THE ECHO OF SILENCE
"If you were stuck on an island, name three things you couldn't live without."
We were playing the game of "If".
Pony had asked the question and we were all sitting around thinking about
the answer in some bar in
Amir was sitting on a stool that was pulled up on the long wooden table. Desmond and Jr. were both sitting next to him. Kim had taken to my side and then there was Felicia. She had been so quiet ever since that woman had pulled out a card. It was weird.
"Who are you asking it to?" Jr. asked.
"That isn't how it works. You have to ask it to one person. They have 10 seconds to answer. It's supposed to be the first thing that comes to your mind."
Kim looked at her watch, "Well ten seconds passed..."
Pony looked at the card, "Alright...Amir."
"I can't answer that fast, I'm all drunk..."
"You have to..."
Amir really was drunk, he kept swaying on the stool, causing a couple of them to start laughing. He was extra cute when he was drunk. He didn't pay me nearly as much attention when he was drunk then when he was sober, but it was fine. I didn't really want a drunk all over me anyway.
Desmond was drunk too. He was real drunk. He was probably the most drunk. He just kept mumbling to every song from the jukebox and then going over there with money to play some other stupid Michael Jackson song. He was gone...
Amir was slurring after every word, "Damn you got to put me on the spot like that..."
"Ten...nine...eight..." Kim and Pony started counting down almost in unison.
They were way too excited about this game.
"Uh...I'd take a bible to pray I get off the island. I'd take a...a...box of matches. Yup, cause I can't start a fire for shit. Then I'll...damn..."
"If he doesn't answer, he's buying the next round of shots for everyone!" Jr. made up the rules, pointing his little stubby short boy finger in the air.
"Chauncey! I'll take Chauncey with me."
As he said it, he winked at me and then licked the air like he was licking a lollipop. I almost wanted to melt when my name came out of his lips. Damn...even being drunk he was the sexiest man I'd ever learned. His sexiness just seemed to be natural, like he was born with it.
I wish I could be like that...I was all awkward. I didn't even know anything cute or sly to say or do back.
"Damn, what you do to this boy?" Pony asked looking at me, "You got him whipped and shit. I never thought Amir was going to put away his player card."
"Chauncey got that good good..." Kim stated.
She meant well, but it sounded funny because I wasn't used to people so bluntly talking about sex. I mean...I hung out with the most uptight people ever.
"I can't deal with this gay shit..." Desmond suddenly stated.
I watched as he got up. Amir watched as he got up too and walked away from the table. He was making this noise that sounded like he was about to throw up. I watched the expression on Amir's face as he watched Desmond go away back to the jukebox on the other side of the bar.
"I'm going to beat that boy's ass one day," Amir stated.
"Calm down...he's drunk," Pony said, almost seeing Amir's expression.
We all noticed Amir and Desmond didn't get along. I didn't understand why. I didn't care what Desmond was saying. He always apologized but I guess he was just raised to dislike homosexuality like a lot of urban males.
I expected it. What surprised me is how comfortable Pony was with it and how well Jr. was coping with it all.
"I don't blame him."
The voice hadn't been heard all night. We all turned around to see Felicia. She hadn't drunk anything the entire night either. She'd just been sitting there almost as though she was in a fantasy or something.
"What?" I asked her.
I wanted to deal with it. I still hadn't trusted her. I saw how weak she was when the old fortune teller spooked her out with the cards, but she still seemed so classically different to me. It was enough I had to watch out for Patience, now I had to watch out for her too?
"I mean, I just would have been the last one to think Amir was gay," she explained to us, silently, as though she'd been thinking about it for awhile.
"Girls are always the last to know," Kim stated.
Kim laughed as she did it. I could tell she was trying to do what she was always trying to do. She was trying to avoid tension with everyone. She was trying to keep the peace.
Felicia's facial expression didn't change, "It's just weird...I never saw
you look at another guy or nothing.
I mean, you like women. I
could tell by how you touched me...by how you made love to me..."
She put her hand on her chest and her eyes connected with Amir across the table. It was like she was experiencing whatever they had before all over again. What the fuck was this bitch trying to get at?
"Uh...this is hot," Pony sneered.
Kim hit him hard on the arm. She hit him so arm he finally took his little smirk off his face and that was saying a lot because Pony was always smirking.
Amir shook his head, "That was then..."
The awkwardness fell over everyone. I was so pissed as my eyes drilled into Felicia. She didn't even notice me watching her. She was too busy watching my damn boyfriend like some kind of stalker or something. I was just waiting for Kim to do what Kim always did by keeping the peace or another second and I would be shoving entire shot glasses down Felicia's throat.
"Can we continue on with this game?" Kim came through, "I want to ask a
question...not from the card. Let's
go to Jr. Jr. if Patience Crane was to walk in this room right now...where is
the first place you would hide."
He rolled his eyes.
"Go to hell."
It caused a couple people to laugh. Matter of fact, everyone was laughing except Felicia and I. I was too pissed that moment. To add to my anger, Desmond came stumbling back with another beer in his hand.
Kim reached for it, "Come on Desmond, that's enough."
"I can handle it."
Kim looked over at Pony as though Pony was the law around or something. I guess it was because Pony was the only one who really liked Desmond all that much. They were so different too. Pony seemed to bring life to a party and Desmond sucked it right back out.
Pony grabbed for the beer, "Desmond, son, you're drunk as hell. You're
going to start throwing up and nobody is fitting to deal with bullshit
"Yo, fall back! I'm fine! You got these sissies over here getting drunk and I'm a real man. I can hold my liquor."
He had looked over at me when he said, "sissy". I didn't get it. What the hell was his problem? I watched as Jr.'s mouth dropped open. He definitely couldn't believe Desmond was saying that.
Hell Amir didn't believe it either. He slapped the beer bottle right out of Desmond's hand and grabbed Desmond by the collar. Desmond didn't even struggle.
"Ok, that's it. I'm taking him back to the ship," Pony stated, "Come on Desmond...up up...let's get the hell out of here before Amir ends up killing you for talking about his dude."
He grabbed Desmond out of Amir's hands and started dragging him to the door. Amir was pissed. I could see him huffing as he sat down. God...I was slightly intoxicated and it seemed like the night was getting more and more awkward as it went on.
These people were characters. It was interesting, but they were so different. No one in the Dollhouse had been allowed to drink in public except for wine and champagne. I could never in my WILDEST dreams imagine Vince...or Ethan being so drunk that they had to be dragged out of a bar.
"Since when were pretty boys so tough," Kim laughed, breaking the awkwardness once again, "Amir...you related to the hulk or something. You snap boy!"
She had meant it as a joke. Jr. laughed and I tried to make a snickering gesture that failed due to the awkward silence that followed.
"It's because I'm so fucking sick of people taking me and mine for a joke," Amir stated, "Everyone respects Pony and Kim...what the hell is the problem! I'm with him. Chauncey and I are men. We are in a relationship. Do any of the rest of you have a fucking problem with that!"
He stood up as he said that.
Damn...he was like the damn hulk! He wasn't even talking to me obviously and I was a little intimidated. I was needless to mention Jr. who gave this whole tough boy appearance but really was looking for a shadow to hide behind.
"Amir," I stated, "Cool off, everything cool..."
"Yeah, we all friends here," Jr. explained almost immediately after I spoke, "Like I said I think you are Chauncey are cool. Honestly."
Kim smiled, "It's about time someone tamed Amir. I thought I had it in me at one time, but Chauncey is better equipped for the job."
"See...support," I let Amir know.
He seems somewhat unconvinced. I'm glad Pony had the sense to drag Desmond out of this bar before Amir really took his drunken anger out on him.
"Let's keep playing and lets not ruin this night," Kim stated and then picked up a card, "Ugh...these questions are stupid...does anyone have a question...damn anyone..."
"I have one...one for Amir."
It was Felicia again. Why couldn't she just keep quiet? I wasn't surprised at all to see her looking right at Amir ONCE AGAIN.
"He was asked a question already," I stated.
I was annoyed. It was clear to see that I was annoyed. If Felicia could take her eyes off of Amir for one second she would be able to tell that I was annoyed.
"Any other questions?" Kim asked. She waited for a while which I appreciated but with the lack of reply she looked back over to Felicia, "Go ahead I guess."
"Amir...if you had to choose to be with a man or a woman...just based on being with a man or a woman, what would you choose?"
I gritted my teeth. I looked
over at Amir. He looked a little
upset about it too. Didn't she just
hear him a couple minutes ago about people not respecting our
"Let's not get into this..." Kim stated.
She was trying to make peace again.
Amir brushed it off, "Let's not Kim. I'd choose Chauncey."
Kim squeezed my leg as though trying to give me a little support with the idea that Amir had said something so fly...so charming...o smooth...so AMIR once again.
I wanted to tell her `eat that bitch.'
"That wasn't the question," Felicia stated, "If you had to choose to be with a man or a woman, just based on gender, which would you prefer?"
Amir sat there. It seemed like he was going through his own little inner battle. It felt like there was something she was reaching for in him but I couldn't understand exactly what it was. It seemed like he was bothered though. It seemed like there was a piece of the puzzle that I didn't understand and it worried me.
"Let's not do this," Kim repeated, "Let's get out of here."
This time Amir didn't have any reply. Damn...it sucked. I was kind of disappointed. Amir had gotten beaten it felt like. I'd been so confident with the fact that he always seemed to come out looking charming, but just now Felicia had gotten the best of him and it showed.
I stopped hanging out with everyone for the rest of the weekend. Amir kept asking me why didn't want to go out. After he sobered up, he seemed a whole lot tense and by the next night he was just ready to do it all over again.
I couldn't do it though. I was kind of bothered by Felicia. Desmond didn't bother me as much as her even though Desmond was a whole lot more vocal. I liked that actually. He didn't like gay people. It was obvious. It was ok. I was more worried about Felicia with her unknown motives.
The call seemed familiar and I dreaded it. I dreaded it so much. I looked down the hall to see Vince walking my way.
Vince was dressed in plaid shorts and a polo t-shirt. He looked so clean and crisp like he had just gone out to play gulf or something with a whole lot of young black bachelors with nothing better to do.
He wasn't alone. His brother Ethan was with him. Great...Mr. Asshole Deluxe was more then I needed to send me into a temporary depression about things.
"What is it?"
I wasn't happy to see him. I wasn't going to act like it either.
"I just wanted to say hey," he explained and looked at me with these familiar eyes, "I haven't seen you in for ever. I mean, forever..."
We hadn't seen each other in forever. Ethan hadn't even spoken to me as he had walked over there. He leaned over to Vince and they started whispering back and forth. I turned around and acted like I didn't hear what they were saying, but thank god for my good ears.
Vince had told him something to the likes of, "You know Patience told us not to speak to him..."
"He's still one of us."
"Does he know that?"
Almost as though they rehearsed it, the light skin mulatto brothers took a stare at me that held a sense of wonder in it.
"Deal with it...I'm going to the gym," Ethan explained before giving me another look of confusion and then disappearing with all these other gym bulky looking guys.
"Can I take you out? Or something...buy you lunch?"
"Maybe we can take a walk in the park."
"It looks like it might rain, Vince..."
"No it won't...I watched the news today."
He was catching onto the fact that I didn't want to spend any time with. His face wrinkled up in this way and he just folded his arms.
"You know she on the rampage," he explained, "Amir can't protect you from Patience. He can't protect himself from Patience. Only I can protect you. It's time to leave before you get stuck in the crossfire."
"I'm already stuck in the crossfire."
"If you apologize to Patience right now she may be able to forgive you...I mean you are her brother."
"Tell her to go to hell."
I walked away, satisfied with my comment.
I walk away from him. Patience had done enough. She'd gotten the best and only teacher that I really liked on this damn boat replaced with a lame sub.
Patience brought weird Felicia back around. It seemed like the only point in Felicia's life was for her to make me feel insecure. She was a mystery and I had to figure out what that mystery was.
I found myself walking back to Amir's room at that moment. I usually didn't go back to the room until late. I spent most of my afternoon in the library, trying to review the chapters of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, but I realized that I left my Macro book back in his room.
I felt like surprising him, but that then I saw he was talking to Jr. right outside his room. The look on Amir's face haunted me...it was as though he'd found out someone had died.
They were talking loudly at each other.
The arguing, the back and forth was really seeming to be heated. I didn't get it. I walked up to them and cleared my throat. I watched Amir give Jr. a look as though giving some silent advice about something...or maybe a silent threat...
"Hey, guys," I stated.
Amir's didn't even look at me in my eyes when he approached. He didn't give me his usually warm hug. He always hugged me. We could be in front of anyone and he would still have hugged me, but not now...why not now? What the hell was going on? He just stood there.
"I have to go," is all he said before he took off around the corner like some kind of fugitive. He didn't even look back. I had a weird feeling about this.
Jr. stayed by my side as Amir left. He was upset but not nearly as upset as Amir was.
As soon as Amir turned the corner, I asked Jr. "What was that about?"
"He got some...some bad news earlier today."
It was secrecy. I hated secrecy. I looked at him with this weird look.
"What do you mean?"
Jr. turned away and started to walk, "You know you're a good guy right? Chauncey, I always thought you were a good guy..."
He walked away from me as he said that and I thought about chasing him but something told me he wouldn't let me know what the hell their argument or Amir's weird take-off was about.
I got my book and ended up in the library. I wasn't surprised to see Vince there. He was usually in the library or the gym or something. He was always being productive like a Ken Doll should be.
He never really said anything to me. He would just stare a couple times.
I was more then a little surprised when he came and sat next to me on the bench in the library.
"Ok...if I say it will you stop doing this crap."
"If I scream it out loud," he explained.
"Vince what are you talking about?" I asked him.
I had to be honest, he was very cute sitting here with these wishful, deep dark eyes. I knew he'd been wanting to come sit with me every time we came to the library but he didn't. I wanted him to come sit there as well, somewhere deep inside, but I remembered Ethan saying that Patience said none of them could speak to me. I figured he was just following rules...as usual.
He leaned over and whispered, "Don't you remember. You said that if I cared about you that I would scream it out. If I do that...will you stop chasing this boy? He's no good...he's GOING to hurt you..."
"No he won't."
He seemed so convinced. I didn't get it. He was banned from talking to me and when he did, it was just weird. Vince had spoken to me twice in one day and both times he seemed like he was desperately trying to convince me to come back under Patience and leave Amir alone.
"Vince, you really don't want to say it," I told him and shook my head, "It defeats the purpose. I know you...I know you don't want to scream anything out. Stay in the closet, you like that lifestyle."
defeated. There was no way that he
could deny it. He was whispering
even now. It wasn't like this was
some real library. Most of the kids were out having fun in
"You're right. I don't want to do it, but I care about you," he explained to me with this.
"If you care about me, you'd want to see me happy."
He grabbed onto my hand underneath the table, like he usually would have. Amir would have done it on top of the table, but Vince had to be coy, be sneaky...he had to hide the weakness of his homosexuality, just like Patience probably taught him to.
"Exactly," he continued, squeezing my hand, "I want to see you happy. Amir is going to hurt you trust me..."
He sounded too sure...too certain.
"Does this have to do with Patience?"
He was quiet. He didn't respond for a second. I got the clue by how he looked down. It definitely had to do with Patience.
"You know I can't tell you that," he said as though Patience had another watch on me, listening to my conversations once again.
"Amir wouldn't hurt me," I explained to him and took my hand away, "He promised."
"Promises are meant to be broken."
"He taught me something else," I retorted instantly, "I don't have to be like you guys. I can live my life and be me. He taught me that I can be successful alone. I don't need Patience. I don't need to cheat, scam and lie my way to success. He loves me Vince...do you know that? He loves me for me...not for what Patience did to me..."
"Well, I love you for you."
He had said it in a regular tone, not a whisper. It wasn't like anyone was paying attention to us anyway, but I knew that was a big jump for Vince. It REALLY surprised me.
"I don't love you back," I told him with this strictness of tongue, "I love Amir. The love you have for me is limited. Amir's isn't."
I knew it hurt him. I could tell it hurt him by how he backed up away from the table. I could tell it hurt him by how he slowly went back to his table and continued to stare back at me from every once in a while once again.
I had told him the truth.
Amir's love was unlimited. It just kept pouring in. He didn't have told hold my hand under tables. He didn't have to get permission from Patience just to pursue me.
Amir was everything I needed.
Amir equaled freedom.
The day had ended relatively quickly. Macroeconomics was kind of easy, but it had a lot of concepts to get a hold of. I was about to have my first big test in the class and I knew it was going to count for a lot. It definitely was going to count for a lot.
When I got to Amir's room, I realized he wasn't there. For the last week and a half that we'd been staying together, he'd always greeted me with a smile. Now all I found was a note.
HEY, BABY. I'M HAVE SOME THINGS TO DEAL WITH
WITH A FRIEND OF MINE. I WON'T BE BACK ANYTIME
I folded up the note and put it in my pocket. Damn, I wanted to talk to him about how he took off earlier. He definitely had been acting weird. I really just wanted to make sure he was ok.
I stayed up that night waiting for him...Amir never came.
The next day passed and Amir had left another note and the day after that, Amir just left yet another note saying he'd be late. He never came. He obviously was in the room when I was in class.
Was he avoiding me?
I couldn't tell. I wondered where the hell he was. It had been three days before I finally started to worry. The boat wasn't that damn big. Why didn't I see him.
Finally it was Friday and I had the drama class with him.
I was sure he was going to be there...only he wasn't. Kim was there. She sat next to me as we walked in class and after a while of looking towards the door, I realized that Amir wasn't going to come through it.
"What is up with Amir?" I asked her, as soon as class ended, "Have you seen him?"
We were walking to lunch. We usually had it with Amir and Jr., since everyone else was busy but now that Amir was gone, it was only going to be Kim, Jr. and I?
"He's just a little busy sweetheart," she explained.
"He's being an asshole that's what he's doing."
We turned and saw Jr. walk up to us. He shook my hand and gave me this half hug before turning to Kim. Jr. was short...probably 5'5 or something like that but it fit him. He was real cute like an angry little boy. He ALWAYS looked so angry.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Jr. don't..." Kim butted in.
I was sick of Kim butting in. She always seemed to want to butt into something...make people feel better. Right now, I wanted to understand what the hell was going on. I didn't care about my feelings.
I stopped walking right as we had gotten to the lunch line.
"Does someone know something I don't...I would really appreciate it if someone let me know."
That's what it felt like. It felt like these two people knew something I knew. I watched how Jr. had quickly stopped talking after Kim's told him "don't." Don't what?
"Jr. don't do it...seriously," Kim said.
She said it just as Jr. was about to open his mouth and spill the beans about what was going on.
"He deserves to know. Amir is acting so stupid right now!"
"His heart is in the right place."
"WHAT IS GOING ON!"
I shouted so loud that it felt like I was going to move them like Sindel in Mortal Kombat. Jr. just looked at Kim, then shook his head as though with disapproval and walked away. I didn't get it. What was this big secret?
I turned to Kim. She just shrugged her shoulders.
"Amir's been trying to talk to you about things for a while. He really has. He just trying to deal with things in the right way. You know...he cares about you. It's just...hard."
"What is hard?"
"Listen...I'll see him later. I'll tell him you want to talk to him."
"What is going on Kim?"
"It's not my business to tell. Amir...I'm sorry. I really am."
She walked away.
Just like that she walked away.
That night I stayed in my bed and I kept wondering what was going on. Kim had called me a few times, but I didn't want to talk to her. I knew for sure she wouldn't have told me what the hell was going on.
My stomach turned and I felt sick. I had the worst feeling about it.
I found myself vomiting loudly in the toilet of the public bathroom for half the night. I kept running from my bed to the bathroom like I was doing a marathon. The vomit just kept going and I didn't even care. I just wanted to know what the hell was happening.
There was a knock on the door.
I jumped up and walked to the door. I had cleaned myself up and everything. I thought it was Amir. I wanted it to be him so badly. We'd never gone this long without seeing each other since he got with me.
"Are you cool?"
It was Desmond. I looked at the time. It was like in the am or something. He looked like he was tired but maybe it was just sensitivity the light in my room.
He was about to slam the door, but he put his foot in it blocking. I didn't have time to play with him. I went to my open window. The cool breeze had been helping with the nausea.
"Ay man, where your boy at?" he asked me.
I didn't look at him. I didn't want to deal with him. I recognized how he said boy. It was almost like it was still so disgusting and unknown to him.
"That's the question of the year."
"I heard you running back and forth to the bathroom and throwing up. I couldn't sleep. It was straight disgusting dog. Are you drunk?"
"You mad cause Amir ain't come home?"
"Look...I'm not trying to deal with this right now. I don't care what you think about us being together. I never cared."
He stopped talking.
I thought he left for a second until I saw a shadow move across the room. Damn, he was so annoying. Why wouldn't he just go away?
"You know...I don't know what his deal is...but he's been spending a lot of time with that girl...the new one."
"Yeah...matter of fact...I'm pretty sure that's who he been spending the night with."