Sign Here, Please by Feral Sephrian is now available!
Dustin has a decent life, all things considered. He’s an overnight manager for his hometown grocery store, knows several languages, and doesn’t have much drama to deal with. Then one summer night there’s a new delivery guy who happens to be a blast from Dustin’s past.
Zach is an old high school crush of Dustin’s who has gotten better with age. Now all Dustin can see about himself is how he still lives with his parents and couldn’t get a man like Zach in his wildest dreams. He silently laments to his co-manager Moira through American Sign Language, but she won’t let him give up just yet. Even though Dustin has trouble believing her, will this opportunity wind up as a failed delivery?
Moira was speaking to the new delivery guy, or so it sounded as Dustin walked down the hall. He had the sodas tucked under one arm and was helping himself to the broken cookies with his free hand, but he stopped chewing to hear better. The new guy had a smooth young voice, not like the good-natured gravelly voice the usual guy spoke with. Whoever this was, he sounded highly attractive.
Dustin peeked around the corner. He could see Moira, but if there was a cute guy to talk to, he didn’t want to make a first impression of showing up stuffing his face. Dustin set down the bag of cookies and clicked his tongue twice to get her attention. When he had it, he signed, “Hot guy?”
Moira responded by working an exaggerated sign for “Yes” into her conversational gesticulation. Dustin frantically wiped the crumbs off his face, adjusted his glasses, and carried one soda in each hand.
“Hey, Moira, I brought you your soda,” Dustin said in his best suave voice. He turned to face the new deliver guy, intending to keep up the façade and hope he got a good response. That plan developed a hiccup when he recognized the man standing in front of him. “Hey.”
The delivery guy grinned, just as Dustin remembered, though back then Zach hadn’t needed to shave so his smile wasn’t framed by a strong stubble like it was now. “Dusty? Is that you?”
Dustin tried to control his awkward smile that didn’t know if it should be a grin or a grimace. “Yep, it’s me. Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Nah, it’s been, what, eight years? Nine?”
“I think it’s closer to eight.”
Moira crossed her arms and subtly signed, “W-T-F” to Dustin. She smiled to Zach. “Oh? You two know each other?”
Zach smiled back. “Yeah, we went to high school together. Haven’t seen him since graduation, though. How’ve you been?”
“I’m alright,” Dustin said, heart in his throat. He was glad he had left the box of cookies behind, but he wished he could have left thirty pounds and his glasses behind with them. Zach looked better than Dustin remembered; Dustin looked nearly the same as he had in high school, but with less acne. He had briefly worked off his pudge during college, but his metabolism couldn’t keep that up forever. Dustin cursed his genes and his luck. “Um, how are you?”
Zach shrugged. “Well, other than making a wrong turn and having to backtrack for ten minutes to fix my mistake, it hasn’t been a terrible evening. Kind of embarrassing, since I grew up around here. You’d think I remembered the streets better, but nope.” He eyed the cluster of stockers waiting by the door. “Anyway, I’ve got sixteen pallets for you, eighteen pallets for the Buckton location, and a two-hour drive back to the warehouse, so how about we catch up later when we’ve got more time, alright?”
“Sure.” Dustin could barely comprehend what was happening. From what Dustin had heard, Zach had moved to Arizona to be a geologist. He was the last person Dustin thought would show up back in their hometown, let alone working as a delivery man.
While Zach unloaded the pallets with the assistance of the overnight crew, Moira pulled Dustin aside. She signed, “Details. Now.”