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It wasn’t the best job in the nation, but it was still a good job. Cliff would seldom expect to lift heavy boxes and drive forklifts for the rest of his life, but seeing as how discomfort never found a place in this particular environment, he never complained about his limited opportunities in the job market. The robust thirty-four-year-old man had spent the past several years working in the industrial district of Los Angeles. Everything seemed to work in his favor: good benefits, flexible schedule, and competent employees including himself.
The lack of air conditioning in the entire warehouse would have to be the only thing that bothered him. When early August kicked in, high temperatures would demonstrate its abundance all around Southern California, resulting in humidity more excessive than before. Cliff would have to work inside the building with nothing but the heat being content with its fierce determination. In spite of the drawbacks of Mediterranean weather, Cliff never surrendered to nature. He was never the kind of man who would be defeated that easily. He had become a man with well-built arms and sturdy abs ever since he was a senior in high school. There would be no way for him to act as a weakling even if he had to pretend. He fought back the heat as he continued his job with no further interruptions.
On a Friday afternoon, as the heat showed no signs of disappearing, Cliff arranged large boxes and other miscellaneous items on the middle shelves with a forklift. The manager picked this certain period to give Cliff his well-deserved ten-minute break. Now would be the time for Cliff to exit the building and drink his water. He stepped outside with nothing but a cool bottle of water in his hand. He looked up to see the blue sky partially obscured by the city’s smog. Clouds however big or small were nowhere to be seen at this time. Summer just wouldn’t end. But Cliff didn’t mind the high temperatures as much as the other employees. He had lived in Southern California since birth, and the familiarity of the environment helped him ease his frustration.
He stood in the middle of a small parking lot situated at the back of the warehouse. Another warehouse next door had walls high and long enough to surround such a compact space, resulting in an almost claustrophobic manifestation of medal and asphalt. Cliff leaned against the concrete wall and took a long sip from his water bottle. He took off his white t-shirt and set it aside for the entirety of his break. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath to calm himself down.
When he opened his eyes again, he noticed someone from the corner of his eye. He looked to see a familiar face in the midst of an industrial backdrop. He had not seen this man since college, though the two of them did acknowledge their existence on social media at one time.
Cliff stood up straight, but left his shirt lying on the concrete. “I never expected to see you again. It’s good to see you, Alex.”
Alex gave him a little smile and said, “I hope life is treating you well.”
His introductory line had become such a common trait during their college years. The thirty-three-year-old Taiwanese-American man took a few steps closer. Cliff could see that very little had changed about him. Alex, who was only a year younger and two inches shorter than Cliff, wore a white polo shirt and a pair of brown pants. The skinny man wore eyeglasses and had short black hair fixed in a typical East Asian style. As a handsome man overall, whoever accepted his marriage proposal several years ago must have been one lucky woman.
Cliff asked, “How have you been lately?”
“There are bumpy roads ahead, but I think I’m still fit for survival.”
Alex frowned. “I’ll explain later. Is your manager here?”
“He’s in the building. Why do you ask?”
“I’d like to see if there are any jobs available here.”
That almost surprised Cliff just a little bit. “Now why would you want to work in a place like this? You’re the one who got the master’s degree, not me.”
“To tell you the truth, I’m willing to work anywhere that allows me to live with a steady income.”
“This isn’t like you, Alex. Shouldn’t you be looking for a job downtown?”
“It’s getting harder and harder for a man to seek approval from executive markets.”
“Hey, you’re the smart one. I’m sure you can do better than this. I don’t mean to look down on myself, but I remember a time when you were destined to become a millionaire.”
“And that’s why there will be bumpy roads ahead.”
Cliff grew more attentive. “Now you really have to tell me what’s been happening lately.”
Alex put his hands in his pockets as he stepped a little closer. “My wife left me because she didn’t love me anymore. She filed for divorce just a few months ago. I never intended to hurt anyone, and yet I am the one who is kicked out of the house. She gets to take half of my annual income. I try to have a say in this matter, but my voice is meaningless. casino oyna I now have to live the rest of my life in a one-bedroom apartment, eating nothing but canned goods and frozen dinners. I used to have a good life, but it crashed and burned when my wife started the affair.”
“I’m really sorry to hear that.”
Alex shrugged his shoulders. “The damage has been done, and I have to do something about it.”
“I thought you were working in an office somewhere. Did you get laid off?”
“You are correct. The company had to downsize because of bad business decisions. It’s a tragedy that has come out of its hiding place, and I’m its primary victim.”
Cliff had to make an important announcement. “I’ve got some bad news for you, Alex. Our warehouse has enough workers already. And besides that, you would have to lift a lot of heavy boxes, and no offense, but I don’t think you’re up to it.”
Alex gave a little smile for some odd reason. “Truth hurts.”
“You can still find a job around here somewhere, but it’s going to be little more competitive than you think.”
Alex shook his head as if he was feeling amused. “This is a welcome change from you. I remember a time when you wouldn’t think so highly of me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t try to act as if you can’t remember our college days. Who do you think was the one who teased me and tried to intimidate me for four straight years? I’ve never met a jackass that had been as daunting as you.”
Cliff chuckled. “Hey, people always act that way when they’re still young. It’s like in high school. It’s to see who the weakest link is. Ironic, isn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t say that I had won the battle. I still lost everything, including my own wife.”
“You could regain all that if you tried hard enough.”
Alex’s little smile grew just a little larger as he looked down at Cliff’s half-naked body. “I can see that you’ve been taking care of yourself just fine.”
“It’s what I’d set out to do since twelfth grade. I like to think that I’m doing it right.”
Alex let out a long and slow sigh. “Of course, you are. Look at yourself. You have the body of a titan…and I can fully accept it. Sometimes, I envy you.”
Alex didn’t stop gazing at Cliff’s hairless muscular chest. Cliff didn’t find it alarming, though curiosity did kick in at the right moment. “So do you like what you see here?”
Alex finally looked up at him. “Oh, I still envy you. At least you didn’t choose the same route that I had taken.”
He stepped a little closer until the two of them stood just a few inches between each other. “You are so lucky. I always admire someone who does the right things.”
Cliff didn’t move at all. “I sense something strange about you.”
Alex let out a light and buoyant chuckle. “I used to despise you, but I can’t feel that way anymore.”
He looked down at Cliff’s chest once again. He whispered, “I just love the way you look.”
Cliff had rarely experienced a rather awkward situation, and this would have to be one of the very few. “I’m not sure where you’re going with this.”
Without hesitation, Alex raised his fingers and began to touch Cliff’s chest. The slow movement of Alex’s fingers as he slid them across the sturdy surface had almost caught Cliff off-guard.
“Why are you doing this?”
Alex’s smile had now grown more charming. It appeared almost seductive, as if a young woman gazed at Cliff’s body with ambitious eyes.
“Oh, Cliff…this is why I adore you so much.”
The two of them had grown silent in the realm of modern industry. Cliff had never expected this turn of events, and he could only assume that Alex, who seemed fixed in some kind of hypnosis, tried to play a dirty trick on him. But Alex would never be the type who would seek vengeance against his former adversaries, simply because he never knew how to fight back against anyone who confronted him in college.
Cliff remarked, “I think you’re about to lose your mind.”
Alex almost laughed. “Oh, I’m starting to love it when you tease me like that. It makes me admire you even more.”
The Taiwanese man pushed his boundaries even further as he leaned forward and, in an almost playful manner, touched the skin with both lips. Cliff could feel Alex’s warm breath acting as a soothing breeze against his chest.
Cliff whispered, “Why are you doing this?”
The tip of Alex’s moist tongue coated the skin with saliva. “I just want to forget everything that I’ve been through. You are the right man to help me.”
“What can I do?”
Alex whispered in his ear. “Hold me.”
Cliff didn’t question his motives any longer. He held Alex in his strong clean arms. Alex rested his head on Cliff’s shoulder, and the muscular white man let it happen. After hearing what Alex’s own ex-wife had done to him, giving him the consolation he deserved would have to be a wise decision on Cliff’s part. He could feel the Taiwanese man loosening up his entire body.
Alex could only express his canlı casino satisfaction through words. “This feels good…I wish this could last longer.”
Cliff didn’t stop his embrace. Holding another man in his arms wasn’t uncommon. In fact, his personal preference for the same sex helped in erasing his unease. Now, feeling thankful for holding a handsome East Asian man close to his own body proved to be a welcome addition to his work day.
Suddenly, Cliff heard faint footsteps from behind him. Alex must have heard it as well, since he pulled himself away from Cliff and acted as if nothing even happened between the two of them. Cliff turned around to see one of his co-workers arriving at the small parking lot and reminding him that his ten-minute break had already ended two minutes ago.
Cliff nodded. “I’ll be inside as soon as possible.”
The co-worker eyed the Taiwanese man who had his hands in his pockets. “So who is this guy?”
Alex replied, “I’m just a friend from college, and I dropped by to say hello. I have to go now. It’s been nice seeing you, Cliff.”
Cliff waved his hand. “It’s been nice seeing you, too.”
Alex’s little smile had returned. “I hope we get to meet up again soon.”
Cliff had taken a liking to that little smile. “I’m sure it’ll be sooner than you think.”
Alex walked away, leaving Cliff and the co-worker to step back inside the warehouse. But before he could join the rest of the employees for a few more hours of heavy lifting, Cliff stayed at the open doorway to watch Alex disappearing into a narrow alley. Just watching the East Asian man walking away made him want to see more of their drastic change in their current relationship. Cliff had a good feeling that Alex’s state of mind faced a dilemma when revising its standard procedures. The bitter divorce, coupled with unemployment, would have destroyed any man’s status in society. Seeing it happen to someone who Cliff used to bully around didn’t please him very much. But after their tender embrace, he yearned to make a few improvements in Alex’s life.
Cliff looked up at the sky to see that nothing has changed. The smog tainted the image of a clear blue sky. In the far distance, the towering skyline appeared majestic when situated below the brilliant afternoon sun. The metropolitan locale would have been the right location for a man like Alex, but Cliff started to wonder how he would manage to endure the hazards in the region of industry.
* * *
He did wait for Alex to return, but it never happened on that same day. When Saturday arrived, Cliff resumed work in the same building. Even as he enjoyed a little recollection of yesterday in his mind, the man never broke concentration of his duties. The heat had grown just a little less than last time, though the employees still found the newly formed sweat on their bodies rather troublesome.
Work ended officially in the late afternoon. Everyone in the warehouse was ready to return home after simple yet demanding labor. Every eighteen-wheeler truck that paid a visit had already left the building, while the manager turned off all the lights. Cliff and a few of his co-workers would be the last to leave the parking lot. He said farewell to the others and waited for them to exit the parking lot. He stepped inside his sedan and turned on the engine. He activated the air conditioning and remained still as the rest of the employees drove away. He waited until he was the only one residing on the asphalt. A welcome change in the air helped him ease his discontent with today’s high temperatures. He wanted to turn on the radio, but a familiar face prevented him from simply pushing a button.
Cliff anticipated Alex’s return, but not like this. He spotted the Taiwanese man in the far distance, wandering in a random direction in the same alley as before. Alex’s fleeting look coupled with his signature little smile had to indicate something worthwhile. Cliff turned off the engine and got out of his car. He watched as Alex disappeared in the alley. Never had his curiosity controlled his mindset so much. There was now only one thing to do. Cliff left the parking lot on foot and followed his former classmate just as the setting sun forced the sky to consume a more orange hue in the west.
Alex wandered deeper into the core of the city’s industrial district. Since everyone who worked here had already left home, the industrialized terrain had become a silent wasteland. Concrete walls and empty streets added a mystical vibe that eased Cliff’s fatigue. He had grown familiar with this region for the last five years. This was his sanctuary, his humble abode gratefully unaltered by hopeless intruders.
After walking past two blocks, Cliff finally witnessed a sudden change in Alex’s simple antic. Alex came across an abandoned building, an enormous warehouse almost the same size as the one Cliff worked in. Its broken windows and the dull white paint on its walls gave the impression that it had been left behind almost a decade ago. Cliff, standing kaçak casino on the other side of the street, watched as Alex opened a door near the corner and entered the building. Cliff had two options. He would have to run back to his car and return home, or he would have to step inside the same building and see what Alex had in store for him. Seeing as how anything would be possible at this point, Cliff ran across the street and used the same entrance to gain personal access.
Inside, faint sunlight seeped through the windows to show that the building had been stripped of its original contents. The tall shelves standing in an almost perfect row remained vacant. The windows on the walls were either stained in bright brown or permanently broken. Various debris lay scattered on the concrete floor. The afternoon heat had decided to cram its humid aroma inside the building. And within a few seconds, Cliff spotted Alex near one of the shelves. He wore a black sleeveless undershirt and a pair of brown cargo shorts. His little smile never departed from his visible features.
Cliff stepped closer and remarked, “I’m not sure why I’m here, but I hope it’s for a good reason.”
Alex slowly licked his upper lip. “It’s for a good cause. I’m sure of it.”
Cliff eyed him from top to bottom. Alex looked even more appealing than ever. His current attire added just a little more panache to his slim exterior. Cliff craved an instant grab at human flesh, though he waited for Alex to confirm their current situation with just a few words.
The Taiwanese man handed him an unopened water bottle. “You looked parched. You must have worked really hard today.”
Cliff replied, “Sure, you could say that.”
“Drink up. You shouldn’t drive home dehydrated. It could be a little dangerous. I don’t like it when the people I care about are in danger.”
Cliff gazed at the water bottle in his hand. “Why are you here, Alex?”
Alex chuckled. “That’s for you to find out. Go ahead. Drink it. You should be rejuvenated after all of that arduous labor.”
“It wasn’t THAT hard.”
“Still, it would make me happy knowing that you’ll be cool and refreshed.”
Cliff didn’t complain. Simple refreshment was what he needed at a time like this. He popped open the cap and took a long sip of water. Its low temperature consumed a good fraction of his body. Such a soothing experience helped in easing the tension in Cliff’s body and mind.
After drinking half of the contents in the bottle, he remarked, “You’re trying to tell me something.”
Alex sighed. “I must confess…I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently.”
“Is that so?”
“I am a little amazed at how you’ve lived your life so well.”
“I’m not exactly a millionaire. You know that already.”
Alex chuckled. “Yes, but you have never faced monumental obstacles guaranteed to ruin your life. You work and play without any interruptions. You’re someone that I truly admire.”
Alex looked down at Cliff’s chest once more. “You look a little uncomfortable. Let me take that off for you.”
Cliff wasn’t fond of the heat in the abandoned building, anyway. “I can do it myself just fine.”
He took off his white t-shirt and set it aside on the empty shelf.
Alex’s eyes looked as if they had been under instant hypnosis. He gazed at Cliff’s uncovered torso with a charismatic smile.
“Oh…who would have thought that you’d help me ease my pain?”
Cliff stayed still. “I’m not even doing anything.”
“Yes, you are. You’re helping me forget about my divorce. You’re helping me forget about my ex-wife and my dreadful apartment. All you had to do was show me your body.”
Alex did the same thing as before by laying his fingers on Cliff’s hearty chest. The light touch made Cliff feel a little more inspiring. Alex slid his fingers further down. His unbreakable gaze showed no signs of looking away from his primary target.
“I know I shouldn’t be doing this. I should depend on my conventional options to help boost my own morale. But…there’s just something about you that I can’t resist.”
Those words had been the perfect signal for Cliff to heighten the tension inside his own hectic psyche. After a hard day’s work on a hot summer weekend, there would only be one thing to help him release his mental pressure and it had nothing to do with watching TV when returning home.
“It’s too quiet in this building. I think it’s time we make a lot of noise.”
Clearly enthused by the statement, Alex licked his lips. His seductive glance never revealed its own expiration date just yet.
“After a hard day’s work, you deserve a little entertainment of your own. Here’s how to start.”
Alex’s prelude consisted of him dropping down to his knees and unzipping Cliff’s pants. Cliff let it happen. He needed a good reason to feel energized at this time.
“Go ahead. You want to see it for yourself, don’t you?”
Alex couldn’t wait any longer. He pulled down Cliff’s jeans and boxer shorts to examine what he yearned for. It used to stay limp in his jeans, but now, Cliff’s cock had already begun its deliberate cultivation. It grew harder as Alex slowly caressed it with his fingers.
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