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Something’s Always Wrong Chapter 5

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006LFPWCY

Chapter 5

Lounges & Latinos

 

Ken had been doing some cleaning around his apartment for no other reason than sheer boredom. He had pulled out every drawer he could find. The amount of lost treasures he found was becoming quite significant. He had uncovered a pod of porn magazines he hadn’t seen in over three years. Some old souvenirs from the weekend he went up to San Diego. Old movie ticket stubs and a small metal tag he had received as a ticket the last time he had gone to the museum. The cleaning came to an abrupt end when Ken discovered an old pack of photographs he hadn’t laid eyes on in months. Forgetting himself, he opened it up and pulled out the slick papers. His heart sank as he looked down upon the two smiling people looking back up at him. They had smiles on their faces that seemed to tell a story. They were two people who seemed as though they had the rest of their lives together to look forward to. He saw promise and hope. He saw Greg and himself during happier times. The picture was no more than a month old. He and Greg had been together long enough that Ken was secure that Greg wouldn’t just change his mind and leave without a word. He was comfortable enough to take pictures. He was sure that he would not live to regret it. He was sure that Greg would not leave behind a field of emotional land mines that he would later have to tip toe across in his wandering mind. He thought that at least. Ken threw the pictures into the nearest garbage can he could find, but thinking better about it, he went back and fished them out. He turned them over so he wouldn’t see the pictures and carefully folded them back into their envelope. He strategically placed them back in his closet way in the back of everything. He hoped enough time would pass before he endeavored to clean again that he would have gotten past the pain of Greg’s betrayal or better yet, found someone better, and he’d be able to look at the pictures again and not feel tremendous loss.

Ken continued burrowing through his papers and drawers. He found more packs of pictures but he didn’t bother opening them. He was just about finished with the last drawer in his computer desk. He was sifting through some old papers that he wasn’t sure he needed or not and he wasn’t really in the mood to read anything so he just assumed he’d need them and pushed them back into his desk. Just as he was about to shut the drawer, he noticed a corner of a small business card. He reached in and pulled it out. It was laminated and brightly colored. There was a colorful drawing of a lovely little resort surrounded by palm trees on it. He read the little text that was printed on the back of the card and realized it was indeed a pass for the Los Gatos Inn that Jason had received from Ben, and Jason then passed on to Ken. Ken had taken it and giggled a bit when he found out what the resort was all about. There were times he would find the card mingled amongst old magazines and old junk mail and thought of tossing it along with them. He never did though. He thought it was an interesting little item to hold onto, if for only the novelty of ever actually going, which Ken would never have considered. Not usually anyway. Ken sat there, holding the card in his hand. He began thinking. He knew he wasn’t in the best shape of his life and since it was a clothing optional establishment, he felt that could be an issue. He also knew the reputation of the Inn was that of a higher class bath house that catered to the beautiful and cosmetically adjusted elite of West Hollywood. Ken knew he would not fit in. He knew he’d be an outsider. He also knew he didn’t care at that point. He needed to escape. Any escape.

It took Ken two days of hard concentration to work up the nerve to even step out the door and begin his journey. He decided a plain, casual ensemble would be best; something that didn’t call attention to his slightly growing midsection. He settled on a baggy t-shirt with white cargo shorts and some beaten up tennis shoes with ankle socks. His hair was the only part of his body he wasn’t ashamed of, but still felt the need to cover it up with a small baseball cap.

Ken drove over the hill and found parking on a small residential street off of Laurel Canyon. It was at least six blocks to his destination. His heart beat louder with every step. He went through a panorama of feelings as he made his way down the street. He was ashamed because he just knew people walking and driving by knew where he was going. They knew what dirty business he had on his mind. He tried to think clean thoughts, but it didn’t matter. They already knew. He knew it. He also felt awkward because there were a few very cute guys who strolled up past him obviously leaving from where he intended to go. He could have sworn a few shot him little glances as if he were an alien. As if he were some grotesque monster who had no business being anywhere near their general air space. Before long, he reached his destination. He stood before the Los Gatos Inn. It looked like a large two story house and blended in along the row of homes and apartment buildings that surrounded it. There were large Ivy bushes growing up the front of the house making it impossible to sneak any peek of what was going on beyond that. Ken had imagined there would be naked men running around on the roof or loud music playing. Instead it looked more like a house with Ivy grown over it with a small sign out front with the name Los Gatos Inn in red neon letters. Ken took one final breath and walked through the front door. It began to seem like any other bathhouse that he had ever been to. Behind a glass window was a young man with an angelic face.

“Hello,” The young man said happily through the window. “Can I help you?” Ken was frozen in place. He walked up and fumbled for the pass. He found it and passed it under the glass. The young man took it and read it. He looked back up at Ken with a smile on his lips but a questioning stare in his eyes. “Of course. Come on in.” Ken heard a buzz and he opened a large door to his left. He walked on into the main lobby of the inn. There was another man, Latin he seemed, who came up to Ken and handed him a towel.

“The pool is right out that door there. Feel free to enjoy our facilities for the day, sir.” The Latin man said more enthusiastically than the front guy said. Ken nodded and proceeded to the pool area.

The sun was sparkling off the surface of the sapphire pool. There were lounge chairs lined up along all sides of the area. Ken walked out into the warm sun and saw a few men already camped by the pool and two men wading in the pool itself. One, a solidly built older man with salt and pepper hair, was wearing a very small Speedo that seemed to be stretched to its limit against the force of his crotch. The other, a very stunning Asian boy with jet-black hair and a tight, muscular body, was totally naked. They were swimming around until they met in the center at which point the older man scooped up his Asian lover in his large arms and they began to kiss. None of the others outside seemed to even care as most of them were laying down on some of the large chaise lounges that were lined up around the pool. They were all laying face down so Ken couldn’t tell if they were cute, but he could tell they were all in exceptional shape. They all had slender waists and curvy, muscular backs that glistened in the sun. Ken also went unnoticed as no one looked up as he walked out and the two lovers in the pool remained locked in their passionate embrace. Ken simply strolled around the area towards a bunch of chairs clustered in a shady corner that were empty. He laid down on one of them and settled in his place. He opened his bag and pulled out his CD player and a book. He didn’t even bother to take his shirt off. He just laid there in the sun, listening to Coldplay and reading another one of his trashy gay novels. Time passed and the world around him suddenly faded from his notice.

Ken was on chapter twenty of his book when he finally put it down and looked about. The sunbathers had turned over and he could see their chests. Ken looked around and noticed the older man and his younger, Asian lover had gotten out of the pool and were quietly fucking in the shade. The Asian boy was laid face down as his larger, muscular lover was gently pushing into him. Every now and then the Asian guy would lift his head and Ken could see what looked like pain melt into ecstasy. Every now and then one of the sunbathers would turn his head over to see the show, but they didn’t stare for long. Ken looked down at his watch and it had only been two hours since he had laid down.

“Enjoying yourself?” A voice came from behind as Ken’s glare was locked on the fucking couple as the Asian guy flipped over onto his back, begging for his lover’s cock. Ken looked around, startled. It was the Latin guy from inside. He was even cuter in the sunlight. His hair was dark and fluttering in the breeze. His eyes were deep. He had a small moustache running along his upper lip and he had some sort of boyish quality in his face that qualified him for the adjective ‘adorable’.

“Yes. I am. Thanks.” Ken said nervously.

“I only ask because many of our patrons take at least their shirts off. To relax. That is the point here. To relax. Leave the outside world behind and just be yourself. No judgment.”

“No judgment?” Ken questioned. “Are you nuts? These are gay men here. They do nothing but judge! I think we invented that.”

“Oh, well, maybe some. I don’t.”

“Well, these guys out here I’m sure do. The shirt stays on.” Ken said and went back to his book. He expected to hear the Latin guy walk off, but instead he sat down on the lounge next to Ken.

“Don’t you have to work?” Ken asked as he looked over at the Latin guy.

“I’m on my break.” He said. “Good book?”

“Not really. A friend suggested I read it, but this thing is just like all the other gay novels out there. All the main characters are young, good looking and rich. What the hell problems could they possibly have?” Ken then slammed the book shut and tossed it into his bag.

“Are you okay?”

“I don’t know. I just wanted to get away and I guess this wasn’t a very good choice of escape plan.” Ken said, trying not to stare as the Asian guy started to go down on his boyfriend.

“I’m Julio.” The Latin guy said as he offered Ken his hand.

“I’m Ken. Nice to meet you, Julio.” Ken’s lips curled into a slight smirk.

“What?”

“Nothing. It’s just Julio.”

“Yes? It’s my name.”

“I know, but it just sounds like one of those exotic Latin names that no one actually has. I’ve never met a Julio before.”

“Well, I never met a Ken before. Until now I thought only plastic dolls got that name.”

“Touché.” Ken then saw a glint in Julio’s eyes.

“Well, if you’re not taking your shirt off, I am.” Julio stretched up and pulled his uniform shirt off. The skin on his body was just as dark and brown as the skin on his face. His body was smooth and muscular. He had very lickable nipples, Ken thought, as Julio laid back down, shirtless. Julio kept his stare on Ken.

“Wow.”

“Thanks.” Julio said broadening his smile to expose his bright, white teeth. Ken was beginning to feel light headed.

“I better go.”

“Wait, don’t go. Don’t you feel okay?” Julio asked as he turned to Ken.

“Just a little light headed.”

“Come with me.” Julio said as he took Ken’s hand and led him away. Julio took him inside and back through a door that said employees only. They walked up a small stairway and Julio took Ken to a small room with a cot all set up.

“Some of the guys who work late sleep in here. Just lay down here a minute. It could be the sun. You were out there for awhile.”

“Yeah.” Ken said as the words Julio was speaking began to make sense. Ken lied down on the cot and Julio kneeled next to him and began stroking Ken’s chest. “What are you doing?”

“Just relaxing you,” Julio said with a daring smirk. “Feel good?”

“Yeah. It does.” Julio suddenly hooked his thumb under the bottom of Ken’s shirt and pulled it up over his head. Ken pushed his shirt back down.

“Not bad.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Look, Ken, I see guys coming in and out of here all day. Most of them are hot. Extremely hot and in my earlier days, I’ve had my share of them. I’m older now though and the physical aspects aren’t so hard and fast with me. I don’t dig ripped muscle heads. I like a little meat on the bones. A little imperfection. Wabi Sabi.”

“Huh?”

“The beauty of the imperfect. I believe in that.”

“You think I’m beautiful?”

“If I said yes, would you go out with me?” Ken had to try clearing his ear to make sure he heard correctly. Julio, a man that could have given Antonio Banderas a run for his money, was sitting before him, shirtless, and was asking him, also shirtless, for a date.

“Sure. I would even if you had said ‘no’.” Julio’s face lit up and he pulled out a small piece of paper from his pocket along with a pen. He scribbled down something and handed it to Ken.

“Here.”

“You were prepared, now weren’t you?” Ken said.

“Have to be prepared. Call me. I should get back to work now. Break’s over.” Julio then leaned in and kissed Ken’s lips before bolting up and running out the door.

An hour later, Ken collected his things and came down to the lobby and started towards the exit. The young man behind the glass called out to Ken, as he was about to leave.

“Excuse me! You still have use of the Inn for the rest of the day, sir.”

“That’s okay.” Ken said as he skipped out the door.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006LFPWCY

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Something’s Always Wrong Chapter 2

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006LFPWCY

Chapter 2

Luggage & Fix Ups

 

Ken was hunched over the keyboard of his computer. His eyes were intent on the screen before him. He had spent most of the day at home working on spreadsheets and proposal forms for work, but he had decided to take a little Internet break and had found his way into the chat rooms on HOMO.COM. He had intended only to observe the other chatters, but the urge overtook him and he had made out his own profile and was smack dab in the middle of the San Fernando Valley room. There wasn’t much going on in the main chat, but Ken was juggling four separate instant messengers. All four were pretty much the same. They were all in their mid thirties, they all were professionals who enjoyed outdoor activities and dinners with close friends, or that special someone, at least that’s what their profiles said. Ken was just jumping from one conversation to the next. All four discussions were surrounding mundane topics such as weather and each chatters’ dislike for their work. Eventually, almost at the same time, the chat turned to more personal matters. First the question if Ken worked out was asked by all four chat mates. He had barely gone to his gym in the months following Greg’s departure, but Ken lied anyway and said that he worked out at least three times a week. This impressed his new cyber friends. Then came questions of his physical measurements. Ken again fudged a bit. He gave his height honestly, but he shaved a few pounds off his weight.

Then the final, most important, question was posted. Whether or not Ken had a picture to share. Ken felt a slight chill run down his back. He was beginning to feel a stir in his lap from his talking to the four online strangers and wasn’t looking forward to popping the bubble. He took a gulp of air and realized it was bound to happen at some point. He told them all yes, and transmitted his most recent picture to them all. Time passed. Beads of sweat began to form on Ken’s forehead. ‘They must be having trouble downloading it.  It was a pretty big file.’ Ken thought to himself. He asked if MANSTUD69 was having any trouble with the file. No answer. He then tried XXXBEERCAN, again, no reply. Ken’s fingers were starting to wiggle over the keys. He decided not to tempt fate with the other two and just let them simmer. Just as he was about to close out of the program, a new line of text popped up in MANSTUD69’s chat window. Ken’s heart began to race. He scanned the line of new text but then his heart sank a little. Apparently Ken wasn’t MANSTUD69’s type. A polite way of telling him he was repulsive. Ken quit out of his Internet browser without so much as an obligatory good bye. Ken knew in his head it was just on-line flirting. Nothing to be taken seriously, but in his heart, any rejection, however small, stung like a thousand knives.

He was still feeling vulnerable since Greg walked out on him, also with no good-bye or even explanation. Ken had been going into the chat rooms more and more frequently over the past few months. He was soon a veteran of the whole thing. He had the lingo and shorthand down pat. He knew the dance quite well. The only problem was he just wasn’t that good at it. Just as the onset of full force depression began to take hold of him, the front door of his Van Nuys apartment flew open and Mike came barging in.

“I have been trying to call you for over an hour! What the hell is wrong with your,” Mike stopped suddenly when he saw the computer was on and Ken had his head down. “Oh. Cruising the chat rooms again?” Ken slowly nodded his head.

“What are you doing here?” Ken asked as he picked himself up and took a deep breath.

“You said I could borrow your luggage, darling. Remember?”

“Oh. Right. I forgot. Sorry.”

“I didn’t want to barge in here like this, but Ivan and I are leaving on our trip in a couple days. I’ve got to start packing if I’m going to make that. Oh. Kenny, boy! Can you believe it? I’m going to Europe! I’m actually going! And not alone like some loser! I’m going with my boyfriend. My actual, ‘been together for a whole year’ boyfriend! I never thought I’d see the day.” Mike said in a breathy, happy tone.

“Neither did I.” Ken said brusquely as he pushed past Mike towards his bedroom to retrieve the luggage in question. Mike shot a hard sneer at Ken as he passed, but Ken would hardly have cared even if he had seen it.

“I don’t like the tone, missy.”

Ken opened his closet and up on the top shelf he saw his gold seal Samsonite leather cases. He had bought them years earlier at a time when he had been going on several extended trips for his firm. Ken had decided that a good set of luggage would be a good investment. After he bought them though, his trips had ceased and he was stuck with a set of luggage that nearly set him back a clear grand with no place to go. He had played with the idea of going to Europe himself. He had secretly wanted to go, although he never told anyone, due to the fact everyone simply assumed every gay man dreamed of going to Europe and he didn’t want to play into any stereotypes. He really wanted to go though, and that luggage was going to go with him, but that was a long time ago and the dust that was building on the luggage was becoming noticeable.

He reached up and pulled the largest case down. A cloud of soot drifted down with it. He grabbed the other two smaller bags and wiped off the dust. Ken then carried all three bags out to Mike who was waiting anxiously to take them in his hands.

“Oh wow! They look great! Like they’ve hardly been used.” Ken ignored his friend’s jab.

“Enjoy.”

“Look, I’m sorry okay? It’s not like I planned for my relationship to be going so good while yours, well, while yours crapped out.”

“It’s okay, Mike. Really. I don’t give a shit anyway. What good are boyfriends anyway? They just add this unwanted pressure into your life. Someone you always have to look good around. Someone you’re always self conscious around. Does he love me? Do I love him? Please. I’m much more comfortable just being single. The way God intended.”

“Wow. Someone’s been getting drunk on the bitter juice lately.”

“Not all of us can land a fashion mogul like you.”

“Are you implying that I’m only with Ivan because he’s rich?”

“Well?”

“I’ll have you know that I would be just as happy with Ivan if he were poor. The fact that he is rich is just the biggest, best surprise in the world.”

“Look, I’m sorry. I’m just still shook by Greg. I am happy for you and Ivan. I really am. Maybe even a little jealous.” Mike’s steel features softened and he lovingly took Ken in his arms and hugged him gently.

“Oh, honey.” Mike cooed. “Of course you are.”

Mike cradled Ken in his arms and then released his embrace and looked Ken straight in the eyes.

“Look, serious, okay? It really is killing me seeing you such a mess. How about I fix you up?”

“A fix up? I don’t know.”

“Why not? That’s how Ivan and I met.”

“No it’s not. You hooked up in a bath house.”

“I know. We’re just telling everyone it was fix up. It’s so much more romantic, don’t you think? So, how about it? A little fix up?”

“I don’t think so,” Ken said. “Oh come on! There’s this really cute guy at the restaurant who’s just as desperate and hard up as you.”

“Thanks.”

“I didn’t mean it like that, but since the cat is out of the bag.”

“Is he really cute?”

“Babe, he is hot! I mean if it weren’t for Ivan, I’d be camping out between his legs right now.” Mike said.

“What’s his name?”

“Ramone Del Cruz. He’s very sweet. A little shy since the divorce.”

“Divorce? From a woman? He was married to a woman? He is gay right?”

“Darling! Why do you think she dumped him? Don’t worry. He’s totally down with the man on man thing. When do you want to do it?”

“I didn’t agree to anything. Yet. I have to think about it.”

“Fine. Think.” Mike said as he handed Ken a piece of paper. He looked down at it. It had a phone number and the name Ramone scrawled across it. “I told him all about you, so he won’t be too surprised to hear from you.”

“You gave him my number too, didn’t you?”

“It may have found its way into his pocket.” Mike said impishly.

“I appreciate it. I really do.”

“I love you, you know that. We all do.”

“Love me as much as your luggage, right? Well, my luggage,” Ken said with a smile. “I know. I’ll be okay. You go on. Enjoy my luggage. Enjoy Europe!”

“I will. Thanks.” Mike then gave Ken a light kiss on the cheek and sauntered out.

Mike came driving up to Ivan’s house in Brentwood. It was a ranch style house hidden deep in a small glen of ivy and old oaks. It was one of the few very secluded, exclusive, neighborhoods in a city as large as Los Angeles. The lights were off which concerned Mike as Ivan had told him he’d be home all night.

He parked the car on a small patch of gravel. He got out and as he walked towards the front door, the lights inside came on. Mike ran over and opened the door. He stopped when he saw a platoon of packed bags sitting before him.

“What is all this?” Ivan popped out from behind one of the larger suit bags.

“Just a little surprise.”

“Did you pack for a vacation or are you moving?” Mike was trying to comprehend the amount of clothes that sat before him.

“It’s Europe! The weather over there can be crazy so you need to be prepared for anything. Plus, we’re going to a number of official events so I need a good selection of dressy clothes.”

“Is there anything left in your closet?”

“Just my underwear.” Ivan said with a sly grin as he slowly slid his arms around Mike’s waist.

“Well, you won’t be needing those, now will you?”

“Nope. So, let’s go.” Ivan whispered in Mike’s ear. Mike bolted up.

“What? Go?”

“Yes. I called and had our tickets upgraded. We leave in about forty five minutes.”

“I can’t go now! I haven’t even packed!”

“You don’t think all these clothes are mine, do you?”

“Huh?”

“The red bags are yours, the green ones are mine. I know your measurements and what you like so I took the liberty of packing for you. All originals. All French.”

“Oh my god. Ivan! It sounds so silly to say this but you shouldn’t have,” Ken’s luggage, which was still sitting in Mike’s car outside, was fading out of his mind. “Wait.” Mike said as a certain reality abruptly popped in his head. “My job. My vacation doesn’t start for two more days!”

“So? It’s just two days.”

“It must have been a while since you’ve been in the world of hourly wages, but normally employers don’t like it when you take off work days ahead of schedule.”

“I realize that, but I’m sure they’ll understand. Just call up your boss and explain the situation.”

“I’ll try.” Mike pulled out his cell phone and dialed Oscar Porter; the owner of the restaurant Mike was currently working at. It rang a few times. A thick, smoke scarred voice came on.

“Yeah?” Oscar blurted.

“Mr. Porter? It’s Mike.”

“Oh. Mike. What is it?”

“I was just calling to tell you that something’s come up and,” Mike wasn’t sure what to say. He knew that Oscar wasn’t one to give away free time too easily.

 “Hey, Mike, if you’re calling about your vacation time, you’re talking to the wrong guy.”

“I am?”

“Yeah, I haven’t told anyone yet, but I sold the place today.”

Mike felt his head spin briefly as he heard these words hit his ears.

“What?”

“I know. I was surprised too, but I just got a real good offer the other day and I figured I was about ready to retire. Don’t worry though. No one’s losing their job or anything. I was assured the business would stay open and be run as usual.”

Mike felt a bit of relief at that news but his more immediate concern was still hanging in the balance.

“Who do I talk to about my vacation then?” Oscar proceeded to give Mike a phone number. He thanked him and dialed the new number. He shot a confused look at Ivan as he waited for the sound of ringing. Then almost by coincidence, Ivan’s phone began to ring. He grabbed his phone and stepped away out of sight. Within a few seconds a familiar voice purred in Mike’s ear.

“Yes?” Mike could hear Ivan both over the phone and just a few feet away. Mike clicked off his phone and ran over to Ivan.

“You? You bought my restaurant?”

“Surprise!”

“Why?”

“I just thought it would make it easier for you to get out of there a couple days early.”

 “How did you do this? Buying a restaurant has got to take mountains of paperwork!”

“Fortunately, I’ve got mountains of money.”

“Are you telling me you bought an entire restaurant just so you could make sure I could leave with you two days early?”

“That’s about the shape of it, yes.”

“That is so crazy! You don’t even know how to run a restaurant!”

“I’ll hire someone for that. I look at it as an investment. I’ll worry about all the nuts and bolts when we get back. Now, get your bags. We’re leaving.”

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006LFPWCY

Looking? Please!!

Okay, I have heard a lot about this new HBO series ‘Looking’. From what I have gathered it’s a series about a group of gay friends in San Francisco and the ups and downs of their lives as they deal with life and love. Hmmm. Well, that sounds awful familiar to me.

Now, I don’t want to sound like sour grapes here. I just want to set the record straight, so to speak. I was first to this. I have  been writing these stories since 2004. ‘Looking’ is basically ‘Jason Of The Valley’ just set in a new city and cast with actors who are by far NOT an accurate portrayal of your average gay man. As usual, Hollywood casts pretty, but that’s not my big beef. I’m just here to let you all know if you saw this show and liked it, go check out ‘JOV’ and its sequels. It’s exactly the same kind of thing. A group of gay friends and the things they go through aren’t about them being gay. They just happen to be gay. They are real characters. Flawed and perfect in all their imperfections. Which by the way, I think is a sad state of affairs when a show with gay characters is spotlighted by the fact that the characters’ sexuality isn’t made a primary issue. Gay people have always been gay people and should  have been portrayed as such from the very beginning. In this day and age, this shouldn’t be revolutionary.

I’d also like to add the a few years ago a pitched JOV as a series to Logo and it was passed only because a similar project was under production, and I believe this was that project. I’m just saying. So if you liked Looking, I have a feeling you’ll really enjoy the Jason Of The Valley series. Check it out.

The first:

http://www.amazon.com/Jason-Of-The-Valley-Melby-ebook/dp/B001JEO44E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1390240244&sr=8-2&keywords=Jason+k+melby

The second:

http://www.amazon.com/Somethings-Always-Wrong-Jason-Valley-ebook/dp/B006LFPWCY/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1390240388&sr=8-9&keywords=Jason+k+melby

The third:

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Without-You-Jason-Valley-ebook/dp/B006LFW0PG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1390240388&sr=8-3&keywords=Jason+k+melby

So, I’m at least three years ahead of the show as far as stories, and I have another one due out this year.