The Artist's Mechanic
Logan Winston makes a deal with his younger brother Marco to pose in the buff for an art class. Why? Because Marco is threatening to quit high school, and Logan doesn't want his sibling to go through difficulties in life because of bad decisions. Still, all Logan sees in the mirror is an average guy with dreadlocks and grease under his fingernails, pretending to be a model. Then he meets Wayne Rodriguez, the hunky art teacher who causes Logan to want like he's never wanted before.
Wayne Rodriguez is getting over a bad relationship, and desires nothing more than friendship. Logan is raising his little brother and feels inadequate in Wayne's presence. Angry words and fear make things worse, but sneaky brothers get them back on track.
They have to find a solution, if only to stop their siblings from meddling.
What am I doing here?
I sat in a small classroom, sun still shining bright through the windows at seven o’clock in the evening, since it was early summer. There were eleven women and men who all looked to be over the age of sixty milling around in front me, adjusting their easels and checking their paintbrushes and such. Everyone seemed excited to be there, while I felt like someone had just put diesel fuel in my gasoline tank, and now the engine wouldn’t start. How the hell did I end up in this predicament?
Oh, yeah. My baby brother Marco had tricked me.
Okay, so it wasn’t quite a trick, but he’d somehow shifted the blame for his lack of enthusiasm to attend school to me, saying, “Oh, well you never graduated, ergo, why should I?” after which I reminded him that I had gotten my diploma last year, ceremony or no. And then, he’d said, “Well why can’t I do the same thing?”
My response was, “Because you can do better than that. You get A’s without even trying, and I want you to have a chance at something good in life, not settle because you made bad choices.” Or because life had knocked you on the ass with responsibilities you never asked for.
After that, Marco had crossed his arms, narrowed his too-sharp brown eyes, and told me I’d have to do something really big and outside my comfort zone for him to agree, something I’d never do in a million years, just to prove that I was serious about him becoming a senior and graduating next year, for his own good. Naturally, it hadn’t taken him long to come up with the most embarrassing thing possible—being a nude model for his best friend’s brother’s drawing class for the rest of the summer at the university where said brother taught.
I’d argued back and forth with Marco, but my brother, whether he’d admit it or not, was the smartest person I knew—if lazy—and he had me by the balls. If I wanted to demonstrate to him that I was serious about his future, I’d have to grow a bigger pair. So, here I was, showing that I could be the bigger man and hold up my end of the bargain if I really had his welfare at heart. Of course, I did, damn it. Always! I simply didn’t want to have to bare my fuzzy nuts to do it.
Geez, the guys at the garage would bust a gut if they ever found out what I was doing on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next two months. Marco owed me big time for this, the little squirt. His ass better be glued to that chair at school for the entire senior year. All I had to do was survive being gawked at for an hour and a half while people drew or painted or the what-the-fuck-ever.
Christ, what a nightmare.
I played with my phone for a few minutes while waiting for the instructor to arrive. I’d already received email confirmation and instructions as to how things would progress during the period where I posed for the class, thus I wore a bathrobe and slippers. I’d clipped my toenails because those claws just had to go. Hope they’d forgive my hammertoes, if they scrutinized me that closely.
The instructor’s name was Wayne Rodriguez, and when I looked him up, I could admit the guy was smokin’. And his artwork was actually pretty good, in my humble opinion. Hey, I could appreciate works of art, the effort that went into creating the perfect masterpiece. A smooth-running car was like art to me, now that I thought about it.
I loved being a mechanic, but didn’t necessarily want to be lauded for it. I preferred to remain behind the scenes, compared to Marco who was always loud and proud about everything. My little brother even complained that I was a fuddy-duddy at the ripe old age of thirty-eight. I never dated, never did anything fun, as far as he was concerned. Only thing I did was work. Oh, and hound his ass about staying in school, cleaning up his damn funky room, and doing the dishes. Had I been that bad when our parents were still alive? It’d been so long ago, I barely remembered anymore.
As I answered a cheeky text from the runt, who’d just gotten home from his summer job at the local fair, I heard the door to the classroom open. I glanced up to see Wayne enter the room, and he was even hotter in person, with a smile that would make even the most hardened cynic melt. That wasn’t me though, nuh-uh. I was completely in control of my reactions and was only here to prove a point to my pain in the ass sibling.
Wayne greeted everyone as he walked up to the front of the room where I sat. He grinned as he held out a hand in greeting. “Mr. Winston? Thanks so much for sacrificing your free time to help us this summer.”
I shook his hand, aware how rough mine was compared to his lightly calloused palm, and replied gruffly, “It’s Logan, please.”
“Fine. Logan. Call me Wayne, if you like. We’re pleased to have you with us. Aren’t we, class?” he said, pitching his voice to address the students.
There were nods and grins and a few friendly leers from both sexes that made me decidedly uncomfortable. Tell me I wouldn’t have to fend off advances from sixty-year-old ladies or gentlemen, please. My heart couldn’t take it. Or any other part of me. Marco might call me a mild ageist. Perhaps I needed to work on that.
“Okay,” Wayne said, clapping his hands together to get everyone to pay attention. “We’re here to study the human form in all its glory. Logan has taken time out of his busy schedule to help us.” He focused on me. “Logan, if you please.” He gestured to the robe I wore.
With a barely suppressed sigh, I removed it and, fully naked, I turned to my left, one leg on the upper wrung of the stool while the other dangled near the floor. I leaned forward, my chin on my hand, the other in my lap just barely covering my crotch. The cool air in the room kept things shriveled, which worked in my favor. There were still grease stains on my nails and hands, though, since there was only so much I could do to get rid of all that.
I knew what I looked like. A light-skinned black dude with dreads that hung down my back, a no-nonsense scowl ever-present on a face with a broken nose from too many street fights as a teenager, and light brown eyes. I’d always been good at tinkering with engines of all kinds, but not so good with people. Shocked the shit out of me when I had to step up and raise Marco, but I loved the little brat, and he was family. I’d adjusted.
Marco wasn’t so little these days, since he was my height, if skinny. I totally got why he acted out, from time to time. Deep down, Marco still seemed to be afraid that I would abandon him like he felt our parents had, when they died. He was better about it, for the most part, but he kept pushing the boundaries, to keep me on my toes. No matter what he did, however, I would never leave. He was stuck with me.
I remained as still as possible, listening to Wayne as he moved from person to person, critiquing drawing techniques and making suggestions as necessary. His voice was soothing and deep, and I found it almost hypnotic.
I’d noticed he had laughing gray eyes and wavy black hair almost to his shoulders, with a few streaks of silver. There were the beginnings of crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes. He had a face that seemed to inspire trust. He was so different from the hard men I worked with or had hung around growing up. I wondered if he’d ever known hardship, or had it rough. And why did I care?
By the time it was over, I was stiff from being in one position for that length of time, though I’d had a couple of breaks. I quickly donned my robe and grabbed my backpack, which held my clothing. Before I could disappear, though, Wayne stopped me by the door.
“Thanks so much for doing this. I know it’s not that comfortable, but you really are an important part of the creative process. We couldn’t do this without you.” He smiled. “See you on Thursday?”
I nodded. “Sure. Uh, gotta go. Bye.” I tried hard not to notice the speculation in his eyes as I walked past him, heading for the restroom so I could get dressed and head home. I wasn’t interested in a hookup. I wasn’t. I didn’t have time, and I had things to do, and his eyes changed color in the light…I was so screwed.