerned about it, raised his glass at him from across the bar with a grin, as if he was encouraging him and wishing him a good luck. Brad smiled back. He turned and opened the door, stepping into the night with rings of the bell and cool breeze.



“So I’m all by myself now…” Jesus gazed at the half-emptied glass in front of him, mumbling to himself. The ambient music playing in the background, dim lights and alcohol made him sleepy. It seemed he’d helped a young couple (which he was glad about), but should he stay here and get another glass or go back to his boyfriend who’s probably still angry with him –

He got so distracted by the thought that he didn’t realize someone just took the seat next to him; the one Brad sat on five minutes ago.


“A whiskey, please.”


His heart skipped a beat as he snapped up at the man, only to meet those familiar emerald eyes that he’d missed already. It seemed he was still sulky as one could tell from his pursed lips, just the same look when they fought and parted this afternoon. However, he glanced at the t-shirt the man was wearing, the same one as he wore in the day. Did he not go back to the hotel, but instead wandering around in this small town just like him, or did he follow him quietly all the time…?

Jesus took another gulp hastily as his heartbeat sped up, and got choked as expected. His uninvited drink buddy frowned, trying to say something, but in the end just handed him a napkin. Jesus took it with a whisper of “thank you”. Then both of them fell in an awkward silence.

Fortunately the bartender came back shortly with the whiskey set down in front of the man. He took a sip, peeked at Jesus for a second and averted his gaze quickly. “I had a…little argument with my boyfriend. It’s not that we always fight with each other, but sometimes I just got blindly mad and blurted out something stupid…”

Jesus raised an eyebrow, half startled and half amused at first, but then he saw the other’s hands gripping the glass tightly with his knuckles turning white. It hit the deepest and softest spot in his heart. He reached out to that hand, and looked straight into those hesitant emerald eyes. “Well, yeah we both know. Your boyfriend is probably still angry with you, but…” He blinked at the man and smiled, “maybe you want to know what’s on his mind now?”