Sharp Dressed Man

Sharp Dressed Man

Mixed Tape Series Volume #1
MLR Press

For twenty-five years, Jim and Dan have thought about what could have been, and now they have a chance to find out.

Jim Stanton and Daniel Perkins fell in love with each other at a ZZ Top concert in 1987, though they never admitted it. After graduation, they let their love slip away, but never forgot. Their 25th class reunion gives them the chance to correct the mistake.

You’re invited to attend the 25th Reunion of the Class of 1988 of Freeland High School.

Holy shit! Had it really been twenty-five years since he’d graduated? Jim couldn’t believe it. Seemed like only a few hours ago, he’d been standing in his black leather jacket, rocking out to ZZ Top with his best friend, Dan Perkins.

Jim smiled as he set the invitation down before standing. He wandered over to the window, staring at the people walking along the sidewalk in front of his office building. He had so many fond memories from back then, most of them featuring Dan. They’d run with the rougher crowd, the burn-outs as they were called back then.

Smoking, running wild, and flaunting authority was what they tended to do, though Jim had never broken the law really. For all that he acted like a rebel, he’d been a good kid, and made his parents proud by graduating close to the top of his class and going onto college.

Unfortunately, he’d lost touch with most of the people he’d gone to school with, and while he didn’t care about a majority of them, he did care that he’d let Dan slip away.

The thought of seeing Dan again made Jim do something he hadn’t planned on doing. He went back to his desk, then emailed his RSVP to Becca Spanagel, the woman who’d sent the invite. Jim didn’t remember that name, but he figured people had probably gotten married over the years.

After sending the email, he knuckled down to get his work finished, so he didn’t have to take any home. He hated working at home at night, though it wasn’t like Jim had anyone to complain if he did. His last relationship ended three months ago, and he hadn’t had a date in two weeks.

He wasn’t lonely or anything, but he had thought that at forty-three, he would’ve found the right guy and settled down by now. Every time he thought he found the right one, something would go wrong, and he’d end up breaking it off with him.

None of the men he’d dated over the years had lived up to an image he had in his head of the perfect man, though not all of the break-ups were his fault. Sometimes things just didn’t work out like he wanted them. He was still friends with most of his ex-boyfriends.

He finished the last few accounts, then emailed them to his clients. As soon as the final one went out, he turned off his computer and sighed. It had been a busy day and he couldn’t wait to go home, put his feet up with a glass of wine. He’d made some shrimp stir-fry last night, and he planned on eating the rest of it.

Jim waved good-bye to some of the other accountants who were working late as he left the office. He’d been where they were when he first started out at the company, but he did his job as best he could, and they promoted him up the ladder until he was named head of the entire accounting division. He still kept up with his own clients, enjoying the numbers.

After catching the subway, he sat, pulling out his iPod and headphones from his messenger bag. He scrolled through his music, and settled on his eighties play list. As he rode home, he listened to the music of his youth, and relaxed.

His phone rang as he walked into his apartment. Jim tugged it out of his pocket, then answered it while dumping his keys on the table in the hallway.

“Hey Mom,” he said, padding toward his kitchen.

“Hello honey, you’re not driving, are you?” She was always worried about him using his phone while he drove.

“No. I just walked in the door when you called. And anyway, remember, I told you I ride the subway to work.” He pulled the bottle of wine out of the refrigerator, then set it on the counter before he dug the corkscrew from the drawer. “How’s Dad doing?”

“Same as always. He’s heading back from the river. He was fishing all day.” She snorted. “That man would rather fish than do anything else.”

“He’s retired, Mom. Be glad he’s not sitting around the house bothering you all day.” Jim managed to open the bottle while listening to his mother complain about everything his father did wrong.

If he didn’t know better, he would think his parents hated each other, but he’d seen how much they took care of each other through the years and he wanted to have a relationship like theirs someday.

When he tuned back in, he realized she had asked him a question. “What did you say?”

“Are you coming home for your class reunion? I saw Sarah earlier today, and she said Dan was coming back. I just wanted to know if I should clean out the guest room.”

He rolled his eyes. She made it sound like it was a big deal to clean out his old room, but he knew she’d kept it in pristine condition.

“Yes, clean it out. I sent in my RSVP today.” He poured some wine, then propped his hip against the counter. “So Dan’s coming back? Where’s he living now?”

“Sarah said he was in London for the past year, but he’s moving back to the States. Actually, she said he was looking for a place in New York. Something about opening his own fashion house.” Mom hummed while she thought.

Hearing that Dan was designing his own line didn’t shock Jim. They might have been fighting against authority, but Dan was always the one who looked good doing it. He always made sure his hair was just right, and his clothes fit perfectly.

“That’s cool. Sounds like he’s done well for himself. I’ll see him at the reunion then.”

Excitement raced through him at the thought of seeing his best friend again. He’d known Dan would be successful in whatever he chose to do.

“How long will you be able to stay this time?”

Jim ran through his vacation days, and knowing that he was going home again for Christmas, figured out he could take a week off. “I can stay a week. I’ll come in a day before the reunion, then stay for five days afterward. I can’t take any more than that off, if you want me to come back for Christmas.”

“Of course, I want you home then. Lisa and the kids are coming in, and they’ll want to see you.” Mom’s voice brightened at the mention of her grandkids. “A week will be good. I just want to make sure. Maybe we’ll invite Sarah and Dan over for dinner while you’re here.”

“That would be great, Mom.” His phone beeped, and he checked the screen. “I’ve got another call on the line. I’ll let you and Dad know about the flights, okay?”

“Certainly, honey. Love you.” Mom hung up.

Jim clicked on the other call. “Wilson, I’m not interested.”

“Jim, you’re cute and all, but you’re definitely not my type.”

He could almost see Wilson roll his eyes, so he chuckled.