Leap of Faith
Nacho Sanchez spent every afternoon at the nearest Gold's Gym. Today seemed like a good day for jump roping. When he'd walked out into the parking lot, the air had a certain crisp taste to it- the taste of melted snow and wet, green grass. Spring meant jump ropes. Nacho couldn't explain why; it just did.
After he'd driven down Route 22, windows rolled all the way down, radio turned all the way up, Nacho parked his car, entered the gym and changed in the locker room. Some god-awful techno music blared in the background as he jumped. One, two, three- Nacho loved that one second of uncertainty when both feet were in the air and he didn't know where he'd land. Then his feet would hit the floor with a defiant thunk. Hey, look, you didn't fall.
Nacho had spent most of his life falling, not falling in love, or falling in some deep, dark pit of despair... just falling, flat on his face. His knee caps and calves were criss-crossed by various scars- battle wounds from learning how to ride a two-wheeler, roller-blading, skiing and a short and far from sweet week at gymnastics camp. After managing to fall all the way down the slope during a class trip to the Camel Back Ski Resort in seventh grade, Nacho was nicknamed Bumlets, a variation of "bumbling idiot." The last few years, i.e. high school, had been spent in correcting Bumlets's elephantine grace, so Bumlets was very proud of every defiant thunk that his feet produced while jump roping. They were each hard-earned.
After jump roping, Bumlets visited each of the gym's various hydraulic machines. He didn't need grapefruit-sized muscles; he just needed to stay in shape. Bumlets figured that his Dumbo-like awkwardness was probably related to the forty pounds he'd lost between freshman and sophomore year. Somehow, losing weight hadn't really improved his social status, but Bumlets didn't mind. Girls made him fall flat on his face even after he lost his belly rolls.
Bumlets grabbed a towel out of his gym bag and wiped his face. He downed his water bottle in one swig and started out the door without changing out of his shiny soccer shorts and dingy, porridge-colored wife beater. It was a nice day, a jogging day as well as a jump-roping day. After returning down the strip-mall and go-go bar cluttered thoroughfare of Route 22, Bumlets pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex he called home. He glanced at his watch and shrugged to himself. Might as well do a couple of laps around the place.
Dutchy Hamilton stuck his ipod in the kangaroo pouch of his black hoodie and started out the door. The sun refused to leave him alone, blinding him despite the drapes he'd pulled across the windows of the computer room. It was time for a rain dance. After tucking his headphones snugly behind the nubs of his earlobes, Dutchy started scouting for the perfect location for his watery hoedown. A substantial puddle had formed in a corner of the complex's parking lot, a result of snow banks melting under the March sun. Perfect.
Dutchy stepped daintily into the center of the puddle and turned on his ipod. "Six inches forward and five inches back. I've got an angry inch!" John Cameron Mitchell's scream pierced the blonde's ear drums. Dutchy rolled his head back and forth, almost head-banging, but not quite. His hips swayed and his arms, bent at the elbows, moved of their own accord.
Bumlets lapped Dutchy once and stared as he passed. He'd known the other boy since grade school; they were friends, good friends. They shared sandwiches at lunch and spent awkward hours in each other's bedrooms doing physics homework and watching old episodes of Saved By the Bell, but Bumlets had absolutely had no idea what Dutchy was doing dancing around the parking lot, ankle-deep in muddy, melted filth. After passing his friend a second time, Bumlets stopped. He tapped the blonde on the shoulder. "Dutchy?"
Dutchy stopped dancing and unplugged his ears once he spied Bumlets mouthing his name. "Naaaaaaacho!"
"What the hell are you doing?" Bumlets frowned and crossed his arms, suddenly aware of how little he was wearing.
Dutchy gulped; he couldn't help noticing the slight glisten that had developed on subtle bulge of Bumlets's forever-tan forearms. "It's a-uh rain dance."
"A rain dance?" A wrinkle formed between Bumlets's brows. Dutchy wanted to touch it.
"Yeah. Care to join me?"
If Bumlets could have frowned anymore, he would have. He didn't want Dutchy to get the wrong impression, but dancing was taboo. Never mind the fact that they were both guys, but dancing meant coordinated movement. Bumlets had spent sixteen years mastering walking. Dancing was... complicated. Bumlets wasn't ready for dancing, maybe in another sixteen years, but definitely not now. "No thanks." Bumlets shook his head and turned to continue jogging.
"Why not?" Dutchy grinned and held out a hand.
There is something very enticing about that hand, Bumlets thought. Pale and bony with knuckles pointing out every which way, Dutchy's hand wasn't exactly sexy, but it was inviting. Bumlets found himself staring at it, at the shallow curve of its palm, at the bent pointer finger, at the nails bitten down as far as the skin would allow, at the tiny strips of peeling flesh near the cuticles. No, it definitely was not a sexy hand.
Maybe it was the grin attached at the end of the hand that was enticing. Bumlets found himself staring at Dutchy's lips. Pink, large and parted slightly, and revealing a pair of bleached white front teeth, they were quirked to one side, grinning as if they knew several things that you didn't. Things that you really, really wanted to know after seeing that smile. Bumlets felt himself falling.
But he didn't find himself face first on the ground. Instead, he found himself in the middle of a puddle with half a pair of headphones tucked under the nub of his left ear. And dancing. Bumlets was dancing, shaking his butt with abandon. Dutchy was grinning from ear to ear. Bumlets smiled back and shrugged to himself. Maybe falling wasn't always bad.