Maybe I’m in the minority (and I don’t just mean because of the gay thing), but I don’t find rape confessions to be a big turn on. Sex was no longer on my mind, in fact it wasn’t even in the same zip code as my mind, as I held Ryan sobbing in my arms. “I’m so sorry. I know this isn’t” sob “what you planned on tonight.”
I kissed the top of his head. “Don’t worry about it.”
I fell asleep sitting against the couch with Ryan in my lap. When I woke up it was light out. Ryan was still asleep. I wiggled out from beneath him, and put a pillow under his head. I went upstairs to shower my drunk off. It was my day off, but I had to go to work, pick up my check, cash it, and frivolously spend it on CDs. I’d get some writing done until Ryan woke up, then either fix us breakfast, or head out to a diner.
By the time I was done with my shower, Ryan was up. “Hey.”
I flashed him my ridiculous looking smile. “Morning.”
“Thanks for the pillow.”
“No problem. It’s probably not as comfortable as my inner-thigh, but it’s the best I could come up with on short notice.”
He grinned back. I’m a sucker for goofy smiles.
“I should probably head home and get ready for work.”
“Want some breakfast first? I asked.
“Nah. Never touch the stuff. Are you working tonight?”
“Nope. You’re working with Karen.”
“Mind if I stop by later? No drinking this time.”
“Sure. Give me a call when you’re on your way.”
He did his best to dewrinkle his shirt and headed to the door. Then stopped, walked back toward me and kissed me. I’m also a sucker for good kissers.
I spent the day in a daze of good music and happy thoughts. I went swimming, fired up the grill and made some chicken. I was adding my homemade teriyaki glaze when the phone rang.
“Hey Safe, it’s Ryan. I’m on my way.”
His arrival was perfectly timed with my completion of dinner, which was delicious. I felt incredibly domestic.
As Ryan and I put the dishes in the sink he threw his arms around me and kissed me on the cheek. I giggled. This was the gayest I’d ever been without having my dick in someone’s ass.
“Do you want go upstairs?” he asked. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to waste any energy walking all the way to the other side of the condo and up the stairs, but I said yes.
If I were to go on pure lust factor, perhaps the sex would have been mundane, very vanilla. But this wasn’t about sex. This was someone I’d been subconsciously in love with for years. Someone who, if he didn’t love me back, at least wanted to take a chance on me.
I fell asleep with his arms wrapped around me. His personal faith in humanity flotation device. I could save him.
I woke up the next day and he was gone. My panic attack lasted just long enough for me to notice the note on my computer desk.
He loved me. I did the happy underwear dance around the room. Looked longingly at the phone. I wanted to call everyone I knew and tell them the news, but, of course, I couldn’t. I wasn’t going to be the one to push Ryan out of the closet. Not yet, anyway.
I went through the motions of my day, as though I was on ecstasy, which, in a sense, I was. I got home a little late, made myself some mac and cheese, and sat down to write. I don’t know when I fell asleep, I only know that I woke up next to a blank piece of paper and half a bowl of cold macaroni and cheese. I looked at my answering machine. No messages. I was okay with that. After only two days of knowing Ryan was gay and interested, I wasn’t going to turn into that obnoxious “Why didn’t you call me?” obsessive lover.
The next day, I got up early, headed out to work, and started doing some of the miscellaneous jobs that should have been Ryan’s. I was organizing cases of wine by brand when the phone rang.
“Thank you for calling Cranberry Liquors, this is Zachary, how may I help you?”
“Safey, it’s Karen. Is Ryan there?”
“Not yet. I was about to give him a call. I got so busy organizing the wines that I didn’t realize he was late. Want me to give him a message.”
“No. He didn’t come in yesterday.”
My Adam’s apple falls into my stomach. “What?”
“I would have called you, but it was so dead yesterday that he sort of did us a favor.”
“Ok. Well, thanks Karen. I’ll call him and see what’s going on.”
I call his cell phone, and am not terribly surprised to get no answer. I am wearing my best pessimism. He freaked out about us and moved to Tibet. His mother had another heart attack, and he’s at the hospital again, and was too overwhelmed to remember to call out for work. But Ryan isn’t the sort of employee to even call in sick, nevermind do a no-call no-show. And if there was some sort of emergency he would have called me. I’m his boyfriend. Sort of. I must have come on too strong, and now he can’t even stand to look at me.
I am just reaching the meat of my pity-me sandwich when I see him walking toward the door. I crack my knuckles, breathe deep, and say, “You’re late.”
“It’s eleven o’clock in the morning. If anything, it’s a little early to be buying a case of beer.”
“Sorry,” I say to the person who isn’t Ryan. “I thought you were someone else.”
“No problem.” As he walks over to the beer cooler, I dial Ryan’s home number.
“Ms. Evans? Is Ryan there?”
“Who is this?” He is screening his calls. Or she is. She sounds like she’s holding back tears. Did he tell her?
“Safey Mode. I work with him at Cranberry Li―”
“Oh, Safe. I’m sorry. I should have had someone call yesterday. I’ve just been so―”
I remember seeing Michael Hutchence’s father, Kelland, interviewed on VH1. He was telling the story about how, on the day his son’s body was found, the first phone call he received was from a reporter asking if he had a comment for the papers. “You mean about the new album?” Kelland asked. The nervous reporter muttered only “Oh God.” and hung up.
“He died yesterday.” The beer cooler slams shut. I sit down. Ms. Evans and the man with the case of Michelob Light are talking to me at the same time. So sorry. How much? Visions of his car wrapped around a tree. Lovely day for the beach. Drunk driving. Incorrect change. Cryptic suicide note. So sorry. Dead. Have a nice day. Dead.
I hang up the phone, walk over to the door, and lock it. I pull the chain on the open sign, and walk into the beer cooler to scream.