“Billy?” He doesn’t even look at me as my scratchy voice speaks his name. My mind searches desperately for an explanation as to how I went from lying on the floor of an apartment to riding in a car, all the thinking makes my head ache and I press my hand to it as though it might relieve the searing pain.
“Yeah?” He asks while stopping the car at a red light. The road glistens from rain as the lights dance on it; I notice practically no one else is on the road with us. I wonder what time it is, it must be really late for the road to be this empty.
“Where are we going?” I ask while I read the road signs trying to get some clue as to where we are. Every sign seems foreign to me, I don’t have any clue where we are I wonder how far from home we are.
“A hotel, we need to drive a little more though we aren’t far enough away yet.” He states while moving the car forward as the light turns green again. I watch him for a moment, the back of his head is still red with dry blood, his jaw is bruised but somehow his eyeliner is still intact. There’s no new wounds, no gaping bullet hole in his chest or on his arm.
“Far enough away from what Billy?” I ask slowly, afraid of his answer.
“Steve.” He says flatly eyes still glued to the road.
“You shot Steve, he’s dead isn’t he?” I ask fearfully.
“Exactly.” He makes a turn onto another road this one is lined with a 24 hour grocery store, a nail place, and a small tattoo and body piercing place. He turns into the parking lot parking the car directly in front of the 24-hour grocery store.
“What are we doing?” I ask in confusion as he undoes his belt and opens his door climbing out of the car. He shuts the door ignoring my question and he walks around the car stopping in front of the passenger side door. He opens the door and pushes the front passenger seat forward signaling for me to get out of the car.
“The cops will be looking for us, and that little asshole James is most likely going to give the cops a nice description of me as soon as he reaches consciousness again.” He says as I climb out of the car. When I’m out of the car and standing next to him in the huge parking lot he slams the car door. I notice we are one of the few cars in the lot; God how the hell late is it?
“I might as well make it a little harder for the cops to recognize me.” Billy says, as he starts toward the store, not even bothering to wait for me. I run to catch up with him, I’m confused out of my mind and all I want him to do is talk to me.
“So why are we here?” I ask as my footsteps fall into sync with his.
“Hair dye.” He states flatly. His bluntness is annoying me, I need him to tell me something reassuring or at least explain what the hell is going on. We both turn as another car pulls into the parking lot; it’s headlights illuminating us like a spotlight for a moment. Billy instinctively grabs my hand as the car creeps closer to us.
“Little late for you two boys to be out.” The man in the car drawls in a heavy southern accent as he pulls up in front of us in the car. Billy says nothing but yanks me to the left trying to maneuver his way around the car. The man laughs and puts the car in reverse so once again he is right in front of us. “Aww where are you going I just want to talk.” He says as his liquor coated breath reaches our nostrils.
Fear begins to inch upon me again, really we are helpless at the moment, the grocery store is at least twenty feet away, and no one is in the parking lot with us, the guy could run us over and no one would know until morning.
“We don’t want to talk.” Billy says coldly staring at the man.
“Sure you do, I’m sure you can do a lot more than talk though.” He says while gesturing toward Billy with a sloppy grin on his lips. “Look at those pouty lips, I’m sure you can do a lot with a mouth like that. Do you suck and swallow pretty boy?” He laughs drunkenly and his hand falls down to his door handle as he clumsily tries to open the door.
“Fuck off.” Billy spats, while watching in concentration as the mans hand searches for the door handle. Without warning, as soon as he gets his door open and puts his foot out, Billy yanks on my arm pulling me around the car and towards the grocery store. We run, hearts beating and hair blowing as our feet hit the pavement. We hear his door slam behind us and then his engine starting. Fear tightens around my heart, what if we don’t make it to the store, will he run us over in the parking lot? Billy doesn’t release my hand, he’s a faster runner then me and it hurts my lungs and legs to keep up with him. Finally we reach the store practically falling through the entrance. I bend over bracing my arms on my thighs as I take deep breaths trying to steady my breathing. Billy seems unaffected from the whole incident, he just stares out the glass doors watching the parking lot.
“He left.” He says finally, and I realize I had never even considered that he might follow us into the store. Finally I stand up fully recovered, Billy look at me hidden beneath his emotionless front I can see a hint of worry in his brows. “You okay?” He asks while trying to read my expression. I nod, and realize I am already missing the feel of his hand in mine. I suddenly remember our earlier kiss in Steve’s apartment, and the way he wrapped his arm around my waist. Why couldn’t he do that now, why was he acting so detached again?
He looks at me for a second more his mouth opens, “Joel….” He pauses as though he is considering what he is going to say.
“Yeah?” I ask greedy for whatever he might say.
He shakes his head and sighs, “come on let’s go get the hair dye.” He says instead and starts towards the hair isle. I want to scream at him for being so fucking confusion instead I follow him. I meet up with him in the hair isle he’s busy scanning his hair dye selections. None of the freaky colors Benji used to buy when we were younger are on the shelf; we always had to go to weird stores to get the pink he would put his hair. I smile at the memory; I always complained about going with him when really I could have cared less. Benji, I wish he were here right now, just so I wouldn’t feel so alone.
“Come on.” Billy says pulling me from my thoughts, he’s holding a dye box in his hand the person on the front has dark black hair and I realize that must be the color he is dying it.
“Can you hold on, I wanna call my brother.” I say quickly afraid for some reason that he might say no. He shrugs his shoulders, “sure.” And pulls a cell phone from his pocket handing it to me.
I take it a little surprised that he had it the whole time and I didn’t even know. He waits patiently his eyes scanning the back of the box in his hands as I dial my number. It rings for a second before Benji answers.
“Joel?” He asks frantically worry coating his tone.
“Yeah, it’s me Benji.” I say calmly trying to set him at ease. I wonder how he answered so fast, shouldn’t he be asleep right now?
“God where are you, when you didn’t come home I called everywhere no one knew where you were.” He says quickly his words practically coming out as one huge jumble of words.
I want to cry into the phone like a little kid, ‘Benji I’m with Billy, I’m scared and I just want to go home, please come pick me up?’ I don’t say that though, although it is what my mind would love me to say. “I’m okay Benji me and Billy got lost and are staying at a hotel, I’ll be home tomorrow.” I say instead wishing he will hear my lie and demand for me to tell him the truth.
“Why did you wait so long to call?” He asks suspicion in his voice.
“I, I don’t know I lost track of time I guess.” I stutter.
“What’s wrong Joel are you okay? Do I need to come get you?” He sounds so worried, I was a fool to think he wouldn’t see past my reassuring front.
“Yeah Benji I’m fine, I’ll see you tomorrow okay.” I have to get off the phone before I say something stupid. “I love you Benj.” I mutter while clicking the phone off. I feel guilty for hanging up on him but I know it was the right thing to do. I hand the phone back to Billy realizing for the first time that his eyes are no longer on the box but set on me.
“What?” I ask as he continues to stare at me his mouth opening to speak.
“I’m sorry.” He states, his eyes locking with mine. “I shouldn’t have pulled you into this, I can take you home tonight if you really want me to.” His voice is apologetic but his eyes are unreadable.
I realize, as much as I want to go home, where I know I will be safe I don’t want to leave him. As strong as he may act I know it’s just a front, he needs me with him even if he won’t admit it.
“No I’ll stay with you.” I say with a reassuring smile.
“Are you sure?” He looks at me uncertainly, “You don’t have to.”
“No, I want to.”
He bites his lip staring at me for a moment, finally he nods, “Okay come on then.”
We head toward the checkout, and quickly our one item is rung up. While we head for the exit Billy slips his hand into mine again tugging me close to him, as if he is afraid something might happen to me on our walk through the empty parking lot. This time no one bugs us as we make our way to the car and we reach it without having to run which is a relief. Billy opens my door first and this time I climb into the passenger seat instead of the back. He gets in moments after me, I turn to him waiting for him to start the car but he just sits there as though he is deep in though.
He turns to me, “I think I am going to take you home, it would be for the best.” He says decidedly.
“No Billy..” I blurt out swiftly.
“I just think it would be for the best, what if the cops track me down before I can take you home and you get in trouble too…” He trails off and sighs, “I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Billy..” I stop, trying to think of what I can say to make him let me stay. He just stares at me; his hair is falling into his face as usual, and his pouty lips look perfectly kissable. I do the only thing I can think of, I lean forward and press my lips to his praying he won’t push me away.
A movie moment that’s what it is, needy lips connecting with needy lips, tongues meeting tongues fighting a battle as they push against each other. This moment is perfect, the taste of his mouth, the smell of his hair; he’s so close I can almost breath him in. A movie moment, but unlike a movie moment ours doesn’t last infinite minutes.
“Joel…” Billy breathes as he pulls away shaking his head.
No, no, no, don’t look at me like that Billy, don’t you dare look at me like that because I might scream.
His eyes drop to the seat, he rubs his arm slowly, biting his lower lip slightly. The silence in the car is suffocating as I wait for him to speak. I try to imagine what he is going to say, all the while knowing it wont be good.
“I’m taking you home.” His eyes meet mine as he drops the words from his mouth; they fall like tiny explosions shattering the silence, and my heart.
“What?” My jaw goes slack, I want to argue with him but all I can do is stare. It’s one of those, ‘you did not just say that’ stares.
He just stares back in silence, his expression blank almost looking through me. I wonder if I’ve turned to glass or some other transparent material, perhaps for the moment I’ve gone invisible. I want to wave my hands in front of his face, get him to look at me or just get him to look at anything at all.
“I’m taking you home.” He finally repeats looking away now and placing his long fingers on the steering wheel. I grit my teeth together having to prevent myself from screaming at him, this is one moment I cannot deal with his mystery, annoying boy quirks.
“Fine.” I spat like a little kid who hasn’t gotten their way, and I turn to face my window crossing my arms over my chest as I do so. I wait listening for him to start the car, but he doesn’t move. It’s unnerving, I want to turn and scream at him tell him to start the car or say something.
“Joel…” My head swerves as soon as he says my name, it’s pathetic seconds ago I wanted to yell at him and now I am eager for whatever comes out of his mouth good or bad.
He’s looking at me again only now he’s actually looking at me and not right through me, his mouth makes no attempt to say anything else but his gaze softens and his long fingers leave the steering wheel falling on my arm instead. “I don’t want to hurt you.” He finally says, his eyes they look like they are going to flood with tears, I can honestly say I have never seen this side of Billy Martin.
“You wont.” I mumble back barely able to make coherent speech with his long warm fingers locked on my arm and his blue eyes locked on me.
He shakes his head and pulls his hand away sadly, “I will, I know I will.” He bites down on his lip again his eyes releasing three glistening drops of water; he swipes them away smearing his eyeliner in the process. “You don’t know me, you don’t know what I am like, I can’t let you get involved with me, I shouldn’t have let things get this far….” He trails off and looks at his hands again as though they might hold the answer to some baffling question.
My want to scream at him has returned again, I hate when people think they know what is best for me, and that is exactly what he is saying. I remember when Benji got his first piercing, our mom said he would regret it and that he shouldn’t do it because no one would take him seriously, he did it anyway of course and he never regretted it, well yeah it’s a bad example but it does kind of show my point.
I continue looking at him willing him to meet my gaze, my mind searching all the while for something to say. “Are you attracted to me?” I don’t know where the question comes from but the randomness of it automatically brings Billy’s eyes back to me.
He looks at me, his eyes grazing over my features, my hair, my eyes, my nose, my lips, they stop there and then they roam back to my eyes. “What do you think?” He doesn’t ask it sarcastically, he kinda just states it, it’s odd.
“Yes, no, maybe…” God just answer the damn question, I look at my lap avoiding his gaze knowing I sound like an idiot but as usual in the presence of Billy Martin that is nothing new.
I feel his fingers on my chin lifting my gaze back to his, “Joel you are…perfect.” The last word is spoken in only a whisper; I almost doubt he said it. I stare at him, his fingers still on my chin waiting for him to laugh and take back his statement but he continues to stare at me. I want to kiss him again, lace my arms around his waist pulling everything Billy into me, but I just stare back waiting for some break in our self made silence. Around me the world might as well have been put on pause because I notice nothing but him.
“I think…” He drops the words slowly his mouth coming in closer to mine, it’s so close now I can almost taste and feel his lips. “We should go.” He mutters just as his lips brush mine. For a moment the feel of cold metal and smooth lips touches mine but within an instant he has pulled away and his hands are on the wheel again a distant look in his eyes as he stares out the front window.
“Don’t take me home.” I say softly while I touch his arm, as though the slight connection might make him say yes. Oddly enough he nods, and starts the engine.
Silence, it’s the only thing that fills the car as we drive to the nearest hotel, I want to say something but initiating conversation at the moment seems nearly impossible. I try to get my mind off him and the moment by thinking about Benji but somehow that cant even help my mind wants to do nothing more then analyze the current situation. Over and over again I replay the scene that occurred only moments ago, trying to remember every word Billy spoke, every movement of his head, every twitch of his eyes, before I know it I am so involved with remembering the last few minutes that I don’t even realize we have reached our destination. “Joel.” His hand falls on my shoulder as he tries to get my attention. I turn and notice for the first time we are positioned in front of a pretty shitty looking hotel, but I guess I really can’t be picky I should just be grateful I will be sleeping on a bed and not lying dead on the floor of Steve’s house. “I’ll go pay for the room, wait here okay?” He doesn’t even give me time to answer him, as soon as the words leave his mouth he gets up and gets out of the car heading inside. Without him I let my eyes scan the almost empty parking lot, a few cars accompany ours in the tiny lot, I try to imagine who might be the owner of some of them. Perhaps two of them belong to lovers escaping from their marriages to have an affair in a dingy hotel or perhaps one belongs to a poor aspiring actress spending all her money to make it to Hollywood so she can make it big. I laugh at the thoughts that roll off my mind, not because they are funny, just so I can hear the sound of my laughter. Finally Billy emerges from the office he signals me to get out of the car, I do so with little effort and quickly join him by his side. He points to the left and directs me to follow him. We end up in front of a washed out beige door, with two rusted twos hanging crookedly on it.
“Number twenty-two.” Billy says aloud as he swipes the card key through the door. With a click the door comes unlocked, I’m almost afraid to enter the room, fearing bug infestation or something worst.
Billy however seems to have no fear, he opens the door and enters not bothering to wait for me. I feel instant relief as soon as the lights go on and I realize despite the place’s outward appearance it isn’t that bad. It looks like your typical hotel room, mirror in the center of the room two lights surrounding it, awful paintings of ducks covering the wall, and a horrible bedspread on the one bed. Hold on stop, my eyes go back to the bed, the one bed.
“Billy?” I ask as I notice the obvious mistake he must have made, surly he didn’t ask for one bed on purpose.
“Yeah?” He turns back to me waiting for me to continue. “Is something wrong?”
I point to the bed, “Well there’s only one bed.” I point out stupidly.
He shrugs acting as if it means nothing at all, “Is that a problem?”
Is that a problem? No of course it isn’t a problem as long as he doesn’t mind dealing with fuckin huge ass hard on I know I am going to get from sleeping next to him all night. “Well yeah, kinda.” I say trying to sound more intelligent then is possible.
He steps closer to me pressing his chest to mine and pulling his hand up to play with a strand of my short dark hair. “Why?” He breathes his eyes glued to mine watching me like a cat might eye an insect they are planning to pounce.
I gulp having to force myself to stand erect, I’m afraid my knees are going to buckle and I am going to fall to my ass. “Never mind it’s not…” I say quickly hoping a. he’ll move away or B. he’ll kiss me.
He smiles, “Good I didn’t think it was.” He backs away and heads toward the bathroom, “I’m going to take a shower.”
I stand in the hotel room, the sound of the air conditioner my only company now that Billy is in the shower. I can hear the hiss of the water as Billy turns on the shower; my first instinct is to go knock on the door and ask him to let me in, I’m so used to doing it with Benji that it has become somewhat of a habit. I fight the urge down however and instead I throw myself on the bed locking my eyes on the ceiling overhead. The ceiling is a boring beige color, I wonder if the beige is it’s original color or if years of cigarette smoke have turned it that shade. Outside our room a car pulls up its bright headlights shine through our room flooding it with light. I sit up to gaze out the window at once fearing it might be Steve, although I know it is highly unlikely. Not Steve, no instead a man and a woman climb out of vehicle. The woman is carrying a baby; she clutches it protectively to her as they enter the tiny office. I sigh in relief at the sight of the unfamiliar couple, and I relax once again into the hard mattress. I listen to the shower; the continuous sound of water hitting tiles creates somewhat of lullaby. My eyes grow heavy with want of sleep and I can feel sleep pulling me under it’s grasp. I am slowly drifting to sleep when the click of the bathroom door pulls me from my light slumber. My eyes automatically drift to the bathroom doorway, where Billy is standing in nothing but his pants that are hanging dangerously low on his hips. His make up is all washed away, revealing the natural beauty of his face and his hair is falling in limp wet strands around his cheeks and jaw.
“You can use the bathroom now.” He says simply while walking barefooted across the carpeted floor. He starts toward the bed; the smell of cheap soap and berries radiates from him. His lean figure stops in front of the bed, “I’m tired.” He states as he crawls onto the mattress lying down beside me, his back arches as he rolls onto his side his wet hair pushing into the pillow leaving wet indentions.
“I should take a shower.” I say, however I make no movement towards the bathroom, lazily I continue to lay on the bed my eyes glued to him.
“You don’t have to, you can do it in the morning.” He says while closing his eyes, I notice him shiver a little and I realize I am lying on all the blankets preventing him from pulling them up around himself.
“You’re cold…” I let my warm hand fall on his back, as if to test the exact coldness of his skin. His skin is smooth underneath my touch; I am reluctant to peel my hand away.
“Joel…” The word escapes his mouth softly, with it his eyes flutter open and he rolls over onto his other side so he is facing me now. His eyes convey nothing as they look at me. I wait, watching him intently wondering what it is he is going to say. Finally he sighs and he lies on his back throwing his gaze towards the ceiling. “Never mind.” Silence accompanies those words, I shift my gaze back to the ceiling knowing better then to try and get him to continue. My eyes however feel as if weights have been added to them and once again they begin to close.
I’m tired, very tired….
I start to drift to sleep until feel a slight pressure on my stomach moving in circular motions. I force my eyes open, that task in itself is a huge strain, my eyes roam to my stomach where Billy’s fingers are idly drawing circles.
“Uh huh?” His voice has a dreamy quality to it as if he’s a million miles away in some other dimension.
“I’m going to shower now.” No it’s now what I had intended to say but it’s what came out all the same.
“Oh.” His fingers leave my stomach and he rolls back onto his side. “Turn off the light on your way to the bathroom.” He orders sleepily while tucking his arm under his pillow and pulling it further under his head. “I can’t sleep with a light on.”
I sit up and watch him for a moment, I know I don’t want to take a shower at the moment, I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep just while standing in the shower, but what am I going to do tell him I suddenly changed my mind? After a few more minutes of not moving, Billy’s eyes open again and he once again rolls over to face me. “I thought you were going to take a shower.” He doesn’t ask it rather he states it.
“I was…” I trail off my thoughts evaporating as his cool blue eyes bore into mine with curiosity. I start to climb off the bed knowing I have to escape those eyes.
“Don’t.” His voice is almost pleading as his hand falls on my arm holding me to the spot. I swerve my eyes back to him confusion wrapped in my gaze.
“What is it Billy?” His hand leaves my arm and he bites his lip. He’s shivering again, I want to tell him to climb under the blankets but somehow right now doesn’t seem the correct moment for such a statement.
“Can you stay, at least until I fall asleep….” He sounds insecure now almost like a whole other person entirely. I smile while slowly nodding my head.
“Of course I can.” I say as I climb back onto the bed lying down beside him, I’m there for only a moment before I feel his long slender arms snake their way around me his chest pressing against my back. Berries, the smell is intoxicating as he presses himself so closely to me. His heartbeat pounds in a slow rhythm against my chest falling in tune with his light breathing. It’s too much being so close to him, I want to roll over and devour him.
“Billy are you asleep yet?” It’s a stupid question, of course he isn’t asleep he’s only been laying here for two minutes, but I ask it anyway praying he might be so I can peel myself away from him and disappear into the safety of the shower.
”No.” His warm breath escapes onto my neck as the word leaves his mouth, I shudder at the sensation and tightly force my eyes closed hoping sleep will save me.
Sleep does come, like some magic cloak it covers me and pulls me under dragging my conscious away from the tangible world of reality yanking me harshly into a world of dreams. The sleep and the dreaming do not last long however somehow or other I am yanked back awake. When I open my eyes I at once realize the lack of Billy beside me, and the horrible cold his absence has left me with. My eyes scan the room and finally fall on the closed bathroom door where light is flooding into the dark room from under it. I cautiously stand up and make my way towards the door, I am hesitant to knock afraid someone other then Billy might be in there but I know that is a foolish thought. Finally my hand connects with the door, tapping on it softly.
“Joel did I wake you?” His voice drifts from the bathroom, “You should go back to sleep it’s only 5 am.” I look at my watch as if to confirm the information and sure enough it is only 5:14 am. I yawn suddenly as if my brain is just now realizing my body should still be tired.
“Can I come in?” I ask, not even bothering to think about that fact that he could be doing something private, I’m too tired to think straight.
“Hold on.” And then the sound of water turning on greets my ears, defeated I lazily move back to the bed, I’m at that stage where I am too tired to be awake but too awake to be asleep, hmm does that make any sense? Anyway I end up turning on the television, I have to turn it on manually since someone stole the batteries from the remote. Nothing is on TV, a few talk shows, some cartoons, a movie for woman, I end up on the cartoons. From the bathroom I hear the sound of a blow dryer turn on, I figure Billy took another shower or something. I lazily watch the cartoons; of course I am bored out of my mind my eyes keep leaving the colorful scenes on the television to quickly glance at the bathroom door. Finally the blow dryer goes off and Billy emerges from the bathroom.
Black hair….his hair is black now. He has his make up on as well and he’s fully dressed, he hits the bathroom light off as he steps into the room. I stare at him trying to determine if I like the change finally I realize if anything he is more fuckable then before. “I’m hungry.” He states as he crosses over towards the mirror viewing his newly dyed hair in it’s surface.
I want to say something corny like, ‘I’m hungry too, but not for food Billy Martin, oh no no…’ I don’t though; instead I end up laughing at the thought. His eyes leave the mirror and he stares at me questioningly.
“What are you laughing at, it isn’t that bad is it?” He asks and I realize he thinks I am laughing at his hair. I automatically cease my laughing as though someone hit an off button; I shake my head and stand up walking towards him. I stop in front of him, my fingers reaching out to touch a strand of his black hair.
“Nothing….” I pull my finger down the strand, locking my gaze on his. “Your hair looks good.” I let go and drop my hand to my side suddenly realizing how awkward my stance in front of him is. He sucks his lip ring into his mouth playing with it for a moment with his tongue until finally releasing it and letting out a sigh.
“Dammit.” He curses while pulling his gaze off of me and walking past me collapsing on the bed.
“What?” My eyes light up in alarm and confusion at this sudden display. He sits up and throws his hands into his lap and looks at me again.
“I want to kiss you.” He says it as though it is the most reasonable and normal thing to say at the moment. I want to jump up and down and do some kind of cheer, but I don’t move instead my eyes go wide.
“Me?” I ask stupidly, knowing by now I should have the reward for stupid comments. “Why…why cant you?” I stutter only adding to my retardedness. He just shakes his head and stands up.
“I told you Joel…I don’t want to hurt you.” He starts past me heading toward the bathroom, no no no, this is not going to happen again. I grab his arm roughly pulling him to look at me. His eyes turn wide as I lean in colliding my lips with his. The kiss isn’t sweet it’s hungry and needy and forceful, when we pull away our lips are bruised and we are nearly breathless.
“Then don’t.” I stare at him daring him to pull away, to tell me he cant be with me, but he does none of that. He pushes his long fingers through my hair and pushes his lips toward mine again, however this time the kiss is gentle, his tongue parts my lips and makes a slow journey into my mouth. From my hair his hands slide down to my back and under my shirt kneading my flesh. My own hands curve around his waist landing on the his barely there ass. His mouth finally leaves mine and he begins to explore my neck with his mouth leaving heated kisses in a long trail down my neck. I moan at the sensation, my mind barely able to register the fact that it is in fact his mouth that is exploring me. Outside once again headlights illuminate our room casting a sort of spotlight on us, I think nothing of it this time too caught up in the moment to worry about anything. He continues with his kisses while at the same time pushing me towards the bed. I hear a car door slam, the light dims and turns to total darkness again just then Billy shoves me onto the bed his skilled fingers working quickly to remove my belt. Just as it slides out of the final belt loop a knock resounds throughout the room. Billy stops his movement and freezes his eyes flying towards the door. I know the one thing that is on both of our minds right now…..
My belt slides from Billy’s hand hitting with the soft carpet, the metal of its clasp clanking against the metal of the spikes adorning it. I watch it fall, it’s as though time has slowed and everything is moving tediously slow. My eyes move back to the door, the thudding of knuckles against wood reverberates throughout the room. Slender fingers reach to clutch my wrist pulling me off the bed, Billy’s fingers. I am almost surprised as he yanks me upward, it’s as though he is pulling me out of some magical trance. He pulls me so hard I stumble forward falling against his chest, his own back connecting with the wooden bureau behind him. A hiss of air escapes his lips at the sudden contact between him and the inanimate object however his hand stays wrapped around my wrist. Behind us the knocking continues, however the knocks are spread farther and farther apart like music fading out.
“The bathroom…” He whispers inches from my face; shyly I pull away from him nodding although I don’t know what he means. His hand leaves my wrist and his gaze falls on the bathroom, his finger extends and he points to the grungy door. “Get in the bathroom.” He commands with amazing intensity as though it is the most important thing on his mind, and maybe it is. I look from him to the door trying to understand his reasoning behind such a strange command but I cant figure it out and instead I end up staring at him my eyes wide in confusion.
Gently his hands wind around my waist turning me towards the bathroom door, “Go…” He directs me as he pushes me slightly forward. My legs move slowly forcing me onward toward the door, I’m reluctant to leave him however after one step forward his hands slide off my waist and he moves in the direction of the knocking.
I am suddenly aware of what is going on, “Billy I can’t.” I say while turning around refusing to advance any further towards the bathroom.
He shakes his head, “If it’s Steve I’m not going to let him hurt you…go hide in the bathroom Joel.” His tone leaves no room for argument so defeated I continue toward the bathroom. I look back once more before closing the door, and notice his hand is inches away from opening the door to let whatever stranger is outside in, he looks at me as my gaze sets on him “Close the door.” He mouths to me and I realize he is waiting for me to be in the bathroom before he will open the door. I consider for a moment totally disobeying his wishes and walking totally out of the bathroom and answering the door myself just to save his face from any more damage by Steve, but I decide I’m too big a wuss to actually do something so daring. My own hand wraps around the knob and I pull the door shut, but not all the way, no I leave a tiny crack so I can still see what is going on in the room. With my face pressed against the crack and my eyes squinting I watch anxiously as Billy pulls the door open. I wonder if he’s purposely pulling the door open as slow as he can or perhaps I am imagining things but it truly seems like he is opening it in slow motion. Once centimeter, two centimeters, three centimeters…eight centimeters…when the door is almost open a foot my eyes slam shut, not because I want them to they simply fail to stay open as if gravity suddenly yanked them closed. It’s fear I suppose, I’m afraid and I can’t watch…what if it is Steve, what if he has a gun and he just happens to pull it out and shoot Billy in the doorway of the shitty hotel.
“No we don’t want our sheets changed.” I hear Billy’s voice rise above the sound of my frantic heart beating. Sheets, what the hell? I force my eyes open and peek out the crack in the door and notice in front of Billy there is a short middle age women with a cart, she looks tired, and bored as if her whole life has drained her. It’s such a relief to see her and not Steve…a cleaning lady…I was scared of a cleaning lady. I laugh, all my fear is released with the laughter, I laugh so hard I fall forward my chest heaving, my body connecting with the door sending it flinging all the way open and me to the bedroom floor in a giggling mess. The women’s eyes and Billy’s fall on me, I don’t hear what they say though, I’m too relieved too happy to hear anything at all. I try to gain control of myself I sit up and push my back against the wall and try to take slow shallow breaths to calm myself. I try to focus on Billy, his words, the woman, but all I can think is, “Wow I’m fuckin alive and my enemy was the cleaning woman!” I sit there dwelling in the stupidness of the whole thing when finally Billy shuts the door the woman most likely going to another room to do cleaning. His eyes lock on me almost immediately and he walks toward me offering me his slender hand. I look at it for a moment, wanting to yank on it and bring him tumbling to the floor with me but finally I settle for letting him pull me up. As soon as I am on my feet he starts away from me not bothering to ask me about my fit of laughter or anything else for that matter.
“We’re leaving.” He says calmly as he starts toward the door, I open my mouth to object but when he turns to me I realize he’s scared. I may have thought the cleaning woman incident was hilarious but it had obviously scared him a great deal more. I follow him to the car, there’s nothing to pack, no bothersome suitcases to lug to the car, no last minute hotel room checks making sure we don’t leave things under the bed and such, we brought nothing and therefore all the annoying rituals one must go through before leaving a hotel are inapplicable to us. He hands me his cell phone as I climb into the passenger seat, I stare at it for a moment as if it were a foreign object.
“Call Benji.” He states to free me of my confusion, yet somehow his explanation only serves to heighten my confusion.
“Why?” I ask pausing before I dial Benji. He shrugs and leans forward turning on the heat, and turning on the radio.
“I figured you’d want to…he is your brother.” He says while settling on a station and relaxing back into his seat starting the car. He’s right of course, I do want to call Benji it’s in this moment I realize how much I miss him of course I’m not unhappy with my present company but somehow things aren’t quite right without my twin around.
I punch the numbers into the phone and listen as it rings in my ear…too many rings he isn’t home or he just doesn’t feel like picking it up or there is always the option that he might still be sleeping. I sigh and shut the cell phone and offer it back to Billy. “He didn’t answer.” I say in explanation to my short phone call. He pulls his hand off the steering wheel and takes the phone from me shoving it in his back pocket.
“Oh.” Pause. Silence. “I need to talk to you.”
“What?” Those six words can never mean anything good. I can hear my own shock in my ‘what’ and I scold myself for overreacting, he probably wants to talk about something stupid and trivial and I’m just being paranoid. No, I doubt that someone who rarely speaks is going to just start talking up a storm suddenly so he can say something dumb.
“I want you to know me…before we do anything else, kiss, anything, I want you to really know me.” That’s all that’s it, his eyes turn back to the road, and I suppose he is waiting for me to respond, but I don’t know what to say, I’m not some character in a movie or book who can come up with witty lines and chock full of emotion replies, so I sit there staring at his side profile the wheels turning in my head, finally I open my mouth.
“Okay.” Lame, lame, lame, I could kick myself.
As soon as my pathetic reply leaves my mouth we stop at a red light and Billy’s gaze turns to me again. “You can talk to me, you know that right?” My eyes watch his mouth as they form the words; he has got to have the most pouty kissable lips in the world, don’t talk Billy, no no, use those lips for a much more noble purpose like kissing me. “Joel, you know that right?” He asks again when I fail to reply, I nod quickly pretending I heard anything of what he just said when of course I hadn’t. “Good” he continues while turning his gaze back to the road and driving again, “I don’t think we talk enough….I mean I know it’s my fault, I don’t let people in easily, I guess I have a wall up or something, but if…” He trails off and shakes his head.
“No, no what were you going to say?” I ask at once begging him to continue, this is probably the most he’s ever said in one time and there is no way I am going to let him just stop.
“Nothing…look we’re here.” My eyes fly towards the window to check our location, I expect to see Benji’s familiar car and our house but instead my eyes are met with an unfamiliar house.
“Billy where are we?” I ask as I take in the house’s appearance, it’s a small house, one story. The grass in the front yard is practically screaming ‘cut me!’, and a beat up red Honda is parked in the driveway.