Sean & Brawnie and the Message from Outer Space

MeteorsBrawnie was standing at the bedroom window in the dark when Sean awoke. 

“Moon still there?” Sean asked.

“It’s the meteor shower they mentioned on the weather channel yesterday,” he replied.

Sean got up and joined his husband at the window. The Alpha Capricornids meteors had appeared on schedule in the southern sky. They competed for attention with a waning gibbous moon.

Brawnie smiled. “If there were more meteors, it could be a flashmob of little lights.”

“Wouldn’t it be cool if they spelled out a message?”

Brawnie looked at Sean quizzically. “What, like surrender Dorothy?”

“Just something meaningful. Get vaccinated, maybe.” 

“How about We’re watching,” Brawnie replied in a spooky tone. “That would shake up the world.”

Sean nudged him playfully with his elbow and went back to bed.

“Don’t let the stars get in your eyes, don’t let the moon break your heart,” Brawnie crooned, with a voice only Sean and Auto-Tune could love.

Copyright 2021 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Madhuvan Yadav at unsplash.com

Sean & Brawnie’s Not-So-Banner Afternoon

Brawnie growled. “I hate that word.”

He and his husband, Sean, sat on a picnic table under a large ash tree. His ire had been aroused by a rainbow banner outside a nearby church. It proclaimed Queer We Stand as an affirming and welcoming gesture.

“It’s fairly common usage now,” Sean replied. “Even by straight people.” He looked at Brawnie, trying to discern the depth of his feelings.

“You mean the straight kids who screamed that word while gay-bashing my high school friends? The kids who taunted us with Thursday’s Queers Day?”

Sean chose his words carefully. “Tender scars, yes?”

Brawnie put his arm around Sean’s shoulders. “People want us to be sensitive to pronoun choices,” he said, a little calmer now. “Why not to hateful slurs?”

The two men sat quietly in the shade, listening to the chirpy birds and the leaves in the breeze.

“Of the two of us,” Sean mused, “I thought I was meant to be the hotspur.” 

He felt a warm hand on the small of his back. Brawnie turned and whispered in his husband’s ear. 

“You’re just hot.”

Copyright 2021 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by the author

Sean and Brawnie Go for the Best on New Year’s Eve

StageA little before midnight and the beginning of the new year, Sean and Brawnie were sprawled together on the couch under their faded Packers blanket. Despite the bitter cold outside, Brawnie had shucked his shoes and socks under the coffee table.

The boys were watching Schitt’s Creek on TV, where Patrick had just finished singing “Simply the Best” to his partner, David.

“You know, I saw Tina Turner sing that song when I was twelve,” Sean interjected. “That was her 24/7 Tour at the Kohl Center.”

Brawnie scooped up a handful of peanuts, listening intently, though he’d heard his husband tell the story many times.

“She’d just turned sixty,” Sean recalled. “She strut her stuff around the stage for the better part of two hours in heels and skin-tight leather.”

Brawnie took a drink of Prosecco, nodding. 

“I guess I was swaying in my seat a little too much,” Sean remembered. “The woman sitting behind me chuckled and said go on boy, just get up and dance.”

Brawnie laughed. “For you, Tina’s the Patron Saint of Survivors.”

“She made a great life despite abuse and bigotry,” Sean replied.

“Her best life, could you say?” Brawnie asked with a smirk.

On TV, Patrick and David exchanged a look of affection. Sean and Brawnie missed it, giving each other their first kiss of the new year.

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo from the 24/7 Concert Tour Video

Sean and Brawnie’s Late Night News-of-the-Day Conversation

Bedspread 3

Brawnie stood by the bed with a quizzical look on his face. “That’s the bedspread you bought this afternoon?”

“You don’t like it?” Sean asked. Already in bed, he was propped up on a pillow, reading.

“It’s just not what I’d expect,” Brawnie explained, carefully choosing his words.

“What’s not to like? It has twelve-point bucks, canoes, pine trees, and mountains.”

“It’s brown and tan,” Brawnie noted. “You’re usually so colorful.”

“It’s manly,” Sean replied with a little smirk. “Like you.”

“That’s pandering,” Brawnie said through a yawn. “But I guess I’ll take it.” 

Brawnie undressed, turned off the light, and got under the covers. “I’ll be glad when the pandemic’s over,” he said wistfully. “I miss going to the gym.”

“Manly man that you are,” Sean replied.

“I saw Eric at the store today,” Brawnie continued. 

“Your workout buddy.”

“He looks like a cocky frat guy,” Brawnie mused, “but the man’s considerate to everyone.”

Sean listened to his husband breathe a while. “Expectations, you know?”

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by the author

Sean and Brawnie Happily Homebound on New Year’s Eve

Snow

“Where did we put those champagne glasses?” Sean asked from the kitchen.

“Try the cupboard above the fridge,” Brawnie replied from the living room couch, where he was sprawled out watching the ten o’clock news.

The eve of the new year had begun with a strange winter rain, that late in the day became sleet, then showers of snow. The sky seemed a gray fleece blanket above flakes weightless in white spacesuits floating slowly down in calm air. The roads and walks were so dangerously iced many wisely decided to stay safely indoors.

The midnight toasts were possibly a bit tipsy.

“No more Christmas until next August!”

“Huck the folidays!”

“May you let your chest hair grow out, muscle boy.”

“And may you chuck your pile of old running shoes.”

Several hours after midnight, Sean and Brawnie were asleep together on the couch, covered by their faded Packers blanket. The room was dark, except for the Twilight Zone marathon on television. An empty bottle of Prosecco and two fancy glasses stood sentry on the coffee table before them.

Outside, galaxies of starflakes gathered under streetlamps on a cold, arbitrarily named night that was beautiful to behold.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Catherine Zaidova at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie Serve Soup and Shakespeare at Their Summer Nuptials

Couple

For Brawnie, love was agreeing to speak in front of two hundred guests despite his discomfort.

Before the officiant declared them husband and husband, Brawnie began his recitation to Sean.

          Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
          Like to the lark at break of day arising
          From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

Sean felt honored that Brawnie was speaking Mr. Shakespeare’s lines from memory.

          For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings
          That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

When Brawnie finished, Sean told the crowd how he learned the value of seasonings from his mother.

How her salmon soup consisted of nothing but warm milk with a can of salmon dumped in.

How, as a child, he always poured his portion down the drain after everyone left the table.

How he would strive to spice his marriage to Brawnie with humor and patience, and the occasional spritz of whipped cream.

That evening, Brawnie loosened his tie, shucked his shoes and socks, and flopped down prone on their bed. When Sean came to the bedroom door, he wondered if Brawnie’s well-developed pecs could actually be amplifying his impressive snoring.

For Sean, standing in the doorway, love was letting his new husband sleep off a stressful day, knowing they had already arrived at heaven’s gate.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Melanie Villeneuve at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie’s Sunday Brunch

Breakfast

“You’re not drinking your coffee,” Sean observed.

Brawnie unfolded his napkin and wiped his lips. “Will you marry me if I’m not religious?” he asked.

Sean recognized this as another round of Brawnie’s perverse variation on Twenty Questions.

“As long as you acknowledge Tina Turner,” Sean replied, “as patron saint of survivors.”

Brawnie helped himself to a forkful of Sean’s omelet. “Will you marry me if I’m dismissed as heteronormative?”

“That,” Sean scoffed, “is just another label some people use to shame others for who they are.”

Sean helped himself to a taste of his boyfriend’s huevos rancheros. “And you know, I do love your extra-normative pecs.”

Brawnie blushed, and pressed on with his game. “Will you marry me if I forget to chill the chardonnay?”

Sean cued up his best Susan Hayward. “Broadway,” he began with mock intensity, “doesn’t go for booze and dope.”

Brawnie laughed and lifted his coffee cup, revealing a plain, gold ring on the saucer below.

“Will you marry me?”

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Heather Ford at unsplash.com

First Dance with a Man

Dancing
The decor in Sam's Tavern doesn't scream gay : coin-operated
pool tables on one side, carpet-covered benches around

a little dance floor on the other. Tyler and his date
play several games of pinball on the machine that's free

if you know where to thump its side. Despite his distaste	
for drinking, Ty tosses down two gin and tonics in a half-hour.

He isn't planning to rob the corner grocery or blow up a bridge.
He just wants to dance with a man. When Tyler was a boy, he'd seen

women polka in pairs Sunday afternoons on Dairyland Jubilee. 
Men in his experience never waltzed or two-stepped together.

Now he watches the dancers at Sam's and waits for the alcohol
to find his defiance. When Tina Turner's sultry song begins to billow

from the jukebox, Ty sets aside his glass and follows his date
under the glitter ball. His movements at first are more squirm than sway

but with every twitch a Berlin Wall is coming down. Whatever you
want to do, the singer insists, is alright with me, and by last call

Tyler's relaxed and happy under the floating flecks of light.
It's not just his body that's dancing.

Copyright 2011 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the March/April 2011 issue of Our Lives magazine,
and in 2013 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
Photo by Thiago Barletta at unsplash.com