Excerpt for The Icicles by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Icicles

By R.W. Clinger

Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

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Copyright 2017 R.W. Clinger

ISBN 9781634865265

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs |

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All rights reserved.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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The Icicles

By R.W. Clinger

“We’ve got about twenty more miles to go, and we’ll be at my parent’s house,” Jonah says to his boyfriend of six months. “It will be five-thirty when we land; one hour behind schedule.”

Sandy Keye sits behind the wheel of his 2017 Ford F-250 truck. It’s a massive truck, and Jonah thinks his boyfriend looks lost within the cab, almost miniature, a dwarf from some fantasy paperback.

Sandy’s a patient man at thirty-six and says, “I’ve got the next two days off to spend with you and your family. Something tells me we’re going to have the time of our lives by the lake, or it will be a total nightmare.”

Jonah Icicle still drools over Sandy after meeting him this past summer, believing him to be one of the most handsome men on the planet because of his blond hair and matching beard, blue eyes, and well-built frame. Stinging hot comes to mind. Sexy as hell. A guy who makes him go hard, erotically appealing, without even seeing Sandy naked. When standing, his boyfriend is six-two and bulky with muscle, probably because he works out at Pumps Gym at least four times a week. A Hollywood-perfect man with an athletic appearance. Top-notch American Ninja Warrior competitor or Thor ruggedness, if he wants to be. Dirty. Sexy. Never plain. Sandy isn’t like Jonah’s previous boyfriends. Not at all. He’s a keeper, adorable, caring, and…his.

Their history together entails extraordinary fireworks from the start: meeting at a Fourth of July party in downtown Pittsburgh, both of them a little drunk by the Monongahela River, horny and giddy. They kissed, danced together, drank too much, and eventually ended up in a stranger’s bed together for an hour, two hours, almost three hours. After the fireworks display that lit up the sky, ending their evening together, they realized they liked each other and had a date, two dates, three dates and became boyfriends/lovers.

 Although the two men are in love, dating for the last six months, they still live apart: Sandy in a townhouse on Cantell Road, hidden in the woods near Rossner Township, and Jonah in a Cape Cod in downtown Pittsburgh, next to the History Center. They see each other more than five times a week, spending long hours together: dining, grocery shopping, afternoon or evening coffee dates, walking, making love, watching movies, exercising, and other daily events they enjoy. Neither has mentioned marriage yet. And neither desires kids, abhorring the small creatures, what Jonah thinks as crayon gobblers. Simply, the two men like to date each other, spend quality time together, and make love, still learning the ins and outs of their close relationship.

Their jobs keep them away from each other sometimes. Sandy travels to the coldest parts of the Earth to study the environment. Jonah flies all over the country, creating slice-of-life articles for an e-magazine called American Lives. When they are not together, they miss each other. They use their phones to chat, send each other pictures of their voyages, and try to talk, depending on what parts of the world they are in. Always busy. Men at work.

This trip north is one of the few they take together. Jonah feels fuzzy-headed and romantic. Truth is, he’s been looking forward to this adventure since Thanksgiving, spending quality time with Sandy, consumed by the man, involved in their relationship.

* * * *

“Snow’s coming down harder than what weatherman Jack said it will,” Sandy says, always throwing Jack Lane, a mutual friend of theirs, under the bus for doing a shitty job.

“Jack’s a good guy. He can’t help it that he sucks at guessing what the weather’s going to be. We have to give him credit when it’s due. He at least gets half of his predictions right.”

Sandy cracks the driver’s side window, cooling the cab of the truck. Someone has to since it’s too hot and feels like the shuttle to hell.

Does Jonah think this two-day trip is going to be a disaster for Sandy? Yes, of course. Sandy should have stayed put in Pittsburgh. Nothing feels right about this trip. He’s nervous as hell, but he doesn’t really know why. The right corner of his left eye twitches, and his hands are shaky. Jonah believes Sandy will have a breakdown by the end of this short trip: an explainable explosion of corpuscles along both temples. Boom! and boom!

“Jack told me you have a bunch of loons in your family. That’s what he called them. Loons.”

Jonah chuckles in the passenger seat. “He may be on to something. What else did he tell you?”

Sandy lifts his right foot off the accelerator. He’s careful of the combative weather and the road’s icy and slick condition. Nasty shit. Bad weather all the way. ”Let’s just say it should be an interesting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.”

“Jack and I go way back, which you know. He’s spent summers by the lake with my family. My mother treats him like one of her own sons, better than me most of the time. He knows a lot about the Icicles. All the good and bad things.”

“Has he spent holidays with you and your family?”

“Too many to count. Jack has seen the love and hate in full force. He’s always had a bird’s eye view of the chaos, love, tragedies, and whatnots. It’s probably why I’ve always considered him a brother.”

There’s a case of white zinfandel behind the seats, gifts for the Icicles. The bottles clink together in their box, and the sound is irritating. A perfect gift for an already polluted family.

The plan for the next two days is simple: drive northward bound from Pittsburgh to Channing, Pennsylvania, in Sandy’s truck and spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Jonah’s family. It’s the first time Sandy will meet the Icicle clan: Jonah’s mother and father, his younger brother, his younger sister, and his brother-in-law with a funny name.

Sandy and Jonah are nervous about the trip, each in different ways, having discussed the adventure for the last week or more. They try to analyze the trip before it happens, pulling it from the inside out, creating the worst scenarios and the best ones. So much talking. Endless amounts of chatter.

Sandy admits, “I’m nervous.”

Jonah replies, “I’m nervous for you. I can’t recall my family ever treating one of my boyfriends well. It’s always a disaster when I take one home.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe this is the biggest mistake of my life.”

“If you want to be my boyfriend…if you want to be coupled with me, Sandy, I want you to meet my family. It’s something you’ll have to do to be able to love me more.”

Sandy refuses to tell him the trip to Channing will be much harder than going to the arctic to study glacial melting and global warming. Sandy thinks it will be easier to spend the three weeks with his coworkers—a bitchy twink named Renaldo, an alpha male named Christopher, and an uneducated clown named Dixon who acts as if he is twelve—at RIES (Rowan Independent Environment Studies) than to spend two days with his boyfriend’s family. Sandy believes dealing with the freezing temperatures near the North Pole surely can’t be worse than confronting the Icicles. Surely.

* * * *

Honestly, Jonah has been through worse shit concerning his family. Coming out to his hardcore conservative mother hadn’t been a walk in the park for him at fourteen; nor was it easy for him to bring home his first boyfriend, Ricky Malonni, when he was sixteen. Seventeen, the time when he almost set the house on fire while baking a pizza and forgetting about it, turned out to be fairly hideous and maddening. Then there was getting caught having sex at eighteen with Tucker Nelson, the Mormon across the street.

The idea to take Sandy north and meet his family for the first time seemed like the greatest idea on the planet and in their relationship. Maybe not greatest, though, maybe just foolish. Jonah doesn’t know, but he is soon going to find out.

“Let me give you the breakdown of my family again.” Jonah turns his head in Sandy’s direction. “We can start with my mother, Pam.”

“A very good place to start,” Sandy sings, creating his own musical, keeping the truck on the highway.

“She’s short, spry, and wild. A bomb. And sometimes vulgar. A hardcore Republican. Whatever’s on her mind, it won’t stay there. She will tell you exactly how she feels whether you want to hear it or not. The woman doesn’t keep anything to herself. Most of the time, she needs to keep her mouth shut, but doesn’t. She’s bossy, prying, and doesn’t have a sense of humor. She’s to the point. My sister, Willa, calls her the anti-Christ of the devil’s wife, a succubus, and Kimmy Jung-un. I call her a tempest, femme fatale, and Goneril from King Lear. You, of course, will come up with your own nicknames, I’m sure.”

“What about your younger brother?”

“Jake’s thirty and still lives in my parents’ basement, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about him. He likes his pot. He’s not going to grow up anytime soon and has no ambitions in life. He watches more television than a ten-year-old and lives off potato chips, smoking, and masturbating.”

“Does he look like you? Most brothers resemble each other.”

“To tell you the truth, he’s a stud and looks like Luke Bryan. Handsome. Not bad to look at. If he ever decides to come out of the basement, get a job, and join the rest of America, he could meet a nice girl, settle down, and have beautiful children. This is what my mom doesn’t want him to do. She likes having him under her thumb. It’s all about control, even if he breaks the law by growing marijuana. Mom has always had control issues, ever since I was born.

“It’s a shame, really. I’ve seen Jake in action on a few occasions in the real world. The ladies love him, as do the queers. I’ve seen men and women drop to their knees. You can tell they want to sleep with him just to get their rocks off. Honestly, no one can keep their hands off my brother. Not that he knows this. He could use his good looks as a weapon, but he doesn’t because he’s always too high. The guy could have a lot of sex and girlfriends if he wanted, but he likes his pot more.”

Sandy shifts in the driver’s seat, repositioning himself on the one hundred and twenty-eight-mile drive. “Does your mom like or love Jake more than you?”

Jonah lets out a hearty, sarcastic laugh. “Where do I start? Jake could kill a fraternity, and my mother would protect him. He’s her favorite child and always has been. Jake doesn’t have a job, a car, and or goals. My mom overlooks all of his bullshit, which sometimes pisses me off. He’s going to be fifty and still living in my parents’ basement. It’s a pity, and it bothers me.”

“What position are you in her hierarchy of favorite children?” Sandy sounds as if he’s interviewing Jonah, one question after the next, creating an article in some entertainment magazine or program on Bravo.

“Let me just say that the dog, Hornfuzz, is higher than me.”

“That bad, huh?”

“Trust me, you’ll see.

The couple stare out the windshield at the falling snow. Torrents of wind blow large flakes against the glass, accumulating on the wipers. Nothing of the day proves warm as the sun sets, changing the grey skies of winter into compatible darkness.

Jonah turns up the heat inside the truck.

Sandy asks, “What about your sister?”

“My younger sister, Willa, is twenty-eight. She’s been married to a handsome beefster with no brains for five years. A gym teacher. He’s nice to look at, but that’s about it. The guy’s a total dipshit. An idiot. I’m talking a model-beautiful house and no furniture. Empty. No brains. Some of things that come out of his mouth are shocking. He’s had three affairs on my sister, but she still stays with him. Willa loves him with all her heart and always will. She balances Bobo out, or so she thinks, and understands his weaknesses and issues. Bobo. That’s what we call him. A nickname. His real name is Robert Bobowski. He’s a nice guy, but unfaithful, unable to keep his private parts from touching other’s, both men and women.

“Willa’s a smarty arty, bright with a capital B. I’m pretty sure she married Bobo for his body and good looks. She wears the pants in their marriage and makes all the decisions. Truth told, she bosses him around and treats Bobo like a little boy, which sometimes becomes irritating. She’s a nurse who knows her shit. She admits that she can’t keep up with Bobo’s sex drive. According to her, Bobo’s a monster in bed. A porn star with an incredible libido. It’s just one of the many ridiculous reasons why she stays with him. For such a smarty arty and strong woman, Willa lacks the control she thinks she has over Bobo. It’s like she gives him a license to sleep with other women and men, always forgiving him when he’s unfaithful.”

“Men? He’s had affairs with men?”

“It’s not as surprising as you think. He’s probably slept with more men than you and I put together. Bobo’s Bobo. He won’t deny being bisexual. He loves to have sex with anything, minus animals and little kids. Thank God for that. And he loves my sister. Only her. The affairs he’s had on her have only been about sex and getting his dick squeezed, or so he’s told me when we’ve had a beer or two, or seven, together.”

“I don’t want to judge,” Sandy says, “but that’s really fucked up.”

“Welcome to the Icicles. We’re all fucked up in one way or another. Just wait and see.”

The truck hits a slick sheet of ice, and the vehicle skids to the left. Sandy manhandles the wheel, utters vulgar words Jonah can’t make out, and swerves the truck back into its right lane.

As if nothing has happened, he continues his interview and asks Jonah, “Where does Bill, your dad, fit into the family?”

“Nowhere. He’s never around. And when he is, you can never find him. He hides in the bathroom with fishing and hunting magazines. He’s in the basement, fidgeting with dials on the boiler. Or he’s in his bedroom, reading John Sandford novels. Plus, he likes to nap. You get what I’m saying.”

“Damn. Honestly, with all due respect, it sounds like your family is a train wreck. Impossible not to study.”

Jonah chuckles. “That’s my family in a bitter nutshell. They’re a Jackson Pollack painting, splatters all over the place with very little uniformity. I’ll apologize in advance for any wrongdoings on their parts and putting you in an awkward position, if and when it happens.”

* * * *

Following their chitchat, ten miles down the road, Jonah suggests, “We should pull off the next exit for a coffee. I’m dying for a caramel latte. I know of a Starbucks. What do you say?”

“You know I love my caffeine. I can’t live without the shit. It’s my worst habit and addiction.”

Jonah knows much more about Sandy’s likes and dislikes. Sandy enjoys reading books on penguins, sex in the outdoors, Brad Pitt movies, pornography, Andy Warhol, and peanut butter on marble bread. Sandy’s easy to read. Primal and simple. He likes one kind of beer (Miller), eats the same foods (mostly vegetables and breads), and enjoys sleeping in on Sunday morning before reading the Pittsburgh Teller from front to back. He never sleeps with any clothes on, loves to watch American Horror Story, loves Pottery Barn products, and never fails to buy the latest Max Brooks novel about zombies or the end of the world.

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