Triptychs – Chapter 25
Later that night; trying to park in Berkeley. Well, looking for a parking place on the street big enough for the truck, to be more specific.
It’s a process.
Actually, it’s more than that. Looking for street parking in Berkeley . . . it’s more like an opportunity for self-improvement; there’s a real element of philosophy involved. You need to master your impatience, your desire to get home, to go to the bathroom, to get food . . . you need to forget all that, as you cruise around the streets, checking out the spaces between parked cars that almost always turn out to be driveways . . .
See a space. See that it’s a driveway; cruise on, let it go, look for the next space, not wanting it too much –
The Zen of Parking. The looking, the journey is everything; the parking space is nothing.
I turned the corner, slowly, the windshield wipers clattering evenly. It was raining, light but steady; and that was one reason for my Parking Quest. I’d forgotten my umbrella, so I was looking for a space closer to home than usual. I figured I’d eventually wind up further uphill, where I usually parked; but it was worth a try down here, first.
Around another corner; the clack of the windshield wipers. I had my window open, to see better; the smell of wet asphalt coming up from the pavement, and the light patter of the rain, on the roof of the truck.
Actually, doing this – cruising around, looking for parking – really WAS a good time for thinking, for daydreaming, for free association. And I was in a pretty good mood, a little tired, maybe, but overall pretty happy . . . it made it easier.
Of course I thought about Noah. Of course.
As it turned out, I had a few weeks before we could go watch his team – his brother’s team, I mean – practice. They were still finalizing the team membership, deciding who was going to be on the team, whatever the process was called, and they weren’t even practicing in uniforms, or anything. Not much point taking photos, yet. So, I had a reprieve before I had to play Mister Sports Illustrated . . .
Which led, kind-of-sideways, in my wandering head, to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition . . . which held no real interest to me, at all, except maybe professionally. To be honest.
But that led, in turn, to wondering if there’d ever be a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition with guys, instead of girls . . .
But, that didn’t really do much for me either, truth to tell; I’m not into carefully posed beefcake models, I like my boys real, honest, unstaged, it’s the person AND the body that gets to me, it’s the whole, living-and-breathing package, not the wrapper . . .
So, of course I thought about Noah at the beach in a swimsuit, instead; maybe in some really light, thin-fabric board shorts, or maybe even a racing Speedo . . . yeah; yeah. Noah, standing, lit just right, posed just right, looking out at the water . . . I could SO easily take that shot, those shots –
But of course, given a choice, I’d rather get pictures of him WITHOUT a suit.
And I knew I was going to, someday; that was the delicious part, I just knew it. No question. No question at all.
And it was going to be so much fun, getting naked with him at the beach, he was going to be embarrassed and so totally turned on, he’d probably get all hard – yeah, of course he’d be all hard – and maybe that’s when I’d take my first shots of him, blushing, erect, his nice dick pointing way, high up – it does that . . .
Maybe I’d even let him keep his hat on, and I’d get those blue eyes peering out at me, from under his cap; him, all bare, and boned up –
And thinking about it all got ME all boned, too. Duh. I had to shift around in the truck seat, and rearrange myself, in my pants –
Change the subject, I ordered myself.
Around another corner, moving slow, slow.
The rain had eased off, some; it was more like a fine spray, now, and it was a kind of pleasant tingle against my left cheek. A few little drips of water ran down the inside of the door; the slow splashing of the tires on the wet pavement, outside.
So, sometime soon I’d be Meeting Noah’s Family. At least one member of it, anyway; I remembered him saying how close they were, I could see it in his face, too, when he talked about him. His little brother, Isaac.
Well, Meeting The Family, happens.
Cole had just last weekend, finally, met Jeremy’s family; most of them, anyway, minus one sister. But it’d gone really well; Jeremy’d been so worried about the underage-dating history they’d had, but it turned out, Jeremy’s father – well.
“ . . . and listen to this!” Cole had chortled – yeah; chortled – one night, over the phone, from San Diego. “This is just so totally hilarious! Guess how old Jeremy’s mom and dad were, when they started dating - ?”
“Oh, no,” I’d said; beginning to laugh –
“Oh, yeah! Jeremy’s dad was twenty; and his mom – ”
“Seventeen!” I’d busted in; trying not to break up –
“Sixteen! Sixteen, same as me! Same as I was, I mean. Can you believe it - ?”
And we’d both lost it, for a little bit, then; I mean, the irony was just so cosmic, Cole and Jeremy’d been such total, desperate outlaws for almost two years, dating while Cole was underage . . . and Jeremy’s parents had done the same thing? No fucking way - ?!
But then the thought had struck me –
“Wait a minute,” I’d said, into his laughter. “Wait a minute . . . They were dating, okay. But that was a long time ago, that doesn’t mean they were, like – doing it - ?” I turned it into a question, at the end.
And that’d brought even more laughter from Cole, a long peal of it.
“Trev . . . ” he’d gasped, eventually. Then he caught his breath. “It was nineteen sixty-nine! They met in nineteen sixty-nine! You know, Woodstock, anti-war protests, the Pill, the Sexual Revolution - ? Of COURSE they were Doing It - !”
And then I’d heard Jeremy’s voice; “Cole . . . !” in a kind of painful, protesting groan, not far from the phone, and Cole and I’d both totally broke up, again, laughing harder than ever . . .
That had all happened last weekend, like I said; but it was a fun memory, and it just added to the sense of peace I was feeling, orbiting around and around in the wet streets; yeah. The Zen of Parking. Although, you’re not really supposed to be content when you’re in a meditative state, not as content as I was feeling, just now . . .
Around another corner; down yet another street, splashing along, slowly. The clack-clack-clack of the wipers. The total absence of anything that resembled a parking place.
Well. Even Zen-parking-contentment has its limits; I figured I’d give it one or two more turns, then start heading uphill, where the parking was easier.
I turned left at the next intersection, which happened to be our street, the one we live on; I cruised slowly by the apartment, and saw that the lights were still off, which was good. My mom was off to dinner with a couple of work friends tonight, which meant I had time to screw around like this, waste time like this, without worrying so much about her; it was a luxury, it was so totally a luxury, and it was a big part of why I was feeling so good, so relaxed . . .
My thoughts drifted again.
Yeah. Noah and his brother. Noah and his little brother, his fifteen-year-old brother . . . I knew I shouldn’t; but I couldn’t help thinking, about the two of them; brothers, really close. I couldn’t help wondering, did they ever . . . play, together, maybe? With their bodies, I mean - ? Maybe, just jerking off together, or maybe, doing a little more than that, even - ? Just a little - ?
Images, in my head. Really pleasant ones; really HOT ones, of a bare Noah, and a kind of mini-Noah, on their sides, facing each other . . . all that smooth bare skin, the curly black hair on their heads, the different, curly black hair of their pubes, the beautiful curves of their butts . . .
Their hands on each other’s dicks; their faces flushed in that Noah-way I knew so well, both of them so EXCITED –
Stop it!! I ordered myself; shaking my head, some: and then I grimaced to myself, ruefully. As I shifted in the truck seat, all over again.
Real Zen Parking Practitioners don’t get all boned and horny, as they meditate; I thought, anyway. Do they - ?
Another left turn, this one, finally, headed uphill. Still going slow, still looking for a parking place; but a little faster, now I’d check a couple of more side streets, but I figured I’d wind up, way up the hill, where parking was always easier to find . . .
But in the meantime, back to methodically checking each blank space, each fire-hydrant-gap, each driveway, as a possible place to park . . .
I wouldn’t know about fooling around with a brother; I didn’t have one.
Well, except for Cole, of course, we were brothers in our own, special way. But we sure as hell fooled around together, it was such an important part of growing up, it was such an important part of me, and it was so much FUN.
Okay. It was more than fun. It was part of my soul.
But, real brothers? Real brothers, growing up together? Well, I guess they’d both have to be inclined that way, sexually, to begin with –
I was still cruising slowly, checking each spot; but now I had someone behind me, his headlights were in the truck’s big side mirror; it hurt my eyes. So I put my hand out over the mirror to block the light, and went on, driving a little faster. I hate it when people block the road, looking for parking . . . .
Cole and me always wondered about Erik and Jason; I mean, two gay, or mostly-gay brothers, both of them total horndogs, growing up together, sharing a BEDROOM together, for pity’s sake - ?
I don’t know, though. We used to ask Jason about it, all the time – well, we used to tease him about, actually; ‘Do you guys ever take a shower together, just to save water? When it’s really cold out, do you cuddle up in one bed together, to keep warm - ?’ All with our best, leering grins. But Jason just thought the whole idea was gross, totally gross, he said, and he’d shudder, and it was sincere, I didn’t think he was faking it . . .
Mister Too-Bright Headlights was still in back of me, a little ways; so I eased around another corner, to check out one more short block. Sliding back into the comfortable darkness . . .
Erik and Jason. Yeah, Erik was a problem, now; he’d texted me a couple of times, in the last two weeks, and . . . I was going to have to see him, again.
I mean, it wouldn’t be like a date, or anything; it’d been too long since our last date, a world’s record too long. It was so obviously and clearly an example of the gay way of breaking up with someone, when you’ve never really been together . . . you just, drift; you don’t connect, you don’t call. Goodbye, written slowly over a span of weeks.
But this was different, and we both knew it; we’d all grown up together, and Jason and Cole and me had been tight, really tight, in middle school and high school, and Erik and I had known each other almost half my life . . . we couldn’t just pretend nothing had ever happened. We were part of a circle of people; we couldn’t just blow each other off.
Well, the blowing-off part of it was more on his side; since I wasn’t supposed to call him. But. Still.
Yeah, I’d have to get together with Erik again, to say what had to be said, and I wasn’t really looking forward to it.
And as I was thinking, I realized – it was weird, actually. I’d been all boned up, just a few minutes ago, thinking about Noah . . . but Erik and I had had good sex, really GREAT sex, to be honest – and, well, I just, couldn’t think of him that way, anymore. I mean, I’d really gotten into him, emotionally; and that was part of the sexual energy we had together, a huge, huge part of the sexual energy, and without that connection, that emotional connection - ? There just wasn’t all that much left . . . Especially, now; compared to me and Noah –
Headlights, in my side view mirror again.
I looked close, this time. I thought it was the same car; there was something about the headlights . . . one was brighter than the other; yeah, one was brighter, one was a little dimmer, a little brownish, maybe. And it was a smaller car; I could tell that much. Not the police, or anything.
I sped up a little, not too much, not obviously; and I pulled around another corner, to my left, and then quickly along to the next corner, and then I went to the right, and coasted slowly down the block; not so much looking for parking, anymore . . .
About three-quarters way down the block; those headlights, again. One bright; one dimmer.
A chill in my gut.
Oh, fuck me, hard.
I stopped, before the end of the block; and I watched, as Bright Headlights stopped too, a half a block back, more. Stopped; and stayed there, not moving, not backing up. One bright headlight shining in my mirror.
Oh, god, no . . .
A whole set of reactions, all at once.
First – the realization; he must have gotten a car, somewhere, somehow; or anyway, somebody must’ve been stupid enough to loan him a car, trust him with a car.
And, he’d been waiting; he’d been staking out the apartment; and I’d been stupid enough to just cruise by . . . in his old truck, that’d he’d recognize . . .
And that realization, along with a quick stab of fear – it was just crushed under a flood of misery, an almost overwhelming flood of misery; oh, no, oh Christ, I thought to myself, and I could feel my face scrunching up, and I just sank my forehead down, until it was resting on the steering wheel. Oh, Jesus. Why couldn’t he just fucking leave us ALONE? Why did he have to be part of our lives - ? WHY did he have to come around, and fuck things up for us - ?
Yeah; misery, a spike of real misery, black pain, and it really was overwhelming, for a long, long beat of seconds; until I forced myself to look up again, into the mirrors.
The truck has a sliding window, in back of the seats; I moved it open, to get a better look. The rain was even lighter now, not much more than a mist; I could feel it against my face, as I peered back. But I couldn’t see anything, with the headlights glaring in my face.
I wondered if he could see me.
And then a thought struck me. What if he COULD see me? Could he tell me from mom? I mean, we both have blond hair, mine’s longish . . .
Did he think he was stalking me? Or did he think he was stalking my mom - ?
Ice water, in my veins. A nauseating shock.
The idea, just the idea, of my asswipe dad, following my mom around in a car, creeping her out . . . or worse, maybe even PLANNING something, something physical . . . something dangerous –
Ice water, replaced by fire. A rush of hot adrenaline, a huge shot of adrenaline, all through me.
I lost it.
It was like that time in middle school, when I’d lost my head, and gone after Tom the Pig-Boy, who, I all-at-once-realized, had really reminded me of my father . . .
It was like a handful of times after, that I’d just, lost it. Lost control. Lost my head. Gone crazy-ass mad. God forgive me. God forgive me, please.
I slammed the truck into reverse; and I stomped on the gas, hard as I could.
The horrible squealing of tires on wet pavement; the insane roar of the big engine, the smell of burnt rubber, smoke all around, and I was hurtling backwards, faster and faster, weaving crazy, aiming at those headlights, just wanting to smash them, smash them, SMASH them, trying to stay on-target . . .
And at the last second, the very last second, and for some reason, God knows why – pure instinct, maybe; some kind of lizard-brain, physical reaction – I slammed down on the brakes, hard, and I skidded. The shriek of the tires again, loud and obscene. Barely stopping in time, almost, almost hitting Bright Headlights Car . . .
HONNKKKKKKK!!! from behind me, a long, protesting, blast; and as I watched, the driver dumped the clutch, and stalled out, the little car lurching to a stop. Then the headlights dimmed, as he started up again; and the car lurched into reverse, in the way of someone who doesn’t know how to drive a stick; start, stop, lurch, start, stop, lurch, until he was in the intersection, and he turned, and roared away, burning up his clutch in the process; HONNNKKKKK!!!!, again, as he left. Then, fainter; distant. Honnnnkkk . . .
The misty rain, coming through the window; the stink of the burned rubber, clouds of it, floating in the headlights. Down the block, the ‘whoop, whoop, whoop’ of one of those older car alarms, set off by all the racket. Off to the left, a light came on in an apartment window.
Me, beginning to shake, behind the wheel. Feeling cold; yeah, beginning to shake, hard. Empty, and cold. Hands clenched tight, on the steering wheel.
Fuck me. What did I just do? What did I just, almost, do - ?
* * *
When I could trust myself, I put the truck in gear, and drove uphill; way, way uphill, to one of the most remote neighborhoods-to-park, I could think of. The rain started coming down harder; I had to close the windows.
Looking for headlights behind me; looking for mismatched headlights in front of me, to either side of me . . . paranoid-afraid, at the idea of those headlights charging out of an intersection, broadsiding me . . .
At the same time – a feeling of unreality growing, and growing, in my head.
I mean – you know how it is, when something big, something bad, happens to you, suddenly, out of nowhere; right?
You question yourself. You question, what just happened; you run the film through your head, over and over again. What DID just happen, you ask yourself . . .
Could I be wrong, about it being my asswipe dad in the other car? I never did see him, after all . . . could it have been some total stranger, just looking for a parking place, like me - ?
Through all those twists and turns?, came the answer, back. Through streets that were pretty empty, empty of traffic? And if they were looking for parking – why follow someone else, who was also so clearly looking for parking - ?
The way he’d lurked, keeping a half-block back, and more . . .
No. It was my dad.
I knew it was my dad, in that primitive, primate part of the brain that recognizes threats, poisonous snakes in tall grass, hyenas lurking beyond the edge of the firelight . . . I knew it.
Plus – well. A memory came crashing back, vivid; my mom shopping for trucks, with my dad, looking to buy him one – before they’d bought this one, the one I was in – and him coming home in a foul mood, because he didn’t drive a stick, and she did. He was ashamed, and he took it out on me, some, all that week . . .
Well. Looked to me like he still didn’t drive a stick, worth shit.
That chilling, animal-certainty sank in. Deeper into the bone. Yeah; it was my dad.
I found a curbside spot where the truck actually fit; I parked it, and locked up. I thought about checking out the tires; but it was dark and raining, there was no way I’d see anything. I could still smell the stink of burned rubber, lingering, just a little.
Then, downhill, walking, in the steady rain.
The rain actually felt good, after I brushed the wet hair out of my eyes. Everything I wore, everything in my backpack, was going to get soaked; I didn’t care. My camera had a case, my MacBook had a waterproof sleeve; to hell with the rest.
What the fuck did I just do?
What the fuck did I just almost pull?
That film replaying itself in my mind; the sound of the tires, the horrible speed I’d built up, the little car getting closer and closer and CLOSER . . .
I’d wanted to kill –
Well. I wasn’t sure I’d really wanted to kill HIM; kill him, as a person, a flesh-and-blood person . . . it was more like I’d wanted to kill the car, those headlights, everything they represented about my fucked-up life, his place in my fucked-up life . . .
I’d almost done it.
I’d almost killed him.
I’d wanted to, before now.
If I hadn’t stomped on the brakes, if I’d stomped on the brakes just a second later . . . The F-150 is a big, high truck; the back of the truck would have gone right up and over the hood of the little car, it would’ve cut him in two, it would have taken his head right off . . .
Fuck. FUCK. What did that make me - ?
I wiped the wet hair out of my eyes, again; pelting downhill, now, walking fast, as fast as I could without running.
Why did I stop? Why did I stop, when I did?
That internal movie replaying itself, again; and again.
I didn’t know why I’d stopped.
But I knew how close it was; I knew how close I’d come, to being a killer. A murderer. I’d been crazy, out-of-my-head crazy, I’d lost control . . . just like my father. And I’d almost killed him.
My thoughts kept on whirring, on different tracks, conflicting tracks. Trying to avoid the horror.
My dad had thought he was stalking my mom . . . stalking my mom, alone, at night; in the rain. The fucker. The asswipe . . .
And in spite of everything, in spite of the misery I felt – I couldn’t help grinning to myself, briefly, desperately; the rain running down my face . . . Well. He knows better now, I thought. He knows it wasn’t my mom, driving the truck. He sure as FUCK knows it was me.
And that brief, guilty stab of satisfaction, the stab of hot pride, lasted about a second, as the horror sank back down on me again; the realization of what I’d done, what I’d almost done . . .
I’d almost killed him.
Oh, fuck me.