Every year Torquere Press puts together a collection of short stories to benefit a charity. The authors donate their royalties, and both Torquere and Rainbow Ebooks match the donation. Thanks to the generosity of our readers, we've raised thousands of dollars for several very worthy charities.
- This year, the charity chosen was NoH8, and the story I wrote for it was called "Counting Down." In it, my hero, Jackson, suffers discrimination and bullying in the workplace because of his sexual orientation. Here's an excerpt from "Counting Down.
Jackson slammed his fist onto the top of his desk. He was sick of this shit - tired, and fed right the fuck up with it! He was tired of office politics, of always being the last man on the corporate totem pole. He was tired of wearing suits every fucking day, the conservative haircut, the leather briefcase, but he was particularly sick of Simpson and his petty tyranny. Tears burned at the corners of his eyes as he stared at the phone. He had a call to make, and the thought of doing it was making him feel physically ill. After five years together, Alex deserved better than this.
"Hey, hon!" Alex sounded so damned cheerful, so full of excitement and love and happiness, he just might burst from the internal pressure of it all. "I picked up your blue suit from the dry cleaners. Oh, and I asked Melly-Next-Door to watch Whizzer and Pizzer for us tonight."
Melly-Next-Door was their pet name for Melinda Carson, the bubbly fourteen year-old daughter of their next-door neighbors, Jim and Lucy, and Alex and Jackson's favorite sitter. Whizzer and Pizzer were their six-year old pet schnauzers, so named for their habit of peeing on everything and everyone in sight as puppies.
"Oh, okay. Um, listen, Alex, I've got some bad news."
There was a moment of frozen silence. "Please don't tell me you have to work tonight!"
"I'm really sorry--"
"But it's Valentine's Day! We have reservations..."
"I know, I know! I tried to get out of it. I swear I did." His voice cracked with shame and guilt, and the tears slipped his control. He was only glad no one remained in the office to see them. It would've only made things worse. He balled a fist and pressed it to the center of his forehead, hating himself for letting his boss get to him again.
"That bastard, Simpson, again?"
"What did he call us this time?" The exasperation Alex felt was clear in his voice, and matched Jackson's to perfection.
"Funny guy. I'd like to pack something up his ass that involves explosives and a short fuse."
"I'll light the match."
Alex snorted. "What time do you think you'll get out of there?"
"I'll probably be stuck here until eight, at least."
Jackson felt Alex's long, deep sigh as another arrow of guilt straight to his heart. "Okay. It'll be too late to make Le Cirque, but I'll whip up something for us to eat here, and we can have a nice, quiet evening together. I've got a bottle of that good Cabernet I've been saving."
"You are too good for me. Seriously, your halo is blinding me right now, angel."
Alex chuckled. "Aw, shut up and get to work."
"See you later?"
"I'll be the naked guy holding the glass of Cabernet at the front door."
You can find "Counting Down" and the rest of the Torquere Charity Sips here!