• Andrea Anderson

Time Crunch - #1

genre: contemporary romance/magical realism

word count: 589

June, 2019

Dallas, Texas


Carson would call the whole thing with Dougie a comedy of errors, but that would imply that it was funny ever, like, at all, and—


It really wasn’t.


Isn’t.


Wasn’t?


Isn’t.

“This is wild,” Dougie sighs that first day, folding and unfolding the bill of his jewel-toned turquoise Kraken hat—one-size fits all, factory-stiff, the special shield-shaped Draft Edition patch sewn onto the side just the tiniest bit crooked.


Carson tugs at the collar of his Kraken jersey, wishing that he’d had the foresight to at least take his tie off—or loosen it, maybe, or cut it off, or just set it on fucking fire—before allowing himself to be herded like a shell-shocked freshly-sheared sheep into this too-bright too-hot too-crowded media room backstage.


“Wait, what?” He grimaces when he feels a drop of sweat slither down the back of his neck. The bottle of Evian someone had thrust at him earlier is empty, crinkling awkwardly in his free hand. “What’s wild?”


Dougie blinks at him, stupid—stupid stupid stupid—green-blue eyes narrowing slightly. “This,” he says slowly, like Carson’s concussed. Again. Which would check out, actually. Tripping over, like, a stray microphone cord and eating shit on national TV, in front of his parents and his new GM and however many hundreds of thousands of people are watching this weirdly impersonal life-altering moment that’s almost hilariously reminiscent of, like, a racehorse auction—and Dougie.


Dougie would’ve been watching, too.


Dougie was watching.


Apparently.


“Uh, you’re gonna need to be more specific, man,” Carson croaks, rolling his shoulders back. Shifting his weight around. “We were both projected to go in the first round, so this isn’t—like, we expected to be here today. Well. Not—not, like, here here, like, together, but—generally. Here. Today.”


Dougie’s ice-chapped lips curl into a dumb little half-smile, his mouth open and his tongue prodding at the inside of his cheek. It’s—so dumb. Soft. Pink. Earnest. Mostly dumb. “Dude, they traded up for you. Way up. You didn’t just get, like, picked—you got picked."


“What?” Carson exhales on a shaky, mortifyingly high-pitched giggle. “That’s the same word. You just—you used the same word. Did you mean to use the—”


Dougie throws his head back to laugh, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat; he’d missed a spot shaving, just under the line of his jaw—his sharp, square, high school royalty fucking superhero disguised as an underwear model jaw—and Carson can see that the knot of Dougie’s tie is already partially undone.


“My man,” Dougie says, sounding fond, looking fond, as he reaches out to gently punch Carson in the chest. There’s a split-second where Carson wonders if he’s imagining Dougie’s hand lingering, hovering, hesitating—but then Dougie’s stepping away, his smile twitching wider, and Carson remembers that Dougie’s about as subtle as a chainsaw and twice as fucking honest. Dougie doesn’t do hints. Doesn’t pine. Doesn’t yearn. Dougie probably can’t even spell yearn. “We’re gonna tear it up, eh? You and me?”


Carson swallows. “Yeah, bud,” he says, forcing himself to return Dougie’s smile. “You and me.”


Wild, Carson thinks glumly, acerbically, because he’s a masochist but also an optimist and the intersection of those two traits is like some kind of vicious, inescapable, perpetually spinning merry-go-round except instead of being in, like, a theme park or a zoo or one of those fancy fucking outdoor malls it’s in the darkest scummiest most depressing corner of the darkest scummiest most depressing dumpster in hell.


Wild.


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