Chapter Seventeen


Another Night in the Gay Mecca, Part One


This is what happens when worlds collide.


Ranma put down his menu. Ryoga almost dropped his notepad. Suddenly, Ryoga felt a sense of anger and rage building up within him. Ranma felt overwhelmingly emotional as he watched his former lover stomp away back towards the counter.


“I need to take a break,” Ryoga said gruffly. He threw off his apron and walked quickly out of the restaurant. Ranma watched Ryoga pass him without looking back. Then he also dropped the menu and ran out of the restaurant to catch up with Ryoga.


A car accident had happened on Market Street. Crowds surrounded two smoking cars and two furiously angry drivers in the middle of the cool mid-afternoon. And amidst the chaos, Ryoga had walked out, still fuming. Ranma had caught up to him and was trying to grab Ryoga’s shoulder. “Ryoga…” he stammered for the right words.


LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” Ryoga shouted in enraged Japanese. He pushed Ranma’s warm hand off his shoulder. Ranma was not surprised by Ryoga’s angry reaction but he pretended to be. “Don’t come one step forward,” Ryoga growled. Ranma made a small motion with his tense face.


I just wanted to say sorry,” Ranma said slowly, “about everything.”


You don’t have the right to say that to me,” Ryoga snapped angrily. “After all the bullshit that you put me through.” Car horn blared in the background. The strong stench of carbon monoxide whizzed through the air, almost making Ranma near nauseous. “What are you doing here?!  How did you find me?!


Ranko is getting married and she lives in San Francisco,” Ranma said quickly. Ryoga looked away in disbelief. “I’m here with Akane but things are just falling apart between the two of us.”


            He paused. “Akane doesn’t love me,” he said. “I saw her…with Ukyou.


            Oh finally you figured it out,” Ryoga snapped. As Ukyou’s best friend in Japan, Ryoga already knew about Akane’s secret affairs. He folded his arms and looked at Ranma with the look that one gives to another person who was the last to know something extremely important. “How does it feel having been fucked over by the one that you loved?” The words came out strong and overbearing.


And that was when Ryoga realized Ranma’s secret intentions. “I didn’t know where I was and what I was doing there in Tokyo,” Ryoga fidgeted angrily, “but when I saw you, I knew that I was home.” Ryoga looked down. “And when you broke your promise, I didn’t know who I was anymore.” Ryoga fought back the tears starting to build up in his eyes. Ranma’s presence had reopened deep wounds, delving in the depths of Ryoga’s conscious.


Ranma remained silent.


Well,” Ryoga replied coolly, “what am I supposed to do? Tell you that everything is alright so we can go back to things as before?” Ranma was silent. “Well I won’t. You made your decision and, now, I’m making mine.


With that, Ryoga furiously left Ranma to go back into the restaurant, leaving Ranma with a cold and cruel breeze in the middle of Market Street. Ranma did not know what to do. He could still faintly hear the honking cars in the background and the faint chatter of the fast moving crowd behind him. Ranma felt too shocked to move. Inside, he wanted to break down right in front of the crowd but he knew that he didn’t want to embarrass himself in public that way. So instead, he chose to stand and watch Ryoga walk away and out of his life.


As Ranma and Ryoga bickered out on Market Street, Kerry Kwok walked out of a nearby café with a cellphone to his ear. He was speaking quickly in soft Korean to a fellow advertising executive stationed in Seoul about the latest Sony promotional products in Asia. But the newest camera phones that could fit on a finger no longer carried Kerry’s interest when he noticed the two attractive men arguing at the corner. He quickly told his friend that he would call him right back and stood at the corner, quietly watching the two handsome young men bicker in Japanese.


As Ryoga walked away from Ranma, Kerry waited in the shadows, ready to pounce at the right moment. With Ryoga out of the picture, Kerry went in for the kill. He was wearing a purple shirt with white stripes that accented his muscular body and broad shoulders. He walked up to Ranma with a smile.


            Boyfriend troubles?” Kerry smoothly approached Ranma in fluent Japanese and motioned to Ryoga slamming the door of the restaurant.


            No,” Ranma said suddenly to the friendly Korean man. “My friend and I were having a fight.”


            Are you alright?” Kerry replied. He looked at Ranma with innocent and sensitive dark eyes. Ranma looked down on the ground. “I’ve got to be,” he replied.


            Guys can be assholes at times,” Kerry replied. “It’s in our nature.” He continued to shock Ranma with his fluency and enormous vocabulary, even of the colloquial words. “I’ve never seen you around here before.”


            Ranma smiled. “I’m only in San Francisco for a little while,” he replied in English. “I’m from the Nerima District in Tokyo.”


            “I’m from the Castro district in San Francisco,” Kerry replied. “A good looking guy like you doesn’t have to be alone in this big city,” he said smoothly in English. He lured his prey right into the trap.


            “Thank you,” Ranma replied in English. He blushed quietly and tried not to make eye contact with Kerry.


“Have you heard of Gaydar?” Kerry said calmly. “It’s a men’s party. You should come.”


Ranma paused. “Look,” he said quickly, “I’m not…”


“Busy?” Kerry replied smoothly. He smiled, bearing his charismatic and adorable smile. Ranma felt himself suddenly frozen in place. The man who stood before him was tall. His bold black eyes looked calmly at Ranma. Just like Nakata. He could have been Nakata if Ranma blinked.


Ranma nervously laughed. Kerry smiled back.



"I can't believe you have a tae kwon do competition tonight in San Francisco," Ranko said. Poor Ranko was sometimes too gullible and trustworthy for her own good. 


Ranma was wearing tight denim jeans and a loose black shirt. In order to play his masquerade properly, he had to wear something loose enough to make Ranko think he was going to the annual San Francisco Korean Association's Tae Kwon Do organization but slick enough for the hot date that he had that evening with Kerry.  He turned back to his sister with his almost-innocent black eyes.


"Don't worry, sis," he said. "I'll be fine. I'm a big boy now, remember?"


Ranko pouted. "I was going to take you and Akane to go check out Shanghai 1920," she said. "It's a totally classy bar and I think we need to wind down from a long week." She looked up at her brother. "But I know you are going to kick some ass tonight, like you always do."


"I have your cellphone number," Ranma said airily and waved the phone that he had borrowed from Ranko. It was a bright silver Sony Ericson mobile phone. "If I get out too early, I'll give you a ring."


As Ranma and his sister bantered, Akane was warily flipping through a Cosmopolitan magazine. She looked up at Ranma disapprovingly. Ranko was gushing from her upcoming wedding while Ranma strutted like a proud horse. Akane sensed that something was wrong with the picture. She confronted Ranma as he walked into the bathroom and admire himself in the mirror.


"You're not actually going to a martial arts tournament." Akane folded her arms and spoke to Ranma in curt Japanese..


"Like it took a brain surgeon to figure that out," Ranma replied. "I met a friend of Ryoga's and he's going to take me out for a good time."


Akane bit her lip. "You can fuck me over all you want," Akane replied icily. "I fucking deserve it. But you don't have to let your sister get involved in your bullshit."


"Since when did you ever care about what I'm feeling?" Ranma said to Akane as-a-matter-of-factly. He quickly tossed on some cologne on his chest and looked at himself in the mirror. He tossed his soft brownish red bangs back and checked his pearly whites.


"Don't flatter yourself," Akane replied coldly and stepped away from the bathroom. Ranma looked back at the mirror, feeling a little less shallow.



            A chaotic afternoon turned into a catastrophic evening. The rainbow flags flew boldly over Market Street as Friday night approached. A night where the men of the city would gather in the gay mecca, amongst cocktails to hopefully exchange cocks later on in the evening.


Kerry knew whose cock he wanted to exchange with later. He felt quite excited, with the handsome and new Japanese guy on his left arm. Ranma looked so innocent and excited as they stepped into Club Metro, located conveniently above Squat and Gobble if that wasn’t enough to salt Ranma’s wounds.


“There are so many men here!” Ranma said, trying to distract himself from the mental memories of the afternoon. It was definitely larger than Red Dragon. Men of all colors floated amidst warm neon and art deco lighting. There must have been fifty men in that space and in casual muscle shirts exchanging martinis that evening. Ranma felt like he was re-entering Shinjuku, except only far more decadent and classy.


“Gaydar is a celebration of men,” Kerry said as he looked at Ranma, “and the men who love them.” He smiled back at Ranma.          


Across the street, Tyler and Martin were single bois on the prowl on a cool night in the Castro. Martin wore another signature tight t-shirt and lucky hip-hugging, leg-hugging Diesel jeans. Tyler looked almost dashing in a loose shirt with blue stripes.


            “I’m so happy that you came!” Tyler said. He wrapped his arm around Martin’s as they walked down Market Street towards Gaydar.


            “Yeah,” Martin mumbled. “I couldn’t stay at home and think about you-know-who all day anymore.” And his television was now broken. But something else distracted Martin – the sight of Kerry Kwok and his next trick at his arms.



Ryan was late. He had just gotten home from finishing another homicide story, two hours beyond his work schedule. He frantically threw on a black shirt and some tight blue jeans in a desperate attempt to get to the club on time. He was hopping on one foot trying to fit on a black sock when his cellphone rang.


“There’s a red alert at Gaydar tonight,” Martin snapped quickly over the phone.


            “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Ryan grumbled. “It’s Kerry isn’t it? Ryoga came over to my apartment and broke down in front of me.” Ryan paused. “He was really looking forward to tonight.”


            “Then he needs to live like a metropolitan someplace else,” Martin replied quickly. “You don’t want to be here when you see what goes down tonight. And yes, it’s Kerry.”


Ryan suddenly felt a humongous headache building up. He mouthed the word “fuck” for a second. “Don’t do anything you’re going to regret tomorrow morning,” he chided.


            “You know I always do,” Martin snapped.


            Ryan managed to put on his sock and was attempting to tie a black shoe. His head nearly touched his shoulder as he held the cellphone. “So what am I supposed to do?”


            “You’re the brains of this operation,” Martin snapped. “Figure it out.” And then Martin hung up.


Tyler grabbed Martin, having heard the conversation. "Don't do anything that you are going to regret later," he said. "And don't do it because of Ryoga."


"Believe me," Martin stretched his knuckles out. "This one is personal." He looked back at Tyler. "And I'm not going to regret it."


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