Summer has been flying by in such a haze. I’ve done absolutely nothing now that I look back on it. It’s all been me, setting up my cousin, Daisy, a married woman, with my next-door neighbor that I just so happened to have major feelings for, Jay Gatsby. It’s been rough.
I needed time to myself for once, therefore, I have cancelled any and all plans I had for this evening. All except for the ones that involved me going to the secret queer-bar in town. It was in the basement of ‘Sways’, another bar and it was called ‘Bang!’ . It required a password to enter the room.
The word was arbitrium, meaning ‘choice’ in Latin.
Few people knew of it.
I had ate dinner at the little diner next to the bar, not in the mood to cook for myself tonight. I still had an hour to kill before it opened at seven. I decide to browse the shops in the area to pass the time.
I first enter a nice clothing shop that I barely get to look through before I spot Daisy. I don’t want to be dragged along to whatever she’s doing, so, I leave.
Another downside to being hopelessly queer is the fact that being around others was much harder. I couldn’t exactly be out around people as I could be killed or imprisoned for it. It was the worst when I fall for the lovely men - Gatsby - in my friend-groups that are impossibly straight, or, I almost slip up and expose myself to close-minded people. I play a dangerous game by being around others.
I don’t even get to enter the next store I planned to enter, as I spot Gatsby eyeing an expensive watch through the window. I’m stressed and jumpy and end up just sitting in Sways for the next hour or so.
I wait longer than necessary until a few men and a group of ladies make their way down.
I shuffle to the door with the big, kind of scary, guard stood before it. “Hello.” I greet the man and he scowls.
“Password.” He grunts with his deep voice.
I lean in close to him, murmuring the single word into his ear. He cracks a smile and laughs a bit. “It’s not the right way to say it but, go on in.” He permits and I thank him quietly before hurrying down the stairs. It is utterly magical down here. Girls kissing girls, boys touching boys… The music is loud and the people are fancy… I’ve never felt more alive in my entire life.
I spot a handsome man at the bar quite quickly and I saunter to his side. “Well, hello there,” I grin. “Is this seat taken?” I hum lowly, motioning to the stool next to him.
“Oh, Lord. For a man as rakishly handsome as you, even if it happened to be taken, I would tell you otherwise.” His voice is deep and he has a lisp as he reaches to touch my arm.
“You are much better looking, Sir. I assure you of that.” I let my eyes wander him.
“That is very untrue… Do you have a name to fit that handsome face?”
“Nick.” I answer and he smiles.
“Lovely, fitting… I’m Eric.” He flutters his lashes at me.
“Perfect name for such a wonderful face.” I brush a strand of hair from his brown eyes.
“I’ve never seen you here before, Nick.” I notice that I don’t like the way my name sounds on his tongue and I flinch.
“Yeah, first time. Been too busy playing matchmaker all summer.” We both chuckle.
“Well, tonight, you get to be your own matchmaker, I assume?” He flicks his brows up.
“Are you trying to take me home?” I run my tongue over my lips. All I could see for us was maybe a fling or two. I didn’t have that feeling, that need or want to have him. I didn’t feel the way that Gatsby made me feel. That’s how I can tell the future.
“Maybe~.” He hums with a smirk.
So, I kiss him. It’s not as good as I’d hoped for it to be but, it was something. I bite at his lip to spice things up a bit and he shoves his tongue into my mouth, exploring it like a cave.
When I pull away, neither of us look very satisfied with it.
“Uh…” He looks about the room. “What do you do for work?” He mutters awkwardly.
“Um, stocks. I work in them.” I answer, not fully paying attention as I look about the room of new people and faces. People I could fall in love with possibly.
“Yeah… Sounds, um… Cool. I'm an accountant.” He's also far from our conversation which fell apart over a very shitty kiss.
I scan the room more and I feel all the blood drain from my body as my eyes fall upon none other than Jay Gatsby.
“Oh, God…” I gape and Eric looks to find what I'm looking at.
“I know him,” I croak. “He's my neighbor .” I choke and suddenly I can't breathe.
“He is? Is he gay?” Eric questions but I can't answer and jump from my stool.
I give Eric a wave of my hand, either meaning ' be right back ’ or ' goodbye’ and I couldn't care less which one he took it as.
I dash through the tightly packed crowd and into the bathroom, just hoping I wasn't spotted. As soon as I get in there, I hunch over, one hand on my knee and the other on my chest as I pant and my heart pounds so hard I can feel it in my veins.
I'm panicking. I think I am at least.
Why was Gatsby here? Why had he insisted on me setting him up with Daisy? Why? What was this summer supposed to be?
Once I'm able to calm myself and not throw-up with nerves, I step back into the loud bar full of people. I look around and just as I spot Gatsby, he spots me. I feel myself crumble as we both give one another a panicked look and I duck back into the bathroom to hyperventilate.
The door swings open and in bursts Gatsby moments later. He grabs me by the shoulders and at first, I think he may kiss me. But, that's just my stupid fantasies.
“Nick, old sport! What-... What are you doing here?” The calm and cool Gatsby I knew was gone and his words were frantic as his hair dangled down in his eyes. I can see his Adam's apple bob as he swallows forcefully, his jaw shifting as his fingers tighten on my shoulders.
“I-... I think you know. I think it's obvious why I'm here… But, why are you? You have Daisy.” I stammer out. He swallows again.
“Just-... I came to-... Find you, old sport!” He exclaims. “I needed your help and I-... Saw you come in?” He doesn’t seem as confidant in this lie as he had been in the first one.
“There’s a password, Gatsby.”
“Don’t need one, I’m Jay Gatsby. I just say I have business and they let me in.” He crossed his arms, dropping his grip on me to do so.
“That is an even bigger reason not to let you in! If people like you just waltz on in here, it’ll be shut down and everybody will be arrested in minutes!” I snap in a hushed tone. Gatsby frowns deeply at me.
“What is that supposed to mean? People ‘ like me ’?” He scowls.
“Straight, white, rich men from East and West Egg that feel like they can have the world because they have money, Gatsby.” I glare. I don’t mean to be so awful to him but, I’m bitter and angry over every piece of him and myself right now.
“Wow… Okay, I get it now.” He lets out a shaking breath and turns. I hear him sniff.
“I didn’t mean you , I meant the others.”
“I’ll leave you then.”
And, Gatsby was off. I follow him, calling after him until we were in the street and he got into that bright yellow coupe of his and sped off.
I hail a cab and head to Gatsby’s, only to find he didn’t come home. I felt like a jackass for what I’d done and said. He didn’t deserve that. It’s all because I’m mad that I love him and that he loves Daisy. It just wasn’t fair . I try so hard for him because I’m in love with him and I want to never see him upset. Now, I’m the reason that he’s gone missing.
He’s probably just with Daisy.
Of course he liked her better. Anybody would. Being me was not special or spectacular like I wanted it to be. I was just Nick Carraway, the guy in the tiny bungalow behind the most wonderful and rich man’s mansion. I was just the guy who watched, who curled into himself and hid from everything. I wasn’t Gatsby, chasing down and catching whatever the hell he pleased, nor was I Daisy, a beautiful being with every man wishing to have me. I wasn’t even Tom for Heaven’s sakes. I mean, he still was popular to people compared to me.
I kick up stones as I cut through the back of Gatsby’s house to reach mine. The summer is fading away and I can just about feel the nip of fall biting at my exposed skin.
I keep my head down, ashamed of myself for being so selfish and rude to the man I cared so deeply for. I keep it down until I reach my drive, lifting it and my eyes meeting blue ones. “Nick.”
He stands up from sitting on my porch step, brushing off his bum. “Nick, I’m so sorry for running off like that. It was rude and immature.”
“No! No, Gatsby, I shouldn’t have been so harsh.” I insist as I come face to face with him.
“I was lying and frantic when I should’ve just been up front with you.” He shakes his head, frowning.
“What do you mean?” I ask. “I mean, I know you were lying but, what are you talking about?”
Gatsby steps a little closer and touches my forearm lightly. “You see, old sport, I did at one time think I loved Daisy… Time changes things and when I first saw you there was an undeniable pull, this alluring yank that ripped me from my fixation on the past and it pulled me to the future. I, at first, tried to, well, hold onto Daisy, but, after I saw her again, I knew I didn’t feel for her any longer…” He pauses and looks about, avoiding my eyes. “And, well, Nick, old sport, I kept it going because it brought me closer to you.”
“Gatsby...” I gawk. “What are you saying?” My voice is but a whisper. Gatsby's warm hands now rest on my shoulders and he forces himself to look me directly in the eye.
“I'm saying , all of it, every single thing, old sport, is all for you . I did it all because I've fallen hopelessly in love with you.” His fingers get tight as he's telling me this, nervous and trembling. “I was young and stupid and never loved before… I thought that you could only feel that once in your life and I thought I had with Daisy. But, after I left to war, I realized that she was special because ladies didn't catch my fancy.”
“You love me, Gatsby?” Was the only thing I could think to say to his speech declaring his very much required feelings.
His hands slip from me and hit his sides, he looks away and when his voice finally comes, it's broken and weak. “Yes, Nick… I do… Love you, that is. I was hoping it would go away but it hasn't and I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have… Said anything.” He hangs his head and I think he may cry, so, I reach and touch his wrist, my fingers brushing the top of his hand.
“Jay, I have feelings for you too. I thought it was blatantly obvious.” I say in a hushed, soothing tone.
“You do? I was trying so hard to impress you that I guess I just thought…” He trails.
“What are you talking about? That was all for Daisy .” I say.
“Well, I couldn't have exactly put an obscene amount of flowers in your house and said ' oh, and by the way, these are for you, not Daisy because I think I'm in love with you.’ Now, could I?” He sighs, frustrated.
“Well, I thought that it was obvious that I had feelings for you when I did anything and everything asked of me,” I say. “I followed you around like a lost puppy.”
“I did that to Dan Cody and I wasn't in love with him.” Gatsby answers.
“But, you wanted his money so it's different.”
He stares at me after that, running his eyes over my body many times before looking back at our shoes, pointed toe-to-toe.
“Can-... May I kiss you?” He looks up at me through the stray hairs in his eyes.
And, so, he does.