Dad and Steve hauled me backwards up the steps of the house on Upperline Street. I screamed in pain at each step. I don’t know why they didn’t try to carry me in. As the front door banged open the smell of the house flooded me with emotions. They spun me around and I saw the grid of boxes still neatly stacked. They wheeled me down to our room and in through the door. The room was stripped bare. The empty dresser, our bed and the watercolor of the Three Musketeers above the headboard were all that remained. I could smell Dan and Jason. I couldn’t stop crying. I got angry. I grabbed the one wheel of the wheelchair and started to go. I don’t know where or know why. Steve and Dad stepped back with fear. I got to the bedroom door and didn’t know what to do, except slam the door. It bounced back at me. I slammed it again, and again, and again, and again and kept slamming that door and screaming at the top of my lungs till the plaster started to fall from around the doorframe. Dad got down on his knee in between the door and me and hugged me. I sobbed uncontrollably into his shoulder. The loss was real.
It took an hour before I was calm enough even to say a word. I was now a completely shattered soul and wanted to die right then and there.
“Give me a gun,” were the first words I said when I finally spoke.
Steve got me to calm down. He held me cheek to cheek and whispered in my ear about how he and Katie were here for me. He had climbed into our pile of emotion on a couple of occasions and knew the strength and power we gained from it and how we spoke to one another in it. He did that now.
When he paused a moment I said, “I love you, Steve Thomas.”
“I love you too, Pete. We will get through this.”
It was only then that it dawned on me that he and Katie had lost family too.
They got me into the bed. I held the pillows to my face and breathed deeply.
“Oh my god,” I thought, “Oh my god.”
I doubted that I could ever love again. I struggled to get Dan’s watch off my wrist. Steve helped me put Dan and Jason’s rings on the band and then loop it around the knob of the bedpost.
Mom and Dad scurried around trying to do their best to make me feel comfortable. Dad went out and bought a small color TV to put on the dresser. Mom tried to put clothes into the dresser. She wouldn’t listen to me that I wasn’t going to wear any for the next six weeks or ever again if I could help it. That got Katie laughing; she new it was probably true.
“You will when we do therapy, for my sake.”
“What’s the matter, my bod ain’t cute enough?”
Mom was cringing in embarrassment at this point.
“Pete, you have an incredibly sexy body. I just don’t want Steve to get jealous.”
“Aw, he won’t get jealous. He can have it any time he wants.”
“Oh, maybe I’ll get jealous then,” she said with a laugh.
This was all too much for Mom, who ran out of the room. I had my first good laugh.
By late afternoon I was settled in. Mom and Dad went back to their hotel to pack and try to relax a bit. I knew that this was more stressful on them than I could imagine. They knew that they had to trust my decision, but I knew my mom was struggling to let go of her mothering instincts. My parents were going back to New Jersey in the morning, and Katie left to do a late afternoon shift at the clinic.
Steve came in and brought Jason’s stool with him. He sat down next to me. He leaned over and kissed me on the lips. He took my hand and interlaced his fingers with mine. We sat for ten minutes staring at each other with tears dribbling down our faces.
“I’m sorry,” I finally said.
“For what?” he asked, thoroughly confused.
“For having you to go through all this and take care of me.”
“Don’t be an asshole, Pete. What happened is the most horrible thing in the world. You need me now. I’m here for you for whatever you need, anything. I love you. I love you more than my own brothers…shit…I love you as much as I love Katie.”
“Oh stop that!”
“It’s different, but yes, just as much. Believe me.”
“Oh, Steve, I know how difficult this must be for you too. I know you loved Dan and Jason too. I don’t know how you aren’t bouncing off the walls and screaming at the world.”
“Don’t worry, I have.”
He paused a minute.
“You know my favorite baseball bat.”
“It’s a splintered mass of ash now.”
“I beat the crap out of that tree trunk up on the levee and screamed till I was hoarse. I could hardly talk for three days. It was the day Jason went into his coma and they didn’t think you would come out of yours. With Dan being buried soon it was all too much. My shoulder is still sore.”
“Oh fuck, Steve.”
I struggled to put my hand around his neck and pull him toward me. He sobbed quietly into my neck.
“Lay with me.” He picked his head up and stared. I nodded my head.
“I know,” he said with a grin.
Steve stripped down and then helped me over. He picked up the sheet and climbed in. He snuggled up to me.
“Oh my god,” I said, amazed at the feeling of warmth I got from his body nestled next to mine. We whispered into each other’s ear our feelings and thoughts comforting each other. I think for the first time I felt at ease, at least momentarily. We fell asleep.
I heard the front door. It didn’t bang so I knew it was Katie. Then I realized it couldn’t have been anyone else. I cracked my eye open. She poked her head in. Her head snapped to attention as she saw us together. Then she relaxed. I winked at her. She was unbelievable the way she understood. She came up, stared at the stool for a second and then sat down. She saw the pile of clothes on the floor. She rubbed Steve on his butt through the sheet.
“Mmmmm,” he moaned.
I could feel him begin to get hard.
“Thanks, feels good,” he said.
“You’re welcome,” Katie said.
His eyes popped open. He rolled onto his back.
“Sorry, Katie,” Steve said.
“Pete, don’t worry, I’ll share with you. OK.”
Steve glanced back and forth between us. He was confused.
“After he told me about his baseball bat I felt this was the best way to talk about what happened.”
Steve got out of bed and got dressed. We both watched with a grin as he stuffed himself into his shorts.
He glanced up at Katie, “Sorry.”
We both gave out a short laugh.
“Katie, don’t worry, he’s all yours.”
“I know, but I meant it,” she paused, “There will be nightmares.”
I got scared. They both were about to leave.
“Do you need anything right now?” Fitz asked.
I thought for a second, then embarrassed, I said, “I really need to take a dump…and no more bed pans…please.”
“Steve, he’s all yours.”
She bent down and kissed me.
“Welcome home, Pete. I’m so glad you’re back. We start therapy in the morning.”
Steve got me into the bath and sat me down.
“I’ll be back in ten.” I cried the whole time; I couldn’t remember being in there alone.
I broke down completely when I realized I was too stiff and sore to wipe my own ass.
Katie came in the next morning. She was crying.
“What’s wrong, Fitz?”
She sat down slowly on the stool. She rubbed the edge of the stool with her fingers. She then put her hand on my face.
“Jason died yesterday afternoon.”
I looked at her in disbelief.
“The ambulance driver called me this morning. He’s a friend of mine.”
She took a huge breath.
“They loaded him up to take him to Mississippi. Everything was fine until about ten miles from the border. Then his heart went erratic. They got to the base of the Pearl River Bridge and it stopped. No matter what they did, nothing. I’m sorry.”
I smiled and said to the universe, “Jason, you amazing man, you told them and you kept your promise. I love you!”
Katie looked at me with her face twisted up. I reminded her of the conversation he had with his parents when he came out to them about his relationship with us. Her eyes lit up and she smiled too.
I leaned around and lightly slapped the watercolor on the wall, “I love you, Jason, I love you! Owww!”
Fitz lightly patted my thigh, “That’s what therapy is all about so you can do all the normal things without screaming in pain. Ready?”
“NO, but I got no choice.”
Over the next couple of weeks a routine developed. Steve and Katie’s schedules meshed well with the periods when I would need help. Steve set up the La-Z-Boy in the room so he could study and read his law books. He cut a piece of plywood that he laid across the arms as a desk. I asked him one day to get one of the boxes from the grid.
“Anyone that’s labeled ‘Boone’s Books’ will do.”
Jason had labeled Dan’s library that way. Jason actually called him Boone often, I think most of the time in their private conversations. I had come to hate TV of late except for old movies and public TV. So I decided to read the books Dan loved so much. On top of the box that he brought was Confederacy of Dunces. I picked it up and caressed the cover and spine. I opened it up, cried at the inscription I wrote to Dan and began to read the novel again. It meant so much more to me this time, although I still didn’t get it. Some evenings, Katie would sit in with us and do the crossword, knit or read too. There were times when all you would hear was the turning of pages, the horns of the freighters or tankers floating above our heads on the river just two streets away and an occasional sigh.
Tim and Daf would come by on a regular basis to sit with me and help as much as they could. Dave didn’t know what to say when I first saw him. I don’t know how many times I had to tell him it wasn’t his fault before he began to accept it. I think he will always feel responsible.
“Dave, that was the most fabulous weekend we could ever have had. Everything was perfect. We all enjoyed every moment of it. We had the best sex and a lot of it. We kissed as much as possible and were together every second. I have nothing to regret about it. Maybe it was inevitable and you provided the perfect end to it all.”
He stared at me blankly. He couldn’t believe I really felt that way. We never spoke about that weekend again for many years. We enjoyed our conversations as we always did. He brought his new girlfriend, Debbie Brown, by every once in a while too. I knew she would become his wife from the first moment I met her.
Tim was an absolute joy to be around. The reasons we began to date and fall in love originally were very apparent when we spent our time together. He was still with his current boyfriend but Tim arranged for two evenings a week that he could spend a few hours with me. He gave of himself unconditionally. Sometimes we would just watch TV, but more and more he took on the chores of care giving that I needed when he was there. He took me to the toilet, gave me sponge baths, made me things to eat, and comforted me when I cried or got angry. He even began to stroke me off too. I had certainly changed since we dated and Tim had changed too. He was less reserved and more comfortable with himself…and with me, especially when we were alone. The first time he took me to the toilet I asked him to sit with me. He was very private about his bath habits. He had heard Dan and Jason talk about us all together in the bath. He was at once horrified, yet intrigued. I think he still was, but he agreed to stay. I told him to turn on the fan. His eyes got big; he thought I only needed to pee. I thought he would get up and leave, but he sat on the edge of the tub and kept talking. I could tell he was nervous but he knew there was something more to this than watching somebody take a shit and he wanted to figure out what it was.
“Thank God for the fan,” he said seriously.
I looked at him and laughed, “Dan said that too!”
Tim felt reassured that we had not been completely insane about our relationship.
He also began to give me sponge baths.
Steve said to him one evening as he was running out the door to his evening lecture, “You might not want to sit too close to him. He’s beginning to stink, didn’t get to give him a bath today. Unless you’d like to?”
Tim walked over to me and picked up my arm and sniffed, more as a joke, but he cringed.
Steve burst out laughing, “I told you so!”
“I don’t mind hosin’ him down.”
“Am I not here or am I just a piece of meat y’all play with?” I said indignantly.
“Oh, and he likes that too,” Steve exclaimed.
“Oh, I have experience with that from some time ago.”
“HEY,” I yelled waving my hand, “Hello! Pete here, you cheeky bastards!”
They both broke up laughing.
Tim took his time giving me a bath as I sat naked in the wheel chair in the bathroom. He washed my hair over the sink. Then as he toweled each part of my body with the washcloth he talked and told stories of life with Brad, his boyfriend, or experiences with some of his crazier clients at the bank. He took such care in making sure I was clean. This was his way to express all the love he had for me without having to say it. I was shocked when he cleaned between the cheeks of my ass. Although he had fucked me a couple of dozen times the area was still somewhat taboo when we were dating. For him to do this I knew he had to have changed his attitudes and allowed himself to grow. By the time he got to my groin, he was absolutely loving and tender and in the end, he stroked me till I came. It was sensual but it wasn’t emotional. He was giving me relief from my horniness. I was in awe of him now and the growth of his soul. I was beholden to the wonderful person he had become.
When he was done and had wheeled me back to the bedroom and gotten me into bed I said, “Tim, thank you, that was the most amazing bath I’ve ever had. You can do that for the rest of my life if you want.”
I gave him a wink.
“But really, thanks for the love that you show me.”
“Pete, I owe you more than I could ever repay. Ever since I met you, you have tried to get me to be me, to express what I really am, to allow myself to become actualized. I tried to show you the love and care in giving you a bath that you have always showed me.” He paused and looked at me. “Even when I broke up with you, your concern was for me. You should have told me to fuck off and screamed at me, but although you were hurt, you wanted to make sure I was OK. I have never forgotten that. I’m still ashamed of the way I acted. So the only way I can atone for that is to grow beyond it. I think saying I’m sorry to you wouldn’t really do anything, but to learn more and become the person that you always realized that I could be would mean more than anything to both of us.”
I reached up and put my hand around his neck and pulled him to me. I kissed him on the lips.
“Thank you, Tim.”
I loved when he came each Tuesday and Thursday.
My Dad had called about my new job the day after I came out of the coma. They promised that they would wait for me to start the job just after the New Year. On Dan’s birthday I got a letter from them telling me that they could not wait and had hired someone to take my position and to call them when I had moved to New York and they might consider me.
“Fuckin’ assholes,” I screamed.
“Steve, give me the phone!”
“What are you goin’ to do?”
I dialed their number in New York. I asked for the man who signed the letter.
As soon as I got him on the phone I screamed, “Fuckin’ Asshole!” then slammed the phone down.
I slapped the letter up against Steve’s chest. I picked up the phone again and called my dad and cried into the phone. I cried, on and off, for the rest of the day and into the night. I wanted to die.
Katie made a wonderful dinner that night, a completely vegetarian dinner.
“Wow, I said, “this is great. This tastes so good!”
I had kept trying to eat meat, but could not. No matter what I did or how I felt I continually gagged on meat. I was also getting bored with salads, so Katie had gone out and found some cookbooks and begun to cook vegetarian meals for the three of us to help me get adjusted and not feel different.
“Wow, I bet ya Dan woulda liked this too,” Steve said with a grin.
“I think so too.” Katie said, “Now, Jason, he would have given us some lip about it.”
The three of us giggled. I lifted my glass of iced tea.
“Happy Birthday, Dan!”
“Happy Birthday, Dan,” Katie and Steve said.
We all started to cry. I could not believe that he never reached his twenty-fourth birthday.
Each day, every day, Katie would come through the door of the bedroom with a serious face. It was time for therapy. She would put me through a series of stretches and exercises to get me moving, relieve the stiffness, stop the atrophy, build muscle and a whole host of terms I never remembered because I was screaming in pain. I knew it all was necessary. I didn’t want to walk around like an old man at twenty-three. I wanted to be able to run again. I wanted to be able to sit at my drawing board for hours and not be in pain. I just hated how I had to get there again. Only then did I realize how sore I was from the impact. I had seen the bruises with their array of purple, green and yellow across large sections of my body, but it was the agony of trying to do the simplest of things that drove me insane. Almost every day Katie and I got into screaming matches with one another as she pushed me to the brink of exhaustion. Always, she ended the session by hugging me and giving me a kiss. I always told her I loved her, but until that moment I feared her from the instant she walked into the room with that straight face.
It was just before one of our sessions that Dad Elliot called. He had made it into town for business and was ready to come see me. I said I’d be done screaming in about an hour. He understood my reference from our Sunday phone calls. I couldn’t wait to see him. I worked as hard as I could so that I could really give him a hug. I had finally begun to get movement in my right shoulder. I hoped I wouldn’t knock him out with my cast. When he came through the door I smiled and cried, so did he.
“Hey, Son, you look good!”
“Thanks Dad. Except for these casts I’m gettin’ ta feel pretty normal.”
He bent over and gave me a huge hug. I returned it as best as I could.
“Sorry, I must stink. She really makes me work.”
He wiped some sweat from my brow and away from below my ears with his fingers and wiped it on his handkerchief.
“It’s fine, Pete.”
He sat on the sofa and held my hand. We talked about little things for awhile. We were just glad to spend time together.
“Pete, I got some things, serious items, to talk about with you. Are you up for it?”
“Dad, if I can accept what I’ve already been through I can handle anything.”
“Guess you’re right.”
He paused and sighed.
“Pete, Dan had a will.”
“Pete, I made Dan get it when he turned eighteen. Responsibility thing. Then he left everything to us. Anyway, after your Graduation, once the whole deal with the Three Musketeers came out, he told me that he wanted to change his will and everything was to be split evenly between you and Jason. I said, ‘OK, sounds good.’ I’ll get my lawyer to draw it up and send it to you.’ He mailed it back right before you guys went to New York.”
Dad stopped and inhaled deeply through his nose, blowing it back out of his mouth. He looked at me with full sorrow ladened eyes. I smiled to give him strength.
“So as executor of his will I’m here to…”
He started to cry. I reached and held him as tight as I could. I combed his hair with my hand.
“It’s OK, Dad.”
“Pete, so…ahem…since Jason is dead too…all Dan’s possessions go to you to do as you wish. His savings and checking accounts have been closed and transferred into the joint savings account you two had. There’s about $50,000 dollars in it now.”
“Oh my god
“The mutual fund and stocks are in the process of being transferred. That’s about $300,000. There’s a piece of property from my Dad’s estate that’s yours. It’s farmland in the middle of nowhere way outside of Houston. He also had a life insurance policy too. There’s a few other things, sentimental stuff from his youth, and then there’s Sammy.”
I sat with my mouth open. I was stunned.
“But, Dad, you keep it all…I don’t need it.”
“Pete, Pete, I don’t need it either, that’s not the issue. This is what Dan wanted.”
“The money you will need in time. When you buy a house or retire, or I don’t know…keep traveling around the world to run away your whole life…Sorry, I didn’t mean that. I guess I’ve thought of doing that…This hurts so bad.”
I hugged him again. He was the only person besides Mom Elliot who could imagine what I felt. We sobbed for a while.
“Dad, thank you. Yes, I’ll figure something to do with the money. Actually, Dan will tell me somehow. I got this feeling he will…and Jason will put his two cents in too. The land, I don’t know what to do with that. Please, you tell me, or it’s your family land, why don’t you take it back…or something. Now Sammy, I want Sammy…I’ll need Sammy. I sold my car to Steve and the Rab…well, you know.”
“You can buy a new car, you know.”
“Nope, nope, nope.”
“Well you can either come get it when you’re ready or I can get Bill to drive it over. He’s the only one that Dan ever let drive it besides you…I wasn’t even allowed to drive it, sheesh.”
I cracked a slight smile.
“I’ll let you know, Dad.”
We talked some more about my plans. I told him that I still envisioned going to New York eventually. I figured springtime.
He told me, “Pete, you are our son. From the moment we set up the double bed in your room. We hope you will stay our son. Please come and visit at any time for whatever reason. Call us anytime. Come for holidays too, please. And…and…whenever there is…we really mean this…anybody significant in your life we want to know and meet him. OK?”
“Dad, oh Dad, I don’t know if I will ever be ready to love again. There isn’t much left of my heart.”
“I know, but your heart is huge and so full of love and care that I know someday you will fall in love again and I don’t want you to ever be afraid to share that with us.”
“I love you and Mom. I’ll be in Houston for Thanksgiving. OK?”
“That would be great.”
Steve came home from class and hung out with the two of us as we talked of life in general and how I was behaving as a patient. We had a few good laughs. Dad left for a business dinner and Steve had his evening lecture to go to. Tim was soon smiling at my bedroom door. As I got my sponge bath I inquired of my banker of how to handle my inheritance. I knew he would be as caring of my money as he was with my skin.
Katie was right about the nightmares. They became part of the routine of my life. At least once a week I would have violent dreams. The accident, the future, the past changed, they were all about pain. I was torturing myself while I slept. One night I threw myself to the floor causing a horrible crash. Steve and Katie ran into the room as I thrashed about on the floor still lost in the dream. They got me to wake as gently as they could. I had never seen Katie so scared in my life. She was scared that I had shattered not only my mind but my bones as well. They both slept to either side of me for the rest of the night. I thanked them in the morning. I was still confused by what had happened.
I saw that Fitz was still scared so I joked with her, “Fitz, I’m glad that you were the first woman I ever slept with.”
She smiled weakly and then I remembered how I had slept in the middle between Dan and Jason. I sobbed uncontrollably for half an hour. Katie worried all that day about me flying to the floor again and how it could be prevented. I told her in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t turning the bed into a crib or tying me down.
Steve watched our exchange and simply said, “A baby monitor. OK?”
We all looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.
“OK, I be da baby,” I said in a high soft voice.
Katie’s fears were eased for the moment and she smiled with hopefulness for a workable solution.
Whenever they heard me moaning, thrashing or in pain because of nightmares, or whatever reason, Steve always came running. Most times he stayed awhile till I fell back asleep. A few times I asked him to sleep with me.
He always smiled and said, “Sure, let me tell Katie.”
A few minutes later he would reappear and say, “Boxers, off,” in a bad imitation of Dan’s voice, strip down and snuggle up with me. We would whisper to each other about something inane until we fell asleep. Both of them were totally committed to making me whole again. I had made the right choice to recover in that house. I will forever be indebted to them for accepting this challenge and the love they had for me.
Six weeks to the day after the accident they cut the casts off. I was horrified by what I saw underneath. It was a gaunt, stinky mass of wrinkled skin and matted hair wrapped around some bones. I could not believe how weak my arm and leg looked and actually were. The pain was excruciating as I moved my elbow, knee and ankle for the first time in a month and a half.
I looked at Katie and said, “Oh fuck, am I going to hate you for the next few weeks aren’t I?
She gave me that serious smile of hers and simply said, “I think so.”
Three weeks later I walked out to my old car with just a bright orange cane. The three of us were going to Houston for Thanksgiving. When I suggested that we all go to the Elliots’ for Turkey Day, Katie and Steve let out a relieved sigh and she said emphatically, “Absolutely yes!” Their parents had started a guilt war with each of them over who would get them to the dinner table. It had made them pissed at their parents for acting like this. Now they had a great excuse to tell them all to go to hell. They loved their parents but Steve and Katie wanted them to accept them as adults, not children anymore. Their parents were not willing to do this, yet. So they told them flat out that if they were going to act like this they would go elsewhere and there was no better place than the Elliots’. I think they had taken a page from the book of Jason. I couldn’t have been happier, same with Mom and Dad Elliot. My Mom and Dad, though understanding, were hurt. I told them I would be home in less than a month for Christmas.
“Please, no guilt over this. You will forever be my Mom and Dad, but I need to make the best choices for me and I need to do this.”
Dad said, “We know that you understand how tough these last two months have been on us, which pales in comparison to you, but that doesn’t mean we don’t worry and care about you; it’s natural for us. Yet, we know that the Elliot’s need this too. We do want to see you as soon as possible, OK. So see you at Christmas. We love you.”
“I love you too,” I said through tears.
The ride to Houston that Wednesday morning was so strange for me. I saw the familiar sights on the roadside but realized that I wasn’t on my way to see Dan. The landmarks I used to pine to see began to stab at my heart. I insisted on wearing a seatbelt but the pain of sitting forward with my knee cocked up against the back seat for any length of time was excruciating. So I sat sideways across the back seat, the way I last remembered Jason. I felt strange sitting in the back seat of my own car and not driving it. Well legally, it wasn’t mine any more. For the entire trip, I either talked, hardly taking a breath, or I was quiet for hours on end. I was flooded with emotions and battled the depression that had haunted me since the accident. It was all very disconcerting to the point where I was exhausted by the time we arrived in Houston. I could hardly stay awake to give directions to the house.
“Hi, Mom and Dad, I love you, but I need to take a nap,” were the first words I said to them.
They laughed and Dad helped me up to the bedroom. I got Dan’s watch out of my duffle bag and hung it on the knob on the head of the bed. I felt a strange sense of peace as I lay in that bed and scanned around the room at the posters and trophies that lined the walls.
“Thanks for the help, Dad.”
“You’re welcome, Son,” he said with a smile, “Sleep tight.”
Two hours later I made my way downstairs. I was happy. I felt I was home.
Mom was just finishing up dinner with Katie by her side. Katie had made a vegetarian dish to complement the ham that had been cooking while I slept. Dad and Steve had been watching sports and drinking a couple of beers.
“Do ya want one, Son?” Dad asked shaking the long neck in his hand.
“No, Dad. Thanks though. I’ll get some iced tea.”
I hadn’t had a drink since Grand Isle. I never again wanted anything to do with something that wreaked such destruction in my life. I hadn’t said a word to anyone about my feelings yet; I just turned them down when they were offered. I think Katie and Tim were the only ones who had a clue so far.
I walked into the kitchen and gave both Mom and Fitz a kiss on the back of the neck.
Mom giggled, “Thanks, Pete.”
“Oh, he’s just kissin’ up to me so I won’t be so hard on him tomorrow,” Fitz said with the sly grin that I could only imagine she had on her face.
“Well it is Thanksgiving, is it not,” I asked, rhetorically.
“Well you’ll only be givin’ Thanks when I say it’s over.”
“Oh shit…Mom,” I said, whining a bit like a little kid.
“Peter, watch your mouth,” Mom exclaimed.
Fitz broke up laughing.
“This is so much better than being at home. All the same stuff without it bein’ your family.”
“But y’all are my family,” Mom said seriously.
I went up behind her and reached both of my arms and cane around her and hugged her, “Yes, we are and always will be. I love you more than you can imagine.”
he started to cry.
“Thank you, Pete.”
“Now, skedaddle, we’ve got to finish up.”
I limped around the table to head back out to the living room but I went halfway around again and headed to the garage door. I opened it up and took the two steps down into the garage. I made my way over to the Beetle and slowly pulled the fitted dust cover off. I stepped back and stared at that beautiful orange car. I held my cane up to it.
“Pretty damn good match,” I said as I tried not to cry.
I worked my way through the narrow path to the driver’s side and opened the door. It took some maneuvering to climb up onto the platform and into the seat. I got myself adjusted with my feet on the pedals. I positioned the mirrors, wiped the tears from my eyes and then put my hands onto the wheel. I rubbed the steering wheel lightly. I could smell through the oil and gas the scent of Dan. I couldn’t believe it. I rubbed the black plastic of the passenger seat and looked up through the windshield to see Dad standing in the doorway. He walked over to the car door and I rolled down the window.
“Hi, Dad,” I said trying to smile.
“Hi, Pete, nice car, huh.”
“The best…the best, and I know not to crank it till ya pull the plugs and spray a little oil down into the pistons. Dan told me that. ‘Just in case,’ he said.”
Now, I started to cry and so did Dad.
“He said the same thing to me.”
“Come on, we’ll leave this for New Year’s when I come to get it.”
“You’ll be ready then?”
“…Willing and able!”
I rolled up the window and climbed out. Dad and I pulled the cover back on.
“I love that car, Dad.”
“Dinner,” came Mom’s voice from the kitchen.
“I’m starved,” I said.
Dinner was good and so was the conversation. It was a thoroughly enjoyable time, although I kept having the feeling that I would turn to see Dan or Jason sitting on either side of me. Once dinner was over and we adjourned to the living room, I fell into a black mood. I sat in one of the big green overstuffed leather chairs and stared out the front windows looking deep into the pools of yellow light cast onto the black asphalt by the streetlamps hung from the telephone poles. I had my chin on my thumb with my index finger upward across my mouth. The anger welled inside of me. I wanted to lash out at the world. The laughter behind me stirred the anger into froth.
“Hey, Pete, you there?” Steve asked as he walked up and sat in the matching chair.
He had a smile on his face. I glared at him.
“Pete,” he said in a soft deep voice, “talk to me. Don’t let it eat you up.”
That completely disarmed me.
“I’m sorry,” I said, barely opening my lips, “I could beat on a stump with a baseball bat I’m so angry right now.”
Steve’s eyes lit up and so did his lips as they turned into a smile.
“I wonder what we could do to get a little aggression out,” Steve mused.
I couldn’t think of a thing off hand, but thinking about ways to get rid of the anger began to release some of it. I could see by the devious look in his eyes that his mind was churning ideas. I remembered the look from the first time we went to the toy store together.
I cracked a slight smile, “Toy store?”
We both chuckled. I still was in a foul mood, but I didn’t want to rip anybody’s head off anymore.
“Maybe we should have brought the monitor,” Steve said.
Steve burst out laughing and then I did too.
“Steve will you sleep with me anyway tonight, please?”
“Sure,” he said with a chortle.
At ten, I got up and kissed Mom and Dad goodnight
“See you all in the morning,” I said.
“I’ll be up soon,” Steve said.
I one-stepped up the stairs, got my dopp kit and went to the bath. I stared at myself in the mirror for the longest time. I didn’t like what I saw. I wasn’t that happy soul from a bit more than two months before. I was a gaunt, angry, tempestuous and bitter man who was full of hate for himself. I wasn’t proud of anything about me anymore. I had overfilled my cup and now had to pay for the waste. There was a knock at the door.
“You OK?” It was Katie.
“Yeah, just gotta brush my teeth.”
As I came out, she came down the hall with her toothbrush in her mouth.
“It’s OK about Steve. Actually good timing. I’m grumpy, got the cramps, so I’d like havin’ the space…actually anytime I feel like this can he come stay with you?”
“You got a deal, Love.”
I got in bed. I moved to Dan’s side of the bed. Mom and Dad came in soon after that.
They wished me goodnight and then asked, “How are you doing? Really.”
“Life sucks, basically. I feel as if I have been left all alone on the face of the earth surrounded by five billion people! My heart feels worse than all the terrorizing that Katie could possibly do to my muscles. And I’m just supposed to get over it! You are the only people I know who could even remotely relate to the way I feel. Do you have any advice?”
They both shook their heads.
Dad then said, “We have each other…and you, to hold us up. Otherwise, I don’t know how we would go on. We really want to thank you for getting Katie and Steve to come along. This is great to have them here, we love them to, you know. And we thank God for Steve and Katie. They are two of the most giving people in the world and they are so good to you, and for you.”
“I know, I know.”
We kissed each other goodnight.
Steve came in a few minutes later. He dropped his boxers and climbed in.
“Hi, Love,” he said.
We snuggled up. He kissed me on the temple.
“We gotta think of ways to relieve your anger and frustrations,” he said simply. I put his hand on my cock.
“Oh man, me and my big mouth!” I gave out an incredibly evil laugh and said, “I got ideas for that too.”
He reached over and turned out the light.
I kissed him on the lips and said, “Let’s just beat off.”
Thunderstorms rumbled and flashed all night long. It was still raining when I awoke the next morning.
Steve and I were both wide awake by dawn. As dark as my mood had been the night before I felt alive that morning. We talked about our life together before my coming out, how he and I had dealt with the obstacles of life then, how we saw them when Dan and Jason graced our lives and the differences with which we saw things as they were now, especially now because of Katie. It was an epiphany for both of us. Life was still as precious but we were just more attuned to it all now. We would always grieve the loss of the souls who loved us and the inability to share our love with them again, but we still had love to give. We had to learn how to share it again because we were still afraid of the pain of the loss; afraid of the attachment with love and the wrenching pain that comes when it is ripped from our souls. At least I understood this now, but could I hold on to that too when depression tried to tear it away. I would struggle with this for years. I was so glad I had Steve. He and I then made love to each other.
An hour after Steve went back to his room Miss Sunshine appeared at my bedroom door.
“Time to work a few more kinks out,” she said seriously. I burst out laughing.
“Well, you’re in a good mood today.”
“I’m sorry, that was just funny.”
She looked at me curiously, but then let it go. I think she figured something went on between Steve and me. Dan was right, she was very sharp. We went down to the playroom in the basement. Katie folded up the ping pong table and pushed it off to the side. She worked me as hard as she ever had.
After forty-five minutes, I screamed, “Why are you doing this to me.”
“Because you are going to walk off that plane without a limp and stand tall when you shake your dad’s hand and kiss your mother.”
Mom came down the stairs at that point. She had fear in her eyes. She wanted to know what was going on.
Katie looked at her, schizophrenically her voice changed, “He’s a little wimpy sometimes, but he’s going to be better than before.”
She smiled at Mom. Mom was confused; she didn’t understand.
“I’ll be OK, Mom, really. I’ll be up for a snack soon,” I said and tried to smile.
I wiped the sweat from my eyes and bore down for the last fifteen minutes of treatment. I pushed as hard as I could. So did Katie.
“OK, enough for today,” she said as she sat me down on a stool, sweat pouring down my face and chest.
She kissed me on the lips, “I love you, Pete.”
“Oh, I know, boy, do I know. I will forever love you, Katie.”
“Come on, I’ll help you up stairs and I’ll get Steve to help you get into the shower. Don’t try to do it on your own; you’re going to be weak for a while.” Steve sat on the side of the tub while I showered. We giggled like little kids. I don’t know why.
I got dressed in some freshly pressed khakis and a button down shirt. I had even put boxers on. I hobbled, but less than yesterday, downstairs, kissed Mom, Dad, Katie and Steve and then called my parents. It was great to hear their voices and my brothers and sisters too, if only in the background. I told them about walking with just a cane and that I was getting stronger each day, because of Katie, that I was getting my act together to return to the workforce, but I was not going to rush it and that I was finally getting back to normal, whatever that was for me. I didn’t believe myself when I said it. I never thought I would ever be normal again. I passed the phone to Mom and Dad so they could chat and wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving. Through their conversation I find out that they had talked only two days before. And Dan and I got so worked up that they wouldn’t get along.
“Sheesh, were we ever wrong,” I mused to myself.
My first vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner was a glorious reassurance of family and its bonds. I even wanted to say Grace, something I spent my entire life avoiding. These four people were as much my family as the one I grew up with in New Jersey. I could not or would not disappoint them in our march into the future, even if I had to go kicking and screaming into it.
After dinner I couldn’t stand it another second.
“Come on. It’s time to go. I’m two months late for the funeral already.”
Dad looked at me and gave a little laugh.
“Good idea. It’s going to be a wet mess out there, but I’m up for it.”
Twenty minutes later we were standing at the gravesite, a mound of mud on the side of a gentle knoll. The rain had made brown rivulets of silt that had spread out down the hill. A little metal marker on a stake in the ground read, “Daniel Boone Elliot, Oct. 5, 1958 – Sept. 21, 1982.” It all became very real for me. I became weak and lightheaded. I spun around and sat down on the mound with a splat, the cold mud seeped through my pants.
“Peter,” Mom and Katie both exclaimed.
I shooed away Steve and Dad’s help to get back up.
“I’m fine, right here, only pants.”
I looked up at them all.
“I’d like to say a few things,” I put my cane between my legs and slapped the mud with my left hand, “How are you, Love? I miss you dearly.”
The tears began to slowly flow down my face.
Dan, there is no way that I can ever say good-bye to you. I can’t remember ever being without you, yet it was only eighteen months that we ever knew each other. I wake up and you are gone and so is Jason. The three of us had half as much time. I worried sometimes that we spent too much time together, that we forced every last second out of being together. I’m so glad we did. We had the time that others make for each other over many years. Did we know? I don’t think so. We did what was natural. The three of us were lucky enough to find each other and become something greater than we had ever imagined was possible. I have absolutely nothing to regret. How could I with the love of two incredibly amazing men supporting me? I just hate that I have to go on without you two. It just doesn’t seem right with just One Musketeer.”
My head fell to my knees and I bawled out loud. Once I calmed down each of the other four spoke in turn. When we were finished I kissed the mound of dark brown mud and extended my hand for a lift. I turned around and looked at my pants. I could hear Dan and Jason in my head making all sorts of funny and rude comments. I started to laugh.
“You OK,” Dad asked.
After leftovers and then an evening of cards we were all ready for bed by nine o’clock. I walked up the stairs, somewhat normally. I was amazed at myself and thanked Fitz in my head. Shortly after I got into bed Dad came in and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Up for some serious things?” he said.
“Sure,” I said and reached over and turned off the monitor.
“What’s up, thought we had resolved and signed for everything.”
“Well, lawyers, you know, can’t leave well enough alone.”
“I know. Makes me worry about Steve sometimes.”
“Actually, I think he’ll be a good one. If that’s possible.”
We both chuckled.
“Well, Pete, the insurance companies, Dan’s and that son’s-a-bitches…well they had to resolve damages, then my lawyer suing, which I didn’t really know he was doing exactly and then there’s the life insurance policy. So I have checks for you. They’re made out to you as beneficiary and heir.”
He pulled the three checks out of his pocket and handed them to me.
“I don’t want them.”
“I know, when my lawyer called and said he was going to go for more I bitched him out and said to just stop. It’s over.”
I stuffed them into the pocket of my duffle bag. I didn’t even look at them.
“Maybe in a few years I can set up a scholarship fund in Dan’s name,” I said.
“I was thinking the same thing. I think we should. We’ll talk seriously about it some day, OK? Love you, hope you’re having a great Thanksgiving.”
“I am. I gave thanks for you and Mom, Katie and Steve and my family and friends…That’s pretty good but there are other things that make it really suck too.”
He turned up the corner of his mouth; he understood perfectly. As he left, I turned the monitor back on.
We headed back to New Orleans on Saturday morning. I smiled as I hugged Mom and Dad.
“See you after New Year’s, Love you both, Thanks.”
“Take care, Son. Love you too. We’ll talk about that scholarship OK.”
“I know what I want for a headstone now. I’ll draw it up and send it to you soon.”
He kissed me on the forehead. Steve and Katie said their good-byes as I swung myself into the back seat and snapped in. I waved as we drove off.
An hour into the drive, Steve looked at me in the rear view mirror and said, “Scholarship?”
“Yeah, Dad and I want to set up one up in Dan’s name.”
I was hoping he would drop it, but I figured that lawyer instinct in him would push on.
“I guess he’s going to put up the bucks, huh?”
“Not exactly,” I said.
I reached into my duffle bag and took out the checks. I stared at them for a while, in utter disbelief. They totaled almost three-quarters of a million dollars.
“Oh my fuck,” I said quietly to myself.
I tossed the one for his life insurance policy into the front seat. Katie picked it up and stared at it.
“This is made out to you for $250,000.”
“What,” yelled Steve.
“Dan had a life insurance policy and I guess I was the beneficiary,” I whispered.
“I knew nothing about it. I don’t really want it. I want Dan.”
I began to cry. I snatched the check back and crushed them all back into the duffle bag.
“Sorry,” I cried to Katie and buried my head into my hands.
“That’s why you turned off the monitor the other night, huh?” Steve asked.
After a minute, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll do what’s right with that money somehow. Don’t worry; I won’t give it all away. I know for damn sure Dan would want me to spend some on myself and save a bunch for retirement. I just can’t stand the meaning of it.”
I stared out the window the whole way home trying hard not to fall into a black mood.
I wasn’t all that successful in creating a good mood either. I called the one person who might help me stay above the darkness and besides Dad, knew of the money, and would now know of more.
“Tim, how’s your Thanksgiving?”
“Cool. So was mine. I need to talk. I know it’s not Thursday, but I need my friend…and my banker.”
“Sure, I’ll hang on.”
“That would be great. I’ll take you to dinner first. How ‘bout that?”
“In an hour, cool. Bye.”
I told Steve and Katie I was taking Tim to dinner and then we’d be back to hang out later. Katie kissed me. I knew they wanted some time alone.
“You’re welcome,” I said and went and sat out on the front steps to wait for Tim.
“Hi, Mrs. Robinson,” I said gladly as I slowly lowered myself down onto the top step.
“Hi, Pete,” she said meekly, not knowing if she wanted to get into a conversation. I looked over at her. She put a hankie to her eye. Her husband had been killed in a ship loading accident over thirty years ago, not too far down the levee from where Steve destroyed his bat. She had been just a year older than I am when it happened. She knew my pain. I understood her completely now.
“You look so much better now. Walkin’ OK too, looks like.”
“Gettin’ there, Mrs. Robinson, gettin’ there. I’ll be OK someday.”
“I truly hope so. Don’t be like me; git on wit yur life. I figgered it out too late. It’ll always hurt, but you can live again.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Robinson.”
Tim drove up in his little yellow sports car with the top down.
“I love New Orleans,” I said to Mrs. Robinson, “Drive around with the top down and it’s almost December!”
“Have fun, Pete.”
I hauled myself up, waved ‘Bye’ to Mrs. Robinson, got down the steps and then plopped down into the bucket seat of his Alfa Romeo.
“Man it’s a long way down. Thought I was gonna sit my ass on the pavement.”
“Practically are, Pete,” Tim said smiling, the breeze blowing through his short brown wavy hair. Dan’s hair was a darker version of Tim’s. Tim’s waves were just a bit tighter. I used to find humor in that, now I find comfort. He revved the engine and let out the clutch. We drove around for awhile because neither of us could think of a vegetarian restaurant in New Orleans. We laughed at ourselves. We finally agreed on a Chinese restaurant that we had enjoyed before, since I knew they had some vegetarian dishes. Ensconced in a quiet booth surrounded by loud colors and decorations I brought up the three checks and the idea of the scholarship.
“I have some literature and a book that I’ll get you on the types and funding of scholarships but we can talk about the basics tonight.”
“That’s what I want to hear over dinner so we can talk about fun things later at home.”
He gave me the rundown of particulars as we ate our dinner. I had the gist of it to now have a conversation with Dad but was caught off guard when Tim asked, “What about Jason?”
I blew a sigh out that puffed out my cheeks.
“I’ve gone round and round about that one, Tim. He just went a year at USM. He only went there because he, sort of, had to. I don’t know how Dad would feel about a Dan and Jason scholarship at Rice. I don’t know yet. I’ve sort of been waiting for a sign from one of them on this. I hope you don’t think I’m crazy.”
“Nope, not at all, not at all. Pete, you’re so straight about things like this that you just have to believe and so, I don’t think you are crazy.”
“At least I’m straight in some way,” I laughed and so did Tim.
“So how does it feel to be a millionaire?” I lowered my head, my forehead became a sea of flowing wrinkles and I looked at him through my knotted brows.
“OOOPS, foot in mouth. Sorry, Pete, the banker in me can be an asshole sometimes.”
“Forgiven, Tim, I just have a hard time equating Dan and Jason with a bunch of zeros.”
I put my hand around the back of his neck and stroked it.
“I just don’t have a fuckin’ choice that’s all. That’s the pisser. Come on, let’s get out of here, I want to talk about other things besides money. I made a sign of writing on a piece of paper in my hand to our waiter. He looked like a sophomore in college at best. He walked over and handed me the check, eight dollars and change.
“Keep it,” I said as I handed him a twenty. He stared at me in disbelief. So did Tim; he knew I could be tight with a dollar.
“What,” I said to Tim with a chuckle, “I’m a fuckin’ millionaire.”
I laughed because Dan would have approved.
Once back on Upperline we sat on the bed. Tim turned on the TV.
“I guess you probably can’t stay long, I’m screwin’ up a Saturday night for you and Brad.”
“Don’t worry about it. He wanted some time on his own anyway. He went to his apartment. He was glad that you called. You know, he is actually grateful of you to the changes he has seen in me. So that balances out the jealousy he has…and besides he doesn’t envy what you have gone through.”
“Who would?” I said softly.
Tim stared into my eyes for a moment and then said, “So, in reality I could spend the night if I wanted to.”
I looked at him funny. He looked at me with a bit of a goofy face, which I had never seen before.
“Want to?” I asked with trepidation. He nodded his head lightly.
“Can I ask why?” I said to him quietly. He stared at me for half a minute.
“A million reasons but I can’t think of one, except that I want to, and that I owe you.”
“You’re not makin’ any sense, Tim. If anything I owe you for the last two months of care. I don’t think anyone else I know would sit in the bath while I took a crap because I asked him to.”
“That’s one reason why I want to and it’s not that I think we are going to have sex either, but if we do I’m OK with that too.”
“Now you’re really confusing me, Tim.”
“My trust and love for you and my desire to help you through this tough time have been more helpful and have meant more to me than I think I’ve done for you. I know I was a jerk the way we broke up. I’ve regretted what I did, but in trying to make up for it I found out that I’m the one who’s really benefiting again.”
Tim paused and bit his lip. He looked directly into my eyes as his narrowed and then his eyes and face relaxed.
“Shit, I’m still in love with you, Pete. Even more so now. Oh, God, help me, I’m confused.”
Tim buried his head in my chest. I put my arms around him and pulled him on top of me. I put my hands on his face and picked it up.
“What am I going to do with you my boy?”
I began to breathe heavily, as now I was confused. Seriously confused. I put his head back down on my chest and held him tight.
“Oh, Tim, oh, Tim,” I whispered to him.
We fell into silence. We lay wrapped together for at least half an hour. The TV chattered away. Steve came by and knocked on the doorframe. The door was wide open. Tim rolled off to the side.
“Hey, mind if I come in,” he said.
“Sure, what’s up?” I asked.
“Nothin’, Katie fell asleep and I’m not tired. Heard the TV, so...”
“Chair, or make room on the bed. Big enough for three you know.”
He gave me a “bad joke” look and shooed us to move over. I looked at Tim; he had a frightened look on his face. I ran my hand through a brown lock of hair to push it off his forehead. I puckered my lips and gave him an air kiss. He smiled. I turned back to Steve and really kissed him on the lips.
“Thanks,” he said, “What cha watchin’?”
“Haven’t been, it’s just been on.”
He reached for the remote and began to surf. I looked at Steve. He was dressed just in boxers. Tim and I were dressed in jeans and long sleeved shirts.
“I want to get comfortable,” I said and began to unbutton my shirt.
“Want your jeans off?” Tim said, being helpful.
I nodded my head. Steve helped me get the shirt off my shoulders as Tim took off my socks. I unbuckled my belt and undid the buttons on the jeans. He pulled them off. I wasn’t wearing any underwear.
“Guess you’re comfortable now,” Steve laughed. So did Tim and me, although Tim’s was a nervous laugh.
Tim knew that Steve and I had fooled around some and that Steve knew a lot about what went on with Dan, Jason and me, but he wasn’t quite so sure of what to make of this situation.
“Why don’t you get comfortable too?” I said to him, “and toss me those boxers hangin’ on the chair.”
Once he saw me putting some clothes back on he chilled a bit and got down to his boxers too.
“I remember something about a Hitchcock film coming on at midnight,” Steve mumbled as he clicked furiously.
It was two minutes past. There it was, Spellbound, with Gregory Peck, a very young Gregory Peck. Only a couple of minutes into the film I sat bolt upright and then leaned toward the TV.
My mouth hung open. I was looking at Gregory Peck but to me it was Dan. The hair, the cheekbones, the nose, the way he sat and his mannerisms. I was in awe. I was startled when Steve spoke. I forgot anybody was in the room.
“This is really eerie.”
“The voice is different, but man, oh, man…this is amazing.” I added.
I was exhausted by the time the movie ended. My mind had been spinning at a million miles an hour with memories and thoughts and dreams realized and denied.
I fell back on the pillow, “Wow! Too much for me. Way too much for me.”
Steve rolled over and kissed me.
“I better go to bed. Unless…” I shook my head no.
“Good night, see ya, Tim”
“Night, sweetie, thanks,” I said, unthinking.
“I should go too,” Tim said.
“No, you, please, stay.”
Steve turned around, cocked and eyebrow and smiled at me. I waved goodnight to him. He closed the door.
“Sure?” Tim said.
We both slept soundly and late. It was almost noon when I cracked my eye and saw Tim’s nose just inches away. He was softly snoring. I smiled, but with a pang of pain. I expected it to be Dan or Jason.
I could hear the crinkling of the Sunday paper pages in the kitchen and I could smell breakfast. I kissed Tim on the lips. He snorted a bit and then began to stir. His eyes opened and I could tell he was a bit surprised to see me instead of Brad.
“Mormum,” he said.
“Mornin’, Love,” I responded.
And I did love him. Even so raw and torn, my heart still could love. I was surprised at myself, although I also knew that emotionally I wasn’t ready to move on yet. Not even close.
I ran my hands through his hair to make it presentable, took his hand and led him into the kitchen. I knew he was still half-asleep when he sat down next to Katie in just his boxers, still sporting a semi hard-on and not feeling self-conscious about it.
“G-Mormum,” he said.
It wasn’t until he had two sips of coffee and pushed down on his crotch that he realized he was sitting next to her. He did a double take.
She looked at him out of the corner of her eye, “Not to worry, Tim, after the last year nothing phases me. Jason used to eat completely naked next to me.”
I laughed out loud at the memory of those times. He had made it seem completely natural, which in reality it truly was to him. Tim tried not to look freaked by the whole thing but we all knew he was. We all just let it pass.
As Tim munched on some toast and strawberry jam, he wondered about the future.
“Now that I’m not really needed anymore to help with Pete, I sort of am going to miss our Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
“Tim, you can still come over,” Katie told him bluntly, “You know you’re all of our friend.”
“I know, but …and I love you all too….but, well, Brad might actually get jealous at some point with all of this.”
Katie smiled, “What do you think of yoga, Tim?”
“What - do - you - think - of - yo-ga, - Tim?” Katie asked with a false, sarcastic sense of determination.
\“Why? Is this some sort of trick question?”
“No,” she said with a caress of his cheek, “OK, let me explain. You listen too, Pete; this is actually for you. At some point my therapy is going to stop. You also need something to complement and extend what we have begun. Some of what I do has its basis in yoga. It stretches, tones, strengthens and there is a meditative and spiritual side to it too. I think you need to try it, Pete. Seriously. There are classes at night at a center, not too far from here. These are classes taught by a friend of mine on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I used to go to them when I could. Tim, would you be willing to drive him, and even participate with him from now until the end of March when Pete still plans on moving to that godforsaken New York? Actually, I think it would be good and fun for both of you.”
She sat back and stared at us, then continued when we didn’t respond, “Pete, if you don’t want to creak going upstairs and if you always want to be able to lean over a drafting board you’ll try it…and like it. Even without the accident you wouldn’t be twenty-three forever.”
Dan will be, I thought to myself. I stared at Katie and her serious smile. I looked at Steve. He gave me his “You need to listen to her” eyes. I turned to my left and smiled at Tim.
“I’m in,” I said with reserve.
“I’m there,” Tim said with excitement as he put his arm across my shoulders and squeezed me.
“Good, I see her this afternoon. She gives a class at the clinic. I’ll tell her you’ll both be there on Tuesday. I’ll have all of the info for you tonight. Now, I better get rollin’ or I’ll be late for work. Pete, I didn’t want to wake you this mornin’; we’ll have our session tonight about eight. We’ll just eat late, OK.”
“I love you,” I said very quietly.
She kissed me on the nose. She and Steve went into their bedroom.
“Stay the after…noon,” I said to Tim, interrupted by the phone ringing.
“Hello, hold on. It’s Brad.”
“Stayed up late watching a Hitchcock flick and fell asleep.”
“Brad, Dammit. No!”
“Ask Steve, he watched it with us.”
“Piss off, I am not listening to this, Bye!”
Tim hung up the phone with his finger. It looked like he wanted to smash the handset into a million pieces the way he was gripping it so tight and moving it in short burst motions. I put an arm around his waist and helped him place the receiver gently back in the cradle.
“He accused you of doing what we only talked about last night; that’s why you feel so guilty and ashamed. You felt like you were lying to him when in actuality you weren’t. Come with me.”
I led him back to the bedroom. I pulled off each of our boxers. This was the first time I’d seen him naked in years. I lay down on the bed and pull him on top of me. I suddenly realized that I’d been walking around without my cane for the last hour and didn’t need it.
“We are two very confused boys. We still have emotions and feelings for one another from years ago that are unresolved. We’ve also gotten involved in some very serious relationships since and we both have emotions and feelings that conflict with our feelings then and now. I think we need our friendship more than anything right now….I say that as I get a hard-on…and feel yours too. Shit, Tim, we really are two very confused boys.”
We kissed passionately, then he put his head on my chest and sighed. I stared at the cracks in the plaster ceiling wanting to cry, but could not.