You would think that Ziggy, being a total attention whore and proud of it, would want lots of it when he was in pain.
You’d be wrong.
I could sense the tension in him, like a thundercloud gathering. His eyes were sullen and even how he breathed seemed to say “Don’t tread on me.”
We had packed hastily for a trip back to the city. Jordan was having some kind of get-together. You couldn’t call it a party, not when it was because someone had died, but it wasn’t really a wake either. Sort of an unofficial roosting of all the birds of a feather, I guess.
I’d turned on the TV to see if they would say anything on the news, but it was all midday soaps and talk shows on the handful of channels we got. Maybe I didn’t really expect to find out anything on the news. Maybe I just needed voices talking to fill up the dark silence that Ziggy was leaving in his wake.
He was silent, so I was automatically silent, too.
A limo came for us, sleek and black. How appropriate given where we’re going, I thought.
I assumed the limo was taking us to the airport, but then we got on the Mass Pike going the New York direction. Were we going all the way in this car? After we left the Boston city limits and were zooming along through the brown-leafed wooded areas west on the Pike, I figured we must be.
The silence in the car was oppressive. The driver seemed uninterested in us. I wished for my Walkman.
Somewhere in Connecticut–probably an hour later–I couldn’t stand the silence anymore. Once upon a time I might’ve just stayed quiet. But, you know, therapy and all that. I had a clue by then that some things I did that seemed sensible or normal were actually ingrained behaviors from dealing with the explosive moods of my parents.
Shit, listen to me getting all clinical-sounding without actually coming out and saying the real words. “Explosive moods” is totally one of those phrases people use when they don’t want to use the word “abusive.” I’m still not comfortable using that word, I guess.
Anyway. I was even less comfortable with the thought Ziggy and I might be backsliding into a toxic dynamic.
And I just couldn’t stand the silence anymore. “Did you know?”
“That he was gay?” he snapped.
“No.” My voice was swallowed up by the leather interior of the car. “The… the other thing.”
“You can say AIDS, Daron,” he sneered. “It’s not like saying it makes you get it.”
I hadn’t heard that tone of voice from him in a long time. I wanted to fold myself up in a ball, but I made myself stay still. Well, as still as you can be at sixty miles an hour. “Don’t do that,” I heard myself say.
“Say my name like it’s some kind of curse.” I turned my face toward the window so I wasn’t looking at him. I was looking at the ghost of my own reflection in privacy tinting. The quaver in my voice echoed off the glass. “Go ahead and say ‘idiot’ or ‘asshole’ if that’s what you mean.”
Now there was silence again.
It didn’t last long. His voice still had an edge to it, but he said, “I’m sorry. I’m just… upset.”
No shit, Sherlock.
He surprised me by not resting on the excuse. “I shouldn’t take it out on you. I’m sorry.”
I looked back at him and he was biting his lip. He put a hand palm up on the seat between us.
I slid my hand into his, and the silence that followed was gentler.
(Another MOR 1991 hit. MOR=middle-of-the-road. -d)