The party is over last that night.
When everyone is gone Reuben is passed out in his bedroom. I'm in the kitchen cleaning up when Pace comes to join me in the kitchen. To say that it was awkward between the two of us was an understatement.
sorry about what happened upstairs---”
His husband had just fucking kissed me.
completely fine,” Pace explains, “He was high. I was
just blown away. Reuben isn't a kisser...”
It's interesting he
says that because Reuben had no problem kissing me...over and over
and over again. The problem was trying to get Reuben to stop kissing
me. When his 'husband' is sitting here telling me that he isn't a
kisser all I can say that is that right now I'm surprised to say the
Pace shakes his head, “The cats out the bag. First time we met he told me that he didn't kiss. Not guys or girls. It was his only rule. He doesn't kiss.”
I shake my head at the thought of this. This was blowing my fucking mind.
“How long have you guys been married?” I ask.
“About a year
“You don't live together?” I ask.
Pace shakes his
head, “We want to keep it on the down low. You know his career
or what not. It's best that no one knows that we are married to
another guy. We kept it between us. We don't even wear our
I feel sick. After all that Reuben and I had been through he hadn't told me any of this. I felt fucking betrayed to say the least. Where the fuck did he get off parading his husband in front of me this whole time and not saying a word about it.
My blood is boiling. I want to confront Reuben so badly but he's passed out.
secret is safe with me.”
“His mother knows now. That is going to be an interesting conversation when they sober up,” Pace laughs at that moment, “I think she's disgusted by the fact that her son may actually be gay.”
“You seemed so disgusted about me being gay,” I say.
“Honestly I was more thrown off by the fact that you were just open to admit it,” Pace explains, “I'd spent my entire life covering up who I was. So has Reuben. The fact that you just came out and said it, blew my mind.”
“What's the point of getting married if you hide your relationship from everyone?” I ask.
“I said the same thing,” Pace tells me, “It wasn't my idea to get married. That was all Reuben's.”
For some reason that hurts more. None of this should be hurting. I realize that. I was married myself. I shouldn't be so caught up in my feelings but that doesn't make a difference. Just a few hours ago Reuben had said he loved me somehow even though he was high. Now his goddam husband was a having a conversation with me in the kitchen about their relationship.
It made me sick to my stomach.
I swallow my pride though.
“The two of
you make a beautiful couple.”
What hurts the most is just how right I am. Pace is fucking gorgeous and he looks perfect with Reuben. That's what hurts me the most about it.
Pace gives me a smile. It's beyond awkward in this kitchen right now. The guy he just caught kissing his husband the night before was right in his kitchen complimenting them.
“Thank you. I
love that man,” Pace tells me, “I was going to make him
breakfast in bed. He'll need it. You want anything.”
I shake my head.
going to go over to the piano if you don't mind. I have a song to
All of a sudden I was feeling very inspired.
Pace goes upstairs after he makes breakfast. I sit at the piano and start writing. I want to walk out of this place but I have no where to go. I think about just leaving. I think about just making my exit. I feel like the third wheel in the house almost. I don't know why I should feel some type of way.
I told Reuben that I was married the very first moment that he met me. Why couldn't he tell me the same. The longer Pace spends upstairs in Reuben's room the more sick to my stomach I feel.
It's not until there is a knock on the door that I stop writing this song that is suddenly floating around in my head. When I go to the door I'm surprised to see Monica.
Monica smiles at me
hard, “Hey brother.”
The fact that she is calling me that makes me feel kind of funny. Everything is still so weird with Sean. I haven't answered the hundreds of calls that he's been giving me. I haven't even read the thousands of text messages that Sean has sent to my phone. I completely ignored them and now his sister was showing up at my door.
And honestly for the first time I actually think that maybe it is about time to go home. Maybe I don't belong with Reuben as much as I wanted to believe.
“What are you doing here?” I ask her.
Monica walks in at
that moment, “Well this is the house of the guy I was
She has a suitcase in hand as she walks in that kind of confuses me.
“Why you ask?”
“Monica. Come on. I know you. You've been a manager for all the hottest talent in Miami for the longest time. You've never professionally crossed that line before to date one of your acts.”
Monica shakes her head, “You know something, don't you?”
Yeah. I knew Monica way too well. She wouldn't cross the line to date one of her acts unless she honestly had to for business.
“I figured. He's upstairs with Pace right now,” I explain.
I go back into the living room of the glass condo overlooking the Ocean. I keep walking all the way out onto his deck. The patio deck is beautiful. It has this beautiful modern infinity pool built in and stairs that lead out onto the private beach. The view is so fucking beautiful with the sun rising up in the sky. I want to feel at easy taking in the warm sun on my skin but instead I don't. I just feel like nothing is right here.
Monica is out there on the beautiful deck with me as well in no time. She stands out next to me and looks at the rising sun. She stares dead at it as though her eyes won't hurt.
“He told me
they were married,” Monica explains, “We are trying to
get to the point of his career where him being gay won't matter but
for right now his fan base are girls who are attracted to him. We
thought if people started to suspect Climax of being gay it would
mess things up.”
“You're his beard,” I state.
Monica nods, “Yeah.
I guess. I'm also his friend. We were affectionate in public when
we need to be. But he's gay. Don't worry...I didn't tell Sean.”
I roll my eyes at the thought.
“Why the hell
do you think I care about what your brother thinks?”
Monica touches my arm gently, “You moved in with a gay guy. Sean doesn't know that. I know that though. You knew that---all along. Let's stop kidding ourselves.”
I take a deep breath. I want to blow up at Monica but I want to keep things civil. I haven't really talked to anyone about my issues with Sean besides Reuben. It was a hard thing to do. It was clear whose side Monica was in on all that.
“Sean isn't a victim OK,” I explain to his sister, “Let's not play that shit. Ok? Maybe I knew Reuben was gay. I didn't run towards Reuben though. I ran away from Sean.”
“What do you mean am I sure?”
“The two of you just seem extra close,” Monica explains, “That's all I'm saying. All I'm saying is you're a married man living with one of the sexiest guys in the Industry who conveniently has taken you in when he hasn't even taken his own husband in.”
“Sean beat on me...” I tell Monica.
“Pause. Bitch,” I explain to Monica staring her dead in her eyes, “Sean. Beat. Me. Period. You aren't fucking listening to me.”
I knew Monica would protect her brother. I knew that was why she was here. She was always going to be her mouthpiece. No matter how many times she called me her brother it wasn't blood. Her blood was Sean and she was going to protect him. Wrong was wrong though and it was pissing me off that she's trying to make him out to be the victim in this situation.
“I'm sorry. Speak,” Monica tells me.
It was about time she was giving me the chance to explain my side of the story.
It hurts to go back to those memories but I have to let Monica understand.
never, ever, in my life have disrespect Sean. How many times has he
put his hands on me? Do you even know? Countless times. Ok. That's
the answer. I took it. I loved that man,” I explain to Monica,
“I never would put my hands on him and he knew that. That's
why he did what he did.”
“I'm not trying to make an excuse for him but...”
“Why do I have a feeling you're saying that right before you make an excuse for him?”
Monica shakes her head, “This isn't Sean saying this. This is me saying this. It's not like Sean was always like that. You know the real Sean. You know the Sean you fell in love with. When he came back from the Military things changed. He needs mental help. Can you at least give him that?”
I sigh. She's right. It still doesn't excuse him.
Still I concede,
“That's what it is,” Monica aggressively stamps down on her argument, “You think my family liked hearing what he did to you? We felt embarrassed that we never noticed. We felt embarrassed of Sean for doing that. Sean felt embarrassed in himself. You have no idea how hard we went on him. All of us called off work. We took Sean away to the mountains just to listen to him. I never felt pain like that. I never saw pain like when my brother describes his episodes---”
Monica is crying. It makes me emotional as well. I can't lie. Still I don't join her in crying. I've cried too many tears for Sean. I'm all cried out.
“Sorry if I'm
not feeling bad for him right now. Maybe because I felt pain too. I
felt a different kind of pain Monica.”
“I know. My family knows,” Monica explains, “Most importantly. He knows. Would it matter if I promised on God nothing like this will ever happen again. Ever.”
“You can't guarantee that. He still has control issues. He set up Reuben at Reuben's performance.”
“I said he didn't know for sure that Reuben was gay,” Monica explains, “I didn't say he was stupid. You expect him to just sit around and let some man take away the love of his life? Without a fight? We were all at that restaurant. Ray Charles can see that Climax is infatuated with you!”
“Lower your voice,” I tell Monica.
His goddam husband was upstairs after all. She was exaggerating too. Infatuation? Seriously?
Monica tries to calm down but tears are still streaming for her eyes. Truth is I know Monica means these tears. I am not thinking she's fake or just putting on a performance. I know Monica and her family are deeply embarrassed by Sean's actions. I saw it when they just sat at the restaurant in awe. For Monica to tell me it wasn't going to happen again was bullshit though.
Monica doesn't waste
time trying to patronize me, “You're sweet. You're kind.
You're talented. You're everything I could want in a brother-in-law.
You're everything someone could want in a husband. Sean knows that.
Ok, he set up Climax but as much as I love Climax I don't trust his
“He saved me,” I explain.
“And he has
feelings for you.”
“At the end of the day he saved me,” I tell Monica harder this time, “I could be dead now. I've been looking up divorce attorneys.”
Monica panics, “Wait. Listen---now OK? Don't do anything drastic.”
“Drastic was him putting his hands on me.”
“Let me guess who put the divorce word in your head,” Monica asks.
I shake my head,
“Does it matter. Reuben is right.”
“He's getting help. Our family put together our finances. Sean is on medical leave from work. He's being treated. This is a sickness Sean. You have to think of it that way. You made vows. You can't just leave Sean because of this. Not without giving him a chance.”
“I gave him many chances.”
“Not a proper one. He can't do this alone. You assumed that he could. Give him a chance with help. Real help. His family is behind him this time. We spent a fortune to get him help. Look. I get it. You're upset still. You have every reason to be. You have every reason to be pissed. Just don't throw everything away without taking the time to think about it first. Don't just divorce him right now.”
I stare out on the sunset, “I'll think about it.”
“Thank you. Sean would want to thank you too...if he were here.”
“I'm not taking my time for him,” I explain to her.
Monica nods, “Well don't you think you should give it a fair shot. Don't you think right now---in your situation---you aren't giving this your most honest shot?”
“What do you mean?”
“I don't think you should be living here,” Monica explains.
moving back with Sean.”
“I don't think you should,” Monica explains, “I never said you should. He's in therapy. He needs time to heal. He agreed with us that it's too soon for the two of you to be around each other. That suitcase in there has some of your clothes that he packed for you. But not living with Sean doesn't mean you should be here.”
I shrug, “I have no where to go. Thanks to your brother.”
“You can come live with me.”
“So you can try to convince me everyday to forgive Sean. No thanks,” I tell her, “I need a clear head.”
“Fair enough. You living here though. It's wrong.”
“Reuben doesn't feel wrong.”
“That's the problem. You keep calling him Reuben. That man in there. That is Climax. Whether you want to believe it or not. The guy is married for godsakes...and he didn't tell you.”
She had a point.
“I never said
he was perfect. I just said he saved me.”
“Garrison. Listen. Garrison, he's not this knight in shining armor that came to save you from a dragon. I know Climax. He's no knight. My brother isn't a dragon. My brother is your knight. I PROMISE you. Sometimes...knights need help to though. Give us the chance to help him.”
I have to admit Monica was damn good. I had no doubt why the bitch was the best manager in Miami. She could cut deals like no other. I have to admit that it hurt but things did feel differently now then when I just kept forgiving him. I didn't want any promises from Sean. I wanted real change from Sean.
“Regardless,” I tell her, “I'm not ready to see him or be around his family. I'm fine here.”
Monica shakes her head, “What if my family got you a place. We can put our money together and get you a place. This is our fault for not noticing what Sean was doing. It'll be a place where you can be alone. No shirtless guy with brick abs walking around to conveniently peddle the idea of divorce in yoru head. I want you to make decisions alone.”
She had a point. I hadn't been even thinking about my relationship when I've been with Reuben. Honestly I was attracted to Reuben---a married liar.
“Yeah. You guys get me my own place and I'll move.”
Monica seems to take this as progress. She nods and leans over to give me a hug. I don't hug her back but I can admit it does feel good to feel that genuine love from someone. I wonder about the bags underneath her eyes. I've never seen Monica look so stressed. It's clear this situation was getting to her probably more than she was even willing to admit.
To the Carmichaels, Sean and I were the couple who should have made it. It was supposed to be this beautiful love affair. I saw how hard they went to save Desean's marriage. I knew they'd stop at nothing to save Sean's marriage as well.
I walk Monica out and as I'm leaving...none other then Reuben is walking down the steps.
“Brick abs,” Monica tells me, referring to our conversation.
She was right. Reuben didn't have any shirt on and his abs were popping. The guy was eating a piece of turkey bacon. He seems shocked to see Monica standing there in his house.
He gives her a hard look, “What are you doing here?”
Monica ignores him, goes to the door and turns to me, “I'll be in contact Garrison.”
It's clear she's pissed at him for having me here. Monica slams the door leaving.
“What's did she mean by brick abs?” Reuben asks me.
I make my way to the fridge. I pour me a glass of water. Every time I see Reuben and his abs I get a little bit thirsty to be honest. Yeah. It was definitely best that I get out of this house as soon as possible.
I shrug, “I
mean...look at you.”
He had a chiseled chest and perfect abs. It went right down into this perfect sexy ass fucking v-shape. He has on some jeans but no underwear. I can begin to see the beginnings of pubic hair nestled right under that iron v-shaped waist of his. I take another long drink of water. I shouldn't be liking this so much.
Reuben sighs, “If
I make you uncomfortable I can start wearing shirts. Is that it?”
I shake my head, “No. I'm fine.”
“Then what is it that Monica wanted?”
I walk back out to the piano before stopping, “Nothing.”
“You sure?” he asks.
just came to bring me some clothes.”
I don't want to mention the apartment she offered to get me as of yet. I know that Reuben is going to try to find a way to talk me out of it if I fell him that. I didn't think it was because of infatuation like Monica explains but I do think he'd find a way to try to talk me out of getting my own place. There was no need to bring that up with him.
I'm back at the piano. I look at the song I've written. It's about Reuben. I have to admit it's quite remarkable that I wrote a song so quickly about him.
He seems to notice
me take down the sheet music, “What is that?”
“Nothing,” I respond.
Reuben shakes his head, “You've been writing.”
“It's a just a stupid song.”
Reuben laughs, “Wait...so I can't hear it? I thought we shared stuff like that.”
I shake my head, “We don't share much.”
Reuben thinks hard about that. He has a little bit of a headache. I guess the drugs mixed with the alcohol definitely didn't seem to do too good on his memory.
He seems to think hard at that moment.
“Did we...um...argue yesterday?” he asks, “I don't remember...”
I shake my head, “Naw we didn't argue.”
“Then why do I feel like I said something to make you upset man?” he asks me.
He doesn't remember telling me that he was married. This was priceless. I think for a moment that I should just tell him but I decide against it. What will confronting Reuben about his secrets do for me? I was married. He was married. Period.
That's how things were.
“I don't believe you.”
“I'm fucking fine.”
“Then come spend the day with me.”
“I'm kind of busy today.”
“Writing music? Perfect. Because I'm actually headed to the studio,” Reuben explains, “So get your stuff. I'm not taking no for an answer.”
The studio we head to is different. It's a studio in his mother's mansion in downtown Miami. Seeing Janelle annoys me. What's even more annoying the fact that Pace tags along. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Pace was Reuben's producer. Pace was Reuben's husband. Seeing them walk into the Janelle's studio at that moment I notice how they brush up against each other. I notice for the first time how Pace smiles at Reuben even when Reuben doesn't talk or say anything funny. I notice how Reuben uses Pace's shoulder as a resting pad while waiting for Janelle to open the door to her mansion.
“Look at this,” Janelle says, “And you brought your friends with you as well...”
Janelle looks over at me. She smiles. Then she looks over at Pace. Her smile is wide. I wonder if she remembers what happened at the party. The look etched on her face seems to tell me that she is.
“This is my
creative team Ma,” Reuben says, “You know that.”
“Well I got a couple chicks downstairs. To keep you fellas company. Pretty girls,” Janelle explains, “For some fine young men like yourselves.”
It's awkward...to say the least.
Pace gives me a hard
look. I wonder if he's thinking the same thing I'm thinking.
Reuben stops his mother, “You know what Ma...Garrison said that those kind of things are distractions. I kind of agree at this point.”
“Actually it's OK,” I explain.
Reuben seems confused by this but he doesn't say anything.
“Well then follow me fellas,” Janelle responds.
I want to see Pace squirm. I know it's evil but I know he's feeling super awkward with Janelle right now. What kind of mother brings groupies for her son? What world was this? It was super awkward but I have to admit that it's not my place to feel awkward. Sure Janelle saw me kiss her son, but she also heard her son admit he was married to Pace.
Pace lags behind as Janelle walks us through her house to her basement studio.
“Do you think she knows?” Pace asks me.
Did this guy think
we were friends? Did this closet case think we had something in
common now that we shared his little secret?
I shrug, “None of my business. That's your mother-in-law.”
I know I'm being rude to Pace but he was rude to me when I first met him as well. I don't feel sorry for him at all.
“These the pussy monologues---your pussy preaching
I'm trying to learn all the lessons that it's teaching
So I put my tongue in the right positions and talk to the pussy
It whispers back to me tells me it's feeling wet and gushy
It tells me to come
enter it slowly. It begs me to not nut prematurely----”
I can't believe this shit. I roll my eyes at his inauthentic this is while Reuben is in the booth. The funny thing is that Pace and the groupies in the studio are loving it. A couple of them are fanning themselves. At this point I see Pace in another light. He just seems like another one of Reuben's fans who can do no wrong. He's just jamming to these cheap sex lyrics and loving every moment of it.
Reuben just stops singing though. He looks over at me. I wonder if he can read my face.
“What was that about?” he asks me.
“This sounds fucking stupid, doesn't it?” he asks me.
It's hard not to
show on my face how stupid this song is. I guess it sounds like a
bunch of stupid shit on the radio. This was pop nowadays. He's
making a song about a pussy talking to him. The song was literally
called “Pussy Conversation”. I couldn't make this shit
up. It was written on the fucking paper that he was reading. I saw
it with my own eyes.
I sigh, “Do your thing man.”
To say I was disappointed with Reuben was an understatement.
perfect song,” Janelle butts in, “This is a number one
hit. I can see the video now. You can do a D'Angelo...completely
butt naked in front of the camera and zoom in to your lower abs and
your upper back so they can see the cuts. It's iconic.”
I can't help but break out in laughter. This woman was more like a pimp then a manager.
“What's next? A sextape?” I ask.
Janelle sits there
for a moment, “Actually that's not such a bad idea. Climax and
“Ma...he's being fucking sarcastic,” Reuben explains from the studio, “Don't you fucking see that? I'm a joke. This music is a fucking joke. It sounds wack as fuck.”
He rips the piece of paper with the music up. The groupies damn near seem to be shocked that he's acting this way.
“I thought it sounded good, Ms. Janelle,” Pace says.
Janelle ignores him and speaks directly to her son, “Listen we can go back to Pussy Conversation. What song do you want to work on now? Maybe we can start on Chocolate. How about we do Sex on the Beach?”
She's frantically trying to save this recording session.
there is one I want to hear,” he says, “Garrison I want
to hear that song you wrote this morning.”
Janelle gives me a hard look, sighs deeply, “I thought we agreed we weren't going to go that direction for this album. You are still young. Maybe you can do that kind of shit when you're 50 or if you got fat and unattractive. That's old people's music. That's fat people's music.”
Old people's music. That's what she thought about the music I wrote.
thinking about gaining a few pounds,” Reuben shoots back at his
mother, “Pace come plug up a keyboard in the booth for
Pace gets up, reluctantly. By the way Janelle was looking at me right now I don't think she was looking at Pace as the threat anymore. Her eyes are digging into me something angry.
I'm actually shocked when she finally seems to look at Pace as some sort of ally in this.
“Pace please talk some sense into your friend,” Janelle says.
“Climax...” Pace starts off.
“You really want to do this?” Reuben asks Pace almost in a threatening manner, “You know how I am about my music. Ask yourself. Do you really want to do this?”
Strange way to talk to your husband.
Pace folds, “I'll plug the keyboard in.”
I'm surprised mostly when the keybaord is added into the booth but Reuben doesn't leave the booth. He sits in the booth. He actually stands right behind me.
“Record it,” Reuben tells Pace.
“I don't want to be recorded,” I tell Reuben.
“It's just for
me. Just so I can I hear it back for reference.”
I start playing the keyboard. It kind of feels weird that Reuben is behind my back at that moment. His breath is up against my neck. He is staring at the back of my head. I can feel the warmth of his body. I can hear his breathing. We are so close. It's so fucking personal. It feels weird that I can feel his breath on my neck. It feels weird that his mother is staring darts at me.
What feels most weird though is Pace.
It feels weird that his husband is staring at me with his husband in this tight booth. The song is so personal but Reuben asked for it. Ask and you shall receive.
“I don't get why your marriage was so confidential.
Was walking down that aisle was so inconsequential?
Or maybe was it that your kiss to me was experimental?
If I wasn't even running for office, why make me feel presidential?
Maybe you voted prematurely not from love but for potential
You can propose to your disguise
You can exchange rings with your lies
You can marry in compromise
But regardless of how you unionize
---Doesn't seem like love to me
I don't get why you thought hiding was so essential
When this mutual captivation was so existential.
And I mean the mutual attachment between me and you...
Not the mutual vows that you thought were nonessential
Where's the truth?
Shouldn't the truth
always be what's most quintessential?
Before you started tearing down my walls like I'm residential
You can propose to your disguise
You can exchange rings with your lies
You can marry in compromise
But regardless of how you unionize
---Doesn't seem like love to me
Doesnt' seem like love.
Doesn't seem like love to me.
Doesn't seem like love.
Doesn't seem like love to me.”
“Oh shit...” Reuben says.
He realizes that I know about his marriage.
“Yeah,” I respond getting off the piano at that moment.
It's awkward. It's awkward to say the least. I just opened a can of worms at that moment and I walk out of the booth. A part of me just wants to leave this place but then I see Pace get up.
“You jealous fucking faggot.”
I don't know where it comes from when he swings on me.
I am shocked when I feel his fist break up against my jaw. I jerk back falling. Reuben screams out. I'm so pissed though that I don't even hear what Reuben says. A couple of the groupies are freaking out. I look over at Pace shocked that he just hit me. However this time I'm not just allowing it like I did with Sean. That was different. That was love.
This was hate.
As soon as he puts his hands on me, I plan on whooping Pace's ass.
To read the next
chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com