The following is a work of fiction and has no basis in reality.
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Perry and Jesse: The Incredibly Romantic (and slightly kinky) Adventures of Two Boys In Love
Part IV Brothers
re: Satlink 5/19/34 9:02 p.m. PST Burbank, CA, USA/Tai Pei, Taiwan sc:5079383056dat30_630GSatnet0042LR206
(I have omitted the name of my wife for now--even though that name is as fictional as all the others in these memoirs--because I prefer to reveal her identity in the context of the story as it unfolds. I've replaced her name with a random number of ******'s.)
Jesse had sent me a text note saying that he'd link up with me at 9:00 p.m. PST. To say that I was apprehensive would have been a woeful understatement. I had barely picked at my evening meal. Still, it was somewhat shocking to realize that it had been nearly a year since we had last done this. I sat in my office, the two kids in their rooms doing homework (hopefully), and the wife locked away in her own office for yet another endless conference call with the Network.
Finally, a few minutes after nine, the familiar chatter of the satlink coming to life made me sit up stiffly at my desk. My heart rate increased and my arms felt tingly. Some people liked to project their 2.5Viz in an open space or against a blank wall. I liked having the person appear to be sitting or standing right across my desk. It seemed a more casual way to communicate while also giving me the security of having something to 'hide' behind. I noted that Jesse had already charged the link-up to his account so there was nothing I could do about that. This meeting would be on his 'dime.' There was the usual flicker of light that started as a bright pinpoint--almost like a rip in the fabric of space I thought, thinking of my old alien friend, Jerrin--as the photons became charged and the field spread to a generous diameter of about four square meters. This would not be an inexpensive link.
I fidgeted behind my desk, nervously running my fingers through my thick mat of bushy brown hair. It had lightened a little over the years, but was no less unruly. I smiled self-consciously thinking that I still wanted to look good for him after all this time!
Suddenly, with a whisper of atmospheric displacement, there he was, sitting across from me in such startling hi-rez that I felt like I could reach out and touch his sleeve, or his golden blond hair, or his smooth, clean shaven cheek. I felt a wave of confusing and conflicting emotions wash through my mind, obliterating all the years since high school in an instant. There was my beautiful blond angel, radiant as ever, with a hesitant smile on his lean and gentle face, his long silky hair tumbling down his shoulders in a most satisfying way, sitting across the desk from me. The fact that I had so immersed myself in the past--our past--over the last few months made this vizlink even more poignant for me.
"Hey, Perry," Jesse said as clear as if he were actually in the room. Sure, his voice was a little deeper than it had been thirty years ago, but it still had that raspy quality that sent shivers down my spine.
"Hi, Jesse--you're looking...real good," I stammered, feeling like an insecure thirteen year old kid again. "You changed your hair, huh?" I noted, since for many years, he had worn his long hair tied back in a queue or ponytail.
"I know you like it this way..." he responded with a bashful smile. "Read any good books lately?" he asked, displaying that startling white smile that could move mountains. That was our little in-joke that we had started years ago, and we both knew that it referred to that magical day, thirty years ago, when I had first approached Jesse under the tree at dear old St. Boniface.
"Just ours," I said, feeling myself starting to choke up even though I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't let that happen.
"Ours...Yeah, that was great. I loved it," he acknowledged with a sweet
smile. "I sure was one fucked up puppy, huh?" he laughed drily.
"But you were great, of course--my rock. I had no idea how confused
you were all the time--especially in the beginning. I think you made
that come through nicely." He paused for a moment, perhaps collecting
his thoughts, or maybe getting a handle on his emotions the way I was struggling
to do. "You know I've tried about a hundred times to write it myself.
But...I just can't..." I heard his voice choking up. "Every time
I start, I..."
Hearing the emotion in his voice and seeing the glistening in his beautiful blue eyes made me feel like I was back in those days--those feelings-- all over again...
"How ironic that the writer can't write about himself," he noted sheepishly.
"You do--in your own way," I noted. Every one of his best-sellers had some autobiographical material in it, even if it was often heavily disguised.
"What a time we had together, huh?" he asked wistfully.
I just nodded mutely, feeling the stinging in my eyes that told me I was on the verge of tears. Looking into those sparkling, crystal blue eyes never failed to touch me in a deep place, a special, unique place that had endured unchanged and untempered through all these years apart.
Seeing that I was at a loss for words, Jesse tried to keep the conversation going. "How's Taira?" he asked. "She's what--thirteen now?"
I nodded. "She's going out to the ranch again next week," I managed to respond.
"She really loves horses, huh?" Jesse noted. "I still remember that horse show we went to--Jessica and Katy looking so fine up on those stallions...Think you'll write about that?"
That was way back when we were freshman at H.T. I remembered how Jessica had tried to get me to ride, but I had been so clumsy, so uncoordinated--so confused! "We'll see. I may never get us out of the eighth grade the way it's going so far!"
"You do have an incredible memory," Jesse noted. "Still, that just makes it seem all the more real...Somehow, when I think back to those times, it all seems so...unreal somehow. Like that was a different world, someone else's life."
I nodded in understanding. "Writing about those times has really brought back some powerful memories...strong feelings," I admitted through a tight throat.
Jesse looked at me with a hint of apprehension. It was clear that I was starting to get into an uncomfortable area. Still, I didn't know what else to say.
"So Pierre's team won the championship, huh?" Jesse finally asked, breaking the awkward silence.
"Yeah, it was amazing. I mean, they looked like pros blasting around that sphere. I still get so nervous though. Every time those jets flare up, I think that he's going to go shooting right out into space!"
Jesse laughed. There was a long pause and then his expression got a little more serious. "You could send me some 3-D's, you know..."
That was a little surprising. One of the reasons Jesse had stayed away these last few years was because he insisted that Pierre was starting to look so much like me (though to me, he has a startling amount of his mother's dark beauty), that it made him uncomfortable to be near him. But now...now he wanted pictures...
"Okay...sure...I can do that. I even have some vid if you want."
"3-D's will be fine," he responded quickly.
"So...uh...how's Jonathan?" I finally managed to ask, feeling the name stick in my throat.
I saw Jesse stiffen, but how could I not ask?
"He's fine...great--a real trooper. I couldn't get through these interminable tours without him. He sends his regards."
I nodded, forcing a smile even though I felt more like crying.
"Well...I guess I should be going. I have a talk show to do in a couple of hours. I need to get to the studio--strange I know, but that's how they do things here."
I nodded, even feeling somewhat relieved.
"How's your work going?" he asked hesitantly.
I shrugged. "Same ol' shit...****** says I should quit--that we could get by, but I don't think so, not with college costs going up like crazy."
"You know I'm willing to help," Jesse offered.
I felt my anger flare for a moment. We had been down this road before. Money was not really a problem. It just meant a few more years before blissful retirement.
"They're not your kids," I pointed out curtly.
I could see that I had hurt Jesse with that remark, and I immediately regretted it. "Thanks, but we'll be fine," I added quickly. "There might be an e.p. position opening up soon. I think I have a pretty good shot at it. That'll mean more pay and less time at the studio--I think I'm ready for a desk job."
"That sounds good," Jesse acknowledged.
Then there was another long and awkward silence. I found it hard to even look in his eyes...those eyes, those magical, sparkling, depthless eyes that saw everything, sensed everything, knew everything I was thinking or going to think.
Jesse cleared his throat. "All right, I should get going. I just wanted to tell you that I love...your story, and I hope you'll keep it going..."
"'Til the end," I added ruefully.
Jesse had no response for that.
"There were lots of good times," I finally noted.
Jesse nodded, a hesitant smile at last appearing on his youthful face.
"Lots of good times," he repeated. "There's no need to rush to...the end, is there?"
"The way I'm going, it could take years!" I shrugged helplessly. I sighed and I felt the tightness in my chest. "I'll send those 3-D's in the next day or so..."
"That'd be great," Jesse said quietly.
"Okay, you be sure you get some rest over there. I don't want to hear about you collapsing from exhaustion again," I warned him.
"That was like ten years ago!" Jesse reminded me. "Actually, Jonathan really spoils me..."
I didn't need to hear that, and I'm sure he knew it.
I saw his chest rise and fall with a heavy sigh. "Listen, Per," he said, his eyes only occasionally making contact with mine, "I know that we made choices--serious choices back then. I know that things could have been...different. But whatever you may think, whether we were right or wrong, the thing of it is--the main thing is--you're still here. You're still alive and well. You have two beautiful kids..."
I didn't want to hear that--couldn't hear that again. I knew I was going to lose it any second now. "All right, Jess," I broke in quickly. "It was great to see you again," I said, getting ready to close the link.
I saw the pained expression on my beautiful angel's face and I almost felt like giving in, telling him how none of my feelings for him had diminished in the least, how I regretted the choices we had made so long ago.
As if reading my mind, Jesse responded, "There's no one way for things to turn out, you know. But I honestly think things worked out for the best. You have *****, Pierre, Taira..."
Yes I did, and I loved them all deeply. I couldn't imagine my life without them. But that didn't mean there couldn't have been a different way, a different life...
"I'll give them your regards," I noted with as little emotion as possible.
"Sure," Jesse said.
We just stared at each other across the thousands of miles separating our physical forms.
"It's important for you to tell this story," Jesse finally remarked with a shaky voice. "Especially the good times..."
"The good times..." I repeated and closed the link. Jesse vanished in the blink of an eye and I was suddenly left staring across the room at a family portrait. Taira had been missing some of her front teeth when we posed for that...when? Five, six years ago? Time was slipping by so quickly. I realized that I needed to go back and write the story, to preserve that time in a meaningful way, to recapture those events and especially those emotions as best I could. They were real. What we had was real.
I sat in my office alone--no Viz, no music, no text field, just staring blankly ahead, not at the portrait on the wall, but at a time long ago, when a beautiful, mysterious boy sat under a tree and I decided that I needed to approach him--that somehow my life depended on it. I realized now, that what had started as an exercise in self-therapy, a poultice for the ailments of my self-proclaimed mid-life crisis, had now become a mission of critical importance. What was once the past could be the future. Only by following this dark and wondrous tale through to it's tumultuous end, only by putting myself and Jesse back in that time, back in those circumstances, could I know for sure that I was truly where I was supposed to be.
That's it for now. I've been putting Part V together for some time now, and hope it will be ready to post soon. I'm so glad that you've decided to follow this road into the past with me. I hope I remember all the good times as well as the times that tested us in every way imaginable. I owe him that at least.
Perry Thompson, October 15, 2034 Pt-9009-U/D543sat.net (scram/dir)
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