Chapter 10

The Columbia River moved by in his peripheral vision as he ran west. He threaded his way past the walkers in front of him on the broad sidewalk, occasionally slowing to avoid running up their backs. A smile graced his face in the cool, fall air. He did this every day still, running for four or five miles as if Donnie were yet at his side. He wore brief nylon running shorts and a long sleeve, wicking shirt, and around his waist at his front left was a fanny pack containing his insurance card, ID, and concealed pistol license in the front compartment and his Sig P239 with spare magazine in the rear. He never carried water on these short runs.

He watched people walking or running toward him on his left, observing them as he had learned to do from Donnie. He saw some of the men and a few women eye him with more than casual interest and thought about how he and Donnie used to joke about attracting those looks when they ran together. Donnie thought Justin was the object, and he was sure that Donnie was.

Almost a year after Donnie's death, part of what he did was work, walk, workout, and run. His friends had begun to gently suggest that he should be moving on by now. What the fuck did they know? He was almost the same age as Donnie had been when they met. He knew that Donnie would be happy with him, that he had remained connected to the world, their friends, and his work. Donnie and he had talked as Donnie was dying of an aggressive prostate cancer and Donnie had told him that he would be pissed if Justin moped around after he died.

Donnie would have been happy at how much better Justin had done than Donnie had after Lynn died. He had taken Donnie's ashes to Wahclella Falls and there he had cried, not for Donnie, but for himself–not in sadness for what had been, but for what had ended. Juan and Sammy and Annabelle and Robert had all taken care of him during that brief time when he felt lost.

Walking up the stairs to the second floor of their townhouse, he passed things they had bought or made together. He took the second set of stairs to the master suite, where he put the pistol in the bedside safe, stripped, and took a cool shower. As he cleaned between his legs, his dick plumped. He gently stroked himself until, thinking of his last times with Donnie, he came sweetly onto the shower floor. If he never found someone else, he wouldn't think himself deprived.