Chapter 2: Locals

Lewis walked lazily to the bottom of the drive. He wore nothing except his socks, jeans and clipped chain. His unbrushed hair gave a clue as to when he had gotten up that morning. Staring at the neighbourhood around him, he was once again welcomed with a perfect picture. The sun was shining, the lawns were clean and the roads were spotless. He kept watching as several men in working clothes stepped out of their houses. Their wives seemed to follow them shortly after in all kinds of attire-some in working clothes, others looked casual yet perfectly groomed and a couple more, wearing nothing except a bath gown and slippers, sauntered down like zombies clutching their mugs of coffee. All these wives kissed and waved their husbands goodbye in varying ways. But when Lewis did a double-check, some of the men were actually women...being kissed by their wives. And some of the 'wives' were boyish men. And no matter who these wives (or husbands) were, half of them in this neighbourhood were being joined by their children to say goodbye to their daddies (or did some say 'Mom'?). Once the 'dads' had driven off the children were shooed back inside.

"Good mornin'," chirped someone happily.

Lewis saw a smiling man happily walking towards him. He felt a pang of jealousy then, seeing this man wearing fresh clothes, hair brushed and being clearly awake as well as holding a just-as-picture-perfect small boy. The cherubic small boy with short, shiny brown hair. Lewis felt shabbier than he actually was.

"Mornin'...uh, you must be Alan." A car pulled out of the drive behind Alan.

"Bye Daddy!" shouted the boy, waving energetically. Alan quickly turned round to wave at the driver. This driver seemed smart with his short hair and trim business suit. He smiled and waved back before driving off.

Alan smiled at his neighbour once more. "Sorry for that. Yes I'm Alan, Benjamin and I come out every mornin' to see Daniel off to work. You must be Leslie's partner?"

"Yeah, I'm Lewis." Benjamin gave a shy wave. (Awww) Lewis' smile widened. "Hello Benjamin. I was just out here for the paper, didn't think we'd get any other post." With an unsurprised look, Alan's new neighbour opened the post box to reveal nothing except the newspaper. "We made front page," he said dismally.

Alan laughed. "You'll have ta get used to that, we don't get much news around here. New neighbours are a big story."

Lewis looked bewildered suddenly. The children were gathering where their 'dads' just were. "The kids are comin' back out."

"Well of course, the school bus arrives any minute."

"Can I go on it?" asked little Benjamin.

"You can go on the school bus when you start school."

"Well, I'd better get back inside," excused Lewis. "Thanks for dinner, it was delicious."

Alan beamed. "Well I'm so glad you liked it. No doubt you'll be finishin' your packing today?"

The dark-haired one sighed. "I hope so."

"Don't rush yourself Lewis. Take care now."



Leslie walked through the door of their new study. Lewis was sitting at a desk next to another door, which was closed. He was just in the middle of arranging the mess of 2 old-fashioned (chunky) cameras, a digital camera, his laptop and lots of wires. (On a clothing note, he's now wearing a buttoned-up, short-sleeved black shirt half covered in flames.)

"So selfish Lou. You get so tired of unpacking so you hide out in your photo den."

The brunette sent his teasing boyfriend an annoyed look. "This needs to be done. I already got the Dark Room set up."

"Well I know how much you don't like the sight of boxes so I thought you could do all the admin errands in town."

... "Like what?"

Leslie rolled his eyes. "Like giving the doctor our medical files."

Lewis woke up. "Oh!" He laughed sheepishly. "Alright, I'll do that."

"And remember to get the statements from the bank."

"Why d'we need those? We do net banking now right?"

"You know my rule on accounts-"

"Always have a printed statement, alright, I get it, I'll do it."


It was late in the afternoon. Lewis walked along, slouched and hands in pockets. Mojo cantered along happily in front of him. The sound of children playing could be heard, as well as another dog barking in the distance. One scene that unfolded itself was of 2 small children, roughly the ages of 2 and 5, playing in the sandpit. While they did that, their...father was sitting on a chair reading 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. His straight, white-blonde hair went down to his jaw and there was a small plait on one side. He seemed to wear a perfect tennis outfit. He looked up, revealing his brilliant silver-blue eyes. The smile that appeared was also brilliant.

"Beautiful weather we're havin'!" he exclaimed. He jumped up (as opposed to stood up) and bounded towards Lewis like a jovial cheerleader. (The brunette had to call Mojo back to him.) In fact he was almost skipping on the grass. "You must be one of the new neighbours," he said eagerly once he stood in front of him. "I'll guess you're...Lewis?"

"How did you know?" asked a baffled Lewis.

"Well you definitely don't look like you could dominate anyone, so you must be the Uke."


The blonde looked confused. "You know what that is, right?"

"Yeah...I do...but it's not always obvious just by lookin' at somebody."

The jovial blonde creased his forehead. "'tis in this town. Oh, I'm Dean." He held out his hand, brilliant smile once again on his face.

Lewis shook the offered hand. "It is huh? So what does your partner do?"

"His name is Lucien and he's a member of security at the supermarket."

The photographer took a mental appraisal of the house. It was smaller than the one he was living in, but it was hardly modest. "He got you a pretty big house on such a small salary."

Dean looked blank at this. He shrugged. "Everyone lives well 'round here." He glanced at his watch. "Gosh darnit look at the time! I spent too much time relaxin', but you gotta after spending an entire mornin' cleaning the kids' rooms. The kitchen don't look too good and I need to get started on dinner. I'm gonna have to go...say, you cook at all?" Lewis shook his head apologetically. "Well that won't do, come round any time and I'll give you some lessons. Take care now."

Lewis strolled home, baffled at the conversation with the over-friendly parent. He had had a conversation with a man, slightly older than him, who acted like the perfect model 50s housewife...all that Dean was missing was a flowery dress and apron. And he was reading 'Memoirs of a Geisha'?

He put these thoughts out of his head as he walked up the drive of his new home, where a sleek, black Mercedes had appeared in his absence. Who's come for a visit? Mojo inspected the car closely. As Lewis walked past the car, the front door opened. Out came Leslie and a tall, charming man in his 40s, who had short, white-blonde hair and iced blue eyes. He also wore a prime suit: blazer and trousers perfectly straight, perfect white shirt freshly starched and his tie was of the finest silk. Mojo immediately barked in protest to the stranger's presence.

"No Mojo! Calm down!" Lewis also had to hold on to his colllar. Leslie shouted similar orders. Once Mojo simply knelt and snarled Lewis looked up apologetically. "I'm so sorry, he's just really protective."

The stranger smiled reassuringly. "That's quite alright. I'm used to it, really. Dogs and I don't get along too well. It's nice to meet you Lewis, I'm Matthew Goodwin." Lewis stood up and shook his hand. Matthew spoke with a similar southern accent to everyone else he had met, but his language was more refined, revealing his well-educated background. "I'm the President of the Proud Men's Major Association. Since Leslie had joined before coming here, I thought I'd introduce myself. And it's good that you came, since I can now ask both of you. We have a tradition in the Association, where the weekly meeting is hosted by the newest member when he joins or in this case, moves in. This is completely voluntary so don't feel you're under any pressure."

Leslie and Lewis shared a look. "Everythin's unpacked, so why not," informed the blonde of the pair.

The brunette shrugged. "I don't see any problem. What should we prepare?"

"Just light snacks will do fine. Coffee, biscuits, that kind of thing. I'll tell the others to be here for 8:30, will that be alright?"

"Just fine," answered Leslie after a confirming look from Lewis.

"Wonderful, I'll see you then." With that, Matthew got into the Mercedes and started reversing down the drive.

"So...what does he do?" asked Lewis as the couple watched the car back away. (He was also careful to scan Leslie-how he loves it when his lover wears nothing but a vest and jeans!)

"He's the local gynaecologist."

"OK..." The Mercedes had now disappeared. "Should I dye my hair my blonde?"

Leslie was horribly confused. "What!?"

"There are so many blondes here, it's making me feel...outta place."

"Don't dye your hair," the taller ordered sternly. "It's what makes you unique."


Lewis placed the coffee pot and biscuits on the table. On that same table were tea cups and saucers, glasses, a large jug of water, a small jug of milk and a bowl of sugar with its own spoon. There were spoons with every tea cup as well. He looked around the living room. It was certainly big, but he doubted they had enough chairs. How many were even coming? He was wearing his cleanest, smartest jeans with a light green buttoned-up shirt and a black blazer. Mojo picked this moment to poke his head through the door.

"Take your last look Mojo, you won't be able to come in here for the rest of the night." He regretfully went towards Mojo and signalled him to follow. "You know what you have to do, you have ta stay in the kitchen tonight, you can't come out." In the kitchen, he signalled at a rug. "There boy, sit." The dog sat on the rug, although reluctantly. "Good boy." The dog got many an affectionate ruffling.

"Lou! Could you get some napkins?" shouted Leslie from the living room. Lewis quickly opened some drawers (before finding the right one) and pulled out a small pile. Once he got to the living room, he stood frozen in shock. "...what?"

"I didn't think we were hostin' a board meeting."

Leslie was wearing a dark blue suit with the freshest white shirt and a red tie. He blanked in confusion, then shrugged. "Considerin' the way Matthew was dressed, I thought I'd make a good impression." The doorbell went off at that moment.

Matthew was the first to arrive (unsurprisingly) but he was accompanied by another man who dressed as if he was either a fed or a member of the 'Men in Black'. He had long, black hair tied into a neat ponytail, a goatee, dark brown eyes and his skin was rather tanned. He had a charming smile as he shook the hands of Leslie and Lewis.

"Good evening, my name is Ivan Kosniov." His accent was vibrantly foreign. "I come from Yugoslavia originally. I'm not as important as I look, I'm merely a Sales Assistant in the toy store."

Matthew gave Ivan a disappointed look. "Don't belittle yourself." Turning to the hosts, he said: "He is the well-loved town Magician."

"Oh stop, you're making me blush."

The next few minutes was a stream of men arriving in ones, twos and a three and then being shown to the living room. There was Lucien Winchester, who had surprisingly similar eyes to his partner Dean, as well as similar hair colour but he kept his hair very short. He was also more straight-faced than Dean. Kai Hiwatari came in, having (surprisingly) pale skin, chestnut-brown eyes and the most bewildering hair: silver at the front and black at the back. He worked as head of finance at the American HQ of a multi-national corporation. He also seemed rather fed up of being regarded as strange by his hosts.

"I'm half Japanese and grew up in California, satisfied?" he abruptly asked. The Lemingtons nodded. He robotically made his own way to the living room.

Spike Pearson came in wearing a magenta shirt. He kept his thin black hair long and straight, though it didn't reach his shoulders. He was rather friendly and offered a discount for their first purchase at the bookshop he owned. He was joined by Roy Mustang, another pale man from somewhere North with short, black hair and dark blue eyes. He was Principal of the local Junior High School. Being just as friendly as Spike, he told his hosts that he grew up in Washington. (Cultural note: when Americans refer to their capital city, they say 'DC'.) They were finally able to meet Daniel Molloy, who seemed to be wearing the same suit he was wearing that morning. He managed one restaurant, owned three more and possessed thousands of shares of companies up and down the States. Seth Carpenter swept in as if he was the most important person in the building. He had chestnut-brown hair and blue eyes and wasn't that pale but the accent alone revealed he came from somewhere else. He said politely that he was head of operations at a media company, but in an annoyed tone, felt forced to add he was originally from San Francisco. He was extremely tall and was pompous enough to wear the longest Mackintosh coat possible and refuse to remove it. Finally Seth Rothman arrived, who ran the local pharmacy/drug store. He had blue eyes that almost glowed and the longest hair. The plait went right down to the bottom of his back.

"No doubt you're wonderin' why my hair is white?" he asked softly, well aware of the 2 pairs of eyes staring at him. 2 heads nodded mutely. Seth looked rather sheepish. "There's a story to that, I'll tell you some other time."

"Is this everyone?" Leslie asked Matthew quietly when he got the chance.

"Yes, everyone's arrived, though there are people missing."

", I also have ta ask you to stay outta the kitchen. It's where we're keepin' Mojo."

"What's this?" Ivan teased loudly, catching everyone's attention. "Has another dog been added to your list of enemies, Matthew?" Everyone laughed...except Kai.

Lewis balked at the sight of all the men in the room, each wearing suits of slightly varying colours, with or without ties. "What is it?" whispered Leslie.

"This is a board meeting. We shoulda put them in the dining room." He looked rather worried.

"But that room has no furniture," the blonde pointed out.

Lewis sighed. "Look at me, I don't look professional like them."

"You're fine, don't worry."

Those that were standing didn't complain. The meeting started and in 5 minutes, Lewis found himself bored out of his skull. First they talked about national business, like succeeding companies, stock market conditions and political developments in various places. Then they gradually went to town business, arguing over the effects of new legislation on small businesses, if they should bother saving a nightclub threatened with closure, the next town production at the theatre, the fact that citizens' satisfaction rate has gone up. Then they finally talked about something that interested Lewis: what should the annual summer fundraising event be?

"Why don't we just go proud Dixie and have a barn dance?" piped up Daniel.

"That's insane," snapped Seth-with-the-long-coat. "Who'd really want to give up their dignity to raise money?"

"I've known people who wore nothin' but a pink thong all day for charity," told Lewis. "I wouldn't mind a barn dance." Leslie smiled at him.

"Then I say put it to a vote," voiced Matthew. "Raise your hands for a barn dance." Everyone except brown Seth put up his hand...including Kai who finally stopped resembling a mannequin and smirked for added measure. "I think that's pretty decisive. Well, that's the formal business out of the way." Men happily started shifting and stretching. Lewis started collecting empty cups.

"Here, let me help," offered Kai. When they got to the kitchen and placed the small piles of cups and saucers on a table-top, the helpful visitor made an accurate observation: "You looked bored stiff."

"Gee, that obvious?" Lewis sarcastically replied.

"Trust me, half those guys in there don't care either. They just joined for Monday Night Poker." He was about to leave when he spotted the dog lying on the rug. "You Matthew's new enemy by any chance?" Mojo looked up, startled he was being addressed. "Good on you." Then Kai did leave.

After that the 'meeting' seemed more social, during which time Matthew gave Lewis a flyer about a picnic the next weekend being held in the grounds of the Assocation House. "We hold it every year in conjunction with the Proud Women's Conservative Society, it's a...sort of celebration of the liberal freedom we can all enjoy here."

After the last man left (Daniel-who invited them to movie night at his house), Lewis closed the front door and leaned against it. He gave Leslie a questioning look.


"Finances? Local business? Party politics?"

Leslie was still baffled. "That was what they were talkin' about."

"You were never interested in that stuff before."

"I know...still ain't,'s just there ain't much opportunity for advancement in a town like this and in a small town you're expected to be social, y'know? Plus these guys all know people."

Lewis nodded in understanding. He stood straight. "Kai told me that half the guys that came only joined for poker."

"What? So I didn't have ta talk so much?"

"Nope," answered the brunette with a grin.

"Damn. I just wanted to make a good impression." He followed Lewis up the stairs.

"Don't worry, you fit right in. Trust me."

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©Ruth Amy Louise Hüneke 2008