That night was perhaps my favorite night so far in San Francisco, hell, maybe even my favorite night of my life! I was surrounded by friends and good music, what more could I ask for? They don’t even like this type of music! Yet here they are, without a single complaint.
But everything that goes up must come down, and as another slow song came on I found myself starting to zone out.
“I’m going to go get a soda.” I lied, slipping away from them before anyone could follow me. Before I knew it I found myself sitting on the curb outside, thinking everything over while trying my hardest to stay on top of my emotions.
“There you are!” Ky shouted in a sigh of relief. “You had us all worried man.”
“Oh, sorry.” I apologized but didn’t look back. “Have I been gone that long?”
“Long enough.” He shrugged, walking up and taking a seat next to me. “What’s the matter? Do you want me to go get Dizzy?”
“No, I just needed a minute of quiet.” I lied once more. “Let’s go back inside.” I encouraged as I rose to my feet.
“Artie,” Ky began reaching up and lightly grabbing my arm. “It’s okay not to be, well, okay.”
“I’m fine.” I insisted.
“Man, Dizzy’s right, you are a terrible liar.” Ky teased. “Just tell me, I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
I took a deep breath before sitting back down. “One of the songs they were playing, it was, well it was a song my Mom used to sing to me all the time.”
“Oh,” Ky exhaled, seemingly picking up on what I was trying to say. “you don’t see her much anymore, do you?”
“She passed away a couple weeks ago.” I confessed, staring out at the road in front of us.
“I am so sorry Artie.” Ky offered, looking over to me. “My Grandfather always used to tell me the proverb, duty is heavy as a mountain, but death is lighter than a feather.” He said it in a nervous breath. “I guess it’s kind of a fancy way to say she’s in a better place where nothing can hurt her. I know that may not help you too much, but she’s at peace. I can promise you that.”
“Thank you, that does help.” I exhaled, finally looking over at him.
“Anytime.” He forced a smile. “You’re a lot stronger than I thought. I don’t know how you do it.”
“Everyone says that.” I nodded my head. “But I honestly don’t think I’m strong or anything. I just, I needed some type of normal back in my life. If my mom was still alive, well, I’d be going to school every day. So that’s what I’m doing.”
“What’s going on?” Dizzy ran out of the club before Ky could say anything else.
“Nothing.” I dismissed, as he took a seat on my other side.
“One of the songs they played was a song Artie’s Mom would always sing him.” Ky replied, instantly breaking his promise.
“Dude!” I shouted, shooting him a stern look. “You promised it would stay between us.”
“No, I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone,” Ky shrugged. “and Dizzy’s not anyone.”
“Thank you Ky.” Dizzy nodded, before throwing his arm over my shoulder. “You alright?”
“I’m fine.” I lied, looking straight forward once more.
“You want to go home?” He asked in a serious voice.
“I don’t think so,” I shook my head. “but I, I don’t know if I’m ready to go back inside either.”
Dizzy grew quiet for a few seconds before rising to his feet and reaching out his hand. “Come on.” He encouraged. I hesitated at first but followed along as I placed my trust in his words. “we’ll bring inside out here.” He smiled, pulling headphones out of his pocket.
“I’ll go find Charlotte and let her know everything’s okay.” Ky offered, heading back towards the entrance to the club.
“Ky,” I began as he looked back and our eyes connected. “Thank you. I, I really needed that.”
“Anytime.” He repeated with a forced smile before darting inside.
“We need to find him a boyfriend.” Dizzy announced as Ky slipped inside.
“Why? You worried?” I teased, trying my hardest to lighten the mood.
“No,” He quickly shot down. “he just deserves someone. Don’t you agree?”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “he’ll be an amazing boyfriend to someone.” I noticed Dizzy’s stare grow a bit more concerned as he heard those words. “But not the one I want. He’s smart and kind, but too, too, passive. I need someone to take me by the hand and show me the way.”
“Then allow me.” He decided, placing an ear-bud in my ear and extending a hand.
I nodded without a word as music began to play in my one ear. Soon we had our own club going outside of the real one. Just Dizzy and I as the world passed around us, and that, it’s exactly what I needed. No matter how fast life moves, I’m starting to think I’ll always have him to pick me back up.
“You alright?” Charlotte asked as they came out of the club, causing me and Dizzy to separate only after a couple of songs.
“Yeah.” I forced a smile. “I’m fine.”
“Good.” She forced a smile. “Are you boys ready to go home now? It’s like eleven!”
“Uh oh guys, its past Char’s bed time!” Dizzy teased but only got a shake of the head from me.
“Oh come on, it is!” He insisted with a smile. “So much so that you two can go on, and I’ll take Artie home.”
“Smooth.” Ky nodded in approval.
“I can take Artie home.” She complained, starting to stare down Dizzy.
“No, that’s okay.” I dismissed, looking back to Dizzy. “He’s got it covered.”
“But Artie,” She began before Ky could grab her hand.
“He’s got it covered.” I shrugged.
“Fine.” She gave in as our eyes connected. She took a few steps forward and pulled me in for a hug. “I want to know everything that happens tonight.” She whispered.
I nodded as she let me go. I instantly grabbed back onto Dizzy’s hand. “What’s going to happen tonight?” Dizzy asked with a wicked smile.
“I don’t know.” I playfully shrugged as we headed to the opposite bus stop from them. “But I guess you’re staying over.”
“I was banking on it.” His smirk grew.
It didn’t take us long to get home from there. Sure, the bus ran a bit slower than normal, but there wasn’t much traffic to contend with. When we got back to my home we tried to be as quiet as possible as we snuck up to my bedroom.
“Alright, you know the drill by now.” I began as I started to pull pajamas out of my dresser. “I’ll go get changed and be right back.” I instructed but as I went to turn around noticed Dizzy in only his boxers. “Dizzy!” I yelped before looking right down.
“What?” He giggled. “I was just getting changed. I don’t think you have to go all the way down the hall for that.”
“Oh, I, yeah.” I began to stutter as a blush overtook my face.
“That’d just be more noise that risks waking up Adam, isn’t it?” He teased as his mind began to find whatever excuse it could.
“I, yeah.” I gulped, starting to take off my shirt. My hands begin to lightly tremble as I tried my hardest to get changed. It’s funny, I’ve gotten changed a bunch of times in front of other guys. I mean you have to do it every gym class! And sure, I guess in a way Dizzy and I have gotten changed in front of each other before because of gym class! But this, it just feels, different.
“So I uh,” I froze as I looked back up and noticed him still in his boxers. “You said you were getting changed!” I whined.
“I did. Maybe this is just my pajamas.” He shrugged with a smirk.
“Dizzy!” I quietly yelped.
“I’m just playing around.” He giggled as he pulled shorts out of his bag.
I nodded, but as I started to pull my jeans down I noticed him look away. He’s giving me privacy? Didn’t he start this just to see me in my underwear? What’s he playing at? I gave him a few more seconds, but he kept his eyes away in an effort to give me as much space as possible.
“Dizzy.” I began in a shaky voice. “Maybe, maybe we can have one more dance tonight?”
“Yeah?” He asked, finally looking back at me. He tried to hide his surprise as he saw me still standing in my boxer briefs.
“Yeah.” I extended my hand as he dropped the shorts that were in his hand.
He took my hand and pulled me in close. “You don’t have to do this.” He offered.
“I want to.” I forced a smile as our bodies met. “Dizzy.” I gulped as he began to kiss my neck and his hands lowered from my waist to my bottom. “I, remember we said we weren’t going to start our relationship on this?”
“Sorry.” He sighed, but kept his head resting on me. “You’re just so hot it’s hard to keep pressing the brakes here.”
“Then maybe we should stop.” I teased with a smile.
“No, I’ll behave.” He exhaled but as he raised his hands back to my hips I let out a sigh.
“Maybe you don’t have to behave that much.” I teased, causing his hands to instantly drop back down.
“You like me.” He provoked with a giggle.
“Yeah.” I shrugged with a smile. “But we’re going to do this right.”
“I know.” He groaned.
“And for the record, I, I think you’re hot too.” I forced out.
“I know.” He teased as his smile grew. Maybe this seems weird to him. Maybe dancing in our underwear is weird! But this is my limit right now. This is as far as I’m comfortable going. I guess I want to be close to him, but I’m just not ready for sex yet. Call me old school, but I need our emotional base first. I need to know I can completely and fully trust him. I need to know that no matter what, he’s not going anywhere. That this isn’t just for the sex.
Without warning we suddenly heard the front door open then shut, sending us both flying back from one another.
“Who’s that?” Dizzy asked with wide eyes.
“I don’t know.” I shook my head. “Maybe it’s Adam, maybe he wasn’t home yet. He was out with Bradley.”
“What if he comes to check on you?” Dizzy panicked as he grabbed his shorts off the ground.
“He wont.” I dismissed, walking over and locking the door.
“You’re way too calm right now!” Dizzy yelped, throwing me my shorts.
“It’s Adam.” I shrugged, starting to put them on. “He’s cool.”
“Sure, he’s easy going, but I don’t think he’ll be very cool about us dancing nearly naked!” Dizzy continued to slightly freak out. “I can already hear it! I told you to take it easy Dizzy!” He began in the best impression he could manage. “Not dance nude with him!”
“We weren’t dancing nude.” I defended as I looked over to him in surprise.
“It was going that way!” He insisted.
“No it wasn’t.” I laughed with the shake of my head. “You just said you’d pump the brakes.”
“Oh the brakes fell off the second I felt your boner poking mine and you know it!” He teased, now exaggerating his panic to make me laugh.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I shrugged, throwing on a shirt and starting to play dumb. “Wait,” I hushed before he could make another joke. “who’s that voice?” I asked as I realized Adam was talking to someone.
“What voice?” Dizzy asked as I quietly snuck towards the door and pulled it open. “Is that Bradley?” Dizzy excitedly asked.
“I think it is!” I yelped, starting to slide out of the door.
“Where are you going?” Dizzy whispered.
“To see what I can see.” I shrugged with a smirk.
“No! Artie! No!” Dizzy tried to stop me.
“Never thought I’d see the day you were scared.” I teased, knowing how to get under his skin. “No wonder I didn’t really feel any balls.”
Dizzy froze as he heard that joke and stared at me. “Friendly fire.” He shook his head.
“Come on, that was a good one.” I lightly laughed to myself.
“That was a mean one.” He corrected as his smile finally started to grow again. “God damn Artie, we’re on the same side!”
“Then come on! Before he leaves!” I encouraged as we both finally slipped out of the room and down towards the stairs. We stayed quiet as we hugged the wall, close enough to the stairs where Adam couldn’t see us but we could hear them.
“So you had fun tonight?” I heard an unfamiliar voice come from about where the couch was.
“I did,” Adam replied in a flirty voice. “but the nights not over yet.”
I felt disgust cover my face as I turned towards Dizzy. “You happy now?” He whispered. “You really wanted to know that they’re going to bang tonight?!”
“That, that doesn’t mean that!” I tried to defend as my mind tried to already force the memory out of my head.
“You’re so naive.” He rolled his eyes.
“Just, shhhh.” I hushed him.
“You’re a wild one Adam Price.” The other man played along.
“Alright, I know where this is going!” Dizzy started to stand back up.
“I just need to know,” The other man began, freezing us both. “what are with those boots?”
“What boots?” Adam asked as nerves started to enter his voice.
“Those boots.” The man continued. “There’s no way those things fit you! What are they a size eight?”
“I have small feet.” Adam defended, drawing a curious stare from Dizzy.
“No you don’t.” The man shot down. “You go to Texas, go kind of quiet on me, come back with small boots. What’s going on with you?”
“It’s nothing Brad.” Adam dismissed, trying his hardest to change the conversation.
“And who’s backpack is that?” The man continued as he started to snoop around the room. “Someone’s staying here with you.”
“It’s no one.” Adam tried to shut down.
“Alright.” Dizzy whispered once more. “Really, this is enough now.
“Stop,” I warned, looking back to him. “I want to hear this.”
“It’s clearly not.” Bradley insisted as his voice began to grow serious.
“Fine, have a seat.” Adam groaned, forced to open up. “When I went to Texas, well, I wound up bringing back my Nephew.”
“Bringing back?” Bradley repeated.
“As in, well, taking him in.” Adam exhaled.
“For how long?” Bradley asked as I heard the excitement fade from his voice.
“For as long as he wants.” Adam replied, clearly nervous about his confession. “He can stay here until he’s thirty if he really wants.”
“Jesus Christ Adam, how old is he now?” The man pressured, almost sounding annoyed.
“Fifteen.” Adam answered. “What do you mean Jesus Christ?”
“I mean you’re only thirty one.” Bradley began. “Taking in a fifteen year old, that’s a big commitment. You can’t be a father right now, that, that’s a lot of luggage.”
“I’m not trying to be a father.” Adam warned as he grew irritated. “And please don’t call my nephew luggage.”
“What else am I supposed to call him?” Bradley asked. “You want my honest opinion? Send him back, or only take him in until he’s eighteen.”
“Excuse me?” Adam let out in shock.
“Come on Adam, I know you know what I’m saying.” Bradley replied. “How many men are going to be thrilled that you have a kid?”
“I really don’t care if they’re thrilled or not, it’s not their place to say.” Adam sternly let out.
“Don’t get like that,” Bradley warned. “it’s nothing personal, it’s just, maybe taking him in wasn’t the best thing for you. He’s going to hold you back.”
“Get out.” Adam demanded as I heard agitation turn to anger.
“Get. Out.” Adam repeated in a much more intense voice.
“Throw me out now and we’re through.” Bradley threatened. Dizzy and I moved back as we heard their voices head towards the door.
“Oh we’re already through.” Adam let out a pissed off laugh. “How dare you tell me how I should handle my family.”
“You’re making a huge mistake.” Bradley said, clearly taking his time.
“Oh please, you’re breath smells like shit.” Adam dismissed.
“You’re an ugly person on the inside, you know that?” Bradley began to take shots. “I guess that’s why you never let anyone in.”
“Maybe you just never gave me a good reason to let you in. I mean where the fuck where you? My sister died.” Adam emphasized. “I wasn’t visiting home when I went back. I was going to her wake and funeral, and you knew that.”
“You said you didn’t want me to come.” Bradley argued. “And you kept me an arm’s length away after.”
“You didn’t have to come to be a good boyfriend. You never tried to even talk to me about it, or comfort me, or anything!” Adam began to shout in an angry voice. “It’s like you didn’t fucking care, and when you find out about my nephew you tell me to get rid of him? You’re a real piece of shit.”
“Oh grow up.” Bradley shot back before I heard the door slam in his face.
As me and Dizzy looked at one another I could tell neither of us knew what to say. It was as though I could feel what Adam was feeling. Like I could feel that punch to the gut. It was quiet for a while after we heard Adam plop down onto the couch. Every now and again I swear you could hear a sniffle, but for the most part it seemed like he was just sitting there thinking.
“Well go ahead.” Dizzy gave me a push.
“I-I don’t know what to say.” I gulped. “I, can’t you go?”
“I’m not supposed to be here!” He whispered in a stern voice. “Now go!”
“What am I supposed to do?” I asked but could tell he didn’t know either. “He changed his whole life just to take me in. I’ve cost him money, and time and now his boyfriend!”
“You’re smart, you’ll figure it out.” Dizzy encouraged giving me one last shove.
Adam stayed staring forward as he heard me start to come down the stairs. “Hey.” I forced out, unsure where to start.
“Sorry, did I wake you?” Adam asked, still looking forward.
“No, I’ve been up.” I forced out, slowly getting closer.
“You have fun at that club tonight?” He asked in a quiet voice.
“Yeah, I uh, I have your change upstairs.” I said, taking a seat in my normal spot.
“Keep it.” He shook his head. “Use it to take Dizzy to dinner or something.”
“Oh, uh, thank you.” I replied, glancing at him then away. “Are you, are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He dismissed. “I just went out for a few drinks with Lindsay and Bradley. I’m trying to sober up before bed. Sorry if I’m acting a bit weird. I’m just tired.”
“Oh okay.” I nodded my head but as I began to shift in my seat felt something start to rise in me. “You don’t have to lie to me, it’s okay not to be okay.” I suddenly quoted Ky, shocking even myself. “I, I heard what was happening.”
“It was just a drunken argument.” Adam shook his head.
“No, it wasn’t.” I called him out before he could feed me any lies. “You chose me.”
“I didn’t choose anyone.” Adam tried to reject.
“Stop.” I instructed, slowly moving closer to him. “I’m sorry Adam. I’m sorry that I’ve cost you a boyfriend. You don’t’ deserve that.”
“You didn’t cost me anything.” He assured, looking up at me for the first time all night. “Get that out of your head right now. I never want to hear you say it again. You’re not an inconvenience. You’re not something that’s costing me things. You’re just a kid who keeps getting pulled into shitty situations.”
“But I, I don’t want to hold you back.” I confessed, as Bradley’s words bounced around in my head.
“You’re not holding me back.” Adam insisted. “These past two weeks, they’re the most I’ve grown in a long time. So just, stop overthinking.”
“Sorry.” I exhaled, trying my hardest to think of something to say. “I uh, you’re better off without him.” I forced out, not knowing what else to do.
“I know.” He slowly nodded. “Why don’t you go to bed, it’s getting late.”
“No.” I shook my head. “I, I’m not leaving you. I don’t know what to say, but I’m not going anywhere.”
“Alright.” He accepted as the room grew quiet once more.
Even though Adam didn’t say anything I could tell it meant a lot that I was there with him. He doesn’t have to go through this alone, not while I’m around. I may not know much about break ups but the least I could do is be there when he needs it. I’ll make this up to you Adam. I swear to God I will.