Construction Days

© by The Lavender Quill, 2003

Warning: the following story contains graphic descriptions of male/male sex between consenting adults. If that sort of thing bothers you, or you are a minor, or it is illegal for you to read this type of content under the laws of your area, don’t read any further.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual people or events is purely coincidental.

Setting: Sacramento, California, 2002.

Chapter 24.

Nirasha pounded on the door of an apartment in a nondescript building. It was a cheap hollow-core door, as is common in these kinds of buildings, and Nirasha’s pounding put a serious strain on its structural integrity.

I had picked her up and she had directed me to Alex’s apartment. I had known she had a, well, strong personality, but I had been surprised how quickly she had taken over. She was nice to me, but there was no doubt that she was in charge here.

“Open the door,” Nirasha demanded loudly. “I know you in there. I seen Robby’s van out in the parking lot.”

I heard movement from inside, and saw a shadow pass over the peephole.

“Fuck off, bitch,” said Alex. “Get lost.”

That was exactly the wrong thing to say to a three hundred pound African-American lesbian. I saw her eyes bulge and her jaw clench. Nirasha pounded harder on the door.

“You better open this door right now before I really get mad. Don’t make me bust it down.”

I was surprised the door had withstood the pounding she had already subjected it to. She scowled and started to tap her foot on the floor. I stood back. I could see this had the potential to get really ugly.

“Yeah, whatever,” said Alex. I heard the lock rattle.

As soon as the knob started to turn Nirasha snatched it and threw the door open like it was nothing. She stormed in, pushing Alex out of her way.

“Did I hear you right? Did you call me a bitch?”

She moved in to the apartment like a force of nature, with Alex stumbling backwards in front of her, trying to stay out of her way. I quickly followed her in and closed the door behind me. Alex never got a word out.

“Did you call me a bitch? I can’t believe you would say something like that to me. That might hurt my feelings.” She kept moving, not fast, but inexorably down the hall. “After I always been so nice to you. You call me a bitch? Are you trying to hurt my feelings? You must be some kind of stupid.”

By then she had him out into the living room backed up against the wall. I noticed he wore nothing but boxer shorts, and groaned.

“You can’t just bust in here like that!” said Alex.

“You opened the door,” she said innocently. “I take that as a invitation to come in. I think you should apologize for hurting my feelings.” She turned to me. “Why don’t you see if you can find Robby while I have a little talk with Alex here.”

I got the distinct feeling it wasn’t going to be a friendly little talk, but I didn’t care. I took a cursory look around the living room and kitchen area, but Robby was obviously not there. I could hear Nirasha as I quickly headed for the bedroom.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you to never, ever, call a black woman a bitch?” She had her hands out to her sides, pressing him to the wall with the mass of her body. “That a very unkind thing to say. I might take offense to that.”

“Get off me, bi—”

“Don’t say it,” she cut him off. “Don’t even say it. I’m tryin’ to be nice here, but you makin’ it very hard.”

I spotted Robby as soon as I opened the bedroom door. He sat on the edge of the bed with his face in his hands, his baseball cap perched at an angle on his head. He still had his pants on, but his shirt was off. He held in his hands, covering himself. I couldn’t tell if he was depressed, ashamed, hurt, or all three.

“Robby?” I went over to him.

“He okay?” Nirasha called from the other room.

“I don’t know,” I called back. “Hang on.”

“You better not’a hurt him,” I could hear Nirasha say to Alex. “If you hurt him, I stop being nice. Then I really gonna fuck you up.”

I sat down next to Robby. Last time they’d had sex, Alex had dislocated his shoulder. At Jeremy’s last party, Alex had all but sexually assaulted him. God only knows what had happened this time. I was afraid to touch him. What was going on in his mind that he would come over here?

“Are you hurt?” I asked.

Robby shook his head, keeping his face in his hands. I tried to put my arm around his shoulder, but he pulled away. I started to notice more details. The fly of his pants was open. His left nipple was an angry red and raw, like someone, Alex no doubt, had been yanking the hell out of it. I looked closer, but the skin wasn’t broken or blistered. Still, it had to hurt.

“Robby… your chest. You are hurt. Did he do anything else?”

He just shook his head again, still refusing to speak or look at me. A dread came over me that maybe Alex had raped him. I couldn’t bring myself to ask.

“Kevin? I ain’t hearin’ no answer,” Nirasha called.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “I don’t think so. Give me a minute.”

I put my arm around him again. When he tried to pull away I held tight.

“Robby, don’t. I don’t understand this self-destructive thing, but you have to stop it. I don’t want you to leave me. I want you to come back with me.”

He still didn’t say anything, but he stopped trying to pull away.

“Can you stand up? Will you come with Nirasha and me?”

He didn’t say anything. He didn’t move.

I took a breath and tried to keep myself from freaking out. I felt overwhelmed, completely out of my league. I wanted to call for Nirasha to help me, but she was busy controlling Alex. My fear that Robby had been raped kept growing. Robby was almost completely unresponsive. I didn’t know what to do.

I decided I had to get him out of there. I wasn’t sure what to do after that, but getting out of Alex’s apartment was the first step. I’d carry him if I had to.

“Robby, can you stand up with me? I’ll help you.”

I gripped him around his torso and slowly stood up. He came with me. He didn’t resist or flinch. I took that as a good sign. At least his legs weren’t broken or dislocated or anything.

“Come on,” I said. “We’re going into the other room. Nirasha wants to see you too.”

He dropped his arms to his side. His expression was completely blank and unfocussed. He let me lead him out of the bedroom.

“What’sa matter with him?” Nirasha asked.

I looked at her helplessly. “I don’t know. I don’t think he’s hurt, but he won’t talk to me.”

Nirasha took one look at Robby’s disheveled appearance, and her head snapped back around to Alex, her expression fierce.

“What did you do to him?”

“I didn’t do nothing.”

She reached a hand in front of her, and I saw her grip his nipple. She squeezed and twisted hard. “He do that his self?”

“Ow! Get off me!”

He tried to push her away, tried to hit her, but it he had no chance. He was not a small guy, but nevertheless he was pinned against the wall by her bulk, and his arms just flailed uselessly.

“Did you rape him?” She asked the question that I couldn’t.

“Hey, he came here on his own. I didn’t force him to come here.”

She twisted harder, and I cringed just watching.

“That ain’t what I asked you. Answer my question. Did you have sex with him?”

“Depends what you call sex…”

“Don’t get all Clinton on me. I ain’t buyin’ that shit. It a simple question, yes or no. Did. You. Fuck. Him?”

She leaned into him more, her enormous bosoms flattening against him, her weight crushing him against the wall like a bug. His face was turning red, and I could see he was having difficulty breathing.

“No,” he croaked out. Nirasha backed off just slightly and he took a breath. “I was working up to it, but we hadn’t got to the main event yet before you started pounding on the door.”

“You lucky I got here when I did then. ’Cause if I got here a little later, I’m thinkin’ I prolly would have had to really fuck you up bad. Now I might just leave you in one piece when I walk out.”

She stepped back so suddenly that Alex nearly fell to the floor. He scrambled away a few feet, trying to put a safe distance between them. She ignored him like he was yesterday’s news. She stepped up to Robby and snapped her fingers in front of his face.

“Robby. Robby, pay attention.” His eyes slowly focused in her direction. “You gonna come with Kevin an’ me, you hear? Kevin love you, honey, an’ that’s for real. I ain’t gonna watch you throw it away for this piece of shit,” she said pointing toward Alex. “We gonna go find some place quiet and have a little talk, and we gonna work this all out, okay?”

Robby nodded dumbly.

“Aww. Geez, you’re breaking my fucking heart,” said Alex, his voice dripping sarcasm. “Are you through, Oprah wannabe?”

She reeled around to face him, her eyes like fire. She advanced on him like a charging elephant and grabbed a fistful of his hair. Alex scrabbled at her arm, but she swatted his hands away. Swatted him hard enough that he stopped struggling.

“You know what? I’ve decided I really don’t like you,” said Nirasha. “I try to just ignore you, but you done made yo’self impossible to ignore. I don’t know what be going on in yo cold heart, but you just mean. And you not too smart either. Sometimes it better to just keep yo mouth shut, you know what I’m sayin’?”

“So this is how it gonna be,” she announced. She held up one finger. “One. Don’t ever touch or speak to either of these boys again. If Robby ever come over here again, you just call me up, and you say ‘Oh beautiful and wondrous Nirasha, please come over and get Robby.’ You say that all nice and polite like that. Then you lock yo’self in yo room away from him until I get here. You got that?”

“You’re fucking crazy,” said Alex, scornfully.

Nirasha, still gripping him by a fistful of hair, gave him a little shake. It looked fairly painful.

“This gonna go a lot easier fo’ you if you just answer ‘yes’.” She held up a second finger. “Two. I don’t ever want to see you at another party at Jeremy’s. Those parties make me happy, and you make me mad, so you gonna have to find somewhere else to party. You got that?”

“If Jeremy invites me, I can go if I want to.”

She shook him again, this time a little harder. Nirasha didn’t look like she expended any more effort than if she were shaking a doll. If this kept up, I didn’t think he was going to have much hair left when she finished with him.

“You ain’t listening,” said Nirasha in the same exasperated tone she might address a recalcitrant child. “Trust me when I tell you Jeremy ain’t gonna be invitin’ you to no more parties.”

She held up a third finger and pressed on. “Three. I can ignore a lot of shallow, coarse, ignorant, and rude behavior, but I can’t much think of anything lower than outing another gay person when they ain’t ready. If I ever hear about you outing anyone else like you did Robby, that gonna make me real mad. That kind of mad I only get over by breakin’ a few things—like your bones. You got that?”

I held my breath briefly, waiting to see if Alex was stupid enough to make yet another smart-mouthed answer. He must have learned after the folly of his last two answers, though. This time his just grudgingly mumbled his assent.

Nirasha released him. “Last… don’t you ever, ever call me a bitch again.”

Then she slapped him. It didn’t look like that hard of a slap. I’ve done enough construction, however, to understand a little bit about mass, inertia, and leverage. Nirasha’s little slap sent Alex careening backward like he’d been hit by a bus. He crashed into the wall, his head bouncing off the sheetrock, and collapsed to his knees.

He glared at her and wiped blood off his split lip, but he didn’t get up, and he didn’t dare say anything.
She glared back at him briefly, waiting to see if he stayed down. Seeing that he did, she turned to Robby and me.

“Come on,” she said, shooing us in front of her toward the door. “We outa here.”

I grabbed Robby around the waist, quickly guiding him out. I don’t know if he really needed any help at that point, but I just wanted to hold him. We hustled out of the apartment and quickly made our way out of the building.

“Weren’t you worried that Alex might, like, pull a knife or something?” I said as we stepped out into the parking lot. I didn’t know how dangerous Alex might be, but I thought she had taken a big risk.

“From where you think he pull a knife? He weren’t wearin’ nothin’ but boxer shorts,” she said, dismissing my concerns. “Alex a nasty boy, but I never heard’a him carrying any kind’a weapon, other than the one hangin’ between his legs.”

She took Robby’s shirt from his grasp. “You wanna put yo shirt back on, baby, or you rather leave it off? Will it hurt yo chest?”

Still moving halfheartedly, Robby took the shirt back, and pulled it over his head. He drew it down gently over his abused nipple, but didn’t complain.

“Now gimme yo keys,” she said to Robby. “I’m driving. It prolly ain’t a good idea to leave yo van right in front of Alex’s apartment building.”

“Where’re we going?” I asked. Nirasha seemed to be totally in control of things.

“Where ever you want. You pick a place. Someplace quiet where we can talk.” She turned back to Robby. “You got all yo stuff in the van? Or did we leave anything inside?”

“It’s all in the van,” said Robby quietly as he dug his keys out of his pocket.

I was thrilled. He sounded terribly depressed, but at least he was talking again. I wracked my brain trying to think of someplace to go. Then I hit on an idea.

“I know,” I said. “How about down by the river.” I remembered a secluded spot where Robby and I had talked one afternoon.

“Fine, fine,” she said, heaving her bulk into the driver’s seat of Robby’s van. “I’ll follow you.”

* * * * *

A thousand thoughts were jumbling around in my brain as I drove. Everything had looked so perfect for a while for Robby and me. Then the confrontation with Alex, the outing and the horrible incident with Robby’s father, and having to trick his mother into letting us take his stuff. Why couldn’t people just leave us alone? I wanted to take Robby someplace far, far away, where we would be safe from the homophobes, where we could be happy.

Of course I recognized that as a ridiculous fantasy. Here we were, practically within a stone’s throw from the gayest city in America. Where were we going to go? It was all so damned frustrating. I just wanted to be happy with Robby, and suddenly it seemed like the world was conspiring against me.

I also realized it wasn’t all outside forces. Robby seemed to be doing as much damage to himself as others were. His self-destructive streak was the most confusing, most frustrating thing for me to try to understand. I was coming to the realization that no matter how much I loved him and what I tried to do to help, I was powerless to do anything about it.

I parked my truck and stalked down the path till we got near the river, Nirasha and Robby following behind me. Nirasha sat down heavily on the grass and motioned for us to sit with her. Robby sat, but I was too wound up, and I just paced around them.

“How we gonna fix this?” Nirasha asked.

Gone was any sign the fierce angry woman who had bowled through Alex’s apartment like a hurricane. Nirasha was back to the big hearted big woman that I had come to know.

“Are you mad at me?” Robby asked me, looking hurt.

“Yes!” I blurted out. I looked at him. He looked crestfallen. Shit. “No,” I amended. I paced. I stopped. “I don’t know…” I knelt in front of him. “I read your note and I nearly went crazy. I thought you were gonna kill yourself. I understand that you’re depressed and all. I mean, I would be if I’d gone through all the shit you have lately.”

I felt so bad for him. I took his hands in mine and held him for a moment. I released his hands and stood up. I paced some more.

“But that note really hurt me, Robby. I can’t believe you left me like that. You just ran away. Ran to Alex!” I practically spat the name. “I don’t understand all this. Why can’t we work it out?”

“I told you in the note,” said Robby. “You deserve someone better than me. I’m not worth it.”

“That’s self pitying bullshit,” said Nirasha.

“I don’t want someone else,” I said. “I want to be with you. You are worth it.”

“I’m not. My parents hate me.” He broke down crying, and dropped his head into Nirasha’s lap.

I knelt in front of him again. “But I love you.”

He looked at me, tears still streaming down his face. “I know that, but you can’t just replace them,” he wailed. “You think I can just let them go and take you instead, like it’s no big deal? Like a trade?”

I rocked back on my heels, realizing that was exactly what I had thought. I knew how hurt he was, but I thought if I loved him enough, I could fill the void. The realization was a shock, as was the recognition that it was foolish.

I plunked down on the other side of Nirasha. I was crushed. I had truly lost him. I could love him, but I could never replace the lost love of his parents. His depression and self-loathing had put him beyond my reach. The pain was too much, and I too, began to cry.

Nirasha pulled me to her bosom. She had one arm around me and the other around Robby. She rocked. “My poor baby boys,” she cooed. She rocked and let us both cry for a few minutes.

It was such a relief to just cry for a while, but I started to feel like an idiot. I finally pulled myself together and stopped. I felt hollow. This was the worst moment of my life. I couldn’t think of a thing I could do. I tried to get up, but Nirasha wouldn’t let me go. So I sat there for another moment, too drained to protest. Then Robby sat up too. I looked at him, imploring him with my eyes, but it did no good. He stared intently at his hands in his lap.

“There, now,” said Nirasha. “You all had a nice cry. I think you needed that. But now it time to talk a little sense.”

“Robby,” she continued, giving him a little squeeze, “what yo parents did is pretty fucked up. And I know you hurtin’ inside really bad. But you can’t go runnin’ off like that. Fucked up shit happen to a lot of people. I don’t even know who my father was.”

I was somewhat shocked to hear this, but I guess I hadn’t really know Nirasha all that long, and the subject had never come up.

“Just because my biological daddy didn’t care enough about me or my mother to wanna have anything to do with me, that don’t make me worthless. It make me sad sometimes when I think about it, but it don’t make me a worse person. When I told Becky about it, she didn’t say she don’t wanna be my girl no more. I know it ain’t the same thing for you, but you understand what I’m sayin’, right? I don’t care what yo parents think of you. They wrong. You a beautiful person, and you gotta believe that. Fuck what they say.”

She rocked a couple of times, letting that sink in. What she said is true, I wanted to yell. I didn’t care if his parents wanted to nominate him for sainthood or burn him alive. I hoped Nirasha was getting through to him.

“You can run away from yo problems, or you can stay and deal with it. You can let it ruin yo life, or you can choose to surround yo’self with people that care about you. You can grow into a bitter, self-loathing ass, like Alex, or you can open yo heart and love. Happiness ain’t a accident. Sometimes you gotta work at it.”

She gave me a squeeze, but continued to look at Robby. “Kevin here done fell in love with you. Even after you try to run off, he still love you. Did he give up? No. First thing he done was call Nirasha. Why he do that? Two reasons: first, he know he need some help, and second, he know I love you too.” She turned to me, “Though not in that kind of way.” She grinned and turned back to him. “That’s what you forgetting about. Maybe yo parents don’t love you right now, and that’s pretty fucked up. But it ain’t yo fault, and there’s lots of other people that do love you. Think about it. Kevin’s parents didn’t offer you that money ’cause they pity you; they offer it because they care about you, both of you, and they want to see you be happy together. You got lots of friends, if you just open yo eyes and look.”

She released me, and I stared at her, awed by what she had said to him. Why couldn’t I learn to say things like that? She took the baseball cap off his head, the hat he’d been using to hide the stitches in his scalp. Then she kissed him on the top of his head.

“You right, Robby,” said Nirasha. “You can’t just trade yo parents for Kevin. It ain’t the same thing. But Kevin love you, baby, and that’s for real. He can’t fill that hole that yo parents left, but his love be a whole lot more than you ever get from the likes of Alex, and you know that’s for real too. You ain’t a child anymore, and now you got to act like an adult. You got to make yo own family.”

She released his shoulders and then took his chin in her hand, forcing him to face her, look her in the eye.

“So now you got to decide. You gonna run off and throw this away? Or you gonna go back with Kevin and accept the love that’s around you? A life of self-abuse? Or a life filled with love?”

He stared silently at her for a moment. I really wasn’t sure what he’d say. He looked at me for the first time since we found him at Alex’s. His eyes brimmed with tears again, but I held his gaze, pleading with my eyes.

He turned back to Nirasha. “You make it sound like such an easy choice,” he said.

“Oh, I know it ain’t,” she said. “You got some serious issues, baby. And a little heart to heart with Nirasha ain’t gonna fix that over night. But I think you already know the answer in yo heart. You just afraid.” She brushed her bulbous thumb on his cheek. “You gotta’ step past yo hurt, step past yo fear, step past yo pain. Do what you know in yo heart is right.”

She released his face, and he went back to studying his hands in his lap.

“I don’t understand this self-destructive shit any more than Kevin do. You decide not to run, and I’ll do whatever I can to help, but I think you need to spend some time with a professional head doc before you do something really bad to yo’self. We all help you, if you let us.”

That seemed to sober him a little. He turned to me.

“Do you really want me to come back with you?” Robby asked.

“Please,” I begged. “Nothing would make me happier.”

“Well, then. I guess I want to make you happy.”

I grinned at him. I was elated. He was going to come back with me!

“I’m such an idiot,” he said. “Can we start over?”

“Sure,” I said. Anything he wanted. I held out my hand. “I’m Kevin.”

He shook my hand like we’d just met for the first time, and grinned. Not the totally carefree grin I had grown used to, but the best smile I’d seen on him in days.

“I’m Robby,” he said.

I didn’t let go of his hand. I watched him as his grin broadened ever so slightly.

“You like boys?” I asked, still grinning too.

“Um, yeah.”

“Good. So do I.”

I practically launched myself at him, crawling over Nirasha to get to him, not an easy task. I pulled him into a kiss. Not a fierce kiss, but one filled with all the pent up emotion I’d been feeling for days. My tongue sought out his, and he let me in, both figuratively and literally.

I rolled onto my back on the grass, pulling Robby on top of me. Our kiss intensified and I wrapped my arms around his back, crushing him to me tightly. God, it felt so good to have him in my arms again. I sprung an erection almost immediately. I could feel the bulge in his pants growing too. This made my heart soar too. He’d been so depressed, he hadn’t gotten hard in a week.

“Robby. Robby, I love you,” I gasped. “Please don’t ever leave me again.”

I kissed him again and we ground our hips together.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, taking a breath. “If I get like that again, I promise I’ll talk to you first.”

His eyes flooded again. But this time he cried tears of relief and happiness. I think maybe I did too.

We rolled over so I was on top and embarked on another passionate kiss. Robby tentatively started to lift my shirt. I was past being tentative. If he wanted my shirt gone, it was gone. I broke away from him for the fraction of a second it took me to yank it off over my head. I rolled over again and pulled him over onto my bare torso. I spread my legs and he slid between them, and then I wrapped my legs around him too. I slid my hands up his ribs, pulling his shirt up a little. Feeling his skin against my skin electrified me. I snaked one hand up his back, and the other into his pants, seeking the round globes of his ass.

“Hey, hey, enough,” Nirasha mock scolded. “I said accept the love around you, not make love in a public park.”

We continued to kiss, but I banked the fires a little. We eventually broke the kiss. Robby turned his head to Nirasha.

“Sorry,” he said, licking his lips and not really looking too sorry.

“I’m not,” I said. I still had my hand down the back of his pants, and I caressed his ass. I crushed our groins together, pressing my erection against him.

“Stop that,” said Nirasha, giving us a look of mock horror. “I am a lesbian, remember? I seen about as much male flesh as I can stomach for one afternoon. I think you need to take this somewhere private.”

I pulled my hand out of Robby’s pants and let him stand. He reached out a hand and helped pull me to my feet. I kept hold of the hand.

“So, uh, Robby did you say your name was?” I grinned at him. “She’s pretty big, and I don’t think I want to piss her off. You wanna go back to my place?”

“Only if I can stay all night,” he said.

I remembered the first time we truly made love, and I had demanded that he spend the night, not just pop in for a quick fuck and leave. I knew Robby had just said that to remind me of our first night together.

“Every night,” I said. “Forever.”

Nirasha rose laboriously to her feet.

“I think we through, for now,” she said. “One of you need to drive me home before you start in on that nasty shit you boys do together.” She grinned sweetly and patted Robby’s cheek. “I love you too, baby. As long as you keep yo clothes on.”

We all laughed at that. Then Nirasha turned serious again.

“I’m so happy you goin’ back with Kevin. But you know this ain’t the end of it, right? I want you to promise me you gonna get some help with this self-destructive shit, okay?” Robby nodded. “I get you some names if you want ’em. And another thing: did you go to church last Sunday?”

“No,” said Robby with a scowl.

He hadn’t, I realized. He had sulked around the apartment all day Sunday while I’d tried in vain to cheer him up. Church had never even entered my mind. Church wasn’t really an active part of my life, and I had forgotten how important it was to Robby. I felt a pang of remorse for not thinking of it sooner.

“Well then, next Sunday you comin’ to church with me again. You ain’t goin’ back to that crazy church yo parents go to. You comin’ with me unless you find another church you like better.”

“That’s okay,” said Robby. “I kind of liked your church.”

“And maybe you can talk yo boyfriend here in to coming with you.”

“Maybe,” I conceded. “I heard there was a big black girl in the choir there that could really sing. It might be worth going just to hear that.” I remembered that Robby had told me Nirasha had a fantastic voice.

Nirasha actually blushed a little, and she beamed in silent pride. She turned from us with a smile and headed up the path.

I held Robby’s hand as we walked back to our vehicles. I could tell we still had work to do. Part of me wanted to think that now that he had decided to come back with me all of our problems were over. But I knew that wasn’t so. As we walked, he would look at me and smile. Or squeeze my hand. But when he thought I wasn’t paying attention, he periodically lapsed into a sad look.

Despite his troubles, I still smiled. We had turned a corner. We were past the worst part, and he had committed to working through his problems instead of running away. I knew we still might have some rough times ahead, but I also knew in my heart that we could make a life together.

(To be continued.)

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