They say that it takes twice as many muscles to frown as it does to smile.

To which we say, Shut up and stop being so fucking lazy. This shit takes work; payback ain't meant to be a party.

Smile by Garrett Calcaterra

Walter pulled the sheets up over his waist as he watched Mikey rinse his mouth in the bathroom sink of their hotel room. Mikey wasn’t really Walter’s type—too serious, too many piercings and tattoos, and way too young—but something about him drove Walter wild. Being with Mikey was like partaking in a forbidden fruit; it made Walter feel alive again, like he hadn’t felt since his twenties, before his career, before Ben. Walter felt a small pang of guilt for cheating on Ben, but it was Ben’s own damn fault their sex life had devolved into what it was.

“So what’ll it be, stud?” Walter asked. “Room service or shall we get dressed up and head to the restaurant?”

Mikey, still nude and gloriously lithe, padded to the foot of the bed and tossed aside the hand towel he’d used to dry his face. “I have a secret to tell you.”

The non sequitur threw Walter for a second, but he passed it off as an idiosyncrasy of today’s youth. “A secret, hmm? Is it a naughty one?”

“I’m not gay,” Mikey said.

Walter raised one eyebrow. “I would beg to differ. If I’m not mistaken, you just gave me a blowjob, and quite a fabulous one at that I might add.”

“You don’t have to be gay to suck dick. I’ve been blowing dudes since I was fourteen for meth, heroin, you name it.”

The thought of it repulsed Walter, but at the same time excited him a little. He felt himself stiffen beneath the sheets. “And what of the sex?”

Mikey snorted a short humorless laugh. “My first couple of times were in juvie. I fought the guys off at first, but that only made it hurt worse. After a while I got used to it. It’s just my body. Not any different than sticking a needle in me, or busting up my knuckles on a wall.” Mikey strode to his duffle bag and pulled out an old Polaroid photo. He handed it to Walter. “You remember this guy?”

Walter stared at the picture. It was a middle-aged man in a polo and khakis. Walter remembered him all right. He was one of the straight married men Walter had fucked when he was younger. It had been a sort of sport back then, to seduce straight guys. He’d done it often before settling down with Ben.

“Jesus, where’d you get this?” Walter asked, looking up at Mikey. “It was probably from before you were born.”

“I nabbed it from a photo album at my mom’s place. One of the last pics we have of my dad.”

“Your dad?” A sick feeling irradiated from Walter’s gut.

“Yep, maybe even the last photo we have of him before he ate a gun,” Mikey said, turning away and shuffling back to his duffle bag.

Walter was overcome with sudden paranoia, certain Mikey was going to grab a pistol from his bag, maybe the one his dad had killed himself with. Walter vaguely remembered hearing about one of the guys he’d slept with killing himself. It was all so long ago.

“Oh no, no,” Walter said, his breath getting caught up in his throat. “I’m sorry. I know how you must feel, but I promise you, I never meant to ruin anyone’s family.” Walter scrambled towards the edge of the bad, started to get up, but remembered he was naked, and huddled back onto the mattress with the sheets clutched at his chest. “It was just a bit of fun. I was a kid, for crying out loud.”

Mikey turned to face him, a clean pair of underwear in his hands, not a gun. “No, I was the fucking kid, asshole! I was only seven. I was the one who found him.”

“Oh god. What are you going to do to me?”

Mikey stared at him placidly as he put his underwear on, somehow calm, though Walter was near hyperventilation. “Nothing,” Mikey said. “Just wait.”

“Wait for what?”

Out in the hallway someone knocked at their door.

“For that,” Mikey said. “I texted ol’ Ben, your hubby, while you were in the can. Told him to get here ASAP, that you had a romantic surprise for him.”

The knocking at the door continued. Insistent.

“Do you suppose he brought flowers?” Mikey asked, and for the first time ever, Walter saw him smile.

Garrett Calcaterra is author of the epic fantasy novel Dreamwielder, a 2013 Barnes & Noble Nook First Look selection. His other books include Umbral Visions and The Roads to Baldairn Motte. He has published over twenty short stories, essays, and articles, and is currently working on a new science-fiction novel. You can follow his writing at