One Person at a Time
Part III - Boys in the Park
I woke to the wonderful smell of brewing coffee and Matthew's CD playing and Evan singing along with Matthew's voice. Evan has one of those rich sexy radio trained male voices.
This morning it was different. Evan was different. As I listened I got goosebumbs. Not from the joy in Evan's voice. I was listening to the drums. Being an ex-professional drummer I always appreciated good drumming. Last night was too emotional for me to really listen.
The track played again. I realized it was probably the third replay. Normally I'd be screaming at Evan to change the song, but I found I was so into listening to this drummer. I began to doubt that Matthew Eastman was really the drummer he'd cleverly captured the track off the Phil Collins song. I mean he was barely fifteen.
By the fourth replay I'd had enough and thoroughly convinced myself that the drummer was not Matthew Eastman but was really Phil Collins. Thank god Evan turned off the CD.
My naked lover walked into the room carrying a tray with coffee, orange juice and cinnamon toast, which he knew I loved.
"Good morning love," he said cheerily,"The orange juice is freshly squeezed."
"Good morning sweetheart. And why all this?" Evan never makes me breakfast in bed unless he's trying to PR me into doing something he knows I would normally refuse to do.
"Because I love you."
"Evan, you loved me yesterday and I didn't get this. So what's going on?"
"Well, I sort of volunteered our pickup with us for a good cause. Mattie called me this morning and asked if I could give him a ride to the music store. They are having a sale and as it's for the school I said you would be delighted to tag along and help choose stuff."
"What! Last night was one thing, but this boy is trying to take over our life! And I hate to burst your bubble but that is NOT him drumming - he cleverly dubbed it in from the Phil Collins song!"
"He is not trying to take over our lives. Be a part of our life maybe but take over - never. He talked with his mother and she agreed to donate up to $30,000 in equipment to the music department - it's a tax break for her. Every year you complain about your shitty budget and how the music department never gets anything. Now is your chance to get the stuff you want."
I said nothing because he was right the stuff we had was old and worn out through years of use and abuse.
"You're jealous, aren't you?"
"No." I said softly but I was. Matthew had changed Evan. In the matter of a few hours he had created a new vibrant Evan whose love flowed from him like water flows from a raging river.
He said nothing but he smiled. I hate that smile! No, I don't. I love that smile.
"Okay, yes. It is like Matthew removed the blinders from your soul - blinders that I never saw and never knew existed. He changed you where I couldn't. So yes, I'm jealous and disappointed that it was him that brought about that change." Tears started rolling down my cheeks.
"Hey, I love you more because of that."
"How could you," I cried.
"Jon, it only means that you love me so much that you don't see or pay attention to my flaws. Besides you never read Alex's journals - none of us did. Not even George. He offered them to us but we refused. Then along came Mattie - by the way I spoke to George this morning. Do you know he and Sarah really did adopt Matthew as a grandson? That's why Mattie changed his middle name to Smith. He is legally Matthew Smith Eastman. The journals were real."
Evan had cuddled up behind me.
"The point is Mattie wasn't trying to make me look at myself. He was simply trying to thank me and when I couldn't accept it then he made me look. Yeah, I love Mattie much the way you love Luc. George told me Mattie has two passions - music and being mentored by the best - Jonathan Petri."
"George asked Mattie that too. Mattie said because Alex wrote in his journal if he ever had to be taught anything about music there was only one person in the world he would want to learn from - his best friend Jonathan. Jonathan may not be the best drummer/musician in the world but he has passion and he teaches with passion and he passes on that passion to those he teaches."
"You know Jon, Alex was right. I used to love to watch you play because you were so passionate. When you decided to teach I thought it was a mistake but it was what you wanted to do. Then one day in London I went to pick you up from school and I watched you teach. I watch you create passion in your students. You were the most incredible - you are the most incredible teacher."
An hour later we pulled up to the Eastman's residence. Matthew came out and got into the pickup sitting between Evan and I. He seemed really nervous.
"You seem a little nervous Matthew," I said.
He sighed heavily, "I am."
He shrugged his shoulders, "School, I guess. What if people hate me?"
"Why would they hate you?"
"I'm gay. The last time went to school. I ended up in the hospital for a month."
"It won't happen at our school. The kids are pretty open-minded."
"I'm really scared around new people too."
"Well, I am sure you'll make lots of friends," said Evan.
"I'm not. I always seem to say the wrong thing and then people don't like me. We should get some great bargains today Mr. Petri. They know me there so hopefully I can persuade them to give us some really great deals."
When we entered the store a balding heavy-set man excused himself from a couple of people and practically ran over to us.
"Matthew!" the man said enthusiastically, "Get out! I told you never to come here again without giving me at least two weeks notice." Matthew blushed. The man continued, "Evan Maxwell, am I right? Channel 4? Charlie Stone, I'm the owner/manager here and you must be Jonathan Petri."
Now I was surprised that he knew who I was. There was no 'oh you must be Evan's ugh, partner?'
"Charlie, I am starting school Monday! Mr. Petri is my teacher. We are here to spend lots of money for new equipment for the school. Mom's donating the money. So I expect some really, really good bargains."
"I know she already called me. If I had known you were going to be here I could have sold tickets. But now you are here - don't make me cry," he laughed.
"Don't embarrass me," laughed Matthew. "What have you got in keyboards preferably Korg or Roland?"
"Whatever you want today is 5% over cost, but you have to put on a show."
Matthew smiled, "Okay, make it 2% over cost."
Charlie roared. "Okay go!"
Matthew took off.
"God! I love that kid. I would have gone down to cost plus 1%. Anyway, gentlemen feel free to play any instrument, ask any questions. My place is yours. "
Matt seemed to be thoroughly engrossed in playing a Korg keyboard. He had headphones on so we couldn't here what he was playing. I knew he was composing something. That's when I saw it. The intensity of concentration that Alex had but Matthew was even more intense.
I have no idea how long I stood and stared at Matthew. I thought of what Evan had said this morning. I thought of Alex. Alex and Matthew could never have passed as father and son on looks but on personality there was no question. I'm not one to believe in reincarnation, but I wondered if Matthew was Alex reincarnated.
I became aware of Matthew smiling at me. I had unconsciously picked up a pair of drumsticks. He had moved to a Roland synth. He still had on headphones but his body movement showed me that he was probably playing techno. Man he was really into it! His cute little butt was shaking as he danced while playing. I noticed that half the people in the store were watching him and smiling
I had come here to shop for the school so I started. Charlie had come over to help which I appreciated. I saw Evan with Matthew. Matthew was letting Evan listen to something. I felt a pang of jealousy. Why wouldn't Matthew let me listen? After all I was his teacher.
"Don't be jealous about Matt showing your boyfriend what he's doing. I know that boy and believe me what he is doing he is doing to impress you. You are his mentor - his idol, his hero. He's not trying to impress you with buying all this stuff - that's his mom's idea. He wants you to see that he will be a serious student and one worthy of your time."
"Yeah, I look at him and some times I see by best friend Alex who died eighteen years ago."
Every once in a while Charlie would come over and get my okay on something Matt wanted on the list like a Korg OASYS. The store was filling up with people it was in fact crowded with people. Then Charlie announced the show would be starting.
It was a one man show or maybe I should say a one boy show with help from Evan. Evan's help amounted to him holding down a key on the keyboard that Matt had programmed earlier to play his earlier recorded song while Matt played the guitar live and sung. His voice was incredible. His guitar playing was as good any professional.
I noticed Eddie Mitchell and Joey Benson in the store but no Luc.
The finale was what overwhelmed me and made me retract my statement about his ability to play drums. He sang a song call 'Beautiful Soul' part of the song he had pre-recorded and it was playing through an awesome sound system in the store. He sang the song with such passion and he played the drums. He played the drums perfectly with out a miss and perfectly in sync with the recording.
When it was over the store went wild with applause. Everyone screamed 'encore'. So he did a five minute drum solo. He was truely awesome.
At the end he got up from behind the drum set and came over to me. I could see he was in that incredible music induced high.
"How did I do Mr. Petri?" he asked with sweat trickling down his temples and slightly out of breath. I knew that feeling.
"Awesome! You were awesome."
He beamed. Eddie and Joey had made their way over to us.
"Hi, Mr. Petri," said Eddie then he turned his attention to Matthew, "Dude you rock!"
I noticed Matthew glance down and saw that the two were holding hands.
"Thanks. Are you two uhm, boyfriends?" Matthew asked quietly.
Joey wrapped his arm around Eddie's waist and pulled him close, "Yeah, not a problem is it?"
Matthew didn't say anything for a moment, a long moment. Joey gave him a quizzical look.
"You look good together," he said softly and smiled. "Mr. Petri, Charlie said you're at the limit. We can take the drum set and he'll deliver the rest on Monday. He also said Grandpa Smith called and insisted that the school get the top of the line recording studio equipment. His accountant says he needs the deduction. He needs to talk to you about that. I better go pack up the drums."
"Hey, can we help?" asked Eddie.
The sweetest smile grew on Matthew's face, "Yeah." The trio left and I went to find Charlie.
Evan invited Joey and Eddie to eat with us at the Chinese Buffet. The three boys sat together and had a great time. Towards the end I heard Eddie and Joey begging Matthew to sing a song. He began singing it. Both Eddie and Joey join in on the chorus.
It was about the boy in the park. I wondered if Matt had told them the story of the boy in the park. I wondered what would happen Monday when he finally meets the boy again. Would it be like the song?