The phone rang gratifyingly quickly. “Yellow,” I answered. “I guess you’re not sleeping either.”
“I’m on West Coast time,” Ziggy said. “Where it’s only three in the morning.”
“Uh huh,” I said, unconvinced.
We sat there in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. I was the one who had paged him, so was it on me to say something? But he was the one who put the “call me” message into my pocket, so….
“Maybe we should get together to talk,” I finally said.
“Can you get away from your family?” he asked.
“For a couple of hours, no one’ll miss me,” I said. “But I wanted to ask what you’re doing for the holiday tonight. Tomorrow. No pressure but you could join us here.”
“Daron, how should I put this…” He breathed and I imagined him sighing with his eyes closed. “Your group there is kind of overwhelming. I’m not good with crowds.”
“I never thought I’d hear you say that.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Actually, I don’t. Explain it? I’m listening.” I lay back to listen.
“I mean, I’m fine with crowds if I’m the center of attention. But I don’t want to be–and shouldn’t be–the center of attention at your chosen family’s gathering.”
“Why shouldn’t you be? You outshine everyone in any room you walk into.” This room felt like it was spinning slightly. I had definitely drunk more than usual.
“Like there’s a spotlight on me?”
“Like you’re a star that fell out of heaven. Ziggy, you’re the most gorgeous human being I’ve ever laid eyes on and that’s as true today as it was that day in the park.”
“You are drunk.”
“I’m telling the truth.”
“Because you’re drunk.”
“Because I’ve been to therapy. And I’ve realized there are a lot of things I could have been saying that I haven’t been.” I thought about what Bart had said, that maybe me being forthright and truthful about my feelings was actually scary to Ziggy. If so, I was probably freaking him out completely. “Am I freaking you out? I’m not trying to. I just…have this thing about the truth.”
“Uh huh,” he said cautiously. “And if the truth is…it’s too late?”
“Then tell me to go fuck myself: break my heart and send me on my fucking way.”
“Whoa. Whoa.” There was a kind of long silence while I guess he tried to figure out what to say to that. Or got himself together. I don’t know which. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“It’s worth asking, isn’t it? Is it too late, Zig?” It felt crazy-good that I could send him spinning by speaking so baldly. Of course the only reason it didn’t hurt like fuck to say was because alcohol had numbed me so much at that point. “Did I wait too long to tell you I loved you? Is it just fucking tragic when I say it?”
“Okay, you know what? I want to make a rule. No saying ‘I love you’ over the phone.”
“You don’t want me to tell you I love you?”
“On the phone. Seriously. I’m coming over there and then you can say it to my face.”
“And you’re not going to freak out and leave this time?”
He sighed. “No. And this time I’m going to say it back, and then we’re going to find out how hard it is.”
“How hard what is?”
“To keep going when we realize that doesn’t mean anything in the larger scheme of things.”
“Wait, what?” That was too hard to follow. All I really absorbed was that he was coming over.
“Hang tight. What’s your room number again? I’ll be there in like forty-five minutes.”
An hour went by, during which time I had the most extreme mood swings I’d had since I was an actual teenager. On the one hand, I was elated that I’d said a bunch of stuff and we seemed to be making progress. On the other I was terrified I’d just set up a new unsustainable dynamic. I couldn’t figure out if I should make some coffee and try to sober up or if being drunk was good because of my utter lack of verbal inhibitions.
How about try to sober up but still say what you really mean? I wondered if that would work.
I made a pot of coffee, but then got into a lukewarm shower and drank a lot of water while standing there. I know, that’s weird, but I got thirsty and I was standing under the water, why the hell not?
I poured half a cup of the coffee, which was staying warm in the little four-cup coffee maker on the dresser, and sat there sipping it and staring at the clock and wondering if I remembered the time right. Where was he coming from? I didn’t know. He’d said 45 minutes and that had passed…
Mood swing city.
And then the coffee failed to work and I got drowsy. I did what might be considered a stupid thing then. Especially in New York City. I unlocked the door. I left the chain stuck in it so it couldn’t shut all the way.
And then I passed out.
When I woke up briefly it was to make sure the person pulling the towel off my ass was someone I knew.
Ziggy kissed me on the back of the neck. There was sun coming in the windows and the thought that went through my head was that he was wearing way too much eyeliner for first thing in the morning. Then I went under again, hoping that he’d snuggle up next to me so he’d be there when I woke.
(Another hit from 1990. The days before Lasik. Since we were talking about new jack swing in comments a little bit ago. Two of these three guys are Babyface’s brothers. Great voices. -daron)
Happy New Year everyone! And thank you Alan and Chris for posting reviews on the Amazon page for the new DGC Volume 6 ebooks! Anyone else want to chime in? Here’s the link: http://amzn.com/B00OZEOQAW
And surprise! Another new thing will soon be available! Remember how one of the stretch goals for the Kickstarter was to do individual-sized paperbacks that match the ebooks? Book one is in proofs now and should go live for sale soon! Here’s a preview of what the nice wraparound cover will look like, front-spine-back!
I’ll be on vacation next week–a real, actual vacation at Disney World, with corwin and friends–but never fear, I will be sure to post DGC chapters anyway! Hopefully the paperback will be ready to go live as soon as I get home!
Thank you all again for making 2014 a great year for me and Daron.