I decided to give myself a couple days to get past jet lag before dropping by mom’s place of employment. Her phone number wasn’t good, anymore, and I really didn’t feel like waiting around her condo till she showed up. She has a habit of taking off and not being around for a few days without bothering to tell anybody where she’s gone, so she might not even be home.
I’m glad I did; for some reason, this trip hit me hard. Going straight to dinner with Uncle Ari’s client after nine hours in a plane, not including the layover in Paris and the short-hop, and it being like four pm by my body clock before we were done, after having been up all night. But it wasn’t just that; I found an e-mail from Uncle Owen to a personal address I didn’t usually access because it was Copenhagen based. The only reason I logged on was to let Tone know I’d arrived and the icon popped up. It threw me; Uncle Owen hadn’t used that one since Tone and I set up our temporary home in Texas with a new e-dress so the legal shits could contact us.
I e-mailed Matt and asked him to do some research into him, then hopped the earliest plane back, which meant dealing with the never-ending boredom of Schiphol Airport. I’d held off from a nap because I figured I’d sleep on the flight. Instead, it was crammed with brats who took turns crying at the top of their lungs the whole way. I swore I was gonna get a set of noise-canceling headphones soon as I landed, no matter how much they cost.
Now I’ve done rush trips like this, before, and had next to no trouble with jet lag. This time? I fell asleep in the car as Tone was driving me home. When I woke up, I was in bed and it was the next day. He said I walked in all on my own, but I don’t remember it.
Anyway, I returned from darkness thanks to the aroma of his coffee -- well, my coffee, since he was holding it right next to my nose. I sat up and took the mug and sipped it; Tone boils his coffee just as hot as his cocoa, so I’m always careful with the first time my lips touch the cup.
“Okay,” I muttered, “I’m starting to feel human, again.”
“You so sure?” he said.
“Lemme shower first,” I said, “See if I’m still here. What time’s it?”
“Almost noon. I’d offer you brunch, but it’s Thursday.”
“So brunch is for weekends.”
“Say the rules.”
“Since when do you follow those?”
“Since I became a convicted felon. I cross the street at the corner. I pay for everything in my cart, even when the clerk forgets to ring something up. I’m a devout Presbyterian, whatever that is. I bake potatoes to go with steak, as is the law in Texas. And I go one mile per hour under the speed limit when I drive.”
I looked at him, wary. “That sounds like the speech you’re gonna give the judge, next week.”
“Close to it. How ‘bout a grilled cheese and cup of tomato soup?”
“It’ll be ready when you are.”
I looked him over. He was wearing one of Matt’s t-shirts – the black one with a green skeleton’s hand covering the front – and it was a bit snug on him. That and the almost-loose jeans he was wearing made him look like a guy ready go out dancing, and it amazed me at how sexy he could appear without a thought.
I leaned back, finally realizing I was completely naked under the sheet and blanket, and put my hands behind my head as a sneer crossed my face. “Don’t you wanna watch me bathe?”
He smirked and trailed a finger from my nose to my belly button as he said, “Tonight.”
“Careful,” I sighed. “You’ll get something started.”
“Yes. The soup. Don’t take too long. Matt’s got something to show you, and then you can tell us both about how brilliant you were with Ari’s client.” Then he was gone. Not even a peck on the cheek. My breath must really be crappy, which wouldn’t surprise me, considering the crappy airline food.
I flipped the covers off and jumped to my feet and stretched. Man, it felt good to be in a place where I didn’t have to give a shit. And I don’t mean in Texas; I just mean in Tone’s and my place. We’d stayed with his folks the first three months of dealing with the state’s fucked up system of justice, then I’d figured we were gonna be here for at least another year so rented the left side of a two-story duplex on the north end of town, near one of the few parks the city had. It wasn’t new but was built solid, had hardwood floors and a couple of baths, furniture courtesy of Tone’s folks. Matt had the other bedroom.
He’d moved here when I got the place, at my invitation. I did it to let him know I was okay with what’d gone down between him and Tone, and because I’d learned all his friends were online. That didn’t sit right with me. You should always have people around who can just be there to be with. Keeps you from getting lost in your own misery.
Turned out our neighbor was also Jewish and had a brother who’s gay. Named Aron. Who was stocky and smiley and half-red-haired and more than a little shy. But he and Matt hit it off, and now about every other Friday night, Matt did not come home till late Saturday or Sunday. After brunch.
The rest of the week, he did programming and websites and maintained his domain hotels, which were set up along one wall in the dining room and let off this non-stop hum that could be heard everywhere in the place. Hell, I think they had their own friggin’ satellite dedicated to them, with all the crap Matt had going on inside those little boxes.
I looked outside at the back garden, and it was sort of drizzly and gray; the perfect day for soup. Winter was closing in and I looked forward to it. I liked the cold and snow of Copenhagen and hoped we’d have some here, this year. But maybe Tone and the judge’d finally end the whole damn thing and we could get back to the real world. I’d hinted at Matt about joining us, but he didn’t seem too hot for the idea. I guess if he and Aron hit it off, he wanted to stick it out in this hell-hole.
I showered and shaved and decided to get my thick, black mop cut. I also thought for two seconds about letting my heavy whiskers grow into a goatee...then lopped ‘em all off, brushed my teeth, and wrapped myself in a nice, long, clean robe. By the time I got to the kitchen, Tone had everything ready. Matt was seated at the counter, grinning and munching on a sweet pickle as he tried to sneak bites of the grilled cheesers, like he was a kid. Hell, he looked like a kid, being so slim and big-eyed and never in anything but a t-shirt and jeans. I’d have pegged him as a high school brat if I hadn’t known he’s the same age as me...and known some of the crap he’d pulled, himself.
I plopped on a stool beside him and let him pop a gherkin in my mouth as Tone ladled out the soup, and suddenly I got the feeling it was a mistake for me to bring Matt to Texas; he had no idea how vicious this place could be for a gay man. I’d try and talk him out of staying.
That’s when I decided not to see mom till later in the week. My head was still kind of thick, and I just plain didn’t want to mess with how easy I was feeling. I also wanted to get some more details under my belt before chatting her up about calling dad. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans...