Phil would be the first to admit he doesn’t always know what’s going on. In the world in general, or in his immediate life. He’s never so much as shown potential for observational journalism, which shows just how far down the list of skills it is. It’s even harder now that he doesn’t go to Nassau arts. He has to hear everything secondhand, and judge paraphrasing. All that aside, Phil’s pretty sure Sam is hiding something. Simon maybe he couldn’t guess, they’ve only known each other a semester, but Sam he’s known forever. He can tell when Sam’s being shifty.
Finally he just asks. They’re at a stoplight, fingers crossed the shitbucket Dart will actually go when Sam presses the gas pedal, and Phil turns to him. “What’s your problem?”
To his credit, Sam doesn’t try to pretend he doesn’t know what Phil’s talking about. “You don’t want to know.”
“I do too.” He wouldn’t have freakin’ asked if he didn’t want to know.
“You think you do, but as soon as I tell you you’ll wish I could take it back.”
Phil punches his arm. “All your stalling is destroying my faith in humanity. Just tell me.”
“I’m a queer. Simon and I made out.”
He needs to say something. If he doesn’t say anything Sam will take it as proof that he’s right, he shouldn’t have told him. But his head is full of information about AIDS, and Phil’s sure Sam doesn’t want to hear it. The best he can come up with is “but what about Barbara? And Wendy?”
“I think he still likes Wendy. He’s different than I am. He likes guys and girls.”
“But you don’t?”
“I dated Barbara because everyone wanted me to. Her, you guys. Hell, I wanted to want to. But the whole time I was her boyfriend, I was just her boyfriend. Which you pointed out. When you pointed it out enough it was a good excuse to stop.”
“If you don’t want to share the car anymore, I understand.”
Phil rolls his eyes. “If I was going to get AIDS from touching the same stuff you did, I’d have it already, don’t you think?”
“I’d get it. Really. I-”
“Okay, don’t drop me off. We’re going to your house.” They don’t often go to Sam’s, but Phil has a point to prove.
It’s 1985, not 1981. Everyone knows AIDS is a 4H disease; homosexuals, Haitians, heroin users and hemophiliacs. It’s all about mixing blood or come, not just touching someone. Sam could probably even sneeze on him and it wouldn’t matter. Phil throws himself onto Sam’s bed once they get inside and rolls over again and again until the fitted sheet is a mess under him.
“Touching your stuff doesn’t scare me. Point made?”
“But I have to ask. What’s with the artwork?” All the pieces are collages, not paintings, which is unusual for Sam. Phil’s the one that fucks around with mediums and fails at them all, not Sam. None of the collages have camels painted on them, which is nice considering the subject matter. It would be a bit creepy considering Phil happens to know camels represent Mrs No-Longer-Stavrinidis -Phil doesn’t know her maiden name but it’s not worth it to ask- and her move to Egypt.
Sam looks at them when Phil gestures. “I glued a bunch of picture of nude guys to pages cut out from a calendar. Trying to be honest with myself. Combine my two favourite things and just accept it.”
And by favourite Phil’s pretty sure Sam means the things he thinks about when he jerks off. Which begs the question “what do you like better, the guys or the cars?”
Sam shrugs. “You can find hot guys anywhere, but nice looking muscle cars are rare.”
“So if I said I’d give you a handjob you’d say get back into the backseat.”
“No, I’d say bend me over backwards on the hood, if anything.”
“Huh,” Phil replies and starts to leave. He gives it to the time he crosses the threshold of the door.
Sam waits a few breaths then asks the question Phil knew he was dying to ask just before Phil crosses the threshold of his door. “So that handjob was a hypothetical situation or...”
“Why don’t you go wait outside and see if I turn up?”
Sam’s studying him, trying to decide if he’s being honest, or if this is Phil’s way of gaining time in which to run away without being followed. Whatever he sees it must be enough. Sam pushes past him and heads for the back door, while Phil goes back to the front hallway, where an old rotary phone is sitting on a tiny side table meant for just that. He knows Simon’s number by heart, and is pleased when Mrs Irving answers. Mr Irving kind of hates him, since Montrose is addicted to buying his artwork, and Mr Irving hates everything Montrose loves.
“Is Simon home?”
“Just wait one second.”
The next minute of conversation is weird. Phil thinks his thought process is obvious, but there’s a lot of second guessing and repeating statements from Simon. All in a whisper, of course. No doubt he doesn’t want his mom to hear. But in the end Phil wins out, and Simon promises to be there in five minutes.
He waits by the front door until Simon arrives, hoping Sam isn’t freaking out. The last thing he wants is for Sam to misunderstand, but since he’s winging this, he can’t do it without someone that knows what they’re doing. When Simon does pull into a parallel park, Phil hustles him up the sidewalk and out through the back.
“Fuck. About time. I was beginning to think- Phil tell me that’s not Simon.” Phil’s not going to answer, because Sam’s just gonna get crankier. “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s a stupid, impulsive, harebrained idea.”
Okay. He has to answer that, to defend dreamers everywhere. “The last time we had a stupid impulsive harebrained idea around these parts we got to stick it to Interflux for three months, with the added bonus of getting to keep our woods in the end. So maybe give me a minute to explain.”
“Go ahead. Explain then.”
“I don’t care that you’re into cars. Kinda makes the insistence on getting pretty but completely shitty cars make sense. But retroactively glad to help, and will help with more classic cars with intermittent defects in the future. And I don’t care that you’re gay either. I bet there are a lot of people that are gay but haven’t told anyone who are totally awesome. And I wanna support that, but I don’t know how far I’ll be able to go. So I figured having Simon here would be better, because we know he can go however far.”
“I’d say thanks for volunteering me, but the thing is he’s right.”
“You’re both so stupid, all the time,” Sam mutters before he pulls Simon to him. With Sam sitting on the hood of the Dart and Simon between his legs kissing him like it isn’t a big deal, Phil is proud of himself.
Proud and a little turned on, if truth is told. Phil’s never really thought about his sexuality, just assumed straight with a low tolerance for the stereotypical boyfriend-girlfriend dynamic. Watching his two best friends make out all over the long yellow hood he realises he doesn’t really want to look away. Which begs the question, maybe he only showed potential for being straight? And everyone knows what happens when he shows potential for something.
“Does anyone want to give me a handjob?” They pause their kissing to look at him. “It’s not like you have to or anything, it would just be awesome.”
Simon is the first to react. He shakes his head. “Not really planning on have sex with guys or girls yet. Sorry.”
“Then I’m at least going to get in on the kissing.”
He hops onto the car beside Sam. Simon adjusts his tance so he’s half straddled, a leg between either of their spread knees. Phil doesn’t hesitate before he bends sideways to meet Simon’s mouth. He might get diseased from doing this. It’s entirely possible. But if he does, well, maybe it’ll be worth it to have this afternoon of making out and friendship turned up a notch on top of hot metal. He’s lost bigger things than his health over smaller things than exotic first kisses.