September 8 2005
“Ok, now that nobody else is around to impress, just how far you plan on taking this?” I asked with my arms crossed at the breakfast table.
“Whadda ya mean?” Austin asked with a shrug as he was drinking his coffee and reading the sports page.
“You know, the whole leather thing, how far are you planning on taking this?” I asked again as I uncrossed my arms to pour a cup of coffee. I knew from fighting with Michael that I was perilously close to being whiny, and was trying to stay clear of that territory as no one thinks a whiner is cute.
Austin put the paper down then and looked at me with a purposeful lack of expression. He shrugged finally and got a cocky smile and playfully arched eyebrow.
“Guess as far as I want.”
“Austin…” I sighed annoyed at his cavalier attitude. “I mean, how far are you planning to take this? Is it just a game we play when we’re horny and no one else can see us,” I asked, “Or are you actually thinking I’m gonna actually be like a slave or whatever?” I asked this with an expression like I was having a root canal. As much as I enjoyed a little kink, I was in no way planning to become one of those guys who lives and breathes leather.
“What? Are you scared I’ll hurt you or something? Do you really think I’d do something like that to you?” Austin asked as he cocked his head to one side in confusion, his blue eyes bored into me.
“Austin, if I thought for a second you’d ever hurt me, you’d never of gotten me tied or cuffed the other night. Hell, you’d be out on the street catching your things as I threw them at you. But… you know that old saying about absolute power? Well, even partial power scares me baby… as turned on as I am doing this once in a while… it’s not how I want to live 24/7.” I said sipping coffee as I peered over the lip to watch his expression..
“Is that all?” Austin asked with an irritating gloating smirk. I nodded.
“Then since I promised not to enslave you or injure that pretty white ass, can I read my sports page now?”
“But Austin, we haven’t resolved anything.” I did it, I had actually whined, I hated whining, but… I was nervous, insecure… Hell, this was turning me into a whiny brat and I HATED being a whiny brat… Cause once it got out of me, it was so hard to put him back in.
“I’m not planning to make you a slave or anything like that, at least not all the time. I just like a little variation and… you know, some roll playing once in a while… So relax, will you? Shit… Do I need to buy you some Kotex now?” Austin rolled his eyes. “Can I read now?”
“Ummmm, can you wait a while hon? I’d like to talk; we have so much we’ve never discussed.” Austin stopped smiling as he was a little worried by my somber nature and strange mood; he sat the paper down and furrowed his eye brows,
“Ok, what’s going on Alex? Why all the mystery talk?”
“Nothing to be worried about baby, we’re ok… I’m just… I figured we both had all afternoon with no responsibilities for a change, and there’s a lot we’ve never discussed… I mean, mostly everything has fallen into place amazingly well. I mean hell dude; you’ve gone from “hey, hey, hey, I ain’t that way!” I said in a high-pitched mocking voice imitating the first night we met. “To boyfriend with… well, a lot of fucking drama, and a few freaky fetishes.” I added blushing as I fingered the very light bruises on my wrists from the handcuffs.
Austin smiled and rolled his head to the side blushing a little, it was one of those boyish maneuvers of his that I loved so much and it was so entirely sexy. If he did that move and smiled at me, he could easily get both my kidneys and my entire bank account.
“Baby,” He reached out and touched my face, “what’s on your mind?”
I just reached up and held Austin’s huge fingers and turned my face to kiss them lightly.
“Everything has just come so easily, so quickly, but we never discussed any of it, and I don’t just mean that whole leather thing, I guess we’ve covered that now… But I mean… you, me, us…” I trailed off for a moment before adding quietly, “Jason…”
Austin sat up and turned to face me with his legs both on the couch.
“I didn’t know there was a Jason problem.” Austin said seriously with a markedly deeper voice.
“No, no, I don’t mean like that… Shit, none of this is coming out right…” I cursed. “I mean… between that phone call you made, and when I found you, what happened? Not the whole Gene thing, I-I know what happened there…”
I was going to go on but Austin touched his fingers to my lips softly… This is why I would always trust him; he could even save me from the one person that I was scared could hurt me- myself. The deep breath I had taken to babble my case came out slowly through my nostrils instead as I locked eyes with him.
“Ok, you’re right; we did kind of… go right over this without ever talking about it.” Austin looked down and took a deep breath before looking me in the eyes again and going on.
“When I left you after Disney I was… God damn dude, I was walking on air Alex, I was so fucking happy I couldn’t stop smiling… I was hoping to just go home and call you and… listen to you talking… I love listening to you babble,” He chuckled, “kinda gay huh?” He smiled demurely. “Anyways, I freaked when Phoebe answered my door when I started opening it, and she was beyond pissed, she was fucking screaming at me and hitting me, She’d not only found the condoms and stuff I had wrapped up for your birthday sitting on my bed, she went in and began looking for you on my computer, and she found all our letters and the pictures you sent. She’d gone there because some sorority sister who’d graduated last year was working at Disney, and she called Phoebe after she saw us. But Alex, I tried lying to her, saying we were just goofing around, but she’d read our letters… She knew. Alex, I tried everything I knew, I even tried breaking up with her, but she was soooo mad, she kept saying that I wasn’t going to embarrass her like that, and that I wasn’t going to cheat on her with a guy, that I’d get over this gay thing you tricked me into. That I wasn’t going to leave her for an another guy…” Austin closed his eyes tightly; I saw his bottom lip quiver. “Alex, she sat me down and said she was going to tell everyone on campus I was a big queer unless I broke it off with you in front of her, and never talked to you again, I cried and pleaded with her, I told her it was unfair to you… But she was so… ANGRY-so fucking angry.” He stopped and took a deep breath to go on. “And I can’t blame her, I was the ass hole in all of this. I hurt her, I hurt you, I hurt myself… I shoulda broken it off with her, but I didn’t want anyone to know.” He paused and took a drink.
“So before you came home, I called Glen, and told him everything, and he pleaded with me not to do this… but… Alex, I was so totally fucking scared… all I could think about was her telling my team and the frat… So I told him-Glen, to come over here and wait for you and to call me when you got home… I wanted him someone to be here… to take care of you and watch you… You know the rest.” He mumbled, hanging his head in shame. “I swear Alex, I broke inside when I heard your voice, when I heard you pleading… I wanted to die knowing what I was doing to you… I swear to god Alex, part of me did die.”
Austin got up and went to get a couple of beers from the fridge after deciding his cold coffee wasn’t what he needed then, even though it was only noon, he opened them and came back over to sit down. “I’m thinking this is a beer moment.” As he handed me one.
“So for a week or so I was accompanied everywhere by her or a friend of hers, I wanted to check on you but she wouldn’t let me… And then I got really depressed and just stopped talking to anyone, I stopped doing anything. I stopped going to the frat and stopped working out; I even stopped fucking eating. Finally, Bryan and two other guys came over and got Phoebe to leave, and started asking me questions, I got way pissed off and tried to hit one of the guys, but I was so fucked up, he caught my arm and pushed me down on the couch. Bryan stayed, but he got the other guys to leave and, he actually guessed it was an affair that had me so messed up, and… somehow, I think because I was just waiting to die anyways, I just told him all about you. And he just hugged me and said it was cool and he’d never have guessed it was with a guy. Not sure if that helped or not, but it was good to see a smiling face after what I’d been going through. Then he said I should fuck Phoebe by telling everyone myself, then she’d have no leverage over me. I was so… depressed, I just nodded and… well, that week after our frat meeting, I took the gavel and told them all. It shocked everyone, but Bryan and a few of my friends that he’d told.” Austin said looking at my fish tank.
“Maybe a few other brothers I didn’t know that well were ok and just wanted me to get better and stop being so depressed, the guys I never liked were all bent out of shape. They wanted to toss me out, but then the president said that he was gay too, and that he’d come out too, publicly; if they tried anything, so they all backed down. Bryan came with me when I told a few of my baseball buddies, they weren’t as cool, and I told them I was bi, not gay… which is probably true but didn’t seem to make any difference. Anyways, they were at least glad I was gonna stop being so depressed and promised not to tell Harold or any of his friends.
And two days later Ryan showed up, and he talked to me all afternoon, and by then, I wasn’t even going home cause Phoebe had moved in and… I just didn’t want to see her.”
Austin took a long swig of his beer as I sat there transfixed.
“So that weekend, I came back here with Ryan, and we were going to Michael’s party. He’d told me about you meeting Jason, but said it wasn’t serious yet…” Austin took a big drink of beer.
“So, I showed up hoping to surprise you, and everyone was all shocked, and you were… well, I was hoping you’d come running into my arms. I was sooo fucking glad to see your face. But…well, you know…”
I felt awful even though I knew I was well within my rights to feel the way I had then, giving what I knew. Austin looked out the window and shuffled uncomfortably. I felt so small and guilty for the way I’d treated him that night…
“So I went home with Michael and talked to him about you and what was going on, he said I needed to talk with you. We talked all night and left for here, your place, in the morning. I knocked and was just… I was…” He hung his head a second, “I was crushed when Jason answered the door, I knew he’d been there all night, he was scared shitless when he saw me… we both froze not knowing what to do, and after a while I just made him promise to take good care of you… and I left… “
Austin paused to drink some beer before he went on, I motioned him to get closer on the couch, and after he moved over, I got close to put my hand on his leg and my head on his shoulder.
“So, I went back and Bryan wanted to know why I didn’t talk you, and wouldn’t stop saying that we needed to talk, and I just got so depressed, I dropped out of classes since I hadn’t gone in weeks anyways, and then I took my stuff and moved into Bryan’s for a few days, and…” Austin hung his head and I could feel him shrinking away from me, I wanted to just kiss his pain away, but I also needed to know what happened, He’d already wiped away so much lingering doubt. And on top of everything and more importantly, I think he deeded to get it all off his chest.
“And so I went out to try and discover this new part of me, to find someone who could tell me what to do, I know it sounds stupid, but I was hoping to find you there…At least some small part of you”
I took his hand and kissed his fingers, I didn’t know what to say or do… I felt so lost, I was feeling everything my soul-mate had gone through, was going through again simply because I asked… Tears welled in my eyes as I clung to him.
“But I found Gene at this University Club, a gay bar up there, and he bought me a beer as I talked about you… and I don’t remember much after that except flashes and dream like moments… Lots of pain, being really fucking thirsty… the smell of stale cigarettes. And then you were there. He drugged me; he used things on me...” I could feel the rage again, the desire to beat that scab to death with my bare hands. But my anger was second to Austin’s… I had no way of knowing what Austin was feeling, he didn’t cry or rage or give any signs. I still thought I was the one person besides his counselor who knew the whole truth.
Austin looked up with a tear in his eye and gave me a weak smile.
“And I guess even the two of us, our pride, couldn’t keep us apart…” Austin said as he leaned his head on mine as we reclined in my couch.
“We have to give Ryan, Bryan, Michael, and the others credit too, they saw what we didn’t.” I added as his breath warmed my neck.
After a few minutes of sitting in silence, just touching each other softly, I got up and went to the table and got the Sports page, went back to the couch and sat on one side and pulled Austin till he was lying on my lap, then I handed him his sports page and told him to read. I sat there happily running my fingers through his hair.
We had dinner with Mrs. Tremere, Mr. Riley, and my Mom later. Austin had never met my mom before, and said he felt weird eating with so many grown ups, that he felt outnumbered. I kissed his lips and told him to get used to it since he was a grown up now too. Mom was being her mischievous self and just kept asking poor Austin every question she could think of, and she and Mrs. Tremere began embarrassing him saying how cute he was, and how happy he made me… Ok, I was getting embarrassed too. Before Dinner had ended, She’d gotten him to agree to come over to do some yard work and stuff she’d never have asked me to do… “Geees, Poor Austin,” I thought, “Slave by association.”
Mom caught little things though, her artistic talents had given her quite a talent for observation, she saw the way he inched towards me when they made him uncomfortable, she watched his manners as he asked her and Mrs. Tremere if they wanted tea, and then poured it. I knew he was passing her tests, and making a good impression, and… well, I’d prepared him for her so all was ok there. He’d just been nervous that she wouldn’t approve of us like his Mom.
Austin beamed all the way home later as I told him how well he’d done. How could a sports star, a college boy with a face like God, still be a little boy when it came to approval? I suspected it all came back to his parents.
That Thursday I got an excited call from Ryan, “Hey, you two busy before your show tomorrow?”
“Well, Austin was gonna cook some kind of cream something or another with Mrs. Tremere, but I can come down for dinner I guess.”
“I need both of you.” Ryan almost sang he was so happy. I started to laugh since Ryan was so suave and self-controlled usually… But he was sure as hell happy and…bouncy.
I chuckled, “Ok, I guess I can steal him away, but if his cream thing sucks it’s your fault!” I teased.
There was a long pause before Ryan finally asked, “And does his cream thing suck?”
I giggled,” Not when he adds the right amount of tarragon.”
“Uh huh… “ Ryan shot back skeptically.
Marika had been teasing the hell out of me ever since she’d learned about Austin’s interest in making me his leather go go boy. She had taken to pinching my ass and asking if I was wearing anything kinky, or if I was wearing anything at all under my clothes. Then Thursday after we closed someone turned on some music and suddenly all the tellers, male and female alike, started waving dollar bills at me and stuffing them in my waistband. She was being as evil as I would have been in her shoes. I warned her I was gonna get even, and she laughed.
“Laugh while you can party girl, I am sooo gonna make you pay!” I grinned at her evilly before I closed my till.
I told Mrs. Tremere later at home, that I was going to steal “her” Austin as he had been requested for an important dinner. Mrs. Tremere and Austin had bonded in a few weeks in ways even I had never gotten to with her. I would have been jealous except that they both wanted me to be with them. It’s as if none of us was being replaced, we were instead being accentuated. That’s how my gay mind rationalized it anyways. With Austin’s Mom being so distant and clinging to her religious beliefs and misconceptions, Mrs. Tremere had become his substitute mother. And really, she was such a calming influence on him, I loved that he was spending time with her and she; him, it left me free time to practice and perform without neglecting either of them.
So after work I gathered up Austin who was still in his shirt and tie from work, he was so excited since he’d received his first pay check and we went and cashed it on our way down to dinner. Austin was so happy he could have flown us down if he’d wanted to. We sang Red Hot Chilly Peppers and Lightening Seed songs and Austin accompanied me on Air guitar and Air drums. His boyish enthusiasm was contagious.
When I pulled up to Ryan’s driveway Michael ran outside obviously as wound up and bouncy as Ryan had been. “Ryan just got home and jumped in the shower, come on in, you guys like seafood?” I had never seen Michael so… frenetic before; he was always the calmest of us.
Michael was wearing a deep teal shirt with narrow pinstripes and a silver tie with Greek keys on it. Ryan came out already dressed in a camel skin cashmere pull over and dark clay slacks. After offering us a round of martinis Ryan said we were going to Angelique’s for dinner, it’s a nice seafood restaurant with some imaginative takes on old Florida seafood standbys. On cue, as we headed for the door, we all donned our respective shades, Michael wore Ray Ban wayfarers, Austin was in the Oakley’s I’d bought him, Ryan wore a pair of Versace wrap arounds, and I had my Oakley wrap arounds. We were gay mafia hit men.
Ryan had skipped the Martinis because he was driving, but joined in on a round after we’d been seated. I personally didn’t care much for Martinis, but Ryan was ordering so I went along with the gang. Although I was dying to find out what was so important I was biding my time, I knew Michael was bouncing in his seat like fire ants were climbing up his leg. Austin however didn’t have that nagging problem with couth.
“So why’d y’all ask me down here anyways.” he blurted out between drinks.
Ryan and Michael looked at each other conspiratorially and broke out grinning and Michael blushed. Suddenly Austin said, “Oh my gawd, look at that diamond!!!” as he reached out and took Michael’s hand.
Austin held Michael’s hand and looked at a half carrot diamond solitaire set in brilliant gold. I finally looked over at Ryan’s wide grin and realized he was also wearing a matching ring. My eyes must have been like saucers.
“What? How??? What??? When???” I stammered as Austin studied the ring with a huge grin.
“These are only our engagement rings, Ryan asked me to marry him Wednesday night at dinner.” Michael said grinning and blushing as Ryan took his free hand and kissed his fingers.
“Congratulations!!!!!!!” Austin and I squealed, well I squealed, Austin said it very manly.
Ryan hugged and kissed Michael and Michael melted showing his gentle soul wrapped in Muscles and sportswear.
“We’re going to have a small ceremony in Palm Beach before Christmas and we’d love for you to be there as our best men.” Austin suddenly became a Chihuahua as he looked rapidly from Michael, to Ryan to me searching for permission to go.
“Can we???” He finally asked me. I was thinking about it, I’d taken so much time off for him already, I wasn’t sure I could get any more time. As if reading my mind, Ryan finally said,
“We know you don’t have much time off left after all the stuff this year, so we only need you there for the actual ceremony, it’ll be on Saturday night and we’ll fly you out for the weekend. It’ll be two weeks before Christmas.” Ryan said before leaning over to kiss Michael publicly, they were still not used to public displays of affection and it showed. Still, this was a huge step and I was elated for them.
“Of course we’ll be there! I’ll look at tickets as soon as I get home.” I added as I held Austin’s excited hand.
“Not necessary, we already got them for you.” Michael said grinning as Ryan began laughing. “I knew you’d agree.”
“He was certain you’d say yes. Next year we want you two to come out and spend time with us there, it’s so different from here!” Michael said grinning. I was excited and knew how excited Austin was.
We ate and drank and had a great dinner as we celebrated their choice to marry one another. Both Ryan and I went light on the drinks since I was on that night singing, and he was our driver. Despite our efforts at grabbing the check, Ryan insisted that he’d invited us out to dinner and he was going to pay.
“Mom!!!! Dad won’t let me pick up the bill, make him stop being so bossy!” I said to Michael as Austin cracked up and Michael could barely stop from spitting wine out his nose.
“Alex, you and Austin need to save your money so you can get us something fabulous for our wedding,” Ryan and Michael grinned. “But I thank you. NOW! Do I hafta buy Austin a riding crop and a few toys or are you going to play nice?” Ryan was obviously used to brats and his mastery over those of us assembled was complete.
I hung my head, “Yes Sir…”
“GOD!!!!! I have got to learn how you do that!!!!!!” Austin chipped in amazed as he looked between me and Ryan.
“So, why are you going to Palm Beach for this? Aren’t most of your friends here?” I asked quickly changing the subject.
“Nooo, we lived for years in and around Palm Springs… A few Florida friends are going with us, but most of the long time friends are there. But uhhh, the two of you will be responsible for the local reception… and dual Bachelor parties.” Michael said a little buzzed.
“Ok, so who asked who? Come on, spill the details man!” Austin said like a 17 year old trying to get gossip out of his best friend.
Michael laughed and pointed at Ryan, “He asked me, last Wednesday after dinner.” Michael showed us his ring again, “He was soo romantic, and He remembered that it was at a post Halloween party that we decided to start dating…” Michael said with a smile that filled the room. “And it was a Wednesday after Halloween that we had our first real date.
“So, Uhhh…” Austin stuttered a little confused, “Do we give you both one party, or do we have one for each of you??? What’s the uh, tradition, with two dudes?”
Michael and Ryan grinned at each other then looked to me and shrugged, “No clue to be honest, but I think one party will do, I know Phil and Korma are getting married soon too and we don’t want to burn you guys out.” Ryan said with a compassionate smile to Austin. I sighed wanting to spend all evening celebrating with Ryan and Michael and Austin, but I had to be at the Seattle scene soon to perform and was aware it was getting close to that time. The guys decided after a short discussion that they’d come along later, I think that relieved Austin cause he didn’t want to sit alone and he didn’t want to let me think he was deserting me. I needed to get there a little early for a bit of revenge I was planning and to revise my set of songs to congratulate Ryan and Michael. I left Austin with the big boys so I could go get my deeds done and allow him to spend some time with the other gay athletes.
As soon as I got in I went up to Henna with a devilish grin and asked her to help with a few plans for that night. I gave Jorge some money and asked him to go pick up a few things for me and asked Henna to dim the lights for the evening just a bit. Then I went and started writing my list of love songs and other topic related tunes. About half an hour before I went on, the rest of the gang showed up, Robert in his car, and Marika and Phil in his.
I sang an entire set of purely acoustic songs, allowing Marika, Phil, and Robert to socialize and hang with Austin and the boys. Marika then did her set; she was becoming quite a torch song singer and was covering Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Burt Bacharach, Diana Krall, even Dust Springfeild’s classier numbers. After a break we all got up on stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” I announced, “This last set is going out to two very special friends of mine who got engaged this past week, so for Ryan and Michael, the last set is dedicated to you.” I said with a warm smile at the two lovebirds holding hands and giving each other very soulful googly eyes.
“The following is an old song, even by my standards, it was written by Hammond and Hazlewood of the Hollies.”
If I could make a wish
I think I'd pass
Can't think of anything I need
No (Magazines), no sleep, no light, no sound
Nothing to eat, no books to read
Making love with you
Has left me peaceful, and warm inside
What more could I ask
There's nothing left to be desired
Peace came upon me and it leaves me weak
So sleep, silent angel, go to sleep
Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Peace came upon me and it leaves me weak
So sleep, silent angel, go to sleep
I sang the rest of the lyrics, staring into the soulful eyes of my own blue-eyed angel, as Marika and the band accompanied me.
Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
As I looked around the room, couples of every sort were getting close and a lot of hands were being held.
I followed with Annie’s Song by John Denver, an acoustic version of ABBA’s ‘Take a chance on me’, and Marika did a killer cover of At Last, by Etta James. And I covered the CSNY song, ‘Our House’. As we finished and performed our bows, I signaled Jorge and Henna to start their prearranged parts. As Marika and Robert and Phil left the stage I acted like I suddenly remembered something and grabbed the Microphone.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I almost forgot, on top of my friends engagement, I have one more thing I’d like your help in celebrating this evening,” The lights suddenly went out and Jorge exited the back room with a huge sheet cake full of blazing candles.
“Although she tried to keep it secret, it’s our very own Marika William’s Forty Fifth Birthday today, and don’t let her try and tell you any differently. SO will you all help me in wishing the very shy Marika Williams a wonderful Forty Fifth Birthday.” And with that I began singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and was joined by the entire unwitting audience, I could see poor Marika blushing and shocked as the huge cake was wheeled up to her. The joke was, only I knew that her real Birthday was in January and she wasn’t even 29 yet. Some say that revenge is best served cold; I assume they just aren’t as naturally devious as me. I was nearly hysterical when she looked up me with a look that could give sharks nightmares and mouthed, ‘ok gayboy, it’s on!’ Then she coolly turned to the cake and after several blows had the 60 some-odd candles extinguished. After I left the stage and carefully avoided getting to close to Marika while she had a knife, Austin came over and hugged me tightly and kissed me passionately.
“Are you gonna sing like that for me if we ever get engaged?” He teased with a kiss.
“You planning something you’re not telling me baby?” I asked with a smirk.
Austin laughed, “no, nothing at this moment… maybe next year… But I want you to sing me something pretty like that.”
“Nyah, I’m gonna do “Sympathy for the devil” again.” I teased back with a smirk.
“Right! You’re the devil, Marika isn’t even 30 yet!” Austin teased back as he poked me in the ribs. I broke up laughing and tried to whisper in his ear, but I kept laughing so hard I finally had to just gasp out, “And her Birthday is really in January.” And then we both fell on each other as we cracked up and couldn’t stop laughing.
Marika played along graciously, casually starting rumors that I had had a sex change, that I was really part of the Russian mob, and that I was hiding my real marriage to an ugly Iowan farm girl with leg braces.
I got a dangerously sweet kiss from Marika as Austin and I were leaving, she just winked and once again mouthed “Oh yeah, it’s on gayboy!”
“You are so screwed Alex, come on, let’s go home and have sex while you still can.” Austin teased as he slipped his arm around me as we walked to the jeep.
“So if she kills me are you gonna get revenge or just go back to dating girls?” I teased as I hit his shoulder with my head.
“Hmmmmm, I think I’ll just apply to be Ryan and Michael’s house boy.” Austin said laughing as he squeezed me.
“Hon, you don’t have to wait for me to die to do that, I think it would be HOT watching Ryan fuck you till you couldn’t walk.” I said with forced sincerity.
“Shut up! No one’s fucking me.” Austin said flatly scowling suddenly.
“Well not while I’m around they aren’t, but after Marika kills me, who’s gonna protect you?”
“Alex, I’m not letting anyone fuck me.” Austin said seriously, I suddenly recalled his one experience with Gene.
“Sorry Austin, I was just joking.” I said in apology,
“Shhhh, its ok, besides no one’s gonna kill you Alex, you’re mine. I’ll let her spank you, but no one gets to kill you.” Austin said as he kissed the top of my head as we reached the jeep.
“Baby, you just earned a blowjob.” I said appreciatively.
“You know, I totally fucking love when you go down on me, but honey, it would mean a hell of a lot more if you didn’t do it every night anyways. Shit, some nights I hafta damn near hose you down so I can get to sleep.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean when we got home.” I said with a small hint of a smirk as I turned out the light and buckled in. I knew he loved anything wild and daring and the kinkier it was, the better he liked it.
Austin was quiet a moment and then in the darkness gave a loud rebel yell, “Yeeeee haaaa!”
So on the way home I pulled onto a long dirt road I knew and drove till we were on a boat ramp overlooking the St. Johns River. And there I bent over the seat and let Austin watch the river and the moon as I blew his pink mind.
His coos and growls and the hands on the back of my head told me how much he loved what I was doing, the enthusiastic attention I paid to his rod told him how much I loved the job.
After cleaning up we drove home in quiet bliss. As we crawled in bed after some coffee and a few of his latest French rolls, I got a hand on my ass and a long grope that told me I about to be thanked for my earlier work. As it was Saturday the next day we stayed up till dawn, him slowly and lovingly rocking my world, kissing me deeply and leisurely as we rhythmically knocked the headboard against the outside wall.
Although we had our alarms set for early noon, as I didn’t have to be in Orlando till 7:30, a loud knocking on my front door followed by the doorbell ringing repeatedly woke us both around 9am. Austin rose first and slipped into his shorts as I fumbled for my shorts and went to see who was so frantically trying to wake us up.
I walked out just in time to see Austin opening the front door, I was very surprised to see Nathan, Austin’s old friend who freaked out when he found us kissing, standing there.
“Hey Alex, is Aust…” Nathan stopped himself when he realized he was talking to Austin.
“Nath, what’s up?” Austin said a little annoyed but more curious.
“Hi Nathan, what’s going on?” I said sleepily as I walked up.
“I uhh, I need to speak to you Austin.” Nathan said his voice strangely distant, and his eyes showing signs of crying.
“I’ll go make some coffee, you want something else Nathan?” I asked as I slipped into the kitchen.
“Ummm, No, coffee’s fine.” Nathan said with what I realized were his first civil tones with me. So I made some coffee and grabbed the tray with all of Austin’s pastries on it as I listened to the two of them talking.
“Austin, It’s Joe,” Nathan said slowly, that was the friend who’d been with them that first night we’d met at that party.
“What, is he ok?’ Austin said concerned.
“He..uhhh… Austin, he…” Nathan stammered.
“Austin, Joe got his gun and…” I knew it was bad, I didn’t know what, but I left the coffee brewing and the pastries on the counter. I saw Nathan hand Austin a crumpled up letter, I saw Nathan choke back a little, his eyes were tired and weary. He looked up and caught my eye and gave a weak smile as his bottom lip quivered. Austin began reading the paper. I went back and got the coffee and made a tray with cups and pastries and brought the whole thing out and sat it on the coffee table.
“Oh my god, Oh fuck… no, oh god, nooo” Austin began saying as he read intently.
Nathan looked up at me as I stared intently at Austin, not knowing what was going on.
“Our friend Joe, we all grew up together, he… he uh…he killed hisself Wednesday night, I got this letter in the mail yesterday.” Nathan said. Suddenly Austin stood up pleading “nooo, oh god noooo” over and over.
Nathan took the hand written note and handed it to me.
Hey man, I’m guessing by now you know what I did, I’m leaving a fake note with my body for my family and the law, but I wanted to tell you why I had to do it, you’ll know the other crap isn’t real anyhow. Hell man, with the exception of Austin maybe, you probably knew me best anyhow. But you didn’t know everything, even you didn’t really know me, and once you do, I’m guessing it won’t much matter what I done. I know how you feel; I saw what all that crap with Austin did to you. I’m telling everyone else, in that letter, that I was in love with this girl and she didn’t love me back. That will help them and, hell, they’ll believe it cause they want to. But it wasn’t a girl Nath, it was you. Big fucking wow huh? I have for years, and I used to pray you’d feel the same way. Truth is, I’ve never been with a girl, only time I ever had a partner was with Austin, he’d let me blow him sometimes when we were drunk. You don’t need to know that though, I used to hope that one day you’d let me have some clue that you’d let me, even if you weren’t gay too. But you were so mad at Austin, you were so freaking disappointed, and you went on and on how you never wanted to see him again. Dude, I tried and tried to get over you, I prayed and did everything I could think of, let’s be real though dude, you weren’t going to change, and I wasn’t changing… And if I’d come out, I would have lost you, my family, all my other friends. Austin might have welcomed me, but he’s disappeared. Be honest Nath, there’s no room in our world for homos. You can hate me now, I don’t guess it will much matter, but please don’t tell my family, let them have their illusions. If Austin finds out, you can tell him everything if you want.
This is fucking hard to do man, but I don’t see any other way.
With Love and regret, your friend always
I silently handed the note back to Nathan his eyes were so tired and empty as they met mine. But Austin was in shock, I had to hold him despite what Nathan would think.
His arms went around me and his face was on my neck, begging god to not let it be true. I wanted to say something to ease his pain, but God has granted no words to ease this kind of pain.
“I killed my best friend.” Nathan said in a hollow voice beside me. Oblivious to my holding Austin. “I didn’t have no idea, but I may as well have pulled that damn trigger.” He said his voice getting weak and his mouth obviously dry from crying.
“Scuse me…” Nathan said weakly as he got up and went to my bathroom.
“Alex, I didn’t know, after high school he never asked to do nothing again, I figured he was just…. I don’t know, but I didn’t think he was gay.” Austin cried in my ear. Austin was obliviously worried how I’d react to this last bit of information.
“Austin, I am so sorry, I mean, I only met him that once for 20 seconds, but I’m getting the fact that the three of you grew up together. Honey, I know everyone says it, and it sounds hollow, but I’m here for whatever I can do for you… absolutely whatever you need.”
“I know baby,” he said laying his hand on my cheek tenderly, “And I know you mean it… Just be you; that’s all you need to do.” He then rose and gathered himself as I stood next to him.
“Now I’ve got to go deal with Nath, I can’t begin to imagine what he’s going through.” Austin said grimly as he walked to the bathroom.
Austin knocked then went in, and all I heard after that was long sobbing and the tears you shed when someone you love passes. I called Marika to tell her what happened, and that I might have to skip the performance that night. She sent her love and prayers to Austin and to Nathan whom she had never met.
I drank coffee while I waited for Nathan and Austin to come out, I read and reread the letter wishing I could have talked to Joe… I knew I’d cry over this, but not while I was helping Austin.
Austin and Nathan came out later, both showed signs of crying and both had that dead look in their eyes. I walked up to Nathan and handed him the letter, “Nathan, it really isn’t your fault… trust me, I know you can’t love someone the way he wanted you to if it isn’t in your heart… I wish he’d talked with me, I would have explained that to him.”
Nathan just nodded, his eyes only meeting mine briefly.
“Thanks man… I know I ain‘t done nothing to make you like me, but thank you… I got a lotta thinking to do bout things… I gotta warn you though,” Nathan said grimly.
“I told my mom and pa bout you and Austin, and so did his parents… and… well… I learned what I did from them, and… it might be better for you if you didn’t come along, I guess Austin will be alright. And I sure as hell know they couldn’t hurt you, but… they’ll be angry and downright rude… I just wanted to warn you…”
In Nathan’s view he was doing the right thing, he was trying to help in his own way… I would leave it up to Austin though, I had a feeling he didn’t want me in this world, his old world; not that part of it anyways. Besides, I barely remembered Joe; I didn’t even know his last name… I’d only be going to support Austin, and this crowd wouldn’t accept that.
I invited Nathan to stay longer, to have breakfast with us, but he insisted he had to go and be alone. I shook his hands as he left and wished him peace. My kindness seemed to milk a big tear from his eye, which he quickly wiped away. “Take care of Austin ok man?” Nathan said with a grim smile before turning and walking away. Austin stood behind me silently with his arms around me as we watched Nathan get in his Camero and drive away.
That afternoon I learned all about Joe and Nathan as the three of them grew up, all the adventures and all the things they could have gotten arrested for. I felt guilty because as bad as I felt for Austin and Nathan, I was glad that something had happened to spur Austin into opening up this aspect of his life to me… I knew his personality so well, but knew little more then what I learned from Glen and Phil about Austin’s past.
After dinner Austin told me to go to the Seattle scene and play, he said he wanted to bake with Mrs. Tremere, I suspected that there were things she could help with that I had no idea of yet, plus baking seemed therapeutic for him.
He decided to take me out for dinner at a local Italian restaurant before I left. They made everything from scratch, something Mrs. Tremere was teaching him made all the difference. I hated to leave Austin after dinner, but he said he was going to go see Nathan at home and then try and go see Joe’s parents before coming home to bake. He could see from my eyes I wanted to go with him, but he just smoothed my cheek with his fingertips and said he’d be all right. I left him with a lot of trepidation, but he asserted his wish that I go play. So what else could I do?
Ok, my songs that night were neither upbeat nor peppy, but Marika was so we played well against each other, the counter pointing of our music worked well and we really were getting quite a repertoire. I called Michael and told him everything; he could be so sweet when there wasn’t an audience. He told me he was going to the funeral too, without even asking and even though they had never met. His reasoning was that they might give me attitude, they might be rude to Austin, but very few people were ever rude to a 6’6” mechanic that worked out regularly. I didn’t add that it was also cause he could look meaner then an angry guard dog when he was sad, upset, bored, or actually angry.
I understand from my mother and other women that men of any age behave in two ways when upset or feeling bad, they either isolate themselves or cling and act totally needy. I was worried that Austin might try and push me away especially as he would be returning to his past however briefly, but it was quite the opposite; I almost had him sitting on my lap as I went to the bathroom, He called me on every break and unconsciously to him, he followed me to every room I was in. As much as I loved how tactile and clingy he had become, how could my heart not break at both the reason for this and the fragility of my man?
Austin went to the closed casket viewing with Nathan, I cried when they left for the first time really, more so then even Austin; it was Nathan I cried for because Joe had been his best friend and his almost constant companion for many years. Phil and Dan and that group were all going too as they’d gone to school together, they told me the joke had always been that Joe and Nathan were married as they were always together and finished each other’s sentences. How could I not cry, knowing the pain of unrequited love? Michael came while the viewing was still going on as he was going with us to the funeral the next morning. He held me as I cried and in that way only he could do, got me to laugh despite my tears…
Austin came home drained; he’d been cornered and grilled by relatives, friends, and even his mother, who wanted him to know that the pain he felt now was nothing to the pain he’d feel in hell. Austin didn’t tell her that thinking like that is what killed Joe, even though he’d thought it.
I held Austin that night in a switch from how we usually slept, me spooned by him. That night I held him and kissed him gently to sleep.
The next morning we got ready for the funeral and rode there with the entourage of Phil and his friends, four cars filled with people who’d all gone to school with Joe except for Michael and me.
We arrived just before the service started and sat towards the back. It was a typical service which spoke often of god and his love for this girl who didn’t really exist. In the end they asked Nathan, Joe’s best friend to get up and speak. Nathan, dressed in his Sunday best rose slowly; he looked like leftovers that sat in the freezer a year too long.
“Pardon me if this doesn’t sound right, I never thought I’d ever have to do this for Joe.” He choked out.
“Joe was my best friend and I guess from this crowd, he was well liked and well thought of. He’d have liked this attention, as he was always clown’n around trying to make people laugh. He really loved attention from people. There were a lot of days he was the only person alive that could make me laugh. Hell, the night before this happened he had a whole room in stitches doing his impersonation of a drunk dog.” A small laugh went through the audience despite Nathan’s choking up.
“Seems to me that sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s suddenly taken away, and that’s how I feel right now. See, I got a note from Joe telling me how much he loved me.” I sat up suddenly not expecting this. He didn’t say it like it was a “gay” thing, so it could be seen as friendship love, or like it really was, Romanic love.
“I’m not sure I deserved it, not sure I ever done nothing to deserve his love, but there it is.” A big tear was rolling down his face.
“I was something between a best friend and family to Joe, which means I took advantage of him sometimes, I got mad at him sometimes, and I’d defend him against anything if he was ever threatened. Just never knew it was him that was the threat.” He paused as he choked back a sob. I could see the strength he was fighting with to remain composed.
“See, Y’all know why he was a threat now, but we played our parts too, in not listening to what he was really telling us, in watching his jokes and antics and not seeing his pain… in accepting that a good looking twenty three year old guy had never dated seriously… none of us pulled the trigger but… none of us stopped it neither.”
“I have to accept the fact that if I’d loved Joe more, he would still be here, joking, making fun of his sister, driving his dad nuts cause he wouldn’t clean his room… I have to accept that he was afraid to say he loved me cause I woulda teased him and made fun of him if he had, and so would a lot of y’all… But know what? If I knew what the alternative was I’d have damned well told his ass I loved him too, cause…” Nathan began sobbing openly trying to choke back the tears; most of the audience was by now.
“How hard can it fucking be to…? Sorry pastor. How hard can it be to love someone who loves you? I don’t know the answer to that, Never have really. I mean, I’d say he was my best friend, but love? I can’t say I ever told him that he was my brother, that he was the one guy I cared for most in the world. And no matter how hard I try now, I’ll never be able to tell him that until I get to heaven.”
“Cause you see, Joe is in heaven now, he’s joking and laughing and making friends there like he did here. Joe never done nothing mean or hateful, hell, he was my better half as most of y’all liked to tease. Joe was the one that kept me and my temper and my… way of always causing trouble, from getting out of hand. He was the good cop. And he’s left me…” He began sobbing again and fighting his demons as he tried to go on.
“Joe was the one person besides my mom that saw good in me, even when I didn’t… he was always like that and he mostly saw good in all Y’all, in everyone. He turned me from a schoolyard bully in grade school to a… well, to something less of a bully by high school. And now, I think in his name I’d like to become something more, something that would make my friend proud, I want to be a nice person. And all Y’all who know me might laugh, but I really do.” Nathan said defiantly
“My best friend was taken away, robbed from me for reason’s I don’t much understand, but, I think that means I have to try all on my own to be a better person, I don’t promise miracles, but I’m gonna try.”
“I have more faith that my best friend is in Heaven now then I am that I’ll be going, irregardless of what he done. We all have questions now, we all have parts of our hearts shattered and bleeding, broken like the windows he’d take the shit for breaking, even though it was me or Austin who’d broke em really. But if there is one lesson I have learned from Joe, it’s that we all have better people inside us. And that sometimes, it’s ok for one person to tell another that they love them, no matter who they are.”
“I have a hole in me now, like many of you I guess, my best friend in the world, my brother, has left me, and it hurts, oh god, it hurts so much…”
Nathan barely got the last part out as he had begun crying so hard, the minister and some guy I didn’t know helped get Nathan to his seat. And here I was crying for this homophobe who’d treated Austin and me like less then human, who’d told us we were disgusting… but who’s pain was so elemental, so all consuming in his grief, how could anyone not be crying? In our pew away from any eyes that might see us, Austin took my hand and squeezed it firmly; I heard his tears too and couldn’t imagine loosing someone I’d grown up with. Someone, whom it turned out, had been Austin’s first male sex partner.
After the ceremony, as we gathered outside and people broke up into groups and offered their condolences to Joe’s parents and Nathan, Nathan suddenly appeared by us.
“Alex, I wanna ask you if Austin can ride with me up to the Graveside, I think his two best friends should be there for him… Would you mind driving up there alone? Please?” Nathan seemed so small and fragile I couldn’t possibly say no, He let me hug him a moment as I said how sorry I was. Korma rode with me and we commiserated as neither of us had done more then shake Joe’s hand in the past.
The Graveside Ceremony was short and there were a lot of tears and I watched my boyfriend holding Nathan as Nathan lost it. I was glad I’d be singing later that night as I had so much emotion stored up I needed to release.
That night, I talked over a more somber set of songs, maybe something cathartic for Austin, with Marika and the group. We did homage to songs about friends and the redemptive power of love.
We started with our cover of Simon Garfunckle’s song A Bridge Over Troubled Water, with Marika doing her Artetha Franklin cover. We did Carley Simon, and a very soulful version of the Beatles All You Need is Love. Put a Little Love in Your Heart, by Petula Clark, Marika did a wonderful version of Burt Bacharach’s What the World Needs Now.
We ended with a wickedly gospelized version of Oh Happy Day. After the show we actually drove back home, as none of us wanted to go out. I don’t think a second passed where Austin was not in contact with me.
“Thank you Alex, for everything, you’ve been fucking awesome today…”
Austin said from above me as he hugged me at home inside the front door.
“Naaaaaahhh, I was just trying to keep you happy so you’d pay back all that sex you owe me.” I said with a serious face. Austin got a half smile, “Yeah? I thought interest didn’t accrue till like 2007 or something.”
“No way, you got some steep payments buddy-boy, you best start paying or else.” I said dragging a finger across his chest.
“Else what?” he asked sidestepping me to get behind me.
“Else someone’s gonna find out what the word “Versatile” means…” I said walking into the bedroom.
“Like Hell!” was his only reply as he ran in and scooped me up and laid me out on the bed, unlike his sometimes caveman like finesse at sex, which to be honest, I actually kinda liked, Austin was trying to learn the art of seduction, something I had to thank one of my friends for. I wasn’t quite sure whom yet. So for several hours I was teased, tickled, caressed and slowly stripped. After a crescendo of athletic and almost acrobatic wild monkey sex, I was left as little more then a spent and happy puddle on the bed.
“Well?” Austin asked in the dark with an expectant tone.
“Mmmmmm?” I managed to moan in response.
“Does that count as a good payment?” He asked in mock annoyance.
“eeehhhh” I moaned quickly, hinting at indecision.
“Oh hell yeah it does!” He said turning the light on and looking down at me as he rested on one powerful arm.
I arched an eyebrow questioningly.
“Baby, it must be good or you would have been talking for the last five minutes now, and so far all you’ve done is moan and gasp… Hell yeah! You versatile? Please!” He reached over and turned off the lights, his sudden fratboy enthusiasm was adorable.
I could only weakly smile and pant as I was teased and poked in an effort to keep me awake, sleep was my Master though and I obeyed.