I trail Billy like a puppy as we move over the threshold into the hotel room, it's almost as though I'm afraid to lose him. He guides me into the room allowing time for me to shut the door before he turns around, his blue gaze cast on me. I stand awkwardly staring at him, there's something in his eyes, in his expression that makes me wonder if any of his world is in tact, how could it be when he suddenly looks so utterly destroyed. He steps forward slowly almost as if he's afraid to approach me, and all at once his arms are around my waist, strong slender arms, and his lips are on my mouth. I feel myself lean into him, my need for him overriding all other thoughts in my head. "Joel..." When his lips part from mine his words flow from his mouth raggedly, and breathlessly. "I need to talk to you." He pulls slightly away and looks at me searching my face for my answer.
"Okay." I nod and for the first time I don't want him to talk, I want his lips to do nothing but move onto my own again.
He moves out of my grasp however, and walks over to the bed his shoes make soft padded thumps as they rise and fall against the soft carpet. As he sits down on the mattress he glances over at me and pats the area beside him. "Come over here and sit." He instructions with his faultless voice.
I inch toward the bed watching him all the while that I move. He seems discontent in his current position and so he moves so that his back is against the headboard and his knees are pulled to his chest. He seems infatuated with my movements, or maybe I'm just imagining it, imagining how his gaze is trailing my every step, my every movement. When I reach the edge of the bed I simply stop, my legs cease functioning, or perhaps it's my brain that stops working, it simply stops sending the messages to my legs and other parts to move.
"What's wrong?" his knees slide away from his chest and he begins to get up, concern fueling his actions.
Before my mind can even think to answer my lips move and words slide from them, "I forgot to call Benji."
He nods, understanding floods his face, but hidden beneath the understanding...there's disappointment. His face shows sign of some sudden realization, or perhaps it isn't a sudden one at all so much as it’s a dissatisfying and unavoidable one. He nods and gets up walking toward the bathroom, "The phones over there." He points out while barely making eye contact with me. I just stare at him wondering how my mouth had mouthed the wrong words, wondering why they've upset him.
"Thanks." The word's a whisper and I cant be sure he even he hears it. He moves farther from me, toward the brown door of the bathroom and for a second I remember the feeling of overwhelming hurt that overwhelmed me last time I lost him. "Billy..." I step toward him,one step, then two...
He turns and offers me a forced smile, "Call your brother Joel,I'm not going anywhere." And then he disappears into the small fluorescently lit bathroom.
I sit down on the bed and grab the phone, twisting its beige cord around my fingers as I dial Benji's number. It rings, incessantly until Benji's voice floats into my ears.
"Joel!?" He asks immediately into the receiver. I know at once that he's worried, and anxious and probably pissed, all of it is in that one word, in the way he says it.
"I'm okay Benji." I assure him, while my fingers wind around the cord faster the action becoming a newly acquired nervous habit.
"Well where are you?? I thought you were just going out for a drive, it's been at least six hours." He states, pointing out the obvious with a fear filled tone. He sounds like a worried parent,or a worried boyfriend.
"I'm with Billy." I drop the words wondering what reaction they will spawn from him.
There's silence on the other end for a moment and then he sighs, "For how long this time?" His question catches me off guard, my fingers falter on the cord and I stare at the wall blankly for a moment trying to find the meaning to his question.
"What do you mean?" I let my fingers fall away from the cord and I stand up pulling the phone off the table with me. I walk in circles around the room as I wait for his reply…I suppose its just another one of those habits of mine.
"I know you love him Joel,but it seems like it's all destined to fall apart."
I stop walking, I stop all movement entirely and I remember Billy's words of doom he had spoken only moments earlier...
'There's no happy ending for us Joel...',br>
"It wont,not if I don't let it. Hey uh, I only called to tell you I was okay,I'll be home soon okay?" I want off the phone now, I want to escape his voice, his words that mimic Billy's own.
"Joel, don't hang up. Cant you come here now, I'm still at Tony's you could bring Billy with you. I just..." He pauses as he gropes for words, I move toward the bed and sink down to the floor against it as I wait for him to continue. "I would prefer knowing you're here with us, if the cops see you with him..well it will only make them more suspicious that you were his accomplice...Come home Joel..." There's safety in Benji's words in his voice, he's the stability, the rock that keeps everything in my world grounded while Billy elevates and shakes the once secure foundation of my life. I begin to form words with my mouth but the bathroom door opens and Billy steps out, he feigns ignorance of me as he moves past the bed toward a corner of the room where his messenger bag is. He kneels on the floor in front of it and begins shuffling through it as though he's looking for one specific item.
"Look I have to go Benji,I'll see about coming home tonight okay?" I say distractedly as I watch Billy's frantic movements as he sifts through the contents of the bag.
“Yeah sure. I love you,I'll see you, well whenever." He hesitates before saying those final words "goodbye" I know he's trying to find something more to say, something to convince me to come back.
"I'm going to be okay Benji...I promise." They're meant to appease his nervousness but even I doubt the effect they will have on him.
"Yeah,I hope." He murmurs goodbye then and within seconds I'm listening to silence. I hang up the phone and make my way over to Billy, praying he's not mad at me. I know of course he has nothing to be mad at me about but still the thought lingers in my mind.
"What are you looking for?" I ask as I pause behind him my eyes moving to the clothes that's spilling out of his bag.
He turns his head and looks at me, "Something sharp." He states reading my reaction with his calm blue eyes. He moves toward me on his knees until he's kneeling directly in front of me.
"Why?" But his gaze tells me I should already know.
He slips his hands up to my belt and gently tugs on it trying to direct me to the ground with him. I move obediently to my knees allowing him to control every aspect of the moment. He pushes me onto my back almost as soon as my knees connect with the carpet. My desire for him is suddenly overwhelming and I have to restrain myself from reaching up and yanking him on top of me. He climbs over me, his thin thighs moving around my waist as he straddles me. I stare up at him with awe and fascination...and lust, all of them strengthening my need for him only more.
He pushes up his sleeves to reveal scars, beautiful scars that were undoubtedly etched into his skin with careful precision. Of course I had seen them before, but then it had been a mistake, now he was handing them to me, displaying them...giving me another piece of himself.
I stare at them only able to understanding that his showing them to me is a sign, a sign that he trusts me. "I never finished telling you about steve..." He says as he watches my eyes as they trail over the marks in his skin. He pushes his sleeves down suddenly and slides off of me, returning to his bag where he presumes to pull out a shiny razorblade. In seconds he's standing again and his hand is in front of me as he offers me assistance in my getting up. I take his hand and allow him to pull me to my feet, the carpet feels like jello beneath my feet, but perhaps the shakiness is caused by my nerves. I end up falling back against his chest, he moves so he's leaning against the wall his arms weave around me holding me stationary against him. "He played sick games with knives, he liked blood, it was his freaky fetish." He moves his lips onto my neck as he speaks, kissing up its smooth surface until his lips connect with my jaw. "I was so in love with him I couldn't see that he was just using me. I got sick of it eventually, he had some friends over...he always had friends over..." He pauses, his tone's become weak, almost as though his few sentences are draining him.
"It's okay,you don't have to continue." I say softly leaning my head back to brush my lips with his own neck.
He moves his neck away and moves his lips back onto the back of my neck. "I do though..." One of his hands move off my waist and slide up my shirt, moving to one of my nipples. I moan softly as he glides his index finger around it in slow circular motions, his lips now sucking on my skin. He's trying to distract himself I realize, minimize the pain of his story by touching me, feeling only me.
"They raped me, it was the first time I realized he didn't give a damn about me. He called me a pussy when I told him what had happened, and then he laughed. So I told him I was leaving, told him it was over. He told me I couldn't go though, he fucked me so hard that night I thought I wouldn't ever walk again..."
His words,I don't know what to think of them. They kill some little part of me, some part that had hoped he wasn't totally broken. I push his hand away and turn around till my face is inches from his. "Billy..." I lift my fingers, steady fingers to his lips...to his jaw. I pull him against me, knowing that at the moment holding him is the only thing I can do.
"I went to the police immediately, I guess I was probably sixteen by then. He had told me he'd kill me if I ever told anyone about the stuff we did together, the cutting games, the drugs, the stealing, the sex. He got put in prison, and I went home..." He moves his hand over mine and gently slides it away from his face. "I'm not special Joel, I'm not beautiful...I'm just a little more fucked up then the rest of the world."
"No Billy..." My mouth meets his, my breath undoubtedly scorches his lips as I move in closer, "It's the world that's fucked up,not you."
Tears sting my cheeks as my mouth meets Billy?s, hot tears, salty tears?Billy?s tears. My hands become useless, the only action I am capable of is tasting him. This is it, this is what a million tears have led me to. His hand moves down my chest and he gently tugs me toward the bed. He doesn?t have to say anything, every single word, everything we could ever say is in his gaze. We move in slow motion toward the bed, never once do I take my gaze off his face. I memorize where every one of his tear drops land as they streak down his cheeks. They?re beautiful, they?re tiny droplets that signify so much pain?so much hurt. I reach to wipe them away, perhaps they might coat my fingers giving me something tangible to hold onto, a piece of him the cops, the world?can?t take away. He pauses as my shaky fingers touch his cheek and his eyelids flutter closed for an instant. I wipe at the tears, letting their warmth invade my fingertips, when I pull my hand away his eyes gently reopen and he stares at my fingers. I try to smile, try to tell him with my eyes that his tears are beautiful?that everything about him is beautiful. He moves his gaze to me though, and he looks at me and with one look he tells me he understands. I nod and let him continue to guide me toward the bed. All at once we?re laying on a soft mattress his blue eyes locked on me as he moves his hands to the hem of my shirt. His fingers graze my skin as he glides my shirt over my head, I close my eyes and let the feeling consume me, the feeling of his touch, of his nearness to me. I wonder if I were to die this very second?would I even care? I move my own hands to his shirt but he pushes them away??Just let me touch you?? He whispers, a calm urgency hidden within his tone. So I let him?
He glides his hands up my sides and onto my chest, his long fingers explore every inch of me, moving over smooth skin and hard nipples. Despite our closeness, sex is suddenly the farthest thing from my mind. This moment, this kind of closeness is somehow more intimate then sex could ever be. He moves in and lets his mouth trail along my jaw, one of his hands move to the back of my neck and he tilts my head forward, his soft lips meeting mine. All over again I?m tasting him, making him mine with the simple action of moving my lips. I want to do the crying this time, let emotion pour out of my eyelids, but I cant force the tears, and suddenly I?m not sure if I?ll ever be able to cry again.
When his lips leave mine he slides his arms around me and moves beside me on the bed, he cuddles against me, his cheek moving to rest against my chest. ?I wish every night could be like this?? He whispers into the darkness. I don?t have to wonder what words he would have said, had he had the guts?they?re there, lingering in the air above our heads, three fucking words?
?But they cant??
We fall asleep that way, locked together, two parts of a whole, united if only momentarily.
I wake up later, much later. Billy?s already awake by the time my eyes open. Sunlight shining through the window bombards my eyes in thin sharp rays and I have to shield my eyes as I lazily tumble out of the bed.
?We have to go.? He states as tosses me my shirt. Still sleepy I stare at him in bewilderment. He offers me nothing, instead he moves over to his bag and pulls it over his shoulder. ?Are you coming with me?? He returns his gaze to me, there?s doubt in his gaze?
?Yeah of course?can we umm?can we go see Benji first? I mean?I need to say goodbye.?
?Joel?? A sad smile slides upon his face and he lets out a soft sigh. ?You don?t understand. This is it, I can?t go back there it?s too risky. I thought you understood that. You do understand right, we have to leave, and we can?t ever come back?? He bites his lip and waits in silence as I digest the words.
All at once I?m seven again?a child incapable of making any big decisions. There?s no doubt in my mind that I cant do this?I know I cant. I can?t choose between my brother and Billy. So I stare back at him begging my mind to move my mouth, begging my heart to make a choice.
He nods and steps forward, those familiar tears begging to fall from his eyes, ?At least this time we can say goodbye?? I realize he misinterpreted my silence or perhaps he didn?t misinterpret it at all?
He touches my jaw gently and I realize he?s trying not to break down in front of me, calm Billy, beautiful mysterious Billy?is trying not to break all over again.
I suddenly want to scream, rip out all my hair, break every pretty object in the room, but mostly I just want to tear out my heart and split it in half?give one piece to Benji and another to him.
?Billy?? But what can I say, can I tell him I choose him?can I tell him leaving everything I know behind isn?t going to destroy me?
He shakes his head and pushes his index finger to my lips, ?I never thought I?d have you this long Joel?I guess, I guess we finally ran out of time?? His finger falls from my lips and he leans forward, ?Goodbye?? He kisses me, and it?s like nothing I?ve felt before, it?s perfect, and amazing?.and it?s all we have left?one more kiss.
I don?t know how I force myself to pull away, but I do. When the kiss ends I step back allowing him room to move toward the door. I don?t think I can even describe the feeling of watching someone walk away?someone that means the world?more than the world to you. He doesn?t look at me after the kiss, I suppose I can?t blame him, it must be hard enough to leave as it is. He walks toward the door. I stare at his retreating form, my head screams for me to reach out and grab him?for me to reach out and yank him back to me.
?What are?? I pause, trying to gain more courage, my voice is shaky and I?m anything but not afraid. ?What are the chances that two people fall in love. I mean, I know it happens everyday?but what were the chances that it would happen to us?? I breathe in and hold my breath, if he doesn?t stop, if he doesn?t turn around?maybe I?ll suffocate to death.
He does stop, but he doesn?t turn, he moves hand to the knob and just freezes. ?Joel?don?t do this?? He bows his head leaning it against he door, defeat already soaking into his tone.
I step forward and lean into him letting my arms weave around him, my lips touching his neck gently, ?We won?t get caught Billy?please, I just have to see him one more time. One more time?and then?then I?m yours. I?ll go anywhere with you?I just, I have to do this.?
?And if I get caught???
We leave the hotel. We, him and me.
The streets are alive in the day, we walk past the same stores from the night before, but now they overflow with people. Pedestrians pass us, cars fly by?it?s almost as though the world changed overnight. Billy grabs my hand, his pace quickening as we get closer to my car. I can tell he?s scared, and why shouldn?t he be, if one person were to recognize him?just one person and it could all be over. I half expect my car to be missing from the spot where I parked it, downtown isn?t exactly the safest place on earth, it?s still there though and we approach it quickly. In seconds we?re back on the road driving in the direction of Tony?s house where Benji is undoubtedly still hanging out. Billy seems uneasy the entire ride, he keeps looking out the window, his eyes sweeping back and forth over the roads.
?Are we almost there?? He asks impatiently as I stop at a red light. He rummages through his bag and pulls out his black beanie, in seconds he has it securely on his head, a few black strands fall upon his cheek and over his eyes as he pulls it over his head. He ignores the strands and looks at me impatiently pleading me with his eyes to tell him yes.
?About ten more minutes.? It?s not a lie of course, I don?t think I would even know how to lie to him if I tried to.
The red light turns green and I start driving again. My thoughts distract me, I wonder if I can really go through with this. Can I really give up my life with my brother and everything else I?m used to, to run off with Billy?
?Fuck!? It?s Billy?s voice that yanks me from my distracted thoughts, Billy?s voice and the familiar sounds of sirens. I realize at once I?m speeding, and the sirens most likely belong to a cop, a cop who in seconds is going to pull me over?
I panic, I turn to Billy begging him to tell me what to do. Do I pull over, do I speed up?
Defeat floods his face and he shakes his head, ?Pull over Joel.?
I nod slowly, and almost immediately his hand falls on mine and he leans in kissing my cheek gently. ?I?m so sorry.? I mumble to him, but he pulls away and shakes his head.
?Don?t be?it was always supposed to be this way Joel?it?s just our fate I guess.?
?Yeah.? But my word means nothing, it?s just there, a broken word with no meaning, a sound made by the movement of my tongue within my mouth, the vibration of my vocal chords.
I pull the car over, its probably the hardest thing I?ll ever do?I pull it over and we wait. We wait for the burly officer to reach our car, we watch him through the mirrors as he walks up to us. In my head I create all kinds of scenarios as to how the moment might go?my favorite one is where I grab the officers gun and I blow my own brains out?but I?m sure that?s only my favorite because it ensures me no more hurting?well emotional at least.
It?s funny the things you notice when you?re truly scared. I wait for the cop to speak, for anything to come out of his mouth but everything is moving painfully slow. I want to turn my gaze toward Billy, look at him and memorize him just in case this is our last moment together but I cant take my eyes off the cop. He looks like a dozen other people, teachers at school, pedestrians. He has one of those faces that blends in with all others making him more than a nobody then a true individual. I clench the steering wheel, beads of sweat are undoubtedly forming on my brow?I?m scared, so scared. I wonder if he can sense it, my fear that is. I wonder if my eyes reflect it like TV screens, or mirrors.
?License and registration.? He states while stretching out his hand, his eyes roam over us. They?re brown, his eyes that is, a dull lifeless brown, a bored brown. He probably does this everyday, its very possible he became a cop because he wanted adventure, fun?but now he?s almost forty and he has yet to even use his gun?its there all of that, it?s in his eyes, in the expressions he wears so heavily like weights pulling at his face.
I turn to Billy and try to move my mouth, ?The glove compartment?open it.? I fumble over the words but Billy somehow understands what I?m saying. He moves his long fingers to the small compartment and pulls out the forms while I move my own fingers into my wallet to retrieve my license. I can feel the sky darkening around us, almost like some morbid foreshadowing. I realize it?s going to rain, it?s in the air?it has that damp smell that?s only recognizable minutes before a down pour. I slide my fingers over my license, it?s surface is smooth beneath my fingertips, and I grip it between my index and pointer finger as I pull it out of my wallet. As I turn back to the cop I can already see the first few raindrops as they fall onto his face. He blinks as one hits his eyelashes and invades his eye, his gaze moves off us and towards the sky.
?Looks like it?s going to be pouring down any minute.? He states distractedly. I notice the slightest hint of a southern accent and I wonder briefly where he might of originated from.
?Yeah.? I mumble as I follow his gaze toward the sky. The clouds overhead have darkened and hang ominously overhead warning us perhaps of something none of us can even fathom. I notice nearby trees swaying furiously as wind whips through their branches scattering their leaves haphazardly onto the road. It seems the world around us has gone silent, and all we can hear is the silent whisper of the wind telling a tale of other lands, lands it only just recently flew over. I move my gaze back to the cop, his short hair is ruffled, and it seems to dance on his scalp as the wind moves it back and forth. ?Here?the information you need.? Shaking I hand him my license and my registration forms, he takes them quickly and glances over them before handing them back.
?Y?all were speeding?I?m gonna? have to give you a ticket.? He says, his accent more noticeable with his southern slang. He pulls out a pad and begins to write, I follow the movement of the pen, back and forth across the small yellow paper. Droplets begin falling heavier, they leave splotches in his ink and he writes faster trying not to destroy all that he?s written so far. Finally he pulls the piece of paper off and tells me to sign it, I do so with a shaky hand making my handwriting barely discernable.
?You boys oughta? get off the road, I wouldn?t wanna? drive in this kind of weather.? He says as he takes the sheet back from me and hands me my own copy. I almost want to breathe in a sigh of relief, if he hadn?t recognized Billy by this point it was highly unlikely he would at all.
?We?ll do that sir.? I reply with no intention to comply to it at all. I just want him gone and this moment over with, the tension is killing me. I hear Billy shift next to me and then his hand finds mine, I relax slightly as he gently adds pressure to my hand as if to assure me everything is okay.
?Okay?well that?s all, hopefully I wont have to be seein? you boys anytime soon.? He smiles and gives a sort of a salute as he walks away from the car. I watch him for a few minutes, almost incapable of believing he?s actually leaving?that it was all so easy. I roll up my window and turn to Billy, when at last the cops car has disappeared down the road.
?We got lucky.? Billy states, his tone filled with seriousness. He moves his hands to his head and pulls his beanie down farther so that he?s concealing his eyebrows. ?Let?s just hurry, we need to get to Benji?s before any more shit happens.?
I nod, but my thoughts are distracted as large rain drops begin to pelt down from the sky. I immediately roll up my window as some of the cold liquid droplets intrude upon our dry sanctuary. For a moment we just sit, staring at the rain as it slams onto the window, sliding down in wavy lines, blurring our vision of the road, our vision of the world outside. There?s something beautiful about it, the way it moves without bounds, fluid slinking into spaces nothing else can reach?places no one else will ever go. I push my finger to the window feeling the coldness of the rain through the clear glass. I trace the rain as it moves down the window?.so beautiful?
?Joel?come on lets go.? Billy?s hand finds my shoulder and I turn to him immediately coming out of my trance.
I nod and return my hands to the steering wheel, the exact moment I start the car thunder crashes overhead followed seconds later by bright light that seems to rip a hole in the sky. It startles me, but I only jump slightly.
?Do you want me to drive?? Concern is embedded in his tone, in his features. I nod slowly and turn off the engine. I don?t know why I?m suddenly scared to drive, I guess it?s the weather, or maybe it has to do with what the cop said, all I know is I always feel safer when my life is in someone else?s hands and right now is no different.
?Okay?on the count of three run for it.? He says as he moves his hand to his door knob getting ready to push it open to run to my side of the car.
?okay?are you sure you want to do this, you?re going to get soaked.? I ask with worry, it?s strange how I?m probably more concerned about him then myself?but I suppose in reality it isn?t strange at all.
?It?s fine?.don?t worry about me? He says with a small smile lighting his features, ?Okay?one?? A clap of thunder shakes the sky overhead but I don?t jump this time, instead I move my hand to my own door and wait for him to continue his countdown. ?Two?? He opens his door slightly and I do the same, wind pounds against it almost ripping it away from my grasp and off the side of the car, but I stay still waiting for the last number in our countdown. ?And?.? He leans forward kissing me hastily before dismissing that final number from his mouth???three.? As soon as the number leaves his mouth he?s out of the car, I follow his lead instantly, pulling myself from the seat running to the opposite side of the car. We nearly collide into each other as we move in opposite directions past one another. Rain beats at me as I move, pricking me in a million places? but moments later I?m back in the car. Breathing heavily I turn to him, he?s wet now, drenched, and I?m aware my own clothes is just as soaked as his own. He meets my gaze and smiles again?and God his smile is beautiful and so real for once. I feel myself melting under it, becoming worthless beneath his perfect gaze.
?See?I?m okay.? He assures me as he leans in his finger cupping my chin as he slips his lips over mine. Our wet faces slide against each other, our mouths becoming one for the moment that they meet. When he pulls away his eyes linger on me and for a moment I think he?s going to speak but he just leans in kissing me one more time before starting the car.
I lean my head against the window and watch him, carefully inspecting his every movement as he drives. ?I was scared?so scared.? I whisper to no one really. ?I thought that cop would recognize you, I thought it was over.? I say this time to him, watching his mouth as I wait for him to reply.
?So did I?? But he says nothing more after that and we drive in silence, our thoughts muted by the heavy rain overhead.
I eventually fall asleep only to be awoken hours later by bright lights. They seem to stare dead on into the car, huge lights like eyes wide open glaring in on us. My eyes blink as I adjust to them?but there?s no time to get used to them, our car swerves at it avoids making contact with the vehicle behind those large glowing eyes. I fall against Billy, he screams something about a seat belt, but we swerve again and my head collides with something hard, something cold and all at once I can feel or see nothing?
Seconds, maybe minutes?or maybe hours later I wake up. I feel rain, wet slick droplets pounding on my forehead, slinking into my eyes?blurring my vision. I blink but even that task in itself is nearly impossible?I?m cold, so cold and each droplet of rain seems to burn like acid. ?Joel?? Billy?s voice. ?I called 911?you?re going to be okay?I wont leave you, I wont leave you.? I can barely feel his arms around me?I can barely feel anything but the rain, the cold rain and the hard floor.
For a moment something clicks in my mind and I mumble a pathetic, ?No?? to him. He can?t stay here, he cant hold me, he cant??The police??
?Shh?? He pulls me closer, my eyes slam shut, blinking is now impossible I just don?t have the energy for it, and the stinging of the rain in my eyes was too much. ?I know?but it doesn?t matter anymore?I cant leave you Joel?I cant.?
And with those few words Billy was telling me he would sacrifice everything...all for me.
He doesn't leave me. He stays until my eyes grow too heavy to pry open, till my head feels as though it's going to explode. His lips are a constant on my own as he tries to keep me awake until the ambulance arrives. I try to stay awake of course, I listen to his voice, begging me to be okay. I feel his fingers on my cheeks wiping away blood and debris from the crash. I want to open my eyes, look at him, touch him but sleep is so alluring, it's hands are like warm blankets, softly they envelope me pulling me under, and all at once there's darkness. Slowly however, colors are born from the darkness. Colors that twist and distort themselves to form images, pictures in my mind. Nothing make sense, the scenes that play out in my head flow erratically with no specific beginning or end. There's no message hidden within them, they have no relevancy to anything really, but they're all I can see... These images of people I don't know, people I might never know, doing and saying things that mean absolutely nothing to me. That's what dreaming is though, seeing things you don't understand, you might never understand. There's something safe about it though, the dreaming that is, within sleeps arms nothing upsets me. I?m immune to all other thoughts in my head, all obstacles in my life...I suppose with sleep comes ignorance,but at the moment from my ignorance I achieve perfect contentment and hope never to wake. But hope is nothing but a false wish, something that only works in fairy tales or biblical stories. Hope,it's bullshit.
The images begin to fade as sleep slowly releases me from it's hold and all at once everything is blank again. Blank and colorless, hollow. I'm suddenly scared to open my eyes though...images flood my mind for a moment, and all at once I remember the rain and the crash. Everything had happened so fast, too fast to describe while it was happening. I remember Billy though and how he had held me afterward, his long arms locked around me,I had thought he would never let go. He did though because no longer can I feel his familiar touch or smell his unique scent. Instead a familiar hospital smell intrudes upon my nostrils and cold air clings to the places he had touched.
I blink letting my eyes adjust slowly to the intrusion of light that seeps into them as they open. When I can see clearly I let my eyes roam the room I'm in. It's a small room, white, a clean white, too clean. There's a window in the room but no light shines in from it, the blinds are pulled tightly shut giving me no hints as to whether its night or day. There's one chair in the room and I can't help but notice the gray blanket that's bundled upon it...almost as though someone had been using it. There's other things in the room as well, a t.v, a dry erase board...you know the usual hospital room stuff. I try to find something to look at, something to keep my mind occupied anything, so that I wont wonder where he is...where Billy is. I finally cast my gaze back on the window, I can't help but want to get up and open the blinds. I attempt to get up but I almost immediately realize I can't...the moment I try to move a wave of nausea consumes me and the only thing I can think about is what my lungs would look like if I were to throw them up, because that's what I feel like doing right now. I feel like throwing up everything in my body.
The sound of the doorknob turning sends my gaze instantly to the door. I'm suddenly wishing a nurse will walk into the room so that she might shoot some magic drug into my veins to knock me unconscious for a few more hours...because sleep is the only thing I want right now. "But it is an issue Tony...?" Benji...he enters the room talking into his cell phone as he does so. He doesn't seem to notice I'm awake, or that I'm even in the room, his attention is solely on his conversation with Tony. I wonder what they?re talking about but I don't dare to open my mouth. He shuts the door behind him with his free hand and sweeps his gaze over to me, surprise lighting his features as he does so. "Tony...I have to go, we'll talk about this later okay?" He pauses for a moment, moving over to me as he does so, a smile instantly appearing on his lips. "I know,I know...I love you too. Goodnight." He pulls the phone away from his ear and shoves it into his back pocket, his attention fully on me now that he's ended his phone call.
"Joel,how you feeling?" He asks attentively while moving to sit next to me by the bed. He looks tired, his eyeliner is smeared around his eyes so that it looks more like circles rather than his usual triangles. He smells like coffee, the scent lingering all around him as though he had just bathed in the thick brown liquid. I wonder why Tony isn't with him...shouldn't he be here clinging onto Benji like a vine?
"Okay I guess..." Of course talking about my health isn't the conversation I have in mind, I want to ask about Billy...I need to ask about Billy. "Where's everyone else?" A more subtle way to ask about Billy without having to directly state the question that is eating away at me.
"Only one of us could stay the night with you." He replies while moving his fingers to my cheek. His fingers are coarser than Billy's and I'm aware it's from his guitar playing, a talent I lack with every fiber in my body. "You got lucky, you didn't break anything. You did hit your head against the window pretty bad, the doctor was afraid you were going to go into a coma..." He pauses and bites his lip, tears welling in his eyes. "I was so scared Joel." It's a confession for him, it shows me his vulnerability, his love for me.
"But I didn't...go into a coma that is." I offer him a smile, but it's fake, fake and crooked. The simple task of smiling takes too many muscles, too much thought.
He sighs and wipes away the tears, the task only serves to smudge his makeup more, and didn't." His smile mimics mine, except there's something more real to his, something a little less broken. "Umm....I'm supposed to give you this." He states awkwardly while moving his hand to his back pocket. I wonder for a moment what he's going to hand me, I try to peer into his pocket to sneak a peek before he pulls the item out but I can barely move my head without wanting to throw up. So I lay quietly and wait, all the while my mind is churning it's wheels trying to guess what it might be. Finally he extends his hand to me a small piece of crumpled paper falling from it into my own palm. I stare at it, almost afraid to open it, I don't have to guess who it's from... I know.
"I didn't read it..." He offers softly, his tone fitting perfectly with the solemn attitude of my mood.
"Oh..." I don't think I even heard his words though, this piece of paper...this crumpled little piece of paper might be all that's left of my world. "He's gone isn't he?" I say distractedly my gaze never wavering from the paper in my hand.
"Joel..." But what can he say save for yes or no? "He stayed until the ambulances came, until the police came..." He bites back the rest of his words his eyes screaming at me to stop asking questions because he doesn?t want to be the one to totally destroy me. He doesn't want to be the bearer of bad news?
"Yeah?" It's the only word I can make out right now, God I want to cry. Why the fuck can't I cry? I open the sheet of paper slowly, realizing instantly that it's a piece of a concert flier I had laying in my car, I turn it over to the back and in black ink I find his handwriting. Some of it's smudged in places where water, rain undoubtedly has hit it, and I realize he must have written it outside probably seconds before the cops arrived... I travel my eyes over the letters, but they blur and blend into each other as my mind refuses to read them. "Read it...read it to me Benji." I whisper giving up on reading it myself. He nods slowly and murmurs a soft, "Are you sure?" My reply is almost softer than his question... "Yes."
He takes the small sheet of paper from me and glances over it for a moment before clearing his throat to read it to me. "Joel..." Benji pauses immediately as if he's afraid to read the rest of it, as if he's afraid of the impact it might have on my already hollow world. "Forget about me..." He pauses again and I wonder if that's it, if that's all he had left me with. I could deal with that though, just those three words...I could deal with those as long as he hadn't said those other three...
"Let me fade from your mind like a bad dream...and keep only these three words with you...I...love...you. Billy." Benji looks at me after the words slip off his tongue, he's anxious to see my reaction, so afraid of how the simple words might have affected me. "That's it, that's all it says."
"Oh." Words cannot describe how I'm feeling, a dozen knives to the heart would be better than this pain. Nothing in my mind is coherent, I cant understand anything suddenly but the pain. Hot tears sting my eyes... I'm crying finally crying. I let them pour, I don't bother to wipe at them. I let them erupt from my eyes, my face distorting as uncontrollable sobs fall from my mouth. My chest heaves as I cry, and I'm almost certain this is worst than dying.
"Joel... I'm so sorry." Benji says sincerely, but his words do nothing to appease my pain, if he wanted to help me he would fucking kill me, at this point watching my own blood ooze to the floor would be entertaining.
I sob louder, ignoring his voice, ignoring him. He doesn't know what it's like to have everything beautiful turn ugly, everything wonderful be destroyed. He has Tony, his gorgeous anorexic boyfriend with the huge house. He has something permanent, something concrete...and I, what do I have?
I have a million lonely nights to look forward, nights where sleep wont even claim me because all my thoughts, everything will be on him, on Billy.
"Joel please...please don't cry. You always knew it was going to end like this..."
"No..." I manage to say through my sobs, "I have... I have to see him Benji, I never said goodbye...I never..." My words are drowned however by more sobs, and more heaving. I close my eyes tightly trying to conjure an image of him in my mind but I'm not functioning properly and all I see is black space.
"He..." Why does he keep pausing, why does everything out of his mouth have to be something bad? "He doesn't want that...to see you that is. Just let it rest Joel, forget about him...please? Otherwise this is going to devour you, its going to take over your life, I don't want that, I don't want to see you ruined over some guy."
Why don't you just kill me Benji, one more word out of his mouth and I just might die. I wonder if people do die from emotional heart ache. Maybe I'll be the first person who does. "Some guy???!!" I scream the words through my tears and sobs, they sound hoarse, raspy from all my crying. "Tell me you wouldn't be acting the same way if Tony left you, tell me it wouldn't kill you. God dammit Benji fucking tell me!!"
He didn't expect my outburst, his expression turns to one of shock...and something else, guilt.
He leans forward and wipes at my falling tears, "Joel...I'm sorry. You're right though... I'd be acting the exact same way." He moves his other hand to my hair, pushing back strands that have fallen into my face. "For what it's worth,I'll help you...I'll do anything to help you get him back."
I nod slowly, hoping nausea wont consume me and luckily this time it doesn't, "Thank you..." The words are the most I can offer anyone right now...the most I might ever be able to offer anyone again.
I thought I was drowning today, I could feel salty water filling my lungs. I attempted screaming, but water just flowed in faster drowning out my sobs, my cries for help. It was a dream of course, Benji woke me up, his voice comforting me softly as I described the dream to him. I blame the dreams on insanity...an insanity caused by my inability to cope with Billy's absence. Benji blames them on the medicine the nurses pump into me, the medicines that are meant to make the nausea go away, the medicines that really just keep me from being awake. I feel like a zombie, someone who's dead and has yet to realize it...I wish I was dead though...but that of course is no big secret.
"He okay?" Tony enters the room, this is the millionth time I've seen him during the past few days...He's around more than usual. His presence surprisingly doesn't bug me, when he's around Benji's happier. He smiles more, bigger smiles then he can offer me. I guess being around me depresses him, I'm like a broken toy, one he's incapable of fixing.
Benji turns as Tony walks over to us, I wish I still had someone to turn that fast for, to look that forward to seeing. "I guess...he just had a dream, he's a little shaken is all." Benji replies, his eyes never leaving Tony once as he speaks. I let my own gaze roam to Tony, today's one of his better days, the dark circles under his eyes are all but non-existent and he actually has a bagel in his hand. I wonder for a moment if the bagel is a prop, its only function to convince Benji that Tony is in fact attempting to eat. I highly doubt he's going to even take one bite from it, but it's the thought that counts...or something like that, right?
"A dream...huh, what was it about?" Tony asks now feet away from Benji and me.
I watch Benji for his reply, I don't bother speaking, I don't even know if I exist when they're together. I think I just fade into the background, becoming more of a piece of furniture, an object rather than anything else. Benji doesn't answer immediately instead he reaches out tugging Tony gently onto his lap, his arms instantly weaving around him as though he?s afraid at any moment he could lose him. "He thought he was drowning?"
But he's wrong. I hadn't thought I was drowning, I had been drowning, I've been drowning this whole time...and I'm still waiting for someone to pull me from the water.
Tony nods and looks at me, his eyes full of pity, I'm sure my eyes reflect the same thing in them. Pity that is...for him, for me...for Billy. "It's no big deal, I'm fine...it was just a dream." I assure him softly, trying my best to sound sincere.
Tony smiles and idly runs his fingers over Benji's, "Well that's good news at least..."
It's funny how when everything else has turned to shit, the littlest things turn into good news. I nod, "Yeah I guess." I turn my attention to Benji getting ready to ask the question I ask everyday...the one he must know is coming. "Did you talk to Billy today?" I don't know why I ask it, I suppose it's one of my human flaws...no matter how many times I hear the same reply, no matter how many times...I'll still ask him every day.
Benji sighs, he knew it was coming, he always knows its coming, but he always sighs. It's a routine I guess, another routine to add to all the rest. "He still won't talk to you Joel. Don't make me keep going up there...it kills him to hear me mention your name, and it kills me to have to mention it. Just let it rest, this is how he wants it to be, he doesn't want you interfering, he just wants this whole thing settled, even if it means his never leaving jail." This is a new one, this reply I mean. I can see it kills Benji to say it, he knows even as he says it that's its going to break me even more.
I just stare, stare back at him trying to fathom what I did wrong. Where did I fuck up so that my whole world would fall apart this badly? So Billy doesn't want to see me, that's nothing new, I get that reply everyday...but the rest, all of that's new. "Okay." I murmur slowly, all the while thinking about how wrong Billy is. I know what he thinks, he probably assumes it will be easier on both of us if I don't go see him in jail, if I don't visit him everyday. He's wrong of course, insanely wrong. I've already decided that as soon as I'm released from the hospital I'm going to see him, I'll make him see me, no matter what.
"Okay?" Benji looks at me suspiciously, he's probably wondering why I'm being so calm, by now I should be in hysterics, screaming at him that I have to see Billy.
"Yeah...I'll forget about him." Even though I know it's a lie, it still stings, it still burns my throat, my tongue, my lips as it oozes out of my mouth.
Benji nods. He doesn't believe me, I can tell. It's one of those twin things I suppose, or a brother thing... "The doctors say you can get out in a few more days, they want you to have regained full health before they let you go." He says, changing the subject quickly to save us from a moment of awkward silence. "We're going to be staying at Tony's house for a while...you can hang out with Jere and Matt, they're really cool guys once you get to know them." He's trying to cheer me up but all I can think about is how I don?t want to hang out with the cool guys Jere and Matt, I want to go home, our home. I want things to be like they were, I want him to be just my brother, not Tony's boyfriend...my brother, just my brother. That's selfish of course, I'm being selfish, I'm such an asshole, I probably don't deserve to exist.
"You can have any room in the house..." Tony adds with a perfect grin spread across his also perfect face.
I'm sure it's easy for him to smile when he's wrapped in Benji's arms situated comfortably in his lap. I'm sure nothing even touches him, pain or heartache...nothing at all, because he has Benji... he might as well just have the fucking world.
"Thanks...I'm uh sure I'll have a lot of fun." I insert a smile and pour on more sincerity, they buy it or at least they pretend to buy it because now neither of them are looking at me...Tony is sliding off Benji's lap, the bagel of course is still in perfect condition, Tony never intended to eat it. "I have to go baby, I have to get to school." He mumbles to Benji as he moves to his feet. Benji gets up too of course, his arm slipping around Tony's waist immediately and his lips roaming to Tony's ear. "Let me walk you...to your car." He whispers softly. I take it all in with envy and that familiar pity. It's funny how you can have such contrasting feelings toward people and other things. They're so happy together though, so happy, and I hate that...that's the part I envy. The part where Benji is in love with Tony, the part where I'm losing my brother. But there's that other part too, the part of me that looks at Tony and sees nothing but ribs, and hollow eyes...the part of me that sees there's something very wrong with Mr. Perfect, something that could inevitably ruin both of them.
They move toward the door, Benji's hands a constant on Tony's hips, his mouth never shying away from his face. They stop at the door though, Tony stops actually his mouth moving to Benji's one last time before exiting the room. "Stay with him...he needs you." He mumbles into Benji's mouth. I watch of course, there's nothing else for me to look at, nothing else but white walls, and closed blinds. The kiss seems to last decades, Benji's hands roam Tony's sides and finally move up the front of his shirt...and that of course is when Benji pulls away.
"Tony..." He has that tone, the same one he always has when he is reminded of Tony's disorder. "When did you last eat." I notice the bagel is gone from Tony's hand, he must have thrown it away at some point when I wasn't watching him. I also notice Tony's lack of a reply. People with disorders never want to acknowledge them, much less talk about them.
"I dunno...last night?" Tony shrugs, he's trying to play it off as though it's no big deal" but we all know it is...and we all know Tony definitely didn't eat last night, or probably anytime yesterday or today.
Benji sighs, he's so much better with dealing with things than I am. I?d have gone psycho on Tony, screamed at him, or just broken down in tears, but Benji's so composed...so unlike me. "Tony...don't do this to me. I have enough to deal with...don't do this to me." He begs softly, his tone like that of someone on the verge of a breakdown.
Tony nods, his eyes glazing over, "I know...I know you cant...and I want to. I want to eat...its just so hard Benji."
Benji's arms are around him pulling Tony against his chest before Tony can even shed a tear. Tony cries and Benji comforts him. It's beautiful really, the way Tony clings to him aware of his own weakness, his own inability to fix his disorder. So this is love...this is what I had given up only days before, this is what I wanted back...br>
"Hey uh Tony..." Matt, the brown haired one with the tattoos and piercings...Tony's cousin. He moves into the doorway confusion etched into his features as he takes in the scene in front of him. There's someone else with him, an adorable brunette, he's tall and thin, with brown hair falling into his eyes. I don't recognize him, there's something sweet about him, I can tell just by looking at him that he's one of those people everyone likes. "We kinda need to get to school..."
Tony moves away from Benji, "I guess I'll come by after school." He offers with a soft smile. Benji just nods and wipes away the remaining tears streaking Tony's cheeks.
"I love you..." He says as his hand drops away from Tony's cheek his gaze not once faltering.
"I know...I love you too." They kiss again then, a soft kiss, a needy kiss, and then Tony turns to his cousin and the other guy. "I'm assuming you guys are back together?" He asks, his voice already sounding happier.
Matt shrugs, "Yeah uh...I apologized and shit." The guy next to him, the one I'm going to assume is Jere, rolls his eyes and yanks Matt toward him grabbing his crotch playfully as he plants a big kiss on his cheek.
"He realized he couldn't live without me." He laughs as he pulls away from Matt with a huge grin. I decide I like him, there's something refreshing about him, something lively and so void of all angst.
Matt laughs and shoves him away, "You're such a slut." But I can tell even as he says it he's just playing around, he loves Jere, its obvious, even if he's not the type to say things like that...it's there anyway.
"You love it!!" Jere laughs and pulls Matt by the waist out of the room, "We'll be in the car...you don't have to hurry Tony." He says with a huge grin as he all but forces matt from the room with him. I want to laugh or smile but somehow I don't know how, so I just sit taking it all in.
Tony doesn't stay long after they leave, he mumbles something about getting to school, and Matt and Jere fucking in the car...I don't know, I guess I stop listening after a while. I simply don't care, I just want to sleep until they let me out...until I can go see Billy.