I stood up and kicked one of the cement posts holding up the awning. I kicked it again, harder, while the pain did nothing to dull the edge off how much I wanted him and how, no matter what I did, I still couldn’t seem to make it right with him. In my head it sounded like Tidewater were thrashing loud and I beat my fist against the post. My own voice screaming seemed far away: “What the fuck is wrong with you!”
I picked up my keys and ran to my room. The stereo was on, as always–I snapped the Tidewater disc into the player, and twisted the volume knob. The first drum hit struck me in the chest and the first guitar riff ripped through my head.
The only guitar that wasn’t in the practice room was a secondhand electric Gibson Epiphone that Colin had trash-picked when he lived in J.P. and gave to me because he didn’t want it. Perfect. I slung it over my shoulder and matched the song riff for riff, thrashing my head in time and spinning in place, singing even though I could hardly hear myself, at the top of my lungs. The next song was equally hard and loud, and even though I didn’t know it as well, I ripped through it, working up a sweat.
Somewhere along the way I broke a string and hardly noticed until the song ended and I stood there in the silent gap breathing hard.
Something was tapping on my window.
I went to the window and opened it and Ziggy came tumbling into the room. The song kicked in then and I couldn’t hear what he said. He was laughing giddily, from where he was sprawled on the floor at my feet.
Then he stopped laughing and stared into my eyes as he got to his knees and his hands traveled up my pants legs, behind the guitar to my fly.
I rotated the guitar strap and hung the guitar across my back to get it out of his way. He got my already-hard cock out then, and began to suck without prelude. In the noise my mouth was saying something neither of us could hear, and it wasn’t scolding him for missing rehearsal.
I pulled him away then, by the hair on the back of his head, and pulled him up to kiss me. He tasted like salt and beer and my cock and her perfume. His lips ground against my teeth as I bent him back and forced my tongue inside him. And then I slid the guitar to the floor as we both tried to undress each other.
By the time the CD ended, we were finished, lying next to one another on my mattress-bed. The house was still and quiet and rain spattered the window. I pulled a blanket over me and rolled away from him. I was coming down from the high now, and still didn’t know what to say to him.
“Missed you today,” I started with, and I wasn’t sure if I sounded accusatory or just pathetic.
He didn’t say anything.
“We decided to take the day off tomorrow.”
Nothing again. I turned over to see if he was asleep.
He was looking at me with dark-lashed eyes, his mouth a thin line. “I should go.”
His eyebrows went up. “No?”
“Not yet,” I amended. “I want to know why you weren’t here earlier today. And what you’re doing here now.”
“I thought you might want to see me.” He propped himself up on one elbow, played with his pubic hair with the other hand.
“And why is that?” I sat up, crosslegged. “Because you weren’t here this afternoon and I must be pining away for you by now? Because I saw you at the club and must be out of my mind jealous by now?”
His eyes darkened as I talked and I felt like I must have hit close to the truth. But his voice came out cool and smooth. “Because we’re lovers, Daron, remember?”
As he said it my breath came out of me in a shaky gasp and I felt goosebumps flash cold over my skin.
“Or did you forget?”
“But what does that mean, Zig? What does it mean?”
He looked surprised I had spoken and his mouth twisted in a wary smile. “What do you want it to mean?”
I pushed him down flat on his back and straddled him. “You’re the one who forced the word out of me in the first place, motherfucker. You tell me. You tell me.”
His eyebrows came down as he tried to squirm out from under me, his mouth a snarl, but I had his wrists and the leverage.
“Come on, lover,” I said, “What do you expect from me? What should I expect from you? How do you feel about me?”
He twisted under me then and toppled me off. He scrambled over me and picked up his clothes, started dressing. “Have you asked those questions of yourself, Daron?” he said, and this time there was no sneer or coolness in his voice. “I’ve kept your secret for you, you know. I didn’t have to. I’ve kept my promise.”
I thought about a hotel room in L.A., where I’d extracted a pledge from him never to tell anyone about me, us. “I thought you said it wasn’t a big deal, because you didn’t…” I choked on the words and couldn’t say them. … love me anyway.
He was tying his shoes as he replied, “Yeah, well, think about it, Daron. Do you love me? I don’t think you do. I don’t think you can. All you can do is fuck and hide, ‘ohjesusgod don’t let anyone know!'” He stalked toward the door. I wanted to stop him from leaving but I was too stunned to move, and I didn’t know what I would say next anyway. The door slammed. A moment later I heard the front door slam, too.
My breath came out like I had to force the air out of my lungs, spasmodic, almost like a sob, except my eyes were dry and I wasn’t crying. I couldn’t even replay the conversation we’d just had. My body shook like I’d been in a car accident and I felt nauseous. A few weeks ago I would have said I was in love with him. Even a few days ago I would told myself I loved him. But feeling like I’d been kicked in the balls, I didn’t know what I’d say now about him. Love seemed like a huge, faraway concept, something to write songs about and yearn for, but I felt like I couldn’t be sure I’d ever had it now, or if I ever would… something had changed and I felt like the pieces of my heart didn’t fit into my chest anymore, the pieces of my brain didn’t fit into my skull.
I didn’t think I could face him in the morning. Or on Monday. The gloves were off now. I still needed him, still wanted him, we needed to work together…! But he could still jerk my chain when he wanted and I was sure the payback for making him lose it tonight was going to be severe. If, of course, he didn’t just walk away from the whole thing…. what was I going to have to do to keep him?
I picked up the phone. By this time tomorrow I could be in L.A. I had the money. I even had the time.
I’d tell Bart later.