Round 1

As soon as Mark and Erik arrived at the Bolt, they met up with the other contestants in the office.  The Emcee for the evening, Lenny Broberg, introduced himself to the five.  Mark was excited to meet him!  The man was a legend!  He had served as International Mister Leather in 1992 and, since then, had been a part of every major leather gathering conceivable.  Tonight he’d introduce him as he walked on stage!

After explaining the schedule for the evening, Lenny wished the contestants luck, then told them to get ready for Round 1: Bar Wear.

The five contestants were basically already dressed in their bar wear.  None of them was wearing a shirt.  Two men wore harnesses and three wore vests.  Mark, against the urging of Erik, had decided to wear a vest with a zipper down the front to cover as much of the bruising as possible.  However, seeing his opponents showing more skin, he wasn’t sure he’d made the right decision.  Either way, his bruises would be seen soon enough.

Through the doors, the contestants could hear the judges being announced.

“All the way from Canada we have Brendan James McGovern, Mr. Ottawa Leather 2009!” Lenny’s voice boomed in the crowded bar.  Mark could hear the cheers from the men in the crowd.

“Whatever Mama say, you best do it.  You better listen to your Mama.  Give a round of applause for Sandy “Mama” Reinhardt!”  The crowd roared.

“Finally, your very own Mister Bolt 2008, Jake Anderson.” The cheering continued.

Mark had a new nervous energy.  He knew he could compete with the other men here.  It was time to go on stage.

“Please welcome to the stage our first contestant, Mark Beauchamp!”  Mark’s new enthusiasm helped him jump to the stage.  He strutted his battered body down the catwalk.  He saw an acquaintance in the front row, leaned close and gave him a deep kiss to rile the crowd.  He immediately regretted the decision when the pain in his side shot through him like a knife.  He grinned through the pain.

Mark was asked his first question, “How would you explain leather sex to a straight, vanilla person?  Basically, how would you explain kinky sex to Sarah Palin?”  The audience laughed at the reference to Palin, giving Mark enough time to formulate the most salient of answers for the drunk audience.

“Who doesn’t love a good fuck?” Mike started. “Everyone has a kink, everyone has a fetish, everyone loves a top, and everyone wants to fuck!”  The crowd cheered at the use of the word fuck.  Drunk men are predictable.

With a final strut, Mark returned backstage to be greeted by Erik.

“Great job, dude!  You looked awesome up there!”

“Dude, I’m dying.  Give me something to stop this pain.  Seriously, anything.”

Bolting

Mark, fortunately, wasn’t badly hurt in his accident.  He had suffered a bruised rib and a nasty bit of road rash on one shoulder.  He looked like a mess, but was no worse for the wear.

The same couldn’t be said for his bicycle.  The frame of his bike was knocked out of shape and his wheels bent.  The bike was a lost cause.

Mark resolved to worry about the bike later.  After all, there wasn’t anything he could do about it right now.

Right now, he needed to focus on the Mr. Bolt competition.

Yesterday, he had been interviewed by the judges and then introduced to the bar before being sent out to hawk jello shots and raffle tickets along with the other competitors.  He’d managed to sell 5 trays of the horrible shots and sell more than $200 worth of raffle tickets by offering an inseam for $10.  For the price, he’d grope the buyers’ crotch, run the tickets down the leg, and give the buyer a cheap thrill as he got measured for tickets.

The interview was tame in comparison to what would happen tonight.  The panel of judges asked questions of Mark for 40 minutes.  The inquisition ranged from asking about his views of leather culture in the age of the internet to asking about the relevance of drag queens in popular culture.  Through these questions, the judges reasoned, they would be able to gauge the ability of the 5 contestants to represent Sacramento’s leather community, raise money for charity, and compete at the International Mister Leather competition in Chicago next spring.

Tonight, the contestants would be judged on stage presence in three rounds.  Afterward, one of the contestants would go home with the title of Mister Bolt 2012.

But before he had a chance, Mark had some cleaning up to do.  As soon as he entered his apartment, he called his friend and mentor, Erik, to pick him up and help him get ready then stepped into the shower.

Erik let himself in and announced himself as he stepped into the bathroom.

“Okay dude, let’s see the damage,” Erik told a still-showering Mark.

“It’s not pretty,” Mark said as Erik opened the shower curtain.

“Ouch! Gnarly bruises, man! I take it you’re going for the sympathy votes from the judges?”

“You’re funny!  Do you think we can cover any of this up? Or do I need to cancel tonight?”

“Don’t cancel!  Whatever you do, don’t pull out!” Erik started. “Seriously! You want this, right? Go get it!  Don’t let a couple of bruises slow you down.”

“But look at me!  I’m not even sure I can lift my arms high enough to put on a shirt or a vest!  And I look like shit!”

“I’m telling you! Sympathy votes! And who isn’t turned on by a few scars?  I think Mama will be way impressed by your dedication.  Besides, I think I can find something to help you a little with the pain.”

As soon as he was out of the shower, Erik helped pat Mark dry.  It proved to be a slow and painful task for Mark to do alone.  Erik then assisted in some last minute man-scaping around Mark’s sideburns, mustache, neck, chest, ass, and pubes.

As soon as Mark was in his first outfit for the night, the two drove to the bolt in Erik’s pickup.

Change of Plans

“Let’s all head home, get cleaned up, and meet back around 5 for dinner tonight?” Nicole asked.  It was more an announcement of the plan than a question.

“Let’s do it!” agreed Katharine on behalf of the crowd.  She hadn’t conferred with the boys.

“Sounds good,” both boys mumbled.

The group dropped Alberto off at his dorm near Sac State before leaving Francisco and Katharine off at her midtown apartment.  No sooner had company parted than Francisco decided to change the plan.

“Hon, I’ve really got to get back to Berkeley today and pick some things up so I can be ready for next week.  I hate to cancel plans with the group tonight, but do you think you can explain to Alberto and Nicole?  Could I use your computer to check the train schedule?”

Simultaneously, in another part of town, Alberto called Nicole. He left a voice mail, “I have way too much homework to do and I need to get a start on writing this really huge paper.  I’m going to be a complete ass and cancel on you tonight.  Sorry!”

When Alberto hung up his phone, he had a new text message from Francisco.  “I just canceled on the girls.  Come with me to Berkeley tonight.”

“Sure! When?”

“Pick me up at 5 at the train station.  Told Katharine I’m riding the train.”

 

Crash

Mark had spent months planning for tonight! He’d started by talking to old friends and making new ones about whether it was even possible. When they all encouraged him to go ahead with it, he doubled his time at the gym meticulously watched what he ate, and virtually gave up drinking.

Even before his recent efforts, Mark had been fit. He was no stranger to the gym and ate and drank with moderation. In high school, he had played football and baseball. In college, he had participated in intramurals with his fraternity brothers. Since then, however, he had been more sedentary and gained a little beer belly.

That is, until he joined CrossFit and endured punishing workouts each day.

The beer belly was only a memory now. Months of hard training each day had melted the fat, leaving hard ridges of muscle.

The past several weeks had been busy as Mark prepared for the contest. He had bought new clothes, wrote and memorized his speech, and learned all he could about the history and traditions of the leather community.

Tonight was the Mr. Bolt contest– a chance to stand as a leader in the leather community and compete for International Mr. Leather in Chicago. The winner would travel all year while raising money for charities and educating people about the leather community.

Now, it looked as if all Mark’s hard work would be wasted.

Mark took a long bike ride along the American River Parkway to clear his mind this morning. On his way back he lost his focus when an attractive stranger caught his attention. Now he was laying on the concrete in intense pain.

The pain wasn’t purely physical.  Mark feared that there would be no way he could compete tonight on stage.  Moreover, there was little chance he would find the man who could quite literally sweep him off his feet.

 

Stopping Traffic

“Good morning, boys!” Nicole called from the kitchen. “Coffee is ready.”  She poured two mugs and walked past the fold-out sofa and into her bedroom.

The boys were in a groggy daze as they sat up in bed.

“I need to piss like a racehorse,” Francisco said as he got up and pulled on his shirt. He walked toward the bathroom. He decided he would not address last night. “Alberto is objectively attractive,” he thought to himself, “plus he is so sweet and comforting. There’s nothing gay about that. I’m over it.”

Upon returning from the bathroom he found the sofa uninhabited. He started making up the bed and folding it away. Alberto was in the kitchen pouring coffee but his pants were still in the living room.

“How do you take your coffee, Frankie?” Alberto asked.

“Black, please. Thanks.”

Alberto joined Francisco who was now sitting on he couch in his boxers and t-shirt. Alberto was still wearing only his jock, his perky ass bared to Francisco.  Francisco bent to pull on his pants in a thinly veiled attempt at hiding his hardening dick before it peeked through the fly of his boxers.

“What’s on TV?” Alberto asked. “Maybe we can find some Saturday morning cartoons.”

“Don’t you watch the news in the morning?”

“Why?  The news is boring!  Cartoons! They are fun!”

Francisco couldn’t beat the logic.  Of course, he’d have to catch up on the news later.  As soon as he charged his phone, he would pull up Drudge Report on his phone and get his news fix.

Katharine and and Nicole entered the room unnoticed by the boys as they drank their coffee and watched an episode of The Fairly OddParents.

“Let’s do brunch!” Nicole said, startling to the boys who still had not realized she had joined them in the living room. “Then we can get our shit together and figure out the rest of the day.”

“Where?” Katharine asked.

Alberto suggested they go to Headhunters but the appeal of bottomless mimosas sold the group on Capitol Garage.

The brunch was uneventful except for the good food, poor service, and the ability of the foursome to test the limits of bottomless drinks.  The four sat at table on the patio where they watched people suffering hangovers stumble like zombies on their way home or to retrieve cars left behind the night before.

After finishing their food (and putting away two more round of mimosas) the four decided it was time to part company.  They walked up K to find their way home.

As they approached K and 18th, a bicyclist passed the group going the opposite direction.  His lean, spandex-clad body caught the collective attention of the group.  Each turned their heads just in time to watch the distracted cyclist run directly into a parked car and fall from his bike.

“It’s not the first time my ass has stopped traffic!” Alberto proclaimed as she shook his butt.

Dangerously Close

Nicole and Katharine walked back from the bar bringing back shots the the foursome.

“Here’s to new friends and old!” Nicole offered as a toast before they swallowed the cheap vodka.

At least, this round had gone down more easily than the ones before. The cheap whiskey they’d shot at the Mercantile Saloon had burned, but that was two bars ago. They were now sitting at a nearly empty dive bar several blocks from where they’d started. All four were drunk.

The bartender called out to the group, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here! I’ve got to close this place up.”

“Anyone up for some late night eats?” Alberto asked.

“I’m kinda broke,” Francisco responded.

“Maybe we should all go back to my place. It’s only a few blocks from here. We can have a snack and crash there,” Nicole offered.

Francisco and Katharine agreed that the long walk back to her apartment sounded painful at this hour. Besides, neither minded the company or the food.

It took only a few minutes to walk the three short blocks to Nicole’s apartment. She let the group in and they settled on a plate of nachos. The drunken and sleepy conversation was unimportant and unmemorable. The four only remembered the time they spent with their new friends: friends they were certain would remain close for years to come.

Katharine yawned. Nicole led her to her own bedroom and returned with a blanket.

“The sofa folds out into a bed. It should already have sheets. Here’s a blanket in case it’s cold. good night!”

After setting out the bed, Alberto laid down fully clothed.

Francisco laughed, “Dude, you’re not seriously going to sleep fully dressed after dancing naked all night, are you?”

“I just figured you’d be more comfortable if we stayed dressed. I don’t know how you straight guys are.”

“I just think it’s funny, that’s all! I don’t care what you are wearing to bed, but me, I’m taking off my jeans.”

In reality, Francisco was nervous about taking off his own clothes. His dick had betrayed him once tonight, surely, it could happen again. Besides, he’d never been comfortable shirtless next to a flawless body. He feared Alberto might criticize his weight.

Smiling, Alberto stripped his jeans off, revealing the jock strap underneath and his bare ass. He slowly pulled off his t-shirt, baring his abs then chest.

Kneeling on the bed, Francisco set about folding his things so he could wear them in the morning. He wasn’t fooling Alberto, though. The younger man had seen this before: a closeted man pretending to busy himself with work, sneaking peaks at him, and trying to hide his erection.

“Would you mind turning off the light while you’re up?” Alberto asked as he pulled the sheet and blanket over himself.

He watched as Francisco walked across the room in his boxers. “Nice ass!” he thought to himself. Alberto had always liked hairy guys with a little muscle and arms big enough to hold him. Maybe Francisco had a little belly, but he fit the bill perfectly.

Returning to the bed, Francisco slipped under the sheets, catching a glimpse of Alberto’s bare butt as he lifted the sheets. His dick was at full mast, its head was visible peaking out over the waistband of his boxers. He had hoped this might hide his boner a little more effectively than it was.

As soon as he was laying down, Alberto rolled over to face Francisco. Their bodies were dangerously close, each could feel the heat of the others body. Neither pulled away.

“I’m really glad I met you tonight, Frankie.”

Protestations

Nicole talked Francisco and Katharine into a slightly better state of ease. In fact, Katharine genuinely liked Nicole. The two seemed to have much in common. As it turned out, Nicole and Katharine had similar jobs, both working for political fundraisers, although Nicole’s firm handled mostly Democratic campaigns while Katharine’s had a number of Republican clients.

Francisco was still uncomfortable. Despite having taken another shot of liquid courage, he was still nervous. He’d never been inside a gay bar before. Sure, he’d had a few gay friends in college, but he’d only ever gone to straight bars with them. What if somebody found out?

“There you are! I’ve been looking for you!” said a man as he walked up to Nicole.

In a single moment, any hope for Katharine or Francisco to form a coherent thought flew out the window.

The man was tall, lean, muscular, and wearing nothing but a pair of white briefs with dollar bills hanging out of the waist.

“Albie!” Nicole shrieked. “I want you two to meet my friend, Alberto. He’s one of my favorite people and the hottest gogo boy in town!”

Francisco stood to shake hands. “I’m Frank and this is my friend, Kate.”

“I’ve never seen you here before. You must be new?” The statement was as much an accusation as it was a question. Alberto didn’t mean it quite that way.

Francisco realized he hadn’t let go of Alberto’s hand. He let go and mocked a cough to clear his throat.

“Actually, I just got a new job in town today and haven’t moved here yet.” After a pause, he added, “I’m not gay.”

Alberto was sure it was a lie. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” he thought. Alberto found Frank attractive. He had a handsome face and carried himself well. If he was a few pounds overweight, it didn’t bother Alberto any. He decided he wanted to know Francisco, even if he was closeted or straight. He sat down with the trio.

“A new job, eh? What are you doing?” Alberto asked to strike up conversation.

“Honestly, I’m not completely sure. Office assistant for one of the Governor’s offices, I think. It happened really quickly.” Francisco replied. He worried that he might be staring too long at the naked body in front of him.

“Where are you visiting from?”

“Berkeley. That’s where I went to school. I’ve just graduated. Is this what you do for a living?”

“It pays for school. Makes more money than when I bussed tables. And it’s fun! I get to shake my ass and get paid.”

Neither of the men realized when the girls had left them. If the women had announced their departure, it had been completely ignored by the boys who were no entranced in awkward conversation for several more minutes.

“I’ve got to run! My break is up and I’ve got to get into my next costume. Are you sticking around later? We should meet up at midnight when I’m done. I want to get to know you, with clothes on, if that’s alright?”

“Um, sure…I mean, um, you can wear whatever you like.” Alberto’s smile caught Francisco off guard.

As Alberto got up, Francisco got up to see him to the stairs. Alberto turned and hugged his new friend. Francisco, greedily accepted the hug until his self-consciousness set in.

Francisco thought to himself, “How did he know about me?” He sat quickly, fearing that somebody might notice the tenting of his jeans.

The only person in the room who did was walking away in a pair of white briefs unconcerned that his package was more pronounced than it had been all night.