Waiting for Nothing: Part Thirteen of Angel
“. . . Life without you
Is a never-ending goodbye
As heartbreaking as the first
But never becoming the last
`A life without you
You never knew
How much I love you . . .”
Cole sat in front of his computer, staring at his empty inbox. It had been two days now, since he'd met Adam. He was beginning to wonder if the guy was full of shit. He chided himself for giving out such personal information to someone he hardly knew. But Adam was special. He'd shared his story with him.
No one was online. None of his friends could be reached. So here he was, waiting for nothing. He turned away from his desk, in a corner, beside a long window. He stood up and walked a few steps to his bookshelf. All of this waiting reminded him of all his time waiting. There was a box that stood out among the eclectic collection of books. It was matted with magazine clippings. It contained pictures. Everyone has a box of pictures. He took it with him back to the desk.
The top never slid off perfectly. It was something he never liked about the stupid thing. But it wasn't as much a painful reminder as were the smiling faces and the smiley-faced notes inside. Everyone has this box. Cole probed the box tenderly, with fingers like chopsticks. Out came a glossy photo of a boy, standing in front of a street. Behind him, a car blurred forward, the headlights casting a halo outwards. The boy himself looked tired, was wearing a messenger bag. His hair came down across his face in a striking black shock. Even though it was summer, the boy wore bronzer, but you couldn't tell in the picture. Or even face-to-face, you'd only know if you watched him put it on in the morning, before going out.
There was a note from another boy. A poem of devotion. Cole wondered if they knew that it was coming to an end when they wrote these trite things. He examined the words and style of poem. Love with dove, rub, of. Nothing went beyond the four lettered pattern. No existential with inconsequential. Just, I love you, over and over again. What was love? It was empty. And now he was more upset than when he started. But that always happened. He had been holding on to those pictures for longer than he should have. He was still friends with some of them, the people in the box. But he had to let the box go its own way, too.
Grey light flooded the room. It was mid-day, but it was overcast. So the sun was muted by a thick blanket of lazy clouds.
Helen oversaw the delivery and construction of Adam's new bed. The boys sat at the dining room table with her, eating breakfast. She was aware of what had happened last night. How could one not be, she had given them give the go-ahead. She didn't hear it or see it, so she couldn't be sure. There was a strange smell in the room, when the door was finally open. But that could have just been the sleeping sweat that happens sometimes when two people are under the covers. Her heart skipped a beat when the French doors became in danger, when the wielded beam of the bed under construction came a little too close to knocking out the glass.
“Please, be careful,” Macy squeaked.
“It's okay ma'am,” One of the men said, “Don't worry.”
Adam and Sam giggled while they watched the workers bend and twist to assemble the bed. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Sam lean over and whisper something into Adam's ear. Adam giggled and they both looked at a young man who was currently bent over to fetch something from his tool box. Helen switched windows on her laptop and accidentally pressed alt-tab again as she switched windows from the computer, to the workers. I need to unplug, she thought, why am I working right now? I took the weekend off and made sure everything would be ready for the next week.
Soon, the bed was complete; Sam and Adam didn't skip a beat to even think about jumping on it. They already had. Macy saw the workers out and made sure she tipped them. The young man thanked her. He gave her a smile that seemed to lift up her skirt. She fluttered and struggled to catch her breath as he told her, if she needed anything, to not hesitate to call him. Here was his cell number. He'd be working until three that afternoon. Macy assured the man, she was sure everything would be okay. And, thanks for coming out to put it together. She closed the door, but didn't turn away from it. God he was cute!
When she heard his voice, she whirled around quickly.
“You know he was hitting on you,” Sam had snuck up behind her.
He wasn't hitting on me. “He wasn't hitting on me,” Macy told him, matter-of-factly, “He was just being helpful.”
Rushing water could be heard from the other side of the house. The bathroom door was slightly ajar. She could see clothes being thrown into the hamper.
“You should call him tonight and tell him something's wrong with the bed.” Sam grinned.
“But he's not working at night,” Macy protested.
Sam gave her a look that said, “You can't be that dense.”
“So call him and invite him to dinner.” Sam told her.
“Sam!” Macy wondered if that really was what the man had been alluding to, “He just came to put the bed together and now he's gone. He was just being helpful. Besides. . . I think he was wearing a wedding band.”
“Alright,” Sam gave up, “Your loss.”
He looked back at the bathroom pointedly. “Can we shower together?”
Macy misunderstood what he was asking her, “What?!”
“Can Adam and I shower together?”
“Oh,” The idea didn't really make her uncomfortable. Really. “Sure.”
Jack sat in his living room. I watched him from the kitchen door. He sat there, muttering to himself. Swearing at Adam. I couldn't hear most of it. All I caught were a few words. Something that sounded like “bastard”. A phrase that sounded like “kill him”. He hadn't been home for almost a week now. Jack had been waiting for him to come home. He was just waiting for him to walk in the door so he could smear the boy's bones against the wall. His words, not mine. Anyway, he sat waiting in the recliner most of the time. The phone rang a lot. I listened to the answering machine and took messages for him.
The hospital wanted to know where he was on Tuesday. Someone told him not to bother coming in. That was Thursday. His sister, Macy, called the same day. She wanted to know how everyone was doing. Some calls from school, Adam hadn't shown up. They wanted to know if he was okay. Those calls, Jack returned himself. He told them Adam was suffering from a mild food borne illness. All the others I made up excuses for. But I never got around to calling back. I never got around to doing much anymore.
Our house was a mess. Jack had been ordering take out for the past few nights. There were pizza boxes strewn all over the living room. He had been sitting in the same room at the same place ever since he came home. The television set was turned up all the way. The sound followed us into Adam's room. He tore it apart, he looked at everything. He had just finished deconstructing the dresser. He had just started to tear through the mattress on the bed when he saw a white rectangle underneath, in a mess of clothes and old school work.
It was a box, filled to the brim with torn binder paper and evicted spiral-bound notes. Jack stopped, completely, after he ripped the lid. Colorful pages and heart-littered envelops screamed out at him. Even though he had killed our son's boyfriend, he had never known Adam was gay. He would soon find out, I realized.
The first page held a love poem. Something sweet and jingly. Your love is a dove, flying high, with my happiness into, the stars above. The second was about the same. The third was a note, something I could see being stuffed in his locker. There were so many of them. They weren't all the same either. They got better. Some were about different things, about being locked out of his house. They were all signed Scott. Jack dropped the box. He realized, coldly and blankly, Scott was the boy that Jack had laid me next to. When I went back, in the morning, I wondered where the boy had gone to. Or if he was ever there. I knelt down to ask him where he'd gone to. But he wouldn't wake up.
That night I dreamed of Adam. My dream came in right after Scott had turned away from me. I couldn't see his face, but I knew it was him. The corner of his note was sticking out of Adam's locker. I tried to touch his shoulder, but he was gone as soon as I looked away from the note. Adam came soon after a tone rang to signal the end of class. I waited by Adam's locker while other students passed me hurriedly, bumping into me, and not bothering to excuse themselves. People can be so rude.
When he got to his locker, he didn't notice the square of paper at first. He was too focused on getting the materials he would need for his next class. But, once the door was opened, the square met him eye-to-eye. No one had left him a note in his locker before, I could tell. His surprised quickly sank to the throes of novelty and the hope . . . the hope that it might be from an admirer.
But Adam, didn't read it there. The passing period tone rang again, so he quickly stuffed the note in his pocket, removed his notebook and ran off to his next class. I drifted with him, quietly passing through the throngs of students. I asked him if he knew who it was from. But he never answered me; he just took a seat instead. I stood at the door to the classroom, awkwardly, waiting to be addressed, but I never was. No one noticed me. So I walked outside and watched Adam, leaning on a planter box to see better.
He wanted to open the note, I knew he did. His hand went to his pocket, played with the edges of the note carefully, wondered whether or not to read it in class, or take a look at it during lunch. It was after that class, lunch was, after all. But, curiosity won out. Very carefully, he took the note out from his pocket and laid it flat on his notebook. It was folded and shaped into a neat square, with the corners tucked into themselves. Adam found the edges and began to unfold it.
Somebody walked by and I straightened up, immediately, hoping that the oversight I'd experienced would hold true. It did, and soon the person was gone. I turned quickly, as Adam had finished his note. He looked up, around him, then back down to the page in front of him. As I started to wake up, the picture started to fade, but I fought to stay. The last thing I can remember was the hint of a smile touching Adam's face.