By Richard Jasper

“Have you seen Carlos?”

Randy Washington could hear the pain in Roger’s voice.

“No, man, I haven’t seen him all week,” the hunky personal trainer replied. “Not like him to miss a couple of days, much less a whole week.”

Roger nodded.

“I know,” he said. “I’ve been calling him all week, too, no answer. If you hear from him, ask him to call me, OK?”

* * *

That evening Roger stopped by Carlos’ apartment at the Miraflores. He was surprised to find the door standing wide open and rushed in to find out what was going on.

“Hey,” his deep voice boomed, “what’s the deal here?”

A skinny Hispanic kid was running a vacuum cleaner over the carpet of an apartment totally devoid of Carlos’ furniture or any other belongings. His back to Roger, the kid glanced over his shoulder, only to see Roger’s hulking form and the darkly angry expression on Roger’s brutally handsome face. The kid visibly quailed at the sight, stepped backwards, tripped on the vacuum cleaner, and fell flat on his ass.

“Ai yi yi, Mister!” the kid exclaimed as Roger helped him to his feet. “No need to scare a man to death, you know?”

At 5’7, the kid maybe weighed all of 120 lbs., less than half Roger’s size. Roger’s lips twitched as he noticed the tent growing in the kid’s khaki pants. “Not all of him’s skimpy,” he thought.

“So what’s the deal, kid?” Roger asked. “Where’s Carlos?”

The kid shook his head.

“Mister Carlos has left, man,” the kid answered. “He told me he was getting out of town but he didn’t say where. You could ask Yolanda in the front office, she would know.”

Roger sighed.

“Did he say ‘why’ he was leaving?”

The kid blushed.

“Mister Carlos, he said it was ‘boyfriend’ trouble. I didn’t even know he was gay, ya know?”

Roger’s blush was back but it wasn’t his usual happy, embarrassed blush.

“He said ‘boyfriend,’ huh? I wish…”

The kid’s eyes got wide.

“Hey, man, you are Mister Carlos’ boyfriend? Jeez, I shoulda known – you’re even bigger than he is.”

It took Roger a minute to answer.

“Yeah, I guess that’s me,” Roger agreed, his voice hoarse. “Or ‘was,’ I guess. And I didn’t even know it.”

The kid put his hand on Roger’s massive arm.

“Don’t you worry, Mister,” the kid said. “Boyfriends come, they go. Me, I’ve had a hundred, and I’m only 22. You are a big, beautiful man. It will all work out.”

Roger cleared his throat – and smiled.

“You got a good attitude, kid,” he said, the smile finally reaching his eyes. “What’s your name?”

The kid grinned shyly, then straightened his shoulders and stuck out his hand.

“I’m Ricky, Mister, nice to meet you.”

Roger took Ricky’s slender hand in his callused paw.

“Ricky, it’s a pleasure to meet you, too. And it’s Roger, not ‘Mister,’ OK?”

Ricky gave himself a little shake, as if he was coming out of a trance, then looked around the room at the unfinished business. Roger realized it was time to go..

“Well, I better let you get back to work. Look, if you happen to see Carlos again, would please let me know?”

Roger handed the kid a card with his phone number and e-mail address.

“Sure thing, Mi, uh, Roger,” Ricky said. “Oh, and, Mi, uh, Roger, one more thing, OK? Do you work out at Mister Carlos’ gym?”

Roger nodded.

“Hey, man, that’s cool. I was thinking about joining one and Mister Carlos’ was going to show me around. Maybe you could do it instead?”

Roger grinned.

“Sure, kid,” Roger said. “Just let me know when you want to do it. You’ve got my number.”

Ricky smiled.

“In more ways than one,” he thought. •

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