By Martin Clement
Unless otherwise noted, this story is Copyright 2006 by Martin Clement for Clement & Boule Associates. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, published, distributed, displayed, performed, copied or stored for public or private use in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process, including electronically or digitally on the Internet or World Wide Web, or over any network, or local area network, without written permission of the author. No part of this story may be modified or changed or exploited in any way used for derivative works, or offered for sale, or used to construct any kind of database or mirrored at any other location without the express written permission of the author. Thank you for respecting the intellectual property rights protected by the copyright laws of Canada, the United States and International Copyright Treaty.
This story is a work of fiction. All the events and characters depicted in this story are parts of the imagination of the author only. Any similarity to real people, living or dead, or any event that might have occurred in reality should be considered as purely coincidental.
"Yannick... Are you awake?" I heard Valerie say through the door.
My first thought was not to answer and pretend of still being fast asleep. I felt numb. I wanted for my nightmare to be over. I wanted to sleep my life away. I was a wreck from crying. I was a monster. I had fucked up big time. I was not worth being called a friend since I had become exactly what I always despised. And it was all because of that stupid infatuation that couldn't have just gone away so I could be a friend to Jerome. It was now all over... It's always been that way. I had never been able to keep a friend. I knew it only was a matter of time before I would lose Valerie. She was too smart to keep on hanging around me. And I was too weak. I tried to fall back into my slumber but then the pounding on the door became more and more insistent. I couldn't pretend to be asleep anymore. I was trapped.
"Yeah... I'm awake, Valerie." I said, trying to fake a laugh that sounded awful.
"Are you decent?" she asked. "Can I come in?"
"Yeah..." I said.
So the door opened and Valerie came by my bed without turning any light on. She sat by my side, her back to me.
"I... I don't understand what happened, Yannick," she calmly said.
"Don't beat yourself, Valerie." I answered in a whisper. "I think I did a major fuck up, huh?"
"What are you talking about?" she almost snapped, turning to look me in the eyes. "He's the one who fucked up!"
"You don't know that." I said. "You don't know what happened obviously. I thought he would have told you about that. Maybe he was scared it would ruin his pride..."
"Well I know that for some hetero guys, being hit on by another guy can be a major turn off for their pride, that's all."
"My my, Yannick, did you hit on him?"
"I don't know, really... I think maybe I let myself being absorbed in one of your fairytales..."
"Don't be sorry, Valerie. It's not your fault."
"You know what? It's probably better that way," I said, trying to sound convincing. But the rasp in my voice convinced nobody. Not even myself. "So he's gone, huh?" I asked, feeling on the verge of tears again.
"Yeah..." she whispered. "What a jerk!"
"Don't say that." I refused to let her say these words. Jerome was not a jerk and she knew it. "It won't change anything to insult him."
"Aren't you angry?"
"Oh yes, I'm angry! I'm angry about me, Valerie. Not him."
"Can I ask you what happened?"
"He fell on me while helping me lying down."
"Did he hurt you?"
"No... It's me who hurt him."
"How could you do that? You were so bonded to him... You could not possibly hurt him. Even if you wanted."
"Trust me... I hurt him. Not physically but emotionally. Can you believe that he was so close that I intended of abusing of the situation? I was this close... I guess he understood the nature of my feelings then... he panicked. I feel so stupid! I'm a monster, Valerie. I'm a fucking monster!"
"Don't say that!" she snapped. "You are not a monster."
"Yes I am. I hit on him. I tricked him."
"No you didn't. Didn't you tell me it was him who fell?"
"Yes. But it was me who had all these feelings while he was lying on me. I so wanted for it to be real that I trusted in that fairytale of mine and thought he was hitting on me. I wished he was... but he was not. He only wanted to be my friend and I fucked it up."
"I don't understand, Yannick. I really don't. I mean... he seemed so... intense while looking at you."
"Well then maybe that's just the way he is around his friends..."
"Yeah... maybe... but still, I don't understand. And don't tell me it's because I see too many fairytales." I couldn't help but let a sad smile spread over my lips. It didn't last very long. "You know, Damian is a very charming guy..."
"Fuck..." I mouthed. "I guess he's gone too?"
"Yeah... he told me he would call me tomorrow though."
"I'm sorry, Valerie."
"No. It's not."
"Lets change the subjects a bit. Nothing will be fixed tonight. Aren't you hungry?"
"Maybe a little bit."
"You haven't eaten much today."
"The cake seemed to be enough."
"Why don't I help you down to the kitchen and make us some sandwiches?"
"I don't know if I'm in a state to meet your mother tonight." It was true. I didn't feel like meeting anybody at all. I would need more than a couple of hours of sleep and a little conversation with my friend to be able to face anybody. I needed some more time to regain my dignity. Maybe in the morning things would have vented enough so I could meet the woman. Maybe not.
"I know. I told her it would be best if she was to meet you in the morning. She's already upstairs and fast asleep in her bed."
"Then let's go!"
Sleeping in another home than mine had always been a pain for me. After I had found the room in Montreal, it took me a while to be able to sleep peacefully. I used to wake up every hour or so, asking myself where I was. Any noise coming from the corridors used to startle me and kept me away from sleeping. As days and weeks went by, even though the mattress was so uncomfortable, I had finally felt home enough to for being able to sleep. I felt secure. Nobody would come in the room and kill me in my sleep. There were no monster left in the cupboard.
Sleeping in that new house for the first time was no different. Maybe after I met Valerie's mother would I feel more comfortable sleeping in her office room. Thankfully, the pain killers had done the desired effect and I only woke up twice during the night. But at six thirty in the morning, hearing what seemed to be pans falling to the floor, I was fully awake, startled. I would have jumped out of bed hadn't it been for my sprained back. I knew Valerie was probably up already since she worked at eight at the store. I could've gone back to sleep had I still been tired again, but I guess the few hours of sleep I've had following my fit of tears the night before had done a good job of getting rid of my exhaustion. It felt awkward to move in this room as I tiptoed to my clothes, trying to make the least noise I could with the cane. Note to myself, I need clothes. I would have to find a way to sneak out of the house and go shopping. There was no way I would let Valerie or anybody else for that matter shopping clothes for me. That was a personal thing. I always thought anyway that letting a woman shop for men's clothes seemed a stupid an idea as letting a guy go and buy lipsticks and bras... unless that guy actually was a transvestite. I dressed, trying to remain as soundless as I could, then made my way to the door. Opening it, I was invaded by the delicious smell of cooking omelet. I couldn't remember the last time I had eaten omelet. Back at my father's place, I used to skip on breakfasts or simply had some cold cereals. The last time I had smelled the aroma of potato and rosemary omelet was when I had visited my grandmother. She died when I was eight years old.
"Smells good!" I said as I entered the kitchen area. I think I should have remained silent. The noise the person's head did as it hit the countertop from underneath it and the yelp that accompanied them told me as much. The woman stood up, rubbing her bright flaming red head and turned around to face me. She looked so much like Valerie I was speachless. I just hoped she wouldn't be mad at me for startling her. What a good way of meeting the person who had gone out of her way for you to feel comfortable! She smiled. Pfew!
"Hi!" she said, grinning from ear to ear. I knew then where Valerie's irresistible smile came from. I didn't know her, yet I knew I loved her already. "I think I'm a little bit jumpy this morning."
"Sorry about that." I said.
"No need for that." She came by me, extending a hand that I shook. "You must be Yannick. Duh! What kind of question is that?!" she stated more than asked. "Sure you are Yannick. But... where are my manners? I'm Janie, Valerie's mother, as I'm sure you already guessed!"
"I surely can find some resemblances between the both of you." I said.
"You like Russian omelets?" she asked, adding Swiss cheese on top of the source of smell.
"My grandmother's family was from Russia." I said, as if it meant everything. This sentence seemed to imply that every Russians liked potatoes in about everything. I surely heard of Canadians not liking stew, Polonaise hating sauerkraut and people from the USA who couldn't stand... hum... well... pizza. Well I wasn't so sure for the latter but I surely hoped so... I hated American pizza.
"I see we have something in common here. I mean I'm not Russian but I love their omelets... and their vodkas!" We both laughed at that.
"Mom..." I heard Valerie whine, "stop stealing my friends!"
"Good morning you too!" Janie cheered.
"Hi Valerie," I said.
"Hi Yannick! Couldn't sleep anymore with the witch rummaging through her cauldrons?" Valerie asked, a grin spreading to her whole face.
"Did I wake you up, Yannick?" Janie asked with the word apology written all over her face.
"It's alright. I wasn't sleepy anymore." I said, trying to keep a small matter small.
"Well I'm sorry, Yannick. I pulled on my pan but forgot somebody I know had the habit of piling saucepans on top of it," she said with a devilish grin on her face, looking at Valerie who seemed to find an interesting motive to the ceiling. How could people be so cheerful in the morning, I'd never know."
"Coffee..." Valerie said, walking like a zombie, to pour herself a cup of the hot liquid. "Who wants one?"
"Ask a pig if he wants mud!" came Janie's answer.
"Do you want mud, mom?"
Janie and Valerie left at about the same time, but not before they gave me the keys to the house and made sure not only once but twice that I understood that whatever I needed I could use it. Valerie even gave me some of her father's clothes he had left in one of the rooms. They fit alright although they were a bit loose on me. I was grateful for the attention since I was sure mine were not smelling roses anymore.
As nice as it was to still have a roof over my head, I couldn't help but get bored after a few hours. I wasn't used to do nothing. On Sundays, I used to work. Well, I used to work mostly all the time. The days I was not working, I usually went grocery shopping or cleaned the room. That house was already so clean I was been scared I would dirty it were I to try and do anything. My back wouldn't allow me to do any handy work around the house anyway. Probably Valerie would kill me were I to do anything that could harm my back more than it already was. The phone rang a couple of times but I left it for the vocal box to pick the messages. I didn't even know if I was allowed to answer it. Probably. But who would've tried to call me there anyway?
I watched some lame soap operas on the tube and almost fell asleep seeing people getting married then divorced then married again with the brother then divorced again because they fell in love with the father... Who in hell could still stay sane after watching one episode of those?
I was reheating some soup I had found in the fridge when I heard the doorbell. I thought about letting it ring as I did with the phone but whoever was on the other side of the door had another idea of it. Seeing as nobody was answering the door, they left their finger on the button so the noise coming from it became intolerable. I retrieved my cane and found my way to the door before I went deaf or alienated. I was surprised when I opened it to find Damian standing on the porch, a shy smile adorning his lips.
"Hey!" he said.
"Valerie is not here. She is at work." I said, as calm as I could muster.
"I know that," he said, cocking his head to one side and lifting an eyebrow. "Actually, I came to see you."
I was taken aback by that one. I was torn. He hadn't done anything but being nice to me the day before. Yet I felt a little weird seeing him there since he was Jerome's brother. I didn't want to show him how hurt I still was because of the way I had treated his brother the day before. Surely Jerome had told him about the mistake I had done. He didn't look as if he was here to defend his younger brother's dignity by beating the crap out of the faggot though. I let him come in and we went to the living room.
"I'm sorry, okay?" I said as soon as we were seated.
"What?" He surely seemed quite dumbfounded by my apology.
"I know I shouldn't have done it. I'm sorry."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Jerome didn't talk to you?"
"Yes he did."
"And you're not mad at me?" Now I was lost.
"Why should I? He's the one who acted like a jerk!"
"I don't follow you I'm afraid."
"Forget it." he dismissed, waving a hand in front of his face. "What were you planning to do today?"
"I don't know... There's not very much I can do but watch television or read a book."
"Very educative, I'm sure!"
"Well I'm used to work on Sundays."
"Good for you! Me, I'm planning about having some fun!"
"What were you planning to do for that?"
"How about some shopping?"
"Yeah! I'm on vacation here and I have this rented car... Lets do that!"
"Why would you want me to go shopping with you?"
"I don't know..."
"We'll have a blast!"
"Actually... I hate shopping."
"Oh come on!" he whined as a spoiled brat. "Valerie told me you would come since you need some clothes. I need company. Please entertain me." I had a vision of him as a four years old kid on a temper tantrum, kicking thumping his foot to the floor and whining because his mother wouldn't buy him the toy he wanted.
"I'm not much at entertaining. The one entertainer is Valerie... not me."
"Please..." he pleaded with puppy eyes I couldn't resist. The only problem being they were sparkling a bit like Jerome's.
I really had fun learning about Damian's perception of shopping. When I still lived in Trois-Rivieres, shopping was a family business and we always went to the same mall, following my father wherever boring places he wanted to go. With Damian it was quite different though as he told me he didn't like shopping malls and preferred what he could discover from the streets. He said that malls were too crowded and impersonal. I was not about to complain since I didn't really like malls either. Besides, walking through malls all day long wouldn't have been good for my back. So we drove through the streets of Montreal and I think I discovered as much about this city as Damian did. We even had a blast when we realized we were on a one way road leading to the Jacques-Cartier bridge going out of the city and the island. Damian was not an angry driver and I could tell as while we were on this bridge going down to Longueil, the only thing that crossed his mind was "Yes! More stores!" We stayed on the south shore for an hour or so and made our way back to Montreal.
I must admit that my first fear when Damian asked me to go shopping with him was that he would only want to go to the most fashionable places. That was not the case at all. He thought there was no point in paying twice the price for a piece of tissue just so you could get a name tag over it. "You know that if we were following the rules of marketing the way companies see it, then we should get paid for advertising their names. Not the other way around." He had a strange philosophy but I liked it. When we parked in front of the Value Village on Pie IX boulevard and he started rummaging through the hangers as soon as we had gone through the doors, I felt relieved. "I love those places!" he told me with a devilish grin. "It's amazing what we can find!"
I had never thought guys as fashionable as Damian liked to shop in this kind of place. I never thought they bothered to even pass the door to get inside of them. I thought only poor people who had no real choice in shopping would go there. I didn't think anybody would choose to shop in a value store. But seeing as Damian was ravaging the alleys of clothes and trying so many weird hats and other accessories, I realized shopping with him could be a very strange but fun adventure. And it made me feel at ease too since I really needed clothes and couldn't afford what most of the other places we had visited offered. For less than a hundred dollars, I found enough decent clothes to last for quite a good time so I could afford a good pair of shoes and some underwear when we went to some other places.
By the end of the afternoon, I was exhausted. And it felt good. When I first saw him on the front porch this afternoon, the only thing that had crossed my mind was that he was Jerome's brother. But he had made me forget about all the drama and even about his brother in a single afternoon. While Damian was parking on Mentana, I saw that Janie's car was already there.
"Want to come in?" I asked. I had been supposed to entertain him and he ended up entertaining me instead. I could be grateful and offering!
"Valerie stops working in half an hour," Damian said, his eyes glistening. Then he met my gaze. "I think I'll go meet her."
"I think you really like her, huh?"
"Yeah..." he sighed. She's some kind of a woman... never met anybody like her before."
"I'm glad to hear that because you know I really care about her."
"I can see it. She makes me nervous."
"Don't be." I said. He looked at me with all the attention he could muster short of jumping on me. "I think she likes you too."
The sigh that escaped his body could probably have blown a hundred party balloons. It looked as though he had stopped breathing before I told him, as if he had been waiting for his sentence in front of a jury. Not guilty! Now you can breathe! He closed his eyes a short moment.
"Thank you..." he whispered, a smile of relief on his face. I smiled too. But mine had something sad in it. I opened the door and stood. "It was fun," he said. I started gathering my bags. "You want me to help you with it?"
"No need. They really are not that heavy. I can handle them. Now go and surprise that princess wannabe!"
"Okay... Hum, Yannick?"
"You know... Jerome is really not a bad guy." I felt a shiver going down my spine hearing the name. I was glad my face was now hidden on the other side of the roof so Damian couldn't witness my discomfort. "He sometimes does mistakes he regrets after they are done, be he is a good guy."
"I know." Even if these two words were awkward since I really didn't know Jerome at all, they were the only words that could leave my mouth. I didn't want to break down right in the middle of the street. I closed the door and made my way to the porch, waving a hand at Damian.
I went right to my bedroom so I could get rid of the bags. The whole house seemed to smell cooking. Something with wine. I was hungry instantly. So this is how home feels. They would have problems getting rid of me.
"Sorry sir! We don't need anything!" came a joyful voice from the opening of the door.
"Hi Janie!" I said, as cheerful as could.
"I'm glad you didn't call me madam... makes me feel old."
"Well you didn't call me mister this morning, so I felt I could forget about the madam word'" I shrugged.
"I love your philosophy!" she cheered again. "I'm glad to see you didn't let yourself get bored to death in here!" she said. "Went shopping?" I could see she was curious but wouldn't tell me so. Just as her daughter, I thought.
"Yeah... my friend Damian came by and almost begged me to go with him."
"You didn't ask him to come in?" she asked.
"He said he wanted to go get Valerie after her job.
"Oh..." I was afraid she would start asking me all these strange questions about my friend as we often see nosey parents do in some lame stories but they never came. "What did you get?"
"Oh nothing really..." I dismissed. She didn't press and she did not even seemed phased out by my answer as her smile remained intact. "I'm cooking my traditional bourguignon beef. You like beef don't you?"
"Of course!" I exclaimed, as if she had just stated the obvious. "I should have thought about bringing a good bottle..."
"Already taken care of! You don't think I would serve that meal with orange juice, do you?"
I shivered and my face scrunched up. I couldn't understand people drinking acrid juices while eating. It probably turned everything to taste sour. For me, orange juice was to be consumed in the morning and before eating.
"Then I'll go back to the kitchen. Dinner should be ready around seven," Janie said.
Then she was gone in a flash. I shook my head, thinking about how her and Valerie were so much alike.
While I was sorting my new clothes, the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it!" I said loudly.
"Probably Valerie who forgot her keys again!" came the voice from the kitchen.
So I walked out of the room and opened the door. There stood Jerome, his eyes seeming glued to my socked feet.
"Hi Yannick..." he whispered.
To be continued...
Note from the author
This story is treating about friendship, romance, betrayal, forgiveness, acceptance, pain and healing. There might be some intense scenes of passion but you won't find any explicit scene. I don't have anything against eroticism in itself as I have read a lot of very nice erotic stories on Nifty and elsewhere. As the main characters will try and survive their pain, trying to lead their lives into a world full of resentment, I rather give them the peace and privacy of a closed door than failing at the attempt at explaining a theory of their sexual intercourses. That way, as this story will be told at the first person, if you feel as immersing yourself inside the head of the characters, you'll be able to forge your own version and images of their sexuality without me interfering with my own generic ideas about eroticism.
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