Monday, March 29, 2010

Short Story: A Hot Night in the City

It was the hottest day that the city had known. 103 degrees. People were doing anything they could to stay cool. In the gay part of town, slim, sexy men strutted about the beach and basked in the bright and shining sunlight. I, on the other hand, did not. I was never comfortable with my body; you'd see me wearing a t-shirt if anyone ever persuaded me to get into the water. Not this time. I volunteered to watch everyone's belongings while they cooled off in the lake.

"He's cute," I would tell myself, as I looked across the way.

There were several cute guys there that day, and I couldn't force myself to believe that I could ever speak to any of them. I proved myself right. It wasn't that difficult, either. The heat was beginning to drive me insane. I couldn't exactly move all of their stuff into a different area of the park. Nearly every square inch of ground was occupied. Thankfully, I liberally applied sunscreen to my face, neck, arms, and legs. I never got a single burn.

My anxiety was getting the best of me. Luckily, my friend returned and relieved me of my duty. I informed him I was leaving, much to his dismay. The wait for the bus was anything but exciting. I became a captive audience to a woman, clearly drunk and consumed by the heat waves. My friend and his boyfriend were leaving, and I managed to excuse myself from the woman's meanderings, and catch a ride with them. The air conditioning never felt so good.

I arrived home, fatigued. I needed a nap. A few hours passed when I received a phone call. This person was not in my phone's address book, but I somewhat recognized the number. I've avoided him for the past several months. I thought I was doing him a favor by disappearing from his life. I increasingly questioned our friendship, and what it really meant to him. At the time, he had only contacted me once, and that was to ask how I was doing. I let the call go to voicemail. Would he leave me a message or not?

The phone made its sound, indicative of having received a voicemail. He had. I listened to it. "Hey JB. . It's me. I was just seeing if maybe you wanted to go see a movie or something. Get out of this heat for a bit. They have A/C." I now had two choices: call him back, or ignore him. Five minutes later, I called him back. It felt so good to hear his voice again. I missed him so much, but it was for my own good to have removed myself from his life. We agreed to meet up ten minutes later on a street corner equidistant from both our apartments.

On the walk over, I listened to "Crashin'" by Jack's Mannequin. That song would be ingrained in my mind, forever, as the night our friendship rekindled. I waited longer than expected for him to show up. Then again, he always had a penchant for making me wait. I hated that about him. At last, he finally showed. He looked so cute. I always found him to be so attractive. It kind of puzzled me as to why he would do the things he did with someone who looks like me. I wasn't exactly the attractive type. I was paunchy, constantly hunching over, and my clothes were rather shabby. I guess he found something of interest in me;
but what?

We walked to the movie theater, chatting along the way. "How have you been? What have you been up to? What's new?" he asked. I was still emotionally guarded at that time, so my answers were short, and disclosed very little. I always preferred for the other person to talk about themselves, rather than me talking about myself. I find myself to be dull, and boring. I hardly ever find anything uninteresting in the guys I meet. I prefer to surround myself with people that embody and represent everything that I am not.

After the movie, he did not want the night to end. "What should we do now? Should we go back to your place? Should we go get some ice cream?" he asked. I was rather surprised that he still wanted to hang out with me. I wasn't sure of his intentions, if he had any. Has he ever? Ultimately, we wound up sharing a pint of ice cream in a nearby park, and eventually met up with a group of his friends. This made me rather uncomfortable, seeing as how I become invisible as soon as other friends come along. It's understandable. I'm an outsider, an anomaly, to his friend rubric. He surrounds himself with lively, creative, happy people. I, on the other hand, seemingly serve a function of bringing him down when he needs a rest period. Is it true?

The temperature was still lingering in the low 80s, and it was now nearly 2 a.m. He was ready to head home, and he invited me to come along. One movie for the evening would not suffice. We watched yet another film at his apartment. In that moment, things went back to the way I remember them being, even if they meant absolutely nothing. We cuddled on his couch. Having my arm around him, and him being so close was exciting and anxious all at once. What could he possibly be thinking? By the time the movie ended, it was nearly 4 a.m. This is when he invited me to stay the night. We had known each other, at that point, roughly two and a half years. Not once had he ever offered to let me spend the night. Why now? Why all of a sudden? What had changed? This may have all just been inside my head. It really meant nothing. Sometimes I feel as though he is incapable of feeling anything for me. Friendship or otherwise. The question still remains: what does he feel?

As we had done in the past, on numerous occasions, we had sex. That may be indicative of something. But what? Before we finally fell asleep, him cuddled in my arms, he asked me a question that has haunted me ever since. "Why do people die?" I couldn't bring myself to tell him what I personally felt; he had been devastated by the loss of a man that he had never met, but was madly in love with. My friends would later tell me my response, "I don't think I'm qualified to answer that," was a cop out, and insensitive to his feelings. Regardless of what he may have said when the topic came up again later on, I still do not know if it was or not.

That was one of the best nights of my life; and I spent it with a person that I love.

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