Steve walked up to me, leaned across my desk, took a quick scan of the office and kissed me on the lips.
“Well hello to you too, good looking. What’s up with you? Why aren’t you saving the world from their problems?”
He reached into the inside pocket of his suit, pulled out a cigar and stuck it between my lips.
“Eeeeewww, what’s…” I turned my head and looked out of the corner of my eyes at him. He had the biggest smile on his face that I had ever seen.
“How do you feel about being Uncle Pete?”
“Oh…My…God! REALLY!” I got up from behind my desk and we grabbed each other in a bear hug.
“It’s your birthday present,” he whispered in my ear, “First week of May.”
“Didn’t take you guys long, did it!”
“Well we weren’t expecting it. It sort of just happened.”
I pushed back a bit and gave him a funny face.
“Do I need to explain things to you?” I asked mockingly.
Steve noticed a bunch of my co-workers staring at us hugging. He got self-conscious. We broke apart.
“I got to call Fitz,” I said excitedly.
“Sit, can you stay a bit? I’ll treat you to lunch.”
He nodded his head yes as I punched in Katie’s work number.
“Hi, Mom, I love you.”
We gabbed for ten minutes. We both couldn’t believe it. We were both so excited.
As soon as I hung the phone up I picked the receiver back up, my left hand moved to punch in a number. I slammed down the phone.
“What’s the matter, Pete?”
I took in two huge breaths, put my head in my hands and barely audibly said, “I went to call Dan.”
Steve tussled my hair, “Come on, let’s get some lunch.”
I picked my head up and slowly stood up. I grabbed by suit coat and slid my arms in. I sighed as I looked at Steve.
“It will always suck,” he said to me.
I sat back down and called Tim. He was as excited as I was about Katie’s pregnancy. We talked for a while about the situation with Brad. Tim had moved into the living room and Brad had seen a therapist a few times, but had quit going. It was manageable at the moment Tim thought. He was still tense about the situation but was coming up for Thanksgiving and would be staying the week afterward for a few interviews. He couldn’t wait for it all to be resolved. Neither could I. I almost joined Steve in a drink with lunch.
Tim and I were happy together through the ten days of Thanksgiving. We both felt as if we had come full circle and it was time to close the loop. His interviews went well and he hoped to hear a decision before Christmas. None of the jobs had come through by the time we went to Houston. While we were eating Christmas dinner I asked him to outright quit his job and just move in. I told him I didn’t care if it took the rest of his life to find a job. He let his pride get in the way and refused my offer. I didn’t press it, but Dad did and Tim rebuffed him. Dad later talked it through with him and asked him to seriously reconsider. Tim nodded and said that he had a new round of interviews during the first full week of the New Year and if they didn’t work out he would move no matter what. That made me smile. I thanked Dad later.
As it happened he got his job during the first week of January with a February 14th start date. We couldn’t think of a better Valentine’s gift. He was going to move by the end of January. I went to Tiffany’s and bought him a ring.
On January 19th I went to dinner and a movie with Vroom, Steve and Katie. John had come home for the weekend from Princeton. I got one of my feelings during dinner.
“Oh shit,” I said to Steve.
“What?” he asked.
I shook my head like it was vibrating. His eyes opened wide.
“Hope for a good thing,” he said quietly.
I didn’t get home till after midnight. There were a dozen frantic phone calls on my machine from Tim; each one more distraught than the last. He never said what was wrong, but I could tell from his voice that he was dealing with something catastrophic. I called his place a half a dozen times with no answer. I called Steve. There were a couple of the same types of messages on their machine too. He too had tried to get Tim. I kept calling till four in the morning. Then I called the local New Orleans precinct where a friend of mine worked on the nightshift. I asked Emory if he knew of anything at that address, phone number or with Tim or Brad’s names. He put me on hold. He came back a few minutes later.
“How much do want to know, Pete?”
“Fuck, what happened, Em? Tell me it all.”
“Suicide, Brad Taylor. Call came in about five in the afternoon. He hanged himself. Tim Welker called it in. Looks like he lost it too. They took him to the hospital. Had to restrain and sedate him. Not much else on here. Looks like one was moving out. Things were all boxed up. There was a note, but doesn’t say what it said. Not much else I can tell ya. Did ya know ‘em?”
“Oh shit, Em, yeah I knew him…Tim’s my good friend though…Shit, know what hospital? Tim left me a dozen messages before they took him to the hospital.”
“Nope, wait, Charity, but he might be in Tulane Med. by now if he’s got good insurance or parents.”
“Fuck, thanks for the help, Em. I might be down there tomorrow. I owe you. Fuck, fuck, FUCK! Thanks, take care, Em.”
“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Pete. I’ll talk to you soon. See ya.”
I slammed down the phone and screamed, “FUCK!” I think I woke Klaus up. I dialed the phone and woke Steve and Katie up to tell them the news. I talked to them as I packed a bag. I called the hospitals and found where Tim was. By six AM I was at Newark going down the boarding ramp and onto a plane bound for New Orleans.
The automatic doors couldn’t open fast enough when I got to the hospital. I got to the admitting desk, and the nurse recognized me.
“You look good, ‘cept dat you pissed dat you’re back here. How can I hep?”
“Tim Welker, where do I find Tim Welker? He was brought in sometime last night. He lost it over the suicide of a friend… I need to see him.”
“Hmmmm, he’s in Psych. I don’ know.”
I must have looked like I belonged there too. I hadn’t slept in more than twenty-four hours and had been upset for the last ten.
“Look I’ll get Katie to call you to tell you it’s OK. She’s pregnant you know.”
“Really, wait till I tell da girls…Look, in Psych only family sees ‘em.”
I wiggled the fingers on my left hand.
“He’s my husband!”
She pouted her lips…“Child, you can get me in trouble.”
She punched some numbers into the telephone, spoke a few words and then hung up.
“Katie’s old assistant will meet you at da third floor elevator; she’ll take you to sees him. You can’t stay long.”
“Thanks, have his parents been here?
“Don’ know, sorry.”
“Thanks, you look good too dawlin’. Bye.”
As I ran to the elevators I turned back and said, “I promise I’ll get Katie to call y’all!”
Fitz’s old assistant, Darla, another sweet-as-pie-hate-their-guts-during-sessions physical therapist, met me, gave me a kiss and led me up a back way to the room where Tim was. She looked in the door and saw that it was OK for me. Sick to my stomach from the smell of the hospital, I pushed the wide door open and walked in as tall and relaxed as I could. Tim was asleep or sedated. They had him restrained. I put my hand on his face and stroked it with my thumb.
“Tim, it’s Pete. Can you hear me?”
His eyes fluttered open. A look of surprise and terror came across his face, then he began to smile.
His smile broadened. He was obviously fucked up on some drug. Pulling up a chair, I sat down took his hand with my left and put my right on his face.
“Talk to me, Tim.”
“I’m sorry,” he said as he began to sob.
“It’s OK, Tim, you’re OK. Let it out.”
Slowly through the tears in bits of disjointed images and statements, I began to get some idea of what happened. He was starting to become somewhat rational after forty-five minutes when the nurse came through and tossed me out, mainly because the doctor was coming and he would really be irate about me being there.
She was amazed at how calm Tim was and how coherently he was speaking. He was barely making sense to me so he really must have been a mess last night. I told the nurse not to give him any more drugs. I didn’t care what the doctor said. I was dead serious and she could see it in my eyes that I was not going to be denied.
“I’m his husband,” I said matter of fact to her.
She told me to wait out in the hall till after she had a chance to talk to the doctor. I paced until a short stocky man in his late thirties in a long white coat and a buzz cut came up to me. He had a diamond earring and I figured he was most likely gay.
“You’re his husband,” he asked, confused.
“Well, actually, soon to be.”
“He was moving in with me in New York next week. Brad was his ex.”
“He was highly traumatized by walking in and finding Mr. Taylor hanging from the ceiling fan in the bedroom. Only in the last ten minutes have I actually been able to talk to him. He’ll be OK. He just needs to have the right people to talk it through with. He keeps asking for you. He says you know how to deal with death.”
“Not really, trial by fire experience. I was in a bad car accident that killed my husbands…yes we had a fantastic relationship of three people and no, I am not going to tell you about it. It’s been a little over two years and I…well…can I talk to Tim? I love him. I want to get through this with him.”
I was beginning to break down. I was tired and overloaded. The doctor put his hand on my shoulder and walked me into the room. He sat off to the side and let Tim and I go back to talking. I got them to take off the restraints. After another hour both Tim and me were quiet and I felt that I could nod off at any second.
I turned to the doctor and said, “Could I take a nap with him?”
“You amaze me, Pete, you knew what to say. You’ve both done good work today. Go ahead, I’ll tell the nurses to leave you two alone for four hours, OK?”
I took off my shoes, socks and shirt. I climbed in bed with my jeans on. Tim started to giggle. The doctor didn’t get it. They all left. I pulled my pants off and tossed them on the chair. Tim and I kissed.
“I love you, Tim.”
“I love you too.”
We fell asleep.
Tim was released late that afternoon into my care. We went to his apartment to get a few things before we checked into the Columns Hotel. When we got to his apartment, he walked me through what happened.
“I got to the front door, everything was great. I had finished up at work on Friday and had been spending the day seeing people and taking care of last minute things. I had talked to Brad on the phone maybe two hours before. He was going to make dinner, one of our favorites as a going away thing, nothing big, just something to end it all on good terms. He seemed in a great mood, the last few weeks had been relatively normal. Anyway, I walk through the door, like we just did.”
Tim had to stop and take a breath and gain his strength. He looked at me and I nodded my head.
“Tim, you don’t have to do this. We can just go buy whatever you need.”
“No, no, it’s OK.”
Tim clicked on a few lights and surveyed the living room. It was in disarray, a stack of boxes knocked over, their contents spilled out, some clothes thrown about and evidence of the police and EMTs visit. Tim walked over and started picking up and refilling the boxes then restacking them.
Then he continued with his story, “Well, I walk in and smell dinner and call out for Brad. No answer. I look into the kitchen. Dinner’s still cooking. I look in the bath, empty, so I go into our room. He was hanging from the ceiling fan, the sheet tied around his neck.”
Tim broke down and began to cry into my shoulder.
“Why, why did he do this? There was no reason. Why, did he do this?”
After a minute I asked, “What did the note say?”
“Not much. He said it was his fault and he couldn’t go on, with or without me. He wrote it hastily, I could tell. It was a spur of the moment thing. If I had just come home ten minutes earlier….ten minutes.”
He began to sob again.
“I was freaked, but OK, until the cops and ambulance came. They kept asking me the most fucked up questions. I got pissed, then angry, then inconsolable and then just went fuckin’ nuts. I couldn’t handle it anymore. One of the cops sat on me. I couldn’t breathe.”
“What am I going to do, Pete?”
“Take care of yourself. Do what needs to get done to move on with your life. Then get on with your life. Easier said than done, but that’s what I had to do. It sucks. It always will. I wish it were simple…only simply put.”
“I still don’t know how you did it, Pete. I still miss Dan and Jason and I didn’t know them like you did…obviously.”
“Thanks, but you were there to help me, unconditionally, just like Steve and Katie were. That’s why we need to get things cleaned up here and get on with it in New York so then Steve, Katie and I can be there for you.”
Tim looked at me. He was overwhelmed. I put my arms around him and tried to transfer all of the energy I could to him.
We got some things together and left for the hotel. I felt so strange and removed from the city I had once called home. It had become a city of tragedy for me.
After checking into the room Mom and Dad Elliot had stayed in I called Steve and Katie. I talked to them for a while and then handed the phone to Tim. Katie wanted to speak to him. She worked her magic for almost an hour. I could feel Tim become stronger. He and I lay down after that. We spooned ourselves together and nurtured each other. We talked through the best way to deal with the situation.
Tim bolted upright, “Oh fuck, I need to call Brad’s parents … and mine too.”
He picked up the phone and punched in numbers.
“I can’t believe I haven’t talked to either of them…Hello…hello…yeah, it’s Tim…”
Tim began to cry. It was Brad’s mother. His father was here in New Orleans to claim the body and get it back to Arkansas. His parents had known that they were breaking up and that Brad was taking it hard but, like Tim, they felt that he would get over it and actually thought he was ready to move on. They didn’t blame him, but she couldn’t let it go that he shared in the responsibility. He told her where he was staying and for her to tell Brad’s dad to call. He knew he would be the one to help deal with all of Brad’s belongings. Tim also promised to be at the funeral on Wednesday. When I heard that I cringed, but knew that it was probably best. He told her he would call later. She appreciated that.
Tim then dialed home. They had no idea of what had happened. There had been no way for them to know. Tim spent half an hour consoling his mother. She had fallen for Brad as her son-in-law. Tim had come out with him. Even after Tim had told her that they were breaking up and he was moving in with me in New York City she would still call and insist on chatting with Brad too. His dad got on the phone. He was seriously concerned about Tim and said he would be here in New Orleans first thing in the morning. He felt Tim needed all the support he could get. I couldn’t have agreed with him more. I would finally get to meet the man I once thought would be my father-in-law and soon would be. While they continued to chat I walked downstairs to order some room service. Tim had pointed out his selections. Tim got off the phone when our dinner arrived. He was as starved as I was. I hadn’t eaten but a bagel since dinner last night. It was almost ten PM now.
After my horrible salad and stale bread I called the machine at my office and said I needed to take the week off due to an emergency. I said that I would call on Monday to explain and left the number of the hotel in New Orleans. I knew they would be pissed at me to leave them in a lurch with the projects I was involved with but I couldn’t worry about it now.
At midnight I got Tim to do some yoga with me. We eventually went on for over an hour. Afterwards as we took a long shower together, he held me tight as we stood under the water. He thanked me for being at his bedside that morning and talking him through this by knowing the right things to say and do. He was calm and clear thinking now. I loved him more now than I ever had. We climbed into bed. I wanted to initiate sex with him, yet I was afraid to do so because of what he went through and I thought he might feel it was inappropriate. I immediately came all over his thigh when he asked me. He couldn’t stop laughing for ten minutes. I couldn’t wait to take him to our home in New York.
Tim’s father woke us up at eight AM, shortly before Brad’s dad called. We all met at the apartment. Tim and Brad’s father cried for the first half-hour. Except for a couple of dresser drawers and the closet with his suits Tim’s stuff was packed. He was leaving all of the furniture except an antique dresser and a small Oriental rug and the same with the kitchen stuff except for his favorite coffee mug and a bowl that he had eaten his cereal out of since he was five. Mr. Taylor only wanted to go through everything to see if there was anything sentimental or valuable, plus a few family heirlooms that Brad had. Otherwise he didn’t want anything. He asked Tim to go through things first, to weed out anything painful or embarrassing.
“I don’t want to find any porno mags or things like that, OK?”
Tim said he would write a check to close out their joint checking account and would make sure all of Brad’s financial papers were boxed up.
“I know it seems morbid but you still have to file his tax returns for last year, and he will get a refund. And he does have a savings account that you’ll have to deal with. I’ll leave you the name of the person you can call.”
“Thanks,” Mr. Taylor said, “I wouldn’t have thought of that till it was probably too late…not that it makes a difference to me.”
I wanted to say so much because so many emotions and memories were flooding back to me. I kept my mouth shut.
Mr. Taylor said that Brad’s body wouldn’t be out of the state till tomorrow at the earliest. He was having trouble getting the death certificate so that he could ship the body. I made a phone call to Harley. He knew whom to talk to and he called me back within the hour. The body would be sent that afternoon to Little Rock. Mr. Taylor thanked me. He asked me if I knew Brad. I said yes, but not that well.
“Tim’s your friend.”
“Yes,” I said. His mind clicked.
“You’re Tim’s new beau.”
He let out a hard steady breath through his nose.
“I’ll leave if you want.”
“No, you didn’t do a damn thing. Brad did this, damn fool. I know it was one of those ‘fly off the handle moments’ that he always had here and there. He just went too fuckin’ far this time. I can hear him now, ‘I didn’t mean to do it, Dad.’ Shit, shit, goddammit!”
He spun around and kicked a hole in the wall. He put his head on the wall and began to sob. Bob Welker went over, put his arm across his shoulders, and consoled him. Tim and I turned and went into the bedroom. He took the pillowcase off and went into the closet. He filled it with the porno tapes and a few other items. Tim looked at me with a devilish grin. I raised my eyebrows. He stuffed the pillowcase into one of the empty boxes. He then started to search through all of the drawers with a sense of determination. He noticed me staring at him.
“I can’t let myself get melancholy or morose or depressed or whatever the fuckin’ word that matches the feeling…I just got to do this…I can cry later.”
“I love you,” I said as I tilted my head so he could see my smile.
He smiled back and said, “I know, that’s why I can do this….Aaaa-ha, here they are.”
Tim’s hands were under some sweaters and he pulled out a three inch stack of magazines.
“Here, put these in that box.” Tim got down on his knees and looked under the bed.
“Huh. Not there.”
Tim sat back on his ankles and looked up. He caught sight of the ceiling fan. His head dropped and he sighed deeply.
“Oh, this fuckin’ sucks.”
“Come on, unless there’s anything else, let’s get out of here.”
“There is, but I can’t imagine where. Let’s go, maybe we can leave too. I need to eat, my blood sugar is non-existent.”
“Velselka, here we come.”
“Not yet, Petey, soon.”
“Soon you’ll stop callin’ me Petey…Timmy.”
“To da moon,” we belted out simultaneously.
“Dad, we need to eat and talk. Would you like to join us, Mr. Taylor?”
“Doug, please, call me Doug…and no, thank you. I need time to go through these things today. Maybe drive back tonight, first thing tomorrow at the latest.”
“There are still a bunch of empty boxes in the hall closet. Use whatever you need. We’ll be back in an hour or so and I’ll organize and box all the financials. You’ll be OK…Doug?”
“Yes, thanks, Tim. Thanks.”
Over brunch we tried to figure out what to do with all of Brad’s belongings and furniture.
“Salvation Army, maybe they would come get it all,” I suggested, “There are a couple of shelters too…the Ozanam Inn.”
“Now, I don’t know if Brad would have gone along with that suggestion,” Tim said with a slight grin.
The Ozanam Inn was a shelter on Camp Street for homeless men. Brad had been chased by a couple of grungy characters from there one hot summer morning on his way to work. He refused to give them change when they begged for it. They rushed him after he had told them, “Change comes from within.” He hated the place because of that day.
“Let me think about it,” Tim said, “I’ll take care of it.”
Doug Taylor had a half a box of items consisting mainly of jewelry, photos and mementos. All the closet doors and most of the drawers were left half open. He looked drawn and had a worried look on his face. He was sitting on the corner of the bed and looked up at us as we came through the door. He had a box of bullets and a box of shotgun shells in his hands on his lap.
“Hey…I can’t find his pistol. Do you know where it is, Tim?”
“Funny, I couldn’t find my shotgun this morning. It’s always under the bed. His pistol is always in the drawer with his underwear. But where did the shells and bullets come from? He and I made a pact to get rid of them all while we were going through this, just in case things got hot between us. We didn’t want something stupid to happen.”
I walked to the phone and called the 2nd District police station. I asked for Emory, even though I was almost certain he wouldn’t be on duty. He was because he was pulling some double shifts so that he could have some vacation time right before Mardi Gras.
“Em, it’s Pete. I’m here in New Orleans.”
“Yeah …and I got a loose end for you to tie up. A pistol and a shotgun are missing from the apartment. What can you tell me?”
“Of course, I’ll hold.”
“OK, can we pick them up?”
“OK, we’ll be there shortly. We’ll bring as much info as needed, but please be there so this can go smoothly.”
“Wow, that’s interesting…I don’t understand…OK…sure…but, well that’s OK we’ll figure it out…Thanks. Bye, kid.”
I hung up the phone and turned to the three concerned faces staring at me.
Mr. Taylor said, “Do you know everybody in this city?”
“No.” I was slightly taken aback by this, but continued, “The police took the guns. They were loaded and on the bureau and with Tim goin’ nuts over the situation…sorry Tim…they decided it was best. Officially they didn’t know if they were registered so that all you have to do is have the paperwork to get them back. Emory promised he would be there for a couple of hours to make sure we would get them back.”
“Let’s go,” Doug said, “Except for the financials there isn’t much else I want here anymore.”
Tim had a desperate look of confusion on his face. I put my arm around his shoulder.
“You ok? You look like…” He shook his head at me.
“Something’s weird here,” he said.
Bob Welker, ushering us to the door, said, “I’ll drive.”
It took less than a half an hour to go in and walk out of the station house with the guns. It would have been shorter but I had to talk to Emory. He hadn’t seen me since my final day in the hospital. He had pulled some strings to be the one to interview me about the accident for the final report as a favor to the Golden Meadow Police. He was gentle with me that day. I didn’t remember a thing about the crash, at that point. We had always cared about one another since the day we staggered home together from a bar in the French Quarter. He was so drunk he didn’t even know he was in a gay bar. I kept him from making a fool out of himself. He was always grateful and we became friends. He was sitting next to Bill when Dan and I first kissed. After his parents, I was the first person he called to say he was quitting school at UNO to become a cop. I didn’t understand his decision but I supported him. He felt the same way about me being gay.
When we got back to the car Tim snapped open the shotgun and looked down the barrel.
“What the…” He stuck his pinkie down one tube.
“Shit!” He turned the gun around and put his mouth over the barrel.
“What’s up, son,” his dad asked, worriedly. Tim blew as hard as he could. A rolled up paper flew to the ground. Tim picked it up, unrolled it and read.
“Oh my fuckin’ God...he...oh shit…” He fell back against the car door, his head back as he stared up at the sky. He handed me the note. I read it and my mouth dropped open. Bob Welker took the note from my fingers. Then he and Doug read it.
Brad had composed a neatly written note that explained he had murdered Tim with his own gun after they had a wonderful dinner together and then took his own life with the pistol. He didn’t give any reasons why.
We sat silently in the car for five minutes before Doug said, “I have one thing to be grateful for in his death. Take me back to the apartment. I’m ready to go home.”
The next day we began the process of cleaning out the apartment. Tim was upset the whole day. I continued the boxing and organizing on Wednesday while Tim went to Little Rock with his dad. By the time they came back on Thursday morning Tim had changed. He was distant and hardly spoke to me. On Friday he completely shut down. He didn’t want to pack the truck to move to New York. Saturday he told me he wasn’t going. I couldn’t get him to budge. His dad was completely at a loss. Sunday we drove the truck to his parents’ home in Mississippi. Monday we checked him in to a mental hospital at his insistence. Monday night I flew back to New York. I cried the whole way.
Tim stayed in the hospital for thirty days. He lived at home for three months after that. I called him as often as I could or should. I delved back into work, the Garden and my routine trying to keep myself sane during that time and wondering if Tim would ever be the same again. I also doted on Katie and Steve too.
It was so strange to see Katie grow with her pregnancy. I kept doing double takes whenever I would see her. I invited Tim to come to New York for the week of my birthday. I was hoping that Katie would stay on schedule so that Tim could be there too. I felt Tim came as a duty more than of desire.
It was a horrible week for the two of us, although he seemed relatively normal with Katie and Steve. Katie tried to spend a lot of time alone with him to talk like they used to when I first moved to New York. All she could figure out was that he was still caught in blaming himself and indirectly me for Brad’s death. She thought at some point he hopefully would let it go.
The only time he hugged me with warmth was on my birthday and that was due to the fact that Daniel Fitzmorris Thomas was born at twelve-thirty that afternoon. I felt as if that child was mine when I held him that afternoon. I couldn’t stop smiling and crying, and neither could Tim or Steve. Katie called us the “Blubbering Boys.” She even took my camera so that she could capture the three of us “blubbering.” At six we left to go celebrate two birthdays.
We went to my house after dinner to talk and for the two of them to have a few beers. Steve and Tim gave me their presents although they had to admit with a laugh that they couldn’t compete with Katie’s. I had to agree. Then Tim sprung his last gift. He told us that he was going back to work in two weeks for the bank he had taken the job with before. They had a position in San Francisco and he accepted. I dropped my glass to the floor. I stared at Tim. Steve came over and hugged me. He knew the expression of loss on my face.
I turned and said, “I’m goin’ to bed and please lock up and turn off the lights when y’all do the same.”
I could hear the two of them talk for a while. Steve was not happy with Tim. I lay on the bed completely heartbroken. I was seriously in love with Tim. The last four months had not been easy on Tim or me. I didn’t understand.
Steve came in, got naked and got in bed with me. He felt I should sleep with somebody tonight. He felt it would be a nightmare kind of night. That was one reason I loved him. He said that Tim was going to sleep on the couch.
“Oh no he is not!”
I got out of bed, walked calmly into the living room and quietly said, “Tim, come to bed. There is no reason to sleep on the couch. This is your bed too. You are the man I love the most, will do anything for and will wait the rest of my life for you to be there each night. OK, now come on.”
He nodded his head yes. I put out my hand, he took it and I led him to bed. Steve was beginning to get dressed.
“Boxers, off,” I said in a stern voice.
I got in the middle. It was the eeriest feeling of warmth and comfort to be between two men again. They both snuggled up to me. I fell asleep almost immediately. The next night I slept alone.