Authors: Charlie David
Tags: #gay romance
And some men from uptown
Will come tear it down
At noon on the fourteenth of May.
On days that I happen to turn down that street
And see the house as I go by,
I swear I can hear
The strange laughter and cheer
Of Christmas and first of July
It’s an old empty house, but still a home
And there’s more here than just wood and stone.
The love that once reigned
Is still here, contained
In this house with a soul of its own.
(Clint Morris, “The House on Pembroke Street.”)
“Maybe one day I’ll write a poem about us,” Chris says, turning to me, his face an eerie mask in the muted moonlight. We walk along silently for a while in the rain. Victoria is a wonderfully diverse city in its architecture. Many homes have been protected and preserved as historical buildings. As we haunt the night, these houses are alive. Some are mischievous, energized by eerie amber light from within, while others doze contentedly among dense foliage and blossoms.
“Oh wow! There’s the ocean! I didn’t think that we had come this far already.” Chris interrupts my study of the living brick, ornate facades, and Doric columns lining our path like sentinels. We walk down to the shore of Willows Beach. The storm is boasting its strength. The wind and rain slap my face. There is a constant rhythm of crashing waves that strikes me as both calming and energizing.
“I’m going to do it. I’m going to break up with Jeremy,” Chris says as he steps closer and places his arms around me. I am in complete and utter ecstasy. Free. The chains of loneliness and longing have fallen from my heart. Memorize this moment. The wind tousles my soaked hair and the salty air of the sea laps the sandy beach strewn with driftwood. I’m within the safety of a friend’s arms. My energy flows into him, and I feel his energy coursing through me.
I’m in love with you
, I want to say. I stop myself.
You don’t know what love is.
That word encompasses so much. It’s to be used with caution.
I hold Chris tighter and stare out at the surging sea. Above us the sky is in battle. Dark clouds become mounted knights armed with lances. Galloping at breakneck speed they collide, rotate rapidly around each other, and circle round to joust again. The entire world is in torment around us. The wind mocks and slaps the ocean, which retaliates with its tireless foaming and madly frothing waves on the shore. The grand oaks and maples lining the beach shudder with fright, their tops swaying like charismatic ecclesiastics trying to reckon with God. Are the angels and guardians in battle over us? Is it our blossoming love they thunderously debate? Are they manifesting themselves in this storm to buck my courage and faith in us? Or are they fervently casting premonition and warning across the dark canvas of the midnight sky?
“I think I’m falling in love with you.” The guttural words spring from my heart before my head can judge their consequences. Taking his head off my shoulder, Chris stares into my eyes, as if searching my soul for the truth in my words. Our lips brush each other. The chill of the rain in our mouths sends a thrill to my stomach, like being on a roller coaster. My desire to make this moment eternal seems insatiable. The storm grows louder in my ears and my previously absent lightning now sends a blast of light across my closed eyes. Black. White. Red. Blue. Is this love? God, I sure hope so. Angels, take heed, a choice has been made. Align the stars accordingly.
coach and mentor, Millie, asked… no, she told me to journal. She said it will help free up my stream of consciousness, whatever that means. Millie, ever wise and wonderful, suggested I write in the mornings to clear all the garbage out of my head so I can go on with the day free and clear of junk. I told her that was stupid. Why would I want to record junk? Regardless, here I am with my pen and paper at 6 a.m. writing….
Peanut. Parsnip. Peppermint Patty. Pony. My Little Pony. This is dumb. Am I really just supposed to write whatever words come into my messed up little head? Duck. Buck. Fuck. Truck. This sucks. How will this free my “stream of consciousness”? Need coffee… morning wood. Chris…. Chris…. All I can say is wow! Chris and I at this point seem like a sure thing… to some degree. That is both scary and very, very exciting. I can’t wait to call him. I can’t wait to hold his hand, and for that moment when we unite our lips. To feel his tongue inside my mouth and to place mine in his will be ecstasy. Feeling his body pressed close to mine and to have our arms wrapped around each other.
I just want to stare into his big blue eyes and stroke his hair and lips all day. He’s going to break up with Jeremy, to be with me! Oh no, I’m
guy. Maybe I don’t need a boyfriend (or to steal someone else’s). Maybe I just want a
friend. I need that, a guy friend to go out with, talk and joke with. I have a multitude of girlfriends here but I need the balance of male companionship. I want a guy to play football with. I want a guy to talk with, to share my dreams with. Sometimes I get so lonely. I just want someone to touch me, to give me a hug. Dad never hugged me. Oh shit, is that what this is about? I am so fuckin’ confused. No. This isn’t about Dad. This is about sex. No, it’s about love. It’s about not going to bed every night hugging my pillow, just wishing I had someone to be holding onto.
Oh God, I sound so pathetic!
What do You think of all this? A Catholic boy living in venial sin. How pathetically predictable. Screw it. I can’t do it anymore, God. I can’t pretend that I’m like all the rest of the sheep in the flock. I’m not. And by the way, I don’t even know what You are. And I don’t know that I should call you God because I think you’re something different than what I was taught you are. Universal Life-force Energy is too wordy. I’ll call you Antonio. Which is actually fitting since I can’t help saying “Oh my God” every time I see Antonio Sabato Junior.
down the pen. Okay then, that was a rapid marathon through a little swamp of confusion, wasn’t it? Maybe Millie is right. Maybe there’s more going on in my head than I realize.
The waiting game. Getting up this morning, strange new energy envelopes me. It is an acute anticipation, an excitement. I can’t wait to get to school, yet there is new joy in the usually mundane and monotonous tasks of my morning procedures. I find myself singing in the shower. Extra special attention is taken in the choice of clothes, the intricate styling of my hair. I take a moment to evaluate myself in the mirror. My blond hair is already starting to rebel against the positions I meticulously placed it in. It’s got body, bounce, and curls despite my wish for it to be straight. I could wage war on it, but I’d lose.
My face is still boyish in ways and my big brown eyes only emphasize this. They are dripping with heavy lashes that every woman I’ve met enviously chastises me for. I’d happily pluck them out to look tough. My high cheekbones and full lips push me away from receiving compliments like
and toward words like
. I know they are meant sincerely, but they’re still worrisome to my teenage ears. Studying my face once more, I conclude that it’s not androgynous, but it is that kind of pretty that makes rougher boys want to punch it.
My mind races as I eat breakfast and think about Chris. I fantasize about our initial encounter. What
says. I set out on my bike and the sun kisses my face. Yes, I ride a bike. It’s both sporty and environmentally friendly. No handle grip ribbons yet, but I’ve been seriously considering investing. Where was I? Oh, yes…. A gentle wind caresses my chest. This path I’ve traveled a hundred times reveals new beauty. I notice the trees decorating themselves in white and pink blossoms as if in celebration. The salty, humid air brings a rush of emotion and visions of last night. I play back our conversation and see our encounter as an audience viewing a film. God—I mean
—make this be right. I need this love, this friendship.
Jazz class. No familiar orange parachute pants. No Chris. Where the hell is he?
Oh shit, oh shit. You knew this would happen. You were moving too fast, fell too soon and too hard. He doesn’t feel the same way. What was I thinking anyway? He’s in a relationship! And he wears orange parachute pants!
Get it together. He’s probably just late.
End of Jazz, lunch, I struggle through the day. Unfocused. How can a day birth so much promise and bring so much uncertainty? Back home after dinner, I sit cross-legged on the kitchen counter deliberating. Should I call him? What will I say? Wait until tomorrow…. No, if he’s sick I need to show my concern. For my sanity I have to call. I lift the receiver and tentatively dial Chris’s number. Then I hang up. After a few moments I dial again.
“Hey buddy, this is Ashley. Missed you in class today. I was just calling to see how you are.”
“This is Blair.”
“Oh, sorry. Uh, how you doing?” I sheepishly blurt.
“All right, man. Should I get Chris?” Blair asks.
“Yeah, thanks.” Crap! Of course Chris’s roommate would have to answer.
“Hello?” Chris. My heart skips to somewhere up near my throat.
“Uh, hi. How are you?” I ask.
“I’m good. How are you?” he asks emphatically.
“Good, good, I’m doing good. Where were you today? Sick or did you take one of your spiritual hiatuses?”
“Spiritual hiatus.” He laughs. “What are you doing now? You want to come over?”
Oh God yes! “Umm, I was just doing some homework but I could take a break for a while. What do you want to do?” I ask, assuming a cool, unexcited tone.
“Well, we could watch a movie or something?”
Freeze frame. Okay, I have to explain something before we continue….
time the two of us watched a movie together was a frightening experience, and not just because we went to see
at a Halloween rerun festival. Chris is a fan of the horror genre in film and has dragged me to forgettable features in the second-run theater such as
and Tim Burton’s
. Although I can definitely find beauty in darkness and have loved cult classics such as Anne Rice’s
Interview with the Vampire
, my spirit is enlightened by “feel-good” shows like
My Best Friend’s Wedding
. How gay is that? Did I mention
Fried Green Tomatoes
? Don’t laugh, rent it. It’s gorgeous. Okay, back to the frightening experience…. So a large group of our friends from college had decided to screw the homework and head downtown for a film. Jeremy, to my sheer delight, was nowhere to be seen. As we walked down the aisle amidst a plethora of pseudo murders and screams, my heart raced as I mentally calculated the exact coordinates of our seating arrangements. I settled into my red fabric chair between two best friends, the beautiful Michelle on my right and Chris on my left. As the trailers (my favorite part of the movie experience) rolled, I unabashedly started the dance. Wait, what’s that, dear reader? Let me explain what I mean by dance. I pressed my leg against Chris’s. Then I leaned over and whispered a guess at who the killer might be.
By the time Courtney Cox appeared as Gail Weathers, I was putting my patented secret gay contact strategies into practice. I folded my arms, and with the hand squeezed between elbow and ribcage, I brushed Chris’s arm. I was definitely treading on dangerous ground. He could’ve turned and looked at me strange, at which point I’d pretend to scratch an itchy elbow. Or he could….
Fold his arms and slip his left hand under his right arm to meet mine. Sparks! The sexual tension between us was only heightened by our surroundings and the need to keep this contact secret. We grasped each other’s hand desperately. Chris turned and looked at me. I returned his gaze and was lost in the blue ocean of his eyes. It seemed volumes were spoken and an eternity was shared in this momentary glance. Or did he just want his hand back so he could get more popcorn?
Neve Campbell had escaped with her life intact once again, and the house lights flickered on as the audience filed out. There was a consensus among our friends that coffee and dessert at the Cheesecake Café was in order.
“Let’s take a walk,” Chris suggested. He tugged on my arm and motioned for us to take a side street away from the group. It was a beautiful night, and we walked in silence toward the harbor. The Legislative Building’s every tower, window, and molded archway was illuminated with sparkling white lights. Small waves lapped at a few yachts and several sailboats docked in front of the Empress, a large castle-like hotel covered with vines resting among immaculately landscaped grounds. A horse-drawn carriage clip-clopped by us as we rested against the ornate stone balustrade encircling the inner harbor.
“There’s nothing I’d like to do more than kiss you right now,” Chris suddenly gushed. “I mean, this is all so weird but it just feels so right. I could hardly concentrate on the movie.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…. But I couldn’t help it. Every time I’m around you, I can’t think. I just get so excited. I want to kiss you too. Like nothing else. But I don’t know…,” I rambled in a breathless soliloquy.
“What?” he asked, blue eyes imploring me. “What is it?”
“It’s just, you’re with Jeremy. And I have Rachel. I’m confused. I don’t want to move too fast, you know? Do something we might regret?” I continued in my tripping speech.
“Yeah, okay.” Chris took my hand in his and unwittingly attached my heart to a string. “Let’s get going. Everyone’s probably wondering where the hell we are. We’ll talk again?”
“Yeah,” I managed to spit out, “that’d be good.”