Chapter Twelve

The Corporate Closet

            Daylight dawned onto Martin Ventura's face. He was lying completely naked on Luke Fong's bed with its Egyptian terra cotton cloth and bold blue sheets (now tossed aside in a haphazard manner.)  He looked down and noticed Luke's cute tuff of black hair between his legs, gently bobbing up and down. He could feel the warmth of Luke's mouth cradling his penis, soaking his nerves with quiet frustration and pure ecstasy.


            He felt his orgasm coming and he held tighter to it. He didn't want to let it go. But he couldn't control it so he resolved to let it go.


            "I'm going to come," he gasped quietly, massaging Luke's soft hair.


            Luke was busy down there but Martin faintly heard him mumble:  "Come for me, baby." Then he let it flow free like a silvery river. And when it the rush was over, he pushed his head back onto Luke's soft cotton pillows. Luke crawled back up to Martin and nuzzled himself against Martin's chiseled pectorals.


            "Oh my god," Martin finally said, "that was amazing!"


            "You're amazing," Luke smirked cutely and kissed Martin softly on the cheek. Martin grinned. He could feel the warm sunlight touch his face. It was almost too perfect.


            Suddenly they heard the front door slam. In walked a pretty Chinese girl, with flowing long black hair. She was wearing a business dress suit. It was Annie, Luke's roommate. And her mouth was semi-open at the sight of the two naked men together. Quickly Luke and Martin frustratingly and desparately threw the tossed blanket over their nude selves.


            "We're busy right now," Luke looked up at Annie embarassingly.


            Annie gave him a look that assured him that she was no longer shocked at the sight of two fully naked men together.


            "Well," Annie smiled, "I'll leave you two to your business." She grinned at Luke and walked towards her room.



Cafe Flore was extremely crowded that morning. Soft jazz music sailed through the background drowned out by the sound of furiously clinking glasses and plates. The aroma of freshly basked croissants and steaming scrambled eggs waifed through the café. Tyler, Devin and Ryan were waiting for Martin so they could do their Wednesday morning ritual of pre-cooked breakfast. Another bright and busy day in the city was about to happen.


Finally, Martin Ventura happily walked through the double doors of the cafe. He was wearing a bright blue track jacket, a muscular gray shirt and coffee-colored khakis, in addition to the brilliant ear-to-ear smile on his face. He was on the phone with Luke.


“That was so funny!” Martin smiled as he walked towards his friends and spoke to his boyfriend on the phone. “Okay, babe, I’ve gotta go. I’m with the gays again.” Another pause. "No," Martin laughed towards his phone. "You hang up." A brief pause. Tyler looked up warily "You didn't hang up!” Martin chortled again. “No, you hang up…no, you hang up " 


Finally, a frustrated Tyler grabbed Martin's peach colored cell phone out of his hands and pushed the power button. He thrust the cellphone back into Martin's hands.


"Fine," Martin muttered.


"Sweetheart," Devin smiled leeringly to Martin. "You had better register your wedding at Macy's because I'm not going all out at Louis Voutton."


"Seriously, " Ryan sipped a warm mug of frothy chai, "You two sound like you're married." Martin sat down and smiled.


"And the sex?" Ryan took another sip. He knew what Martin wanted to tell them.


Martin sighed as he sat back down on the chair. He smiled broadly at Ryan. "The sex is amazing," he sighed. "If any two men could feel so deeply connected with each other and with each others bodies, it would be the two of us."


"He made you come three times," Barry took a bite of his croissant. Some of the jam dripped onto his white shirt. Martin quickly turned to Barry. "So what if he did?" he exclaimed. "Even if he could only do it once, it was well worth it. But no, he just kept going and going and it was sooo hot!!!"


In the midst of the rushing crowds of people running in and out with their small brown paper bags of goodies, a woman with soft brown skin, gold earings and curly and long brown hair walked into the room. Her bold brown eyes with heavy mascara overshadowed her caffe latte skin.


"Cousin Jenny," Martin rolled his eyes. "What the fuck are you doing here? I know that there is no Ross Dress for Less in the Castro. "


"I also know that the Salvation Army isn't here," Jenny snapped back, addressing Martin's overly tacky pink vintage shirt and ripped jeans. They both looked at each other with daggers in their eyes. And then they suddenly laughed and embraced. Martin's other friends gave each other looks of confusion.


"Guys, this is my cousin Jenny!" Martin laughed and turned his cousin around to greet the guys. Jenny waved a thick hand wrapped with clinky silver jewelery. Her fingernails were painted pure pink.


"So what brings you to Gayville?" Martin asked.


"Martin," Jenny suddenly turned very serious and sat down. "Do you know what is going on tonight?"


Martin pulled out his silver Palm Pilot and started to tap it furiously with his copper stylus. "Let's see...there's Happy Hour at the End-Up...Suds and Studs night at Eros...bowling night with GAPA...."


"Your father's retirement party," Jenny finally answered. Martin froze. He quickly grabbed her arm. "Excuse me for a moment," Martin said and he dragged Jenny towards the direction of the opposite exit, with her clinking jewelry behind her.


"How dare you talk about my parents to me right now!" Martin suddenly got extremely furous. "You know what they did to me the last time I went to their party!"


"I know it was not right for auntie to bring up the sex operation again," Jenny replied quickly, "but it wasn't right for you to stomp out like hissyfit drama queen you are!"


"Well," Martin rolled his eyes, "At least I know who I am." He folded his hands in defiance. "And if my parents think they can run their straight-fantasies all over me, then they’ve got another thing coming!”


"I don't completely know all the issues that you and your parents are dealing with," Jenny started again, "but you can make it somewhat better by at least showing up to your father's retirement party." Jenny looked seriously at Martin. "He doesn't say it out loud to you but it would mean the entire world to him if you came tonight," Jenny replied, "You know why he can't tell you that. It's because he's a Filipino man and they tend to be so stuck up. But please consider it at least, Martin."


Jenny and Martin walked back to the table and Martin sat back down. His lips pursed in a frown. Jenny looked at the group of men and tried to feign a smile. “It was nice meeting all of you,” she said. She walked out of Café Flore with the jazz music and her bracelets singing down the street.


Ryan stared at Martin with shock. Martin quickly turned away, closing his eyes. Barry continued to eat quietly with Tyler. Devin looked at his clock and realized that all of that drama had taken quite some time.


“I’ve got to go to work so I’ll call you all later,” Devin said.


“I’m so jealous of Devin,” Barry said. “In my days, we didn’t have jobs that gay men could smile about.”


“In your days,” Tyler snapped, “gay men rode dinosaurs to work!” He feigned some kind of laughter. Ryan joined him and looked and Martin. Martin was still looking away.



            Devin's job is the dream job of many queer men. Who wouldn't reject a high-paying job that involves looking at attractive and muscular bodies and attending some of the most extravagant parties in San Francisco? Devin worked as an official party organizer for BoyHeaven Inc., a heavily competitive official gay party promoter. 


            As Devin slid through silver steel double doors of his office, he entered a world where time stood still. Here, fifty-year-old men oogled at shirtless young male models as they planned the next models for a rave campaign. Another group of party planners were deciding whether the go-go boys for another club opening should be wearing boxers or briefs (or even boxer briefs). If Heaven indeed existed, it was BoyHeaven and the employees were quite pleased.


            His first stop was the small Starbucks franchise located past the main entrance. He could hear the whirring sounds of the coffee machine. The barrista, Maxine, was a friendly girl with fiery red hair tied-back. She wore a bright green Starbucks apron and looked like Christmas.


            "I'll have my double-shot espresso latte with nonfat milk," Devin immediately said.


            "Double-shot?" Maxine grinned. "Let me guess, board meeting today?"


            Devin took his steaming plastic cup of coffee. "You bet.”


            Devin's agency office was his only sanctuary from the overhyped hormonal workplace.  A small zen fountain calmed his quiet nerves. Devin threw off his coat and sat at his comfortable pleather black office chair. He pulled out his silver iBook. He was starting to launch his Powerpoint presentation when he heard a knock on the door.


            The door slid open and the new BoyHeaven intern popped his face through the door. He was an attractive African-American man with a shaved head with tight features- soft black eyes, large and smooth coconut lips and a chiseled nose, and rounded jaw. 


            And in his hand was Devin's double-shot espresso latte with non-fat milk.


            "Maxine says hi," he said in his deep Texan drawl, "Mr. Lancaster, sir."


            Devin smiled as he closed his laptop. He had never been called "sir" before. "Just call me Devin," he told the man.  "You may have only been here for a few weeks, Blair Bentley, but the quickest way out  is if you ever address your supervisors as old. Especially Mr. Michael Kinsey."


            "Then you are wise, not old," Blair responded. "I wanted to wish you luck on your presentation today."


            "I'm going to need it," Devin said as he closed his laptop, "if I'm going to convince these wolves that I can pull off another club party. Mahoney's very jealous and he is going to do anything to change the board's opinion." Blair handed Devin his cup of coffee. Their hands almost touched, melding a mix of chocolate and cream. Devin quickly grabbed the plastic cup.


            "I think you can handle them," Blair stammered. "I believe in you." He smiled, expressing his perfect pearly white teeth.


            "At least someone believes in me," Devin smiled back. "Thank you." Blair left and made one quick look back at Devin. Devin quietly slid the door and held the cup of coffee, still feeling the warmth of Bentley's hands all over it. He smiled.



             CEO Michael Kinsey called the board meeting to order. BoyHeaven's board room looks like an average corporate board room. Instead of works of art, the walls contained pictures of shirtless men from past parties they organized.  Kinsey was a tall and gruff man with a middle-sized salt-and-pepper beard. He wore a pinstriped business suit buttoned all the way to the top and a solid silver tie.


  "Alright kids," he said gruffly as the board members sat down. "I've got some news you can use." Big dramatic pause. "We landed the White Party contract." Sighs of relief could be heard around the room.


            "The suits were impressed with Mr. Lancaster's Club Earth premiere."  Devin blushed lightly. "And they requested Lancaster to be the prime project coordinator for White Party this year." An attendant started passing out bold white folders to the board member. "This year's White Party will take place at the Hyatt Regency Embacadero following the Mayor's Annual Christmas celebration so we're going to have to act quickly. Fortunately, Mr. Lancaster is already one step ahead and has created a presentation for Skyy Blue’s board next week.” He looked at Devin with cold steel in his eyes. "Is your proposal ready, Mr. Lancaster?"


            "Yes," Devin smiled nervously as he addressed the board. Devin turned on his silver powerpoint laptop and his computer screen appeared on the wide-screen projector. At the center of Devin's desktop was a topless photo of Kyan Douglas from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. "Whoops!" Devin turned around and suddenly realized his mistake. Blair tried to hide a snicker.


            "Member of the board," Devin started to say. "For this year's White Party, I've chosen the theme of ice to match the freezing cold weather of San Francisco. Just picture it." He revealed his Powerpoint design and the front cover was a young muscular white man almost transparent like an ice sculpture. 


            He spoke as the images of his fantasy white party appeared on Powerpoint. "The dance floor is decked out in pure white. Fake snow accompanied by dry ice smoke.  Frigid ice sculptures chiseled out of the hands of the gods in Mt. Olympus themselves that come to life for our viewing pleasure. And an ice rink where shirtless figure skaters enact the fantasies we have of Russian male ice skater in tights. Chilled glasses of wine and vodka all around and at midnight. And at midnight, soap suds fall from the sky like fake snow enveloping the dance floor in a winter wonderland."


            Silence. Devin looked around nervously.


            "I'm not that frigid is a word that I'd like connected with my man," the one known as Mahoney said coldly.


            "Your idea of fake snow would make the ground slippery," another board member said. "Wouldn't an ice rink be a little bit too slippery for people to dance on?" he asked. No, Devin wanted to tell them, everyone would have already found someone to hook up with by midnight.


            Kinsey looked at Blair. "You've been here for a few weeks so you are entitled to your opinion as well, Mr. Bentley," he said. "What do you think?


            "I think Mr. Lancaster's presentation is flawed, sir," Blair said shockingly. Devin's jaw dropped.


            "Ah an infidel," Kinsey replied, "now what would you do to make it better?"


            "With all do respect sir," Blair stammered. "I like Mr. Lancaster's idea of incorporating weather as a theme for White Party. But I also think that the participants will be busy thinking about how cold San Francisco is when they are outside of the Hyatt. But inside, the participants will be focused on only one thing- sex. Who, where and when they will hook up with that supposed Mr. Right-Now is the only top priority of many White Party participants."


            Blair looked around and saw that the stoic board members were listening. "Rather than the theme of ice, or water, I think we should celebrate with the theme of fire," Blair continued a little bit more stronger. "Fire. The heat of our unmentioned passions, love and lust. It is the prime reason why so many people attend White Party."


            With every word, Blair grew more confident in himself. "This is how I see it. Blazing red spotlights. Tropical palm trees. Maybe even several shirtless muscular flame throwers." Some of the board member nodded and licked their lips." Devin's heart sank. Blair felt like he was speaking to the choir. "What Mr. Lancaster has done is re-introduce us to a theme that White Party generally follows," he said. "Well, I say, let's break those conventional standards. Let's be controversial. After all, that is what makes our relationships and our experiences as powerful as they are. "


            Silence. Blair stood as still as a statue. A small drop of sweat was starting to form at the top of his luminous bald head. Devin also looked nervously around the room. Kinsey folded his arms.


            "It's winter…but the city is getting hotter," Kinsey finally said. He leaned back and nodded his head. "I like it."  He nodded and pointed to Devin. "Lancaster, Bentley is your new project assistant. I'm sure that his youthful experience will help you in organizing this event."


            Devin gulped. "Thank you, sir."  He slammed his iBook shut.



            Day quickly fell into night and city's true lights burned brightly. Tall buildings whose office lights were still alive even though they were clearly empty. And on the backdrop of San Francisco’s foggy nights, these window lights stood out like stars in the sky.


            Ryan and Martin walked up to one particular tall Market St. office building, which included Bank of America's Western headquarters.  A tall, cold black marble sculpture resembling the economist's heart greeted them. Martin was wearing a screaming pink professional shirt and pants. Ryan had opted for a metallic red shirt from Armani Exchange and plaited black pants from Banana Republic. They could have looked like boyfriends at that moment.


            Martin pouted. "Do I really have to do this?" 


            Ryan looked at him. "This was your decision," he said. "I'm here for moral support." Martin continued to frown. "Look, if you can't bear to be in there for more than 15 minutes, we'll leave and get shit-faced at The Cafe." He tried to smile encouragingly. "Besides, Luke's probably in there and he'd probably want to see you," Ryan lured.


            "Great," Martin muttered as he slammed through the revolving door and into the marble halls of the building. "Remind me to slap myself the next time I date a wonderful guy who happens to also know my parents."


            "At least you won't have to worry about them meeting him when you guys get married," Ryan sighed.


            After 45 years of dedicated service to San Francisco’s Bank of America headquarters as investment director of Asian municipalities, Vincent Ventura was now saying farewell to the company that helped him raise five children, one wife’s material needs and two dogs. Mr. Ventura had enough stress lines on his forehead on his swollen coconut forehead to indicate his years of service. He was wearing the traditional Filipino barong, a white and faintly see-through dress shirt with a lacy opening at the neckline. He definitely stood out of the businessmen and professionals dressed up in Armani, Prada and Gucci who were saying farewell to him. On his arm was Margaret Ventura, who was looking voluptuous in a grass-green silk dress. Her hair was up in a bun and she decorated her bun with Swarovski crystal clips. Margaret, the woman who had birthed five children, was looking as radiant as Imelda Marcos.


            The office was decorated for joyfully. White candles surrounded the office building. In the background, a professional pianist played Beethoven as well-dressed waiters walked around carrying steaming silver platters of delicacies from all over the world…and also from Margaret Ventura’s kitchen.            


            Vincent made no hesitation to show off his trophy son. “Martin,” Vincent said, “I want you to meet someone. This is Ken Watanabe and his partner Joseph Stanfield," he said. "Watanabe is the president of Bank of America’s Western Region." Watanabe was a distinguished Japanese man in his 60s, wearing an extremely professional business suit and metallic blue tie.


            “It’s nice to meet the men who employed and put up with my father for so long,” Martin feigned jovially. He was used to his parents introductions and knew exactly what he needed to do to survive. Smile and shut up.


            “Actually,” laughed Stanfield, who was a 55-year-old husky white man with laugh lines. “I don’t work for Bank of America. If I did, I would be stressed out all the time. I’m the senior manager for F.A.O. Schwartz.”


            "Mr. Stanfield is my domestic partner," Watanabe interjected. He kissed Stanfield's hand. Martin was surprised. He did not expect this. His father’s boss was gay? “I hear that you are one of the leading managers at Macy*s’ male department store,” Watanabe addressed Martin. “Your father must be very proud of you.”


            Martin’s father placed his shoulder on Martin’s side, allowing Martin to feel the warmth. “Yes,” Mr. Ventura nodded. “Yes, I am.” His respect for his father was suddenly increasing for the first time in the twenty-eight years of his life.


            He could not believe what his father just said. Martin did not know how to react, but inside the mental shock welled up in a new sense of warmth. Well, Vincent did introduce Martin to Luke in the first place. Margaret Ventura stood in one distance, tears welling up in her eyes, before she nudged a whole group of young staff members to try her homemade spinach lumpia. At another corner, Jenny was nursing a warm cosmopolitan in a martini glass with Ryan beside him.


            "I'm impressed," Jenny told Ryan. "What did you say to convince him to come tonight?" Ryan smiled.


            "I told him that regardless of whether or not his parents can ever respect his lifestyle," he started to say as he sipped a tonic water, "he needs to take the moral high ground and show that he actually cares for them.”


            Jenny continued to fold her arms and look icily at Ryan. “What did you really say?” He sighed. "Cute guys in tight business suits." Jenny nodded contentedly and started to drink her cosmopolitan.



As the music went on and the champagne started to overflow, Martin’s attention veered off from being his father’s trophy son to Luke. Luke was hanging out with Annie and his co-workers, fellow accountants from Bank of America and they were all Chinese like Luke. These Asian Adonises in their tight business suits would have definitely been eye candy for Martin and Ryan but as Martin happily walked towards the punch bowl, he overheard their conversation.


“Dude,” said one of the guy’s friends, “did you see what Ventura’s son is wearing?” He was addressing Martin’s screaming pink business shirt. “That’s just so gay.” Luke cringed a little bit in his own tight business suit and striped black tie.


Another of the guys rolled his eyes. "Oh, he's one of them." He flicked his wrist quickly and the other guys chortled, including Luke. Except Luke's laughter was stifled with small gasps.


“Is the whole world becoming gay?”


"It's like he should have had a daughter rather than a son," Luke added finally. The other guys chrotled as they clinked their glasses. Martin almost dropped his glass.


“Don’t,” Ryan started to tell Martin. Too late.


"That is extremely rude of you!" Martin walked up to Luke, fuming mad.


Luke feigned confusion. "Do I know you?" he stared icily at Martin.


"Yeah," Martin snapped angrily. "I'm the daughter of the retiree, according to you."


"You're also pretty nosy," Luke said coldly. Martin was mentally shocked by how Luke was reacting to him. "We are going to miss your father terribly. He was a good man."


"I'm sure you will," Martin rolled his eyes at Luke. "So, Luke, if you knew that I was the son of the retiring executive assistant, then how come you didn't tell me about his retirement party.


Luke was trapped. His secret would soon come out. His friends were staring at him warily. How did Luke and this flamboyant faggot know each other? "Well," Luke feigned, "I was busy preparing for it with my girlfriend that I must've forgotten to tell you." He looked at Martin coldly. "Don't you have some gay bar to crash tonight?"


Martin looked at Luke with Shock.


"My girlfriend," Luke emphasized and nudged at Martin. He held Annie tighter. Annie smiled and waved as if nothing was wrong. Martin's jaw mentally dropped.


"I see," Martin said crestfallen. "Well, the next time you and your friends come to a fancy and sophisticated soiree as this one, TAKE YOUR HOMOPHOBIC TRASH-TALKING BACK TO CHINATOWN WHERE IT BELONGS!" The loudness of Martin's voice suddenly caused the piano t ostop and all of a sudden, everyone was looking at him.


"Oh my God," Ryan looked into his martini glass, pretending that he did not hear Martin Ventura making yet another scene at another hetero-friendly soiriee. Martin walked up to Ryan and kissed him on the cheek. "Hey love," he said and stared at Luke fiercely. "Let's go. I'm not feeling well." They walked past Luke hand-in-hand.

  "You're leaving so early?" Mr. Ventura asked as the two headed out to the elevator.


"Yeah," Ryan stammered. "Martin isn't feeling so well. I mean, feel his forehead."


"Susmariose!" Mrs. Ventura replied after touching her fuming son's fuming forehead. "It's a fever!!! Ryan, please take Martin home and I'll bring over some of my miraculous chicken soup tomorrow."


Martin and Ryan walked towards the elevator. "I can't believe your mom fell for that," Ryan finally said.


"My mom always thinks I'm sick," Martin replied coldly as he tightened his jacket. "I can't believe that Luke thinks that I'm sick too."


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