The job shack is dirty and smells like wet socks. It has a coffee pot, and a few stools. Carson, new to the job, hesitates as he looks around the room, guessing he’ll be breaking some unwritten rule if he occupies the last empty seat when others are still filling their coffee mugs. His pride still smarting from the ribbing the guys gave him this morning, he decides he would rather stand than cause any conflict. Hands in pockets, he listens to the men as they pass the break with idle gossip.
Carson has been on the construction site for two days and as eager as he is to learn the trade, it would seem he must pass some sort of initiation before the foreman will really allow him a job of any importance. For the last two days he has lugged ladders from one side of the building to another, sorted nails and been sent to the corner market for cigarettes. And he’s done it all willingly. This morning, Leo had challenged him to find the left turn screws in the large tool trailer. Carson spent a solid thirty minutes in there, scouring high and low for a box of screws that turn left instead of right, before Ace came in and asked him what he was doing. When he explained his assignment Ace had let out a belly laugh that told him he‘d been had. Carson had sheepishly rejoined his smirking co-workers.
He plays along, hoping he’s passing these tests because he is quite eager to actually cut some wood with the skill saw, not just plug it into the extension cord for someone else. As the day goes on, the joshing subsides and he is assigned real duties. Carson relaxes; perhaps he will make the grade after all.
Near quitting time, Carson finds himself working with Billy. Billy is close to Carson's age and Carson wonders if they might become friends. Billy looks at Carson from the corner of his eye.
“Got any plans for the weekend?” An unlit cigarette dangles from his lips. Smoking on the job site is prohibited.
Carson hesitates. He is fresh to the city as well as to the job but has heard about a bar downtown, called Rumors, with a unique dance floor. If there is one thing Carson really enjoys it's cutting loose on the dance floor.
“Might go out for a beer tonight” Carson says casually.
“Oh, yah? Where you planning to go?” Billy has unbuckled his tool belt and checks to make sure Ace isn’t watching before he lights the cigarette.
Carson shrugs, a little reticent. “Heard about a place with a pretty cool dance floor.”
Billy nods, as if he understands. “Cool beans, man.”
After dinner Carson walks downtown. He finds the bar and stares up at the neon sign flashing the interesting name, “Rumors.” He heard about the place from Sheila, his neighbor across the hall. She told him they have a machine that showers bubbles over the dance floor. Sheila has gushed over the fun she has with her friends as they shimmy across the floor with the bubbles. It sounds like a lot of fun to Carson too, but he suspects the guys from the construction crew wouldn’t be caught dead there.
He makes his way to the bar and orders a beer. He leans against the bar for a time, taking slow pulls on the bottle as he scopes out the action on the dance floor.
Bubbles are floating down resting on corn silk hair and angora sweaters. He spots Sheila just as she sees him and motions for him to join her. He laughs as he glides amongst the bubbles. Then a slow dance begins and he watches, befuddled, as Sheila dances with a woman he recognizes as her housemate, Chloe. Carson studies them and a light comes on. Another thought jolts him. He looks around the room nervously, trying to assess the situation. What he sees notches up the wattage. He edges towards the door.
He walks home slowly, chuckling to himself over this latest gaffe even as relief floods him for managing to stay anonymous. He has nothing against gay people personally, but the last thing he needs are any rumors flying around the jobsite about his venture into bubble land.
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