The One That Got Away


Brian stepped out the front door of Kinnetik. He pulled his camelhair coat close around his frame. The autumn wind was cold and he felt it to the bone. He wasn’t sure why, but the cold bothered him … ever since his bout with cancer. He shuddered involuntarily at the thought. Thank the gods all his check ups had been clear. He didn’t want to have to deal with that again.

Pulling out a pack of cigarettes, Brian lit up. He didn’t smoke much anymore, not since the cancer. But sometimes he really needed a cigarette, and this was one of those times. Smoking in the building was prohibited, so he had to go outside when the craving hit him.

Brian thought for a moment, reflecting on what had happened in the last hour. It hadn’t been a pleasant experience. Brian never liked to lose. In this case he definitely didn’t like to lose. But things changed as time went on, and this was one of the changes he and Kinnetik would have to deal with. There had been quite a lot of changes since his cancer operation … and the radiation. Changes both personal and professional. Many of them Brian not pleasant, some not so bad.

A frown creased his brow, as he thought about the account that Kinnetik had just lost – the one that got away, a big one. Eyeconics had been one of his most lucrative accounts. It was the one that Justin had helped him clinch. “Orange is the new blue.” The words tripped lightly through his brain and made Brian smile. He missed Justin.

Giving his head a shake, Brian took a long draw on his cigarette before dropping it to the ground and grinding it under his boot. Since he had lost a client, it was time to find a better one to replace it. He thought he had an idea for a possible replacement. He had some phone calls to make. Brian headed inside to start the wheels rolling.



“Yeah, what is it?” Brian asked turning his chair around to look at who was speaking to him. He had been lost in thought staring at the painting behind his desk – one of Justin’s.

“I heard about Eyeconics,” Ted said. “It’s hard to lose them.”


“But you’ll figure out what to do,” Ted said optimistically.

“You think so?”

“I know so,” Ted stated trying to sound more positive than he felt. In the current economy it wasn’t easy to replace an account of the magnitude of Eyeconics.

“Any ideas?” Brian asked to see how Ted would respond.

“Um … no, not exactly. You’re the idea man,” Ted stammered. This wasn’t going at all the way he had intended. He had stopped at Brian’s office to offer commiseration and encouragement, not to be put on the spot about what the company was going to do next. He had no idea how they were going to fix this situation. That was Brian’s forte, not his.

“Things change,” Brian replied enigmatically.

“You don’t have any ideas?” Ted asked in horror, assuming that was what Brian meant.

“What if I didn’t?”

“We’d be in big trouble,” Ted said solemnly.

Brian snorted. “Here,” he said. He handed Ted a folder.

“What’s this?”

“Our new account – The Mug Shot.”

“Mug Shot? Aren’t they the new coffee company that’s opened a few stores in competition with Starbucks?”

“The very one. Have you tasted their coffee? It’s better than Starbucks. They just need a little help to get their brand out there.”

“And we’re going to provide it,” Ted said with a smile. He knew Brian liked a challenge. Maybe this would cheer him up in light of recent events.


“You think Kinnetik can capture them?”

“I know we can.”

Ted grinned. He liked the confident Brian Kinney. “When do you meet with them?”

“Don’t need to.”


“Open the folder.”

Ted flipped open the file folder. There were some printed sheets showing advertising ideas for The Mug Shot. There were some projected costs for paper and TV advertising. And underneath was the outline for a contract, already signed and obviously faxed from someone at The Mug Shot. “You already got this account?” Brian merely nodded. “When?” Ted asked.

“About fifteen minutes ago while I was on the phone with the CEO of the company.”

“You did this over the phone?” Ted asked in amazement.

“I emailed him those ideas that I worked up, along with some words of advertising wisdom.”

“And he signed … just like that.” Ted couldn’t believe the balls of the great Brian Kinney. “Well done, Boss,” he said with a big grin.

“Thank you, Employee,” Brian retorted.

Ted chuckled. “I guess some things are easy to replace.”

Brian quickly glanced over his shoulder at the painting he had been staring at. “Others not so much,” he said in a voice scarcely above a whisper.

Ted had a pretty good idea what Brian might be referring to, but he thought maybe he wouldn’t mention Justin Taylor or New York. “This contract won’t be as lucrative as Eyeconics…” Ted felt compelled to mention.

“Not yet, but give it time. In the future it will be bigger than Starbucks,” Brian stated confidently.

Ted couldn’t argue with a confident Brian Kinney. “Great work, Boss!” was all he could say.

“Now get out of here,” Brian ordered. “Go work up the final cost analysis for the contract and draw up an official copy to send to the CEO of The Mug Shot.”

“Yes, Boss. Right away, Boss,” Ted said, but he didn’t make a move to leave.

“Is there something else?” Brian asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Um … Blake and I are meeting Michael and Ben at Woody’s for a drink tonight. Would you like to join us?”

“I don’t accept pity invitations,” Brian said sarcastically. “You know what I think about pity.”

“Only too well,” Ted replied ruefully. “I just thought you might like to spend some time with … friends.”

“Thanks, but I don’t think being a fifth wheel with two sets of Stepford fags is my idea of a fun night out.”


“I’m fine. Go do your work.”

Ted knew he had been dismissed. He wanted to say more, to tell his boss and friend that things would get better, that losing Justin wasn’t the end of the world, that he still had friends, that everything would be all right somewhere down the road. Ted bit his lip. He knew Brian wouldn’t appreciate any of it. He would equate it with pity. Ted turned to leave. He hoped Brian might call him back and accept his invitation, but deep inside he knew that wasn’t likely to happen.

Brian watched Ted walk away. “Shut the door behind you,” he said.

Ted did as he was told and disappeared from sight.

Brian let out a sigh. He turned to look at Justin’s picture once more. After a few moments of thought he picked up his phone. He hit a familiar number.



“This is an unexpected surprise.”

“Just wanted to make sure you’re still coming this weekend?’

“Yep. Are you missing me?”


Justin grinned. He knew Brian didn’t mean that, quite the reverse in fact. “I miss you a lot,” Justin said honestly. “Are you sure you don’t miss me even a little?”

“Maybe just a tad,” Brian conceded.

“I thought so.”

“Pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you?”

“I like to think so.”

“We lost Eyeconics today,” Brian said sadly after a brief pause.

“Shit! No! How did that happen?”

“We didn’t have you to change the colors for us.”

“There has to be more to it than that.”

“I guess we all need changes from time to time,” Brian said philosophically. “They thought it was time to move on, and maybe they’re right.”

“Losing them has to hurt in this economy,” Justin said.

“It did, but I got a new account – The Mug Shot.”

“Wow! They’re great. There’s one down the street from me. I go there everyday.”

“I know. You took me there the last time I visited you.”

“Oh, right, I forgot.”

“Where do you think I got the idea for pitching to them?”

“I’m glad I’m still of some help,” Justin said with a smile, the warmth of which Brian could feel over the phone.

“You’ll always be a help to me,” Brian said honestly. There was a pause as his words sunk in. “I’ve been thinking…”

“Uh oh,” Justin joked.

“Losing Eyeconics clarified some things for me.”

“Like what?” Justin asked realizing that Brian was very serious about this.

“Like what we’ve been doing.”

“How so?”

“In my head I called Eyeconics the one that got away. And then Ted came in to commiserate, and he invited me to have a drink with him and Blake and Michael and Ben. I realized he was feeling sorry for me because I’m all alone. But I’m not all alone.”

“You were the one who wanted to keep our ongoing relationship a secret,” Justin said.

“I know, but I’m having second thoughts. I didn't want them poking around in our relationship, but the way they look at me with pity in their eyes is worse.  My … friends think you’re the one who got away. I don’t want their fucking pity. I want us to go public when you come here this weekend.”

“Fine with me.”

“Just like that?”



“Brian, you were the one who thought it would be easier to let them all think we’d broken everything off. I never wanted that.”

“But you went along with it…”

“Yes, I did. You’re the one living there, dealing with your friends daily. I thought you knew best.”

“So did I, but I think it was a mistake.”

“Brian Kinney doesn’t make mistakes, does he?” Justin asked with mock horror.

“Not from now on,” Brian averred.


“So, we tell them?”

“Yes we do.”

“You’ll never be the one who got away.”

“Neither will you,” Justin replied adamantly.

“And that’s just the way I want it,” Brian said with a smile. “Later.”


Brian set the phone down and turned to look at Justin's painting behind his desk. It was an abstract depiction of their relationship, full of warmth, humor, sex and love, but only he and Justin knew that. It always comforted him when he looked at it. Brian could hardly wait to tell his friends that he and Justin were still going strong. The look on their faces would be well worth it - no more pity.

Brian Kinney knew deep down inside his so-called stone cold heart that he had no intention of ever letting Justin Taylor become the one who got away.

Return to The One That Got Away