Pete rolled out of bed that morning and stretched, reached over to the night table and lit a cigarette. He was still deep in mourning over the passing of his lover. As he awoke, he again did not want to get up and try to live yet another day without Brad. He had loved him very much in the short time they had. All that he knew of love, he learned from Brad. He longed to have him back, or at least visit the grave, but the family banned him from the funeral citing him as a murderer because Brad had never told them about his sickness. They thought, at that time, that Pete was the one that infected him.
Pete had to deal with this alone, as his family did not really understand the fruition of a gay relationship. They were as understanding as they could be, but there was really no comfort. After all, who can really comfort you after your husband dies?
Maybe this was the time he should turn to God. He had always heard that there would be comfort there but, the sound of life without Brad was deafening. He got up and put on some sweats, and went into the kitchen for some coffee. Brad’s passing had been so recent that he still expected to see him pouring their morning coffee. There was no one there but the cat. At least there was some solace in that, as he could still love Brad’s cat. He sat in the kitchen and drank alone with Biff in his lap.
“This is nuts!” He screamed. “I can’t stand it anymore!” He went to his pill bag and pulled out the bottle of sleeping pills. It was full as he had just refilled them. He opened the bottle and swallowed all the pills. He went back into the bedroom and laid on the bed. Brad had died on that bed and Pete promised him that he would too. He was about to fulfill his promise. He laid there crying until he became sleepy. Knowing he was about to die, he looked up and said, “I’m coming to meet you sweetheart. Stay where you are and I’ll find you.”
Biff jumped up on the bed and laid down beside him. A smile came over Pete’s face. He could almost detect the presence of his past lover next to him in the bed. It was the first time since the funeral, he felt comfortable and actually happy. He was going to join his only love. His eyes became heavy and he went to sleep.
To his shock and surprise, he awoke in the E.R.. He looked around and saw that it was a familiar setting. He had been there before. He knew that his attempt was not successful.
He had a tube down his throat, so he couldn’t speak. He pushed the button to summon the nurse. As she came in the room, she looked at him and said, “Well, it’s nice to have you back. We almost lost you. If it had not been for your brother-in-law finding you, you might be dead right now.” What she could not know was that he wanted to be dead. He had enough of life alone, and was willingly giving it up. She left the room saying that she would get the doctor.
After a few moments, the doctor came in with the nurse and looked him over. “I think that the tube can come out now and we can move him to I.C.U.. Nurse, will you get me some towels and an emesis basin?”
“Pete, can you hear me? Do you know where you are?”
“We are going to get this tube out of your throat and you will be able to speak. Just relax and we’ll have you up and running in no time.”
The doctor was proud of his work, that Pete had lived, but Pete was just pissed. Still being a bit groggy, he went back to sleep.
The next time he woke up, there standing around him, were his family and one of the female Pastors from church. “What’s all this?” he asked.
For the next few hours, he endured the ramblings of his family until the doctor came back in. “Well, I see that you’re up and around now, do you feel like getting out of bed?”
The hospital had restraints on his arm and legs as they did all suicide cases. “Hell yes! Get me out of these!” They started to remove the restraints so the family left the room, leaving only the Pastor. She came up to him and started to reprimand him. A bad mistake on her part. It wasn’t long before she ended up on the floor, outside the room.
The nurse, seeing this, called security. Three of the hospital’s paid thugs came in the room and tried to restrain him again. This was another bad mistake.
Pete was a street kid, a fighter trained in the martial arts, and before long the security guards began picking themselves up off the floor. There was so much commotion, they decided very quickly that they just needed to leave him alone.
That was the only good idea they could have had. His mom pleaded with them not to arrest him, and said that she would take him home and be responsible for him. After an over-night stay, they went home.
Pete was very depressed. His lover had just died, leaving him alone and going through drug withdrawals. He wanted to die, but he had just proved that the Gods were not going to allow that. He became confused and drifted into obscurity.
Reclusive for almost a year and a half within his Mother’s small trailer home, he finally began to reach out. He went back to the church that had supported him through his lover’s death. There, he thought he would find a place to be at ease.
Instead, what he found was that the church had become even more opinionated and oppressive than it was when he left it two years earlier. Thinking that there was no other place for gays to fellowship, he tried to fit in, but to no avail. There was, of course, the bars, and that whole situation, but Pete didn’t drink. He loved to dance but he hated most of the mannerisms he would have to acquire in order to be accepted by the gay community. This being the case, he soon drifted back into obscurity at his Mother’s home feeling depressed and dejected.
Finally, his mother got him to go out and try again. Pete was not the kind of person that just gives up, she knew that. She was a seventy year old woman and didn’t have too much in common with the thirty-three year old man, so getting him out of the house was not too big of a task.
Pete went back up to the church to work on some of his music. After a few hours of that, he got up and headed for the social hall, to have a cup of coffee. He opened the door and found a small group of kindred souls around the table chatting. He walked over to the coffee pot and there, getting his own cup, was Kevin. A thirty-six year old man with a similar recent past. Blond and blue-eyed with a smile that was so bright, it actually challenged the sun. They stood there for a moment stirring the coffee. Pete looked him up and down and Kevin did the same.
Over the course of the next five days, the two met there drinking coffee and talking. As Pete got to know him, he found out that they had a lot in common.
They both had AIDS for 8 years and lost a husband to it, both were recovering junkies, but most of all, their attitudes matched as far as the church and the gay community’s mannerisms.
More and more, Pete began to feel comfortable with Kevin, and really began to talk back and forth with him. Kevin tried his best to get Pete out to a movie, but that just wasn’t Pete’s interest.
Finally, after a week of conversation at the church, Pete agreed to go out on a date with him. They were slated for an evening of drinks and dancing, but that was not to happen. When Pete picked him up, Kev had a sad look on his face.
“Pete, you’re not going to believe this but I have another commitment today. I promised my best friend that I would help her sister move out of her house today.” By this time, Pete was a bit taken with Kevin, so he said, “No problem, maybe I can help.”
“You’re not mad at me?”
“No. Kevin, I like you, and really don’t care what we do. I just wanted to spend my time with you.”
“Terrific! It shouldn’t take too long, and then we can go out from there.”
“Good with me.” Pete said, and off they went. As they drove, Pete began to see something in Kevin, something that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He knew though, that he liked him, and that was enough for Pete to put some time into building a friendship.
Later that night, they arrived back at Kevin’s apartment. It was small but very neat. It showed even more of Kevin’s personality to Pete. Kevin dimmed the lights, got a couple of Coke’s out of the fridge, and joined his new friend on the couch. They talked quite awhile. Very close and personal personality traits were discussed and to Pete’s surprise, agreed upon. He found that he could agree with about everything Kevin was saying. They agreed on politics, feelings about the gay community and issues revolving around their HIV status.
The sun started to show in the window and Pete could hear the birds starting their morning concerto. He looked over at Kevin, and without a word, extended his hand. He lead Kevin to the window where there was a very good view of the sunrise. Kevin started to speak but Pete put his hand to Kevin’s lips and said “SHHH, listen to the world come alive.”
He looked directly into Kevin’s eyes and pulled him to a close, and long embrace. Kevin seemed to melt into Pete’s arms. When Pete let go, Kevin took his hand, and with a soft gentle kiss, lead him to his bedroom. It had been almost two years since Pete enjoyed the personal company of a man.
“I hope I remember how,” Pete said with a nervous smile.
Kevin looked at him and said, “You don’t need to remember anything, it’s like riding a bike. Besides, we’re both tired, so if all we do is sleep, that’s OK with me.” He was being sincere and Pete knew it. He also could tell that Kevin wanted him, by the way he lead him to the bedroom. After a few awkward moments of inhibition, they came together on the bed. Kevin was right about riding the bike, for soon their bodies were smashing together with urgent ardor. A symphony of the human experience was playing, and after an earth-shaking crescendo, the two men collapsed in each other’s arms, and drifted off into a restful and satisfied sleep.
Pete awoke about the time the sun was rising . He looked over at Kevin and watched him sleep. The hours that preceded him were singing in his mind. He looked out at the world coming alive again and, for the first time in a long time, was able to identify with how good the world must feel every morning.
Kevin was beginning to stir, so Pete went to the kitchen to make some coffee. He felt better than he had felt in years and could hardly feel the floor under his feet. When the coffee finished, Pete readied the cups. As he poured the coffee, his thoughts went back to the outpouring of loving emotion that was shared the night before.
Pete remembered something else as well. That ‘something’ that he couldn’t put his finger on, he now knew what that was. It was a feeling he had experienced before, when Brad was alive. It was life, itself. He didn’t know it yet, but he had no more days of lifeless existence to endure.
Kevin met the world that morning with much the same feelings as Pete did. The first thing he saw was Pete, standing next to the bed with his coffee. He smiled, yawned and stretched, then looked at the man beside him with ‘puppy dog’ eyes and another smile. “I guess you remembered, eh?”
Pete blushed and said, “Yes, but I don’t think I remember all of it quite yet. Would you consider some remedial work?”
Like most of the things Pete had to say, Kevin agreed with that too. He accepted the coffee and took a drink. “If you give me time to take a quick shower, we’ll continue your studies.”
The two men began to share a second childhood with each other, playing and laughing like kids. Year after year of this was to follow.
They loved each other beyond their capacity to measure, laughing and learning their way through the rest of their life, and the last time I saw them, the school bell was still ringing. It was an amazing find. Their respective pasts had been so different and now, the two men who thought they were the ‘odd man out’, built a future on two of a kind.
Copyright ©1997 Peter S. Foster