Danny doesn't think much of working nights at the local convenience store. It's just a job and a paycheck as he figures out what to do with the rest of his life.
Then Brad comes in. A shy, awkward man who buys a box of condoms and then bolts out again, Danny is pretty sure he'll never see Brad again.
When Brad returns with a full box of condoms and a sad story of being stood up, Danny is pretty sure he knows how to make the night go right again.
"Dawson's Park?" I asked, raising a brow. That was a known cruising area. Part of the reason why I had this job, since it was the only one I could get now that I technically had a criminal record for just doing what every other gay man in this city did. "Really?"
"Yeah. I mean. I was just --"
"No judgment," I said. I looked him up and down. He didn't strike me as gay. He didn't strike me as anything. But in my experience, the people who bolt into a store like mine to buy condoms, they're usually doing so for a woman. "At least you're practicing safe sex. That can be hard in that area."
"You know it?"
I shrugged. "You didn't before tonight, I take it?"
"I'm new. Just moved here. I was out ... I just." He furrowed his brows. A gleam was in his eye, as if he finally understood what we were both talking about. As if he finally saw past my black and grey uniform, and noticed that I was about his age. Maybe not as tall and handsome, my hair darker and slightly too long for lack of being able to get a haircut during my waking hours, but I was cute. At least in a rougher sort of way. "I'm Brad, by the way."
"Daniel," I said. I gestured to my name tag that said Dan. "Or Dan. I don't care which one."
"Sure you do."
"Then I actually prefer Danny."
"Danny," he said, and smiled. His teeth were perfect. Orthodontist perfect. He was absolutely nothing like me, I realized in that moment.
And it made me want him more.
"So you were in Dawson Park," I said.
"Oh. Yeah. I just ..." Brad looked at the front glass doors. No one was around. He seemed to understand that it would be the two of us for some time and continued his story. "I was actually looking for the Perseids."
"A meter shower. Happens every summer. I usually watched when I was back at home. But now I’m here and ... well, I thought it’d be fun.” He ran a hand through his hair nervously. “There's an article about the shower in the most recently Scientific American. Do you have it?"
"Probably," I said. "But I like hearing from you more."
Brad blushed. "Ah, yeah. So I was there. On a bench. Just waiting and looking at my phone because I have this sky map app, and it was giving me the best location. But I guess this guy thought I was his Grindr date? Or this is just what the park is used for?"
"Ah," Brad said, this time a bit more playful. "Well, the next thing is obvious. I'm having way more fun than I thought I would tonight but I don't want to do anything I'll regret the next day -- so I came here. Man, I just wanted him to wait five minutes. Just five."
"Oh, that's a lifetime," I said. "Especially if you end up being six minutes instead."
Brad nodded. "Perhaps I was. Ah well. I guess I should keep these for later? I mean, it could happen again."
"Totally could. But you should probably be careful of that park."
"Yeah." I considered telling him my story, since he'd so kindly told me his, but that was not what we were talking about. I leaned forward on the counter, a hand on the condoms, as he did the same. "You could get caught if you aren't careful."
"Where is the best place to not get caught?"
I smiled. So did he. I broke our gaze to glance outside the gas station. No one around. The cameras that hung above me would catch some of our flirtation, but it was worth the risk this time.