The world condensed to fit into a box, that’s what TV is to me. I watch the flickering pictures in front of me. Scenes from other people’s lives occupy the screen. Bleached smiles and ridiculous situations are a constant in the shows playing before me. I finally mute the television and think up my own dialogue for the characters in the shows. Instead of the clichéd words, ‘I love you’ I try to imagine a million other things the lead character could be saying to the leggy blonde in his arms. Nothing comes to my mind though…nothing. So my thoughts begin to roam and I start to wonder just how long it will be until Tony and Benji leave. An unsettling thought begins to creep into my mind, and all at once I’m wondering what I’ll do if they end up not going anywhere at all tonight. I suppose I could just sneak out, stealthily slide out the front door when no ones looking. I know I wont though, I’ll wait, wait until they leave because I’m aware otherwise I’d likely get caught.
I shift positions constantly, attempting to get comfortable knowing I wont. How can I be comfortable when I can’t even relax? My mind is a million places, and my eyes…they’re now glued to the door. I’m waiting for it to open. I’m waiting for Benji and Tony to walk in because I know Benji would never leave before checking up on me at least one more time. It’ll be predictable, Benji will ask me if I’m sure I don’t want to go when really he’ll want to ask me if I’ll be okay. Tony will act concerned and maybe he really will be. He’ll probably ask me to come too even though I’m positive being alone with Benji is all he really wants. I could probably predict their every word, every action right now.
The door knob jiggles and I automatically move my gaze back to the TV and feign interest in it . As soon as my eyes land on the screen I hear the door open and then the soft sound of shoes moving across carpet. “Your brother told me to tell you he left…he’ll be back later or something.” So much for predictability. I move my eyes off the screen and find none other than Matt Lovato in front of me. I’m surprised he’s not surrounded in his usual cloud of smoke. He moves toward me and sinks onto the carpet beside me, his eyes trailing over me lazily. I’m tempted to ask him where his boyfriend is but something about his demeanor tells me Jere is not a topic he’s very interested in at the moment. “So what are your plans for tonight?” He asks while dragging his finger in slow circles across the carpet. I watch his finger as though I’m memorized by it….of course my only real reason for focusing so strictly on his finger is so that I wont notice just how gorgeous he really is. It’s funny how the human mind functions, I’m in love with Billy, obsessed and addicted to him and yet I can still notice that Tony’s cousin is amazingly attractive…there’s something not right about that.
“Uh well actually…I was planning on going out.” As soon as I say it I realize the words might have been a mistake. How do I know Benji hasn’t talked to him, he could have told Matt to watch me, make sure I don’t go anywhere. That’s probably why Matt is here now, nobody really wants my company…I’m just a problem, one that needs to be watched.
“Oh, that’s cool. I just thought you might want to hang out with me tonight. Jere had to go home and shit so I have nothing really to do.” He stops the movement of his finger on the floor and gets up. “But since you have plans I’ll leave you alone.” He smiles and walks toward the door. I expect him to leave right away but instead he leans against the doorway a slow smirk spreading to his lips. I can’t help but look at him this time, he’s so similar to Tony. He’s skinny but not painfully so, and I imagine with blonde hair he’d be identical to his cousin. He shoves his hands in his pockets, the action makes his long shorts sink lower on his waist revealing the smooth skin of his lower torso. “Be careful though…I might rape you while you’re sleeping tonight.” It’s a joke, but his tone is coated with suggestiveness. I realize immediately this is probably one of the reasons him and Jere break up so often. It’s weird because I know he loves Jere and he knows it too, there are just some things that are blatantly obvious.
“You wouldn’t really though would you?” I inquire while looking deep into his gaze for the answer I already know he’s going to give me.
His look turns to one of confusion, my tone was serious, void of humor and all at once I think he realizes I have him figured out. He laughs slightly and shakes his head, “No, I guess you’re right I really wouldn’t.” He pulls his hands out of his pockets and sinks to the floor with his back braced against the doorway. “I really wouldn’t…I just, I see a hot guy and I flirt, it’s not really intentional.” He shrugs and leans over playing with the shoelaces of his worn in Vans sneakers.
“It bugs him doesn’t it?” I push myself off the floor and move closer to him. I end up positioning myself feet away from him once again on the floor.
“Not when he’s stoned…” He trails off and continues to play with his shoelaces, continually looping them around his fingers. “But when he’s sober…” A deep sigh escapes his lips and he moves his gaze to meet my own. “I let him down, over and over again. I mean all I have to do is keep my eyes off other guys, and keep my flirting restricted to him, but I always fuck it up. I mean, I say shit to other guys and it doesn’t even mean anything but he doesn’t get that. He broke up with me last time because he thought I had cheated on him, he always thinks I’m cheating on him and that’s so fucking stupid because I never would.” So even Jere and Matt had problems, nothing so drastic as my own of course…still, behind their happy exterior their relationship was just as fucked up as everyone else’s.
“Can’t you just stop, in front of him at least. I mean, is it really necessary for you to flirt with everyone?”
He continues to look at me hopelessly in silence, however within his silence I find his answer. The obviousness of it simply prohibited him from mentioning it aloud.
He cant stop, it’s a flaw, a character flaw that’s embedded inside him. If he didn’t act like he did, then he wouldn’t necessarily be Matt, the flirting is as much a part of him as every other part of his personality.
I nod and pull my legs out from under me pushing myself off the floor and standing up. “I guess all you can really do is stay with him…stay and hope he’ll learn to trust you.” It’s all I can offer him, after all I’m not exactly an expert at relationships. Of course I feel bad though, I wish I could have said something really usefully, perhaps something even clever.
“Yeah…” He pushes himself off the floor as well and straightens his shorts. “Hey umm…thanks for listening to me rant. I’ll uh let you get back to whatever it is you were doing.” He starts out the doorway but turns to give me a final wave and a grateful grin. “You’re a cool guy Joel.” He laughs, his chest rising and falling as the rich sound leaves his throat. “And yes I did mean for that to sound insanely lame.” And with another wave and grin he’s gone.
I feel something unfamiliar on my face, and realize immediately I’m smiling. It feels odd smiling now that Matt’s gone, odd and almost wrong. I let the smile dissolve upon my face knowing in reality I still have nothing to smile about. I catch my reflection in a mirror as I move closer to the door. I still look like shit of course, well worst than shit probably. I can’t see Billy like this, he’d probably bludgeon his eyes until they bled crimson red and he went blind just to get my image out of his mind. I decide I need to take a shower the only problem with that idea is I don’t have any clothes here nor do I know which shower I’m supposed to use since there are undoubtedly a million strewn about the house. The only option I really have is to go look for Matt again, maybe he’ll let me borrow some of his clothes or something. I move out of the room and back through the hall. Pictures clutter the walls, paintings of pets and gardens. There’s no real family pictures though, there’s a few of Tony when he was younger but they’re the kind of pictures you have done professionally. There’s no pictures capturing happy family moments, pictures taken solely to remember a moment in time when everything was perfect. It’s sad in a way. I find myself moving slower and slower down the hall so that I might inspect every picture, trying to find any bit of warmth in at least one of them. One picture in particular catches my attention. I stop directly in front of it and gaze into it. It’s of Matt and Tony when they were younger. It’s another one of those professional looking pictures that was without a doubt taken in some mall or studio. Both Matt and Tony are smiling, their hair dark, Tony’s void of it’s usual bleach. There’s innocence locked permanently into their gazes, immortalized by the simple flash of a light and click of a camera.
“I take it you’re secretly a pedophile.” Laughter and amusement layers Matt’s tone and once again I find myself grinning.
“No.” I turn around expecting to feel embarrassed that he caught me staring so intently at the picture of him and his cousin. I don’t though…feel embarrassed that is. “Actually I was looking for you…I need to borrow some clothes, and maybe you could tell me which shower to use.” It’s strange how totally at ease I feel around him, I mean I seriously barely know him and yet I feel as though I know him completely.
“Oh, no problem. Just follow me to my room and I’ll let you use my shower and you can just grab whatever fits you from my closet.” He replies while moving past me to lead me toward his room. He stops mid stride though and turns to me pulling something from his pocket. The glint of medal catches my eye and I realize at once they’re keys. “It’s going to be pretty hard to go out tonight without a car…” He grins and dangles the keys in front of me, they clank as they knock into each other and his key rings. “So…I decided you could take mine.” He tosses them toward me and my palms catch them clumsily. I move my eyes to them realizing I hadn’t even thought about how I was going to get to Billy without a vehicle.
“Thanks…” The word escapes slowly and in a whisper because I don’t know what to say. I want to throw my arms around him simply because he’s given me a way to see Billy. He’s done more for me then anyone else could at the moment, more than anyone probably wanted to. I slowly move my gaze back to him, he just shrugs though as if what he just did was meaningless.
“Just don’t crash it…I hear you're good at that.” He says while flashing his flawless Lovato grin. I should be mad but it wasn’t meant to hurt me, it was just another harmless joke one that I actually find myself wanting to laugh at.
I roll my eyes though pretending to be un-amused by his humor, “So where’s your bedroom?”