Less than ten days after Labor Day, Tom was ensconced in his dorm room and delving into his new rhythms of school. Vroom, Paul and David had left for college too. I now encouraged Jeremy to stay with me at the apartment in New York. I certainly didn’t want to come home to an empty house, even with Jester around. I even insisted to Klaus that he make out a new lease for Jeremy and John to sign so that it would be legal.
“Vat do you mean, Pete? Ve have not had a leaze since ze virst von. I trust you and your friendz.”
“It’s for me, Klaus. So that I know it’s official. This has been my home for almost six years. It’s gonna be tough to leave it. I’m gonna have to rely on you to keep an eye on Vroom to make sure he keeps the Garden up.”
“My vife vill, not to vorry.”
Klaus paused and pursed his lips.
“I’m gonna miss you, Pete.”
He quickly turned and headed for the apartment door, “I tell my vife to zend the leaze down later.”
My eyes widened as I turned to Jeremy, “He was actually getting emotional there…Oh my God.”
Jeremy put his hand on my shoulder, “I’ll take care of him for you. I won’t let you down.”
On September twenty-first there was a huge grid of boxes that lined the living room wall. The walls were bare except for pictures of Dan, Sammy and me, the Three Musketeers, Tim and me dancing, Tom’s and my naked Christmas and the pink and yellow cow print from Andy. Tom’s and my clothes still hung in the closet and I still had the bed and my desk set up. It was going to be three weeks till I moved on our second anniversary. I was scared when I stared at the grid of boxes that day, but confident. I wasn’t afraid of a premonition.
Life at work was also winding down. I had passed on the last of the responsibilities and the few loose ends to others as I packed my things and filed the rest. I was calmly going through this change without the worry and fret that had been my norm. I didn’t have to be kicked out of bed or have my butt slapped to put me in the right mind to face the future. I also didn’t have anyone who could do that for me, although Jester licking my face each morning was a pleasant substitute.
Tom and I talked on the phone every day. I missed the way he snuggled up to me in the middle of the night. He missed our conversations in the shower each morning. He noticed that he talked to himself in the shower now. He was worried his hallmates were thinking he was crazy, especially after they saw him practice yoga. I had to laugh because I too would have wondered about a vegetarian yogi who talked to himself in the shower if he was living on my freshman hall. I reminded him that all he had to do was to be honest with himself first and then others. If he had a clear conscious then all was right.
He began to laugh, “Yeah, I’m OK, strange to others, but life is very cool. How ‘bout I come home next weekend to snuggle with you?”
“Anytime, darlin’, anytime.”
I had a smile that lasted through the week.
On Thursday night he told me that he would be on an early Friday evening train and would get to the apartment about the time I would leave work.
“Perfect,” I told him, “I have a full day at the office to finish up my last loose ends.”
My boss told me to go home at lunch because the rest of the office needed to get used to getting along without me. I didn’t put up a fuss because I had found out that they were having a meeting that afternoon to work out the details for a going away party for me the next week. I was embarrassed at the thought but also extremely honored. I decided to go to the Green Market at Union Square to pick up some fresh vegetables for dinner. I knew that Tom hadn’t had a decent meal since going off to school. The school commons wasn’t realistically set up to deal with the needs of a vegetarian student and Tom wasn’t allowed to cook in his dorm room. I had a grin as I went from booth to booth in search of what looked best and to decide which of Tom’s favorites I would make. I had two full hands of plastic sacks as I wandered toward home. I whistled They Can’t Take That Away From Me as I walked down Fourth Avenue. I saw Vroom’s mom in front of her apartment building on Tenth Street. We chatted and laughed for a few minutes before I headed home. I promised her a personal tour of our new home by the end of the year. I was so glad to make it into my building because the bag handles had begun to cut off the circulation to my fingers. I knew that Jester would be so glad to see me too. He was still struggling to make it all the way through the day without peeing on the paper by the back door.
I opened the door to the apartment and looked down but Jester wasn’t waiting with tail and tongue going a thousand miles an hour. I took two steps into the apartment and looked to the bedroom.
“Oh goddammit,” I stated as I watched Paul’s huge cock pumping into Tom’s ass.
Dropping the bags to the floor I spun around and went back out the door and stepped slowly to the foyer door. I walked briskly to the corner, trotted across the street and then ran down the block. Sprinting as fast as I could I tore across Second Avenue to the squeal of skidding tires and the blare of horns. I couldn’t get to Sammy fast enough. Up went the door and I threw the dust cover off. I was locking the garage door when I saw Tom running down the street barefoot in only a pair of cut-offs. I got in the car and sped off toward the green light at the corner. It changed to orange. I stepped on the gas. It turned to red as I went through the intersection. I looked into the rear view mirror to see Tom collapsed on his knees in the middle of the street.