Guess We’re Walking

Cute

New York City can be unbearable in the summer. The temperatures rise to the 90s and above and the humidity levels keep pace with them. The towers of steel and glass reflect the sun’s rays. Concrete and asphalt underfoot radiate heat. The subway stations are hotter than the streets. Conditions below ground are not helped by the masses of subway riders crammed together in close quarters. The smells that result from the heat and the crowding are repulsive, and they add to the general discomfort of making ones’ way through the city.

I arrived in New York at 23. Fresh out of college, I took a low-level job at a major bank in midtown Manhattan. The pay was sufficient to allow me to rent a place of my own in Astoria, Queens. It was about 4 miles distant from the bank. I walked home from work quite often, taking a route that crossed the 59th Street Bridge. The bridge was great for pedestrians, with a wide walkway along the southern edge. The views of Manhattan were spectacular. I made a habit of carrying a camera with me and snapping a roll or two of shots when I reached the center of the bridge.

On many Saturdays I was asked to go to the office to help my superiors catch up on their backlog of paperwork. We all had a very demanding senior executive over us. He had no concept of life outside of work. I was paid overtime for the extra hours, so I didn’t mind losing a day off every so often. I was also young and ambitious. It seemed to me that my devotion to the job might pay off in advancement sooner or later.

On one such Saturday, in July of 1990, I worked from eight in the morning until four pm. My task group got quite a bit done. We were glad to have everything in order for Monday morning. I packed my book bag and headed for home. As I left the air-conditioned lobby of the building I stepped into a steam bath. The thermometer must have read 100 or above and the humidity was atrocious. I immediately began to sweat. I walked half a block to the subway station at 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue.

Every step of the descent to the lower platform seemed to raise the temperature several degrees. It was brutally hot. I couldn’t wait for the train to arrive. Most of the train lines were air conditioned by that time. There were quite a few people on the platform already, but not nearly as many as on a typical weekday afternoon. I looked down the tunnel for any sign of an approaching train, but saw nothing. I walked over to one of the wooden benches along the wall and took a seat.

A young woman appeared at the bottom of the stairway and walked toward me. She was quite attractive, with jet black hair and a very slender body. She wore a black, tight-fitting t-shirt and tight, faded blue jeans. She had black sneakers on her feet. As she neared me, I could see that she wore no makeup, but she was pretty enough not to need it. She wore two silver hoop earrings. The young woman walked to the edge of the platform and checked for the headlights of the next train.

I sat up and made room enough for her to sit next to me. I hoped that she would. Her butt was perfectly formed, if a bit skinny. I didn’t mind; I liked skinny girls. I estimated her height to be 5’7″, and her weight to be about 100 pounds. I was 6’3″ and 195 pounds. Regular exercise and walking kept me in very good shape. I was told that I was handsome, but I considered myself average as far as looks went. I had no trouble finding dates, but at that time I was not involved with anyone. I hoped that that was about to change for the better.

The dark haired girl turned toward me and noticed the empty space on the bench. She looked at me and gave a little smile.

‘”I’ve been waiting a little bit,” I said. “Nothing yet.”

She sat down next to me and started fanning her face with a magazine she carried. “It better be here soon,” she said. “I’m about to melt.”

“That makes two of us,” I said. “I hate this city in July.”

We compared notes about the heat and the hassles of city life. She was funny and she smiled at our shared grievances against the weather and the Big Apple. I introduced myself and she told me her name was Gayle. We shook hands and shared a smile. It turned out that she lived in Astoria, also. Her apartment was much closer to the East River than mine, but not very far away from me. I was happy to hear that.

Thirty minutes passed as we waited and talked . Several dozen more subway riders made their way down to the platform. Tempers were beginning to flare among a few of them, as they always do when a train is late. Twice I walked to the edge of the platform to look for headlights. Nothing. After the third time I threw up my hands and shrugged at Gayle. “I don’t know what to tell you,” I said. “There must be a broken rail or something.” Broken rails happened regularly, and stalled the trains for long periods.

“I can’t stay down here,” she said. “I think maybe I’ll take a bus.”

“Do you ever walk over the bridge?” I asked.

“No. Is it safe?” She seemed to consider the idea.

“Oh yeah,” I said. “Especially in the afternoon. You just have to gaziantep escort watch out for the idiots on bikes.” I had nearly been knocked down on the bridge walkway before by bicyclists. “Would you like to give it a try?”

Gayle thought for a moment, then grinned. “Sure,” she said. “It might be fun.”

“Great!” I said. “Let me just check one more time.” I looked down the tunnel again, but this time I hoped that I would see nothing. I didn’t. I shrugged again.

Gayle nodded, smiling, and said “Guess we’re walking.”

The still oppressive heat at street level was a relief after the much higher temperatures in the subway station. Gayle walked with me up Third Avenue to 59th Street, then over to the Manhattan end of the bridge walkway. I had sense enough to suggest that we get a couple of bottles of water for the trek across the bridge. It was nearly a mile across, and at times, if there was no wind, the walkway could get dangerously hot. We walked over to a deli and I purchased a large bottle of water for each of us. We took a long drink before we returned to the walkway.

It was a fairly steep grade up to the highest part of the walkway. It was easy for both of us, but we were, of course, bathed in sweat by the time we reached the halfway point. We talked the entire time. I learned that Gayle was from New Jersey, and that she had moved to Astoria the year before. She worked in a large bookstore near my office building. She said she put in all kinds of overtime to pay the rent and bills, but that she enjoyed the work and loved living so close to Manhattan. She said she was 21, single and not seeing anyone. I didn’t ask her about her relationship status; she freely volunteered it to me. I took it as a suggestion of her availability. Before we moved on, I asked Gayle if I could take a photo of her against the background of the U.N. Building and the rest of the skyline. She agreed.

We then started the downhill walk to Long Island City. The heat was ungodly. The normal breezes I was used to feeling on the bridge were non-existent. By the time Gayle and I reached the ground in Queens we were ready for a break. I suggested that we stop in a great little Chinese restaurant nearby.

“Will they let us in like this?” Gayle asked, pulling at her soaked t-shirt.

“They don’t care,” I said. “As long as we order something.”

We reached the restaurant in a few minutes. The cool air inside was a delight. We both drank several glasses of iced tea along with our meals. Gayle did not order much. That was no surprise, given how skinny she was, I followed her cue and just got some dumplings and an egg roll.

Our conversation covered every topic under the sun. Music. movies, food – all of the stuff that really matters in life. I was fascinated by her. She was at least as much a movie buff as me. It was always great to be able to talk to someone who immediately understood my cinema references. She asked as many questions as she answered, and I found myself profoundly attracted to her. When the meal was done, I paid the bill and we headed back out into the heat.

I offered to walk Gayle to her apartment building. She gladly accepted and pointed us in the right direction. She said that she rarely walked through this part of the neighborhood, as there had been some robberies there recently, and a couple of night time rapes. I didn’t think it was that dangerous, but then I wasn’t a hundred pound young woman, either. It felt good to be walking next to such a pretty girl in the city. I almost didn’t mind the heat.

About fifteen minutes passed before we reached Gayle’s apartment building. It was a brick, five-floor post-war structure that looked to be in very good shape. Gayle said that she lived on the ground floor. She fished her keys out of her pocket and walked over to the service entrance door. She stopped there and faced me.

“Would you like to come in?” She asked. “I’ve got a/c and I think we both need it.”

Would I! Of course, I said yes and followed her into the hallway of the first floor. It had gleaming tile floors and unmarked walls. We walked past a large laundry room that looked to be empty of patrons. Gayle’s door was the next one we came to. Gayle smiled at me before she opened the door. “Please don’t mind the mess,” she said.

Gayle’s apartment was a one-room studio with a tiny kitchenette in the back and a bathroom. It looked as though she had one closet. Two small windows in the kitchenette looked out onto the building’s courtyard. Gayle had a twin bed along one wall and a small sofa on the facing wall. There were also two small upholstered chairs. She had an older, small TV in one corner, atop a stereo set. Milk crates holding VHS tapes and music cassettes stood next to the TV. She had a few plants here and there and a row of movie posters along the wall above the bed. I didn’t see any “mess” to speak of; everything looked pretty orderly to me. There were some wrinkled clothes balled up in one of the chairs. That must have been the mess.

Gayle locked konya escort the door behind us and walked over to the air conditioner that took up half of one of the windows. “Make yourself comfortable,” she said as she turned on the a/c.

I sat in the empty chair and took in the room, and its resident. I was pretty excited at how the afternoon had gone. My plan that morning, as far as I had a plan, was to return home and eat a pizza alone. Now, in a gorgeous girl’s apartment after a fantastic “first date,” I hoped I’d be staying there for a while. Gayle opened her refrigerator door and took a brief look at the contents.

“I can offer you a Diet Coke,” she said to me. “I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got.”

“That’s fine,” I replied. “I like it.”

Gayle took out two cans of soda and brought one to me. She sat on the sofa and held the can to her forehead. “That was a great walk,” she said. “I can’t believe I never did it, before.”

“I like to do it for the photo opportunities,” I said. “I’ve got a couple hundred pictures I’ve taken over the last few months. I have a great one of the sun setting between the Twin Towers. I’ll have to show it to you.” Hopefully in my apartment!

Gayle nodded. “I’d like that,” she said. We were both quiet for a moment. Gayle spoke again: “Look, your clothes are saturated. I’d hate to send you home like that. Why don’t you let me throw them into the washing machine and have them ready for you when you leave?”

I was at a loss for words! What would I wear? Not that I would mind sitting naked with her, but it was still fairly early in our friendship.

Gayle noticed my anxiety and laughed. “I have a large robe in the bathroom you can use,” she said. “In fact, why don’t you take a shower while you’re in there?”

Fantastic idea! This afternoon was really looking up, now. “Sure,” I said, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. “If you’re sure you don’t mind, I’d really appreciate it.”

“I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t mean it,” she replied. “Go ahead and strip off in the bathroom and toss the clothes out for me. I’m going to change in here, so don’t come out until I tell you to.” She stood up and I did as well.

The bathroom was tiny but neat and clean. The toilet sat almost beneath the sink which, in turn, nearly reached into the tub/shower combination. A small casement window high on the shower wall provided light and ventilation. I saw the robe hanging from a hook on the back of the door. As I stripped, I saw all of the beauty products that lined the edges of the sink and the tub. I always liked seeing the variety of products women seemed to require. In a moment or two I was naked and my wet clothes were wrapped up into a small bundle. I tossed it out int the main room. “I’ll be in the shower,” I said.

“Great,” Gayle answered. “I’ll get the laundry started.”

I enjoyed a good, long, very hot shower. She had strong water pressure and plenty of hot water. I found a bar of soap that didn’t smell like perfume and I went over every inch of my body with it. When I was done, I took a fresh towel from the two that hung from a rod and I dried myself. I donned the robe and opened the door slightly. “Can I come out?” I asked. There was no reply. I stepped back into the main room and saw that she was gone. I took my old seat, had a sip of the Coke and waited for Gayle.

A few minutes later, she returned. She wore a silk kimono-style robe and slippers. She gave me a big smile as she entered the room. “Did you enjoy the shower?” She asked.

“Oh yeah,” I said. “It was exactly what I needed. I feel like a million bucks.”

“Great!” She said. “I’m gonna take one too, then we can talk a little bit more. The clothes will take a couple of hours to finish.”

I liked the prospect of hanging out, both of us in robes, for a couple of hours. Or more. Who knew where we might end up by nightfall?

Gayle showered and I relaxed in the chair. I heard her singing as she washed. It was music to my ears. I kept checking my robe to make sure that my dick wasn’t making an obvious tent in it. I shifted my position a few times and folded the robe so as to disguise my excitement. I was as hard as a rock.

Gayle took her time in coming out. When she did, she looked lovely. Her hair looked as good wet as it did dry. She had tousled it a bit and it framed her face perfectly. She tied the robe as she walked to the sofa. She flopped down and crossed her bare legs. “Much better!” She said.

Definitely! Gayle’s bare legs were very sexy. I liked the way she swung her small foot. She still had no makeup, nor did she need it. She sipped at her Coke and watched me.

I must have been giving away my thoughts by my look. Gayle asked “What?” She chuckled a little.

I snapped out of my reverie. “What, what?” I said.

She laughed harder. “What are you thinking, Joe? It must be something good.”

“Uh, just thinking about how good this day has turned out to be.” It was the truth, just not all of it. I leaned forward. “Look, Gayle, kayseri escort I could not be happier right now. I am totally comfortable. Meeting you has been fantastic. I’d like to think we’re on our first date.”

Gayle smiled and nodded. “Me too.”

I continued: “I think we ought to have at least one more. Date. I think we ought to pick a movie and then have dinner. How about this week, after work?”

Gayle pondered it, then her look turned blank, then anxious. I was taken aback, then nervous. I thought my offer was a sure thing. Gayle put both feet on the floor and crossed her arms over her stomach. She leaned forward and stared at the floor. Her voice quavered a little when she spoke.

“Joe, thanks. I’d love to do it. But there’s something you have to know, and I hope you’ll understand how hard it is for me to tell you.” Gayle wouldn’t look at me.

The possibilities flooded my mind. Boyfriend? Pregnant? Lesbian? Terminally ill? All of them? I had no idea. I cleared my throat. “Whatever it is, just tell me,” I said. “I promise I won’t get angry or anything. I like you a lot and I’d like to be your friend.”

Gayle nodded, still looking at the floor. “You see…I was…I was born a boy….” She bit her lip.

What? I leaned back in the chair and felt as though the floor had dropped away. I stared at the ceiling.

Gayle spoke next. “I’m sorry. I truly am. I should have just told you right away. I was just…I was just having such a good time with you. You don’t know hard it is to be transgendered. I have to watch everything I say and do…” She looked up at me. A tear had formed in each eye.

I struggled for the right words. “It’s okay,” I said, at last. “You did nothing wrong. Thank you for telling me.” I looked to the side. “How long have you been living as a woman?”

Gayle wiped her eyes and cheeks. “A couple of years. I mean full-time. I knew from day one that I was a girl. There was no question in my mind. It was just that my parents wouldn’t believe me when I told them. I was nine when I did and they just wouldn’t have it.”

“Is that why you moved here?” I said.

“Yeah. I went to college for a couple of years, but I really needed to be who I am. What I am. I couldn’t do it at home.” She relaxed a little and unfolded her arms. “Listen, I’ll finish your clothes and you can be on your way. I had a great date and I –”

I cut her off. “No – I mean, if you’d like me to stay a little while longer I’d like to. It’s up to you. I’d like to talk to you about it.”

Gayle frowned and tried to suss out some hidden motive in my statement. “Are you serious?” She asked.

“I swear,” I said, hand on heart. “I think I can understand how you feel. Or maybe how you think. I don’t want to walk out on you just because you’re honest. I respect that in my friends. The only difference between now and an hour ago is that I know a little bit more about you. And it doesn’t make that much difference to me.”

Gayle shook her head. “It makes ALL the difference, Joe. Have you ever dated a guy?”

“No,” I said. “But you’re not a guy.”

Gayle rolled her eyes. “I have a penis, Joe. A dick. Balls. I have a woman’s face and a man’s equipment. Are you really going to tell me that that doesn’t make a difference to you? C’mon…”

Now I was a little bit angry, but I kept my voice even. “Gayle, listen to me. So now I know what you have in your robe, between your legs. Big fucking deal. I look at you and I see a beautiful woman. You met me and you trusted me and we wound up liking each other a whole lot. Didn’t we?”

Gayle’s face softened a bit and she gave me a half-smile. “Yes,” she said, barely above a whisper.

I continued: “Do you believe that I I’m not lying when I say that I’d like to see you again? I promise you it’s not a problem.”

Gayle studied my face. “Please don’t lead me on,” she said. ” I’ve been beaten and I’ve been used and lied to. Guys get what they want and they’re gone. I’m tired of it.”

I stood up and stepped over to the sofa. I sat down within inches of her. I took her right hand in my left. “Gayle,” I said, evenly, “I promise you that I want to see you again. As much as you’d like. I want to do what every couple in this city does together. I had the best afternoon of my life with you, and I don’t want for this to be the end of it. I have no plans to hurt you in any way.”

Gayle turned into me and looked into my eyes. She reached up and placed her hand against my cheek. “You mean it, don’t you?” She whispered. I nodded. She leaned her head toward me and gave me a light kiss on the lips.

I raised her hand with mine and kissed her knuckles. She watched me with what I took to be a mixture of relief and desire. I wanted to act on it. I patted my right thigh and said “C’mere.”

Gayle stood and hesitated for a moment. “You’re sure?” She asked.

I took hold of her waist with both hands and pulled her down onto my lap. She seemed weightless to me. She smelled very good. I loved the scent of her hair. My right arm encircled her shoulders and my left held her right hand. We kissed again. I felt her lean into my chest a little. She sighed. Our kisses became deeper and our tongues slipped around each other. We sucked on each others’ tongues. Our eyes kept meeting and we both giggled quite a bit. My left hand slipped down to her leg and started sliding up toward her thigh.

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