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    Headstall
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Exes and Ohs - 7. Chapter 7 Another Man's Shoes

Evolution.

                                                                                                                                                                 ***

 

“Hey.”

Drake stood up as Richard approached. “Hey.”

“Is this okay? I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“You didn’t.” The sun was low on his left side, and it highlighted the amber eyes of the man who faced it, showing stark uncertainty. Drake felt no inclination to put him at ease.

“Will you sit and talk with me?”

“About what?”

“Us… what happened.”

“Do you really think that’s necessary?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Why?” Drake was finding he could hold the eye contact, and that fact calmed him.

“Jeez, I don’t know, Drake. I think we need—”

“If you say closure, I’m going to scream.” He softened his words with the smallest of smiles.

“Fair enough. Look, I have a good life, and I’m a lucky man in so many ways, but how we left things—the way I hurt you—it’s something that haunts me to this day.”

“So you think a few words will change that?”

“Honestly, I don’t know, but maybe. I’d like to try and explain, and you didn’t want to hear anything I had to say back then.”

“Fuck, do you blame me?” It came out sharp and angry, but Drake didn’t care.

“No, absolutely not. I know you think I screwed you over, but—”

“Because you did. You did screw me over!” He sat down hard, leaning forward with his head bent down toward his knees and his hands gripping the back of his neck.

“Are you okay?”

Drake’s head slowly rose. “No. I’m pissed. Quite frankly, I don’t give a shit that you’ve been feeling haunted.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Sorry? We talked about marriage and kids and everything else under the sun, but in all that time together you couldn’t manage to tell me you were bisexual? It’s great you’re sorry, though,” he said sarcastically.

He edged as far away as he could when Richard sat down beside him, and neither man said a word for a long minute.

“At the time, I really thought that’s how our lives would go, you know? That we would get married and build a life together.”

“Right… and what, keep your true nature hidden from me?”

“No… no… figuring out that stuff was a real struggle for me, I swear.”

“Yeah, I’m sure it was,” he said with more sarcasm. “I remember our last time together, before you ripped my heart out… do you?”

“Of course I do. I’ll never forget it.”

“Okay, then answer me this. How could you have been so fucking romantic, and tell me over and over how much you loved me—then two days later tell me we had no future and, oh yeah, you were in love with Bernadette? You strung me along like a fucking fool. I don’t know how you could do that when you knew… you fucking knew!”

“I did love you, Drake… and I needed to say it then, as often as I could, while I still had the chance. I was running out of time because I knew you’d never want to hear those words from me again. I’d planned to come clean about everything the next day, and that was my last chance. I… I wanted us to have one last day where I could pretend I didn’t have to let you go.”

“Let me go? Fuck you, Richard. You mean dump me.”

“It’s not how it felt to me,” Richard protested feebly.

“Whatever… it was a cruel thing to do, letting me think everything was great when you fucking knew we were done. And you didn’t tell me the next day.”

“No, I chickened out and stayed in my dorm. I knew what I had to do, but I couldn’t… it’s why I told you I wasn’t feeling well. I went through hell that day… I didn’t speak to anyone after I called you. I know how it looked, but I wasn’t stringing you along, and I didn’t mean to be cruel—”

“You can justify what you did it if helps you sleep at night, but don’t expect me too. And I don’t believe you ever really loved me.”

“Fuck, Drake, I loved you so much, and I still care about you… I always will.”

He didn’t respond, other than to shake his head in disbelief. It didn’t make sense. He’d made a choice, and it hadn’t been Drake.

“You don’t understand—”

“No, I don’t, so make me understand. Explain to me how my gay boyfriend fell in love with a woman while he was with me, and then threw me away with no warning whatsoever. Fucking explain that! Then again, don’t bother.” He started to stand up when a hand on his arm stopped him.

“Please, Drake. Let me at least try. I get why you hate me, but this may be the only chance we get.”

He hesitated, and slowly sat back down. He pictured Jimmy’s face, and the expression his friend would wear if he returned in this state of mind. “Go ahead. Give it a shot.” His voice had lost its disgusted edge, at least for the moment.

“Thank you. I… I didn’t know what was happening to me back then. Out of the blue, I started dreaming about women, and—”

“When you were with me?” he asked, interrupting.

“No, I don’t think so, at least not at first. Just when we spent nights in our own dorm rooms. The first few times, I thought it was no big deal. Mostly it was just body parts.”

“What, like boobs and pussy?” Drake couldn’t help feeling mortified. “Is that what you were thinking of when we were having sex?”

“Drake, no. Never. And it started out as things like a woman’s neck or throat, and lips… soft skin. I only thought about you when we were together, I swear. It was just dreams at first, but when it started happening more and more, I began to freak out. Remember when I talked to you about trying to get into the same dorm room?”

It took a moment for Drake to recall what Richard was talking about. “Yeah, I remember. The registrar said it couldn’t be done so late in the year, I think.”

“Exactly. Well, that was why I wanted to do it. I thought the dreams would stop if we slept together every night. I realize now they wouldn’t have, but, like I said, I was freaking out, especially when the body parts became girls at school… and then Bernadette.”

“Your old girlfriend,” Drake said softly. “The one who hooked up with Brian and dropped you over the phone. The one you said you hated.”

While blowing out a big breath, Richard said, “Yes.”

“As soon as you dreamt about her or any other girl in that way, you should have told me.”

“You’re right, but I told myself it was only dreams, and I didn’t understand what they meant. With Bernadette, I figured it was because we had two classes together and had started talking again. I thought I was getting, I don’t know… mixed up with memories of her and me back when we were together. I loved you so much.”

Drake huffed at the audacity. “Not as much as Bernadette it turned out.”

“That’s not true, but I don’t expect you to accept that.”

“If it's not, why was I the one to lose?”

“That’s the thing, Drake. As happy as I am with my life, I lost too.”

“Yeah, right,” he scoffed.

Richard hung his head in a gesture of defeat.

“Okay. So what made you decide I wasn’t who you wanted anymore?” He peered at the man as his head came back up.

“It wasn’t like that. I saw a therapist when it got too intense to ignore. She told me my sexuality was evolving, and it was something she'd seen a number of times.”

“When? When did you see a therapist?”

“Between classes on Wednesdays, at the Student Care building. I saw her some Fridays too. I wanted to tell you, but I was afraid of losing you.”

“What the hell did she mean?”

“It’s hard to explain it all.”

“Isn’t that why I’m still sitting here?”

“Yeah, it is, and I’m trying. Basically, she said because I was never interested in, or even looked at any guy other than you, my feelings likely had little to do with your gender.”

“I’m confused. So, you were bisexual?”

“Look… no. It’s not about labels, but if I was bi, maybe we could have worked. Anyway, she said it was possible to love someone of the same sex and still be straight. My true sexuality was exerting itself, and I could try to suppress it, but she didn’t recommend it… it would win out eventually.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I didn’t either for a while.” He exhaled loudly, and then swallowed a few times. Drake noticed his hands were trembling, but no sympathy arose. “Damn, Drake. This is hard. I know I’m doing a piss poor job of explaining. I wish I had taken you with me when I started seeing her. She suggested it, but I was terrified of you walking away from me.”

“I might have, but that was my decision to make, not yours. You had no right.”

“I know, and I’m sorry.”

“That’s your third sorry, and it means nothing to me. So, your sexuality was exerting itself… you mean you were becoming straight?”

“It took me a while to come to that conclusion, but yeah.”

“And how did you finally reach that conclusion?”

“A lot of things, Drake. I started noticing women when I was awake. I tried to convince myself I was fixating, and worrying too much, but I remembered what it was like to make love to them. They were having a constant effect on me.”

“Yet you were still having sex with me.” He shook his head in disgust.

“Yes, and it made me feel so guilty to have those thoughts, but honestly, I had no control over them. As much as I fought it, nothing worked. I must have wished them away a million times.”

“And you’re saying I was the only guy you’ve ever been interested in sexually?”

“Yes.”

“Lucky me,” he spat out bitterly. “How do you know you won’t be interested in some guy in the future?”

“I just know.”

“Like when you knew you were gay?”

“It happens more than you think, Drake. Sandra, my therapist, said it happens a lot where people fall in love with someone of the same sex, especially when they are young, but that’s not the gender they’re wired for. It’s the same as men who think they’re straight, but turn out gay. It’s called latent sexuality, and can happen at any time in a person’s life.”

“I know what latent is, but, fuck… we were together for so long.” He stood up and moved a couple of steps away, trying to stem those resurging feelings of betrayal. “You and Bernadette, how did that happen? You were sleeping with both of us?”

Richard stayed seated. “I’m not proud of it, but yes, we did sleep together once before I told you. I had to be sure, Drake… it was the final piece for me.”

Even after all this time, hearing those words hurt, but he made himself stand there and hear the man out.

“Bernadette and I had been talking for a couple of months… Sandra encouraged it because she said it would help me clarify stuff. It turned out Bernadette had always regretted what she’d done. She was going to try to win me back when she found out about you and me. She… backed away.”

“That’s so sweet of her. Sounds like a fucking fairy tale.”

“Drake—”

“Look, I’m not trying to be an ass. This is not a pleasant thing to be reliving. Fuck!” The urge to run got stronger, but he forced himself to stay put.

“You have every reason to hate me. I had no right to keep you in the dark. I was selfish, and I was a coward.”

“Fucking right I have every reason—you were a bastard to handle it the way you did. All this was happening behind my back, and I was the last to know when I should have been the first.”

Richard nodded, and Drake saw his shame. “I can second guess how I did what I did, and I do all the time, but yeah, you were the last to know. Drake?”

He met the man’s gaze, but said nothing.

“I know it’s no excuse, but I didn’t want to give in. I didn’t want to give you up.” The man looked truly shaken now.

“And yet you did.”

“It was the best thing I could do for you. I know it didn’t seem like it at the time, not really even to me, but I have no doubts now I did the right thing. But, fuck it hurt.”

“It hurt? Yeah, okay… if you say so… I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt there, but you had Bernadette. I had no one.”

“I know, I know, and I didn’t have a clue how you were doing because you wouldn’t talk to me. I asked around, but you weren’t talking to anyone.”

“Christ, Richard! Did you really expect me to?”

He dropped his head down and shook it before he softly uttered, “To me, no.”

“You have no idea how much you messed me up.”

“I wanted to be there for you, Drake, I really did. I kept hoping you would reach out, but…. That whole next year I hated myself. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be happy, and it almost ended Bernadette and me.

“She kept getting frustrated, and we fought a lot… I was trying to punish myself, but all I ended up doing was hurting her. Finally, I snapped out of it, thanks to more therapy. I was lucky she stuck with me through it all. She never gave up, despite me being a dick at times.”

Drake turned around, away from Richard, trying to calm down as he looked out over the darkening golf course. He was tired of being angry. “Doesn’t she worry you’ll… revert?”

“Revert?” Richard sounded surprised. “No, I don’t think so. She was worried at the beginning, when we first started talking, but Sandra helped her understand. She explained it all to her over the course of a few weeks, and it all began to fall into place for both of us.”

“You took her to see your therapist.” Drake turned to face him again, snorting at the same time. It didn’t seem fair, but none of this did.

“Yes, I did.” He had the decency to look guilty before he continued. “That was at Sandra’s urging too. But, and this is important for you to understand—I had to let you go even if there was no Bernadette. I wasn’t what you deserved.”

Drake studied the man, and saw the naked honesty on a face he knew well. “Well, that sounds noble.” He sighed and sat back down. What did it all matter now?

“It’s not noble at all. Once I was certain, I couldn’t live a lie.”

“Isn’t that what you were already doing?”

Richard nodded, and he looked miserable doing so. “Be honest, Drake. If there was no Bernadette, and I’d told you I was sexually attracted to women, how long would we have lasted? How long before trust would have been an issue?”

“It would have been a deal breaker for me.”

“And I knew that.”

Drake sighed. He’d heard enough. They’d been doomed from the start, and Richard was right to call himself selfish. He’d deserved better from the man. “Don’t you need to get back to your pregnant wife? Does she know you’re out here talking to me?”

“She does. I tell her everything. She pushed me to go find you and try to make things right. I’m not the only one who feels guilty, and you know she always liked you back when our group hung out together.”

Yeah, talking about his one-time friendship with Richard’s wife was not a place he wanted to go. It had ended the first time Richard asked him out. “Well, I should get back. Dean’s a worrier.”

“He seems like a nice guy, and he’s handsome. You two look good together… like you’re really in love.”

“You think so?” Drake cringed and looked away quickly as he thought of their charade and how convincing it was.

“Aren’t you? Is something wrong?”

“No, nothing’s wrong. Why are you asking me that?”

“Sorry, but your expression changed and—”

“I have trust issues, and they get in the way.” It was as honest a response as he could give.

“I’m sorry. That’s my fault, isn’t it?”

“What do you want me to say, Richard? It is what it is… love isn’t always enough.”

“No, I guess not. It wasn’t enough for us, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t for you guys. Our situation was a lot different.”

Was it? If Richard only knew. He needed some time to think. “Dean’s a great guy, the best, and he’ll be wondering if I’m okay.”

“It’s easy to see how much you mean to him.”

This conversation was heading into territory he didn’t want to go. Pretending to be a couple was becoming more uncomfortable by the minute. He wished… ah, he wasn’t sure what he wished anymore. Drake rubbed his hands together, not knowing how to respond.

“Okay, well thank you for hearing me out. Did it change anything for you?”

“I don’t know if it did, but I guess talking was a good idea. I still think you went about it all wrong. I deserved honesty from the beginning… but… I won’t make light of what you went through even if I don’t fully understand it.”

“Do you still hate me?”

“I… I’m not as angry. I hated what you did to me, but it sounds like it wasn’t easy for you either. You know me, and the one thing that hasn’t changed is how I take my time working through stuff.”

“I understand, and that’s as much as I can ask for.”

Drake was reminded of Jimmy’s words earlier that day at the pool. He’d said basically the same thing.

They sat for another minute before Richard spoke again. “I should go. Bernadette will probably want to get home. She wouldn’t have missed seeing her favorite cousin get married, but she tires easily.”

Drake nodded in the fading light, and stood up. “Rocco’s lucky to have a girl like Rachel.”

“Yeah, he is, and he knows it. Do you think I could have a hug?”

“Um, sure.”

Richard always gave great hugs, and this time was no different. Drake never expected to find himself in this man’s arms again, yet here he was, and the scent of him was shockingly familiar.

It was surreal, and it got even more so when after loosening his grip, Richard leaned in and kissed him. It was light and chaste, but when he followed up with another one immediately, Drake felt something different as lips moved across his in a real kiss.

He stepped away immediately, glaring at widened eyes of troubled amber. “What the hell was that?”

Richard faltered, and remorse spread across his face. “Oh, God. I don’t know why I did that. I’m so sorry. Oh, God.”

Drake took in the ashen color change, noticeable even in the fading light, and was surprised he finally felt some sympathy for his ex. “It’s okay. Calm down. It was unexpected, but it’s not like you assaulted me or anything.”

“Still, I shouldn’t have done that.”

“No, you shouldn’t have, so why the fuck did you?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t?” Drake asked, challenging the man.

“Okay… I guess I do. Having you in my arms again felt good. I miss you, Drake… I love my wife, and I would never betray her, but you’re still in my heart.” The anguish he displayed sure looked genuine. “I’m sorry I got carried away.”

Drake absorbed the brevity of his declaration, wondering at how much weight he could place on Richard’s earlier words. Was his sexual identity really resolved? Was Bernadette going to have her world torn apart sometime in the future like his had been? Sighing, he felt the weight of the day descend on him. “It’s all right. No harm done.”

“Can I just ask… do you still feel anything for me?”

Drake was taken aback at both the question, and the fact Richard was asking it. What the hell was going on with him? He sighed once more, meeting an indecipherable gaze. This man had been his world for years, and he decided he would give him an answer, even if he wasn’t sure he deserved one. Maybe he needed it for his own closure. “You were the love of my life once, Richard, but you aren’t anymore. I do want you to be happy, I suppose, but that’s all that’s left for you in my heart.”

Now the man looked sheepish… and something else Drake couldn’t quite read. “That’s what I thought. I am happy, and I want the same for you. Can I… would it be all right if I text you once in a while? Keep in touch, maybe?”

Another question Drake hadn’t expected. Was Richard expecting complete absolution? He had to bite back the urge to tell him to fuck off. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”

“Okay, I understand.” He looked down, but not before Drake saw his disappointment.

He instantly felt petty, and his traitorous mouth spoke in spite of his brain’s reservations. “We could try it, I guess.”

Richard's head rose. “Really? Thanks. I promise I won’t bug you, but I was thinking I could text you a picture of our daughter once she’s born, if you want?”

“Daughter?”

“Yeah, no one else has been told, but there’s no harm in you knowing. Besides, because of today, she’ll be your distant cousin by marriage.” A tentative smile appeared.

“She will?”

“Yeah, I think so. Your cousin married Bernadette’s cousin, so….”

“Oh, right. I don’t know how that works.”

“Me neither, to tell you the truth.” He smiled again, this time a little broader.

“Anyway, congratulations on having a girl. You always did say you wanted a daughter. I’m glad you got your wish.” Drake was pleased to realize he actually meant it… and felt no bitterness whatsoever. Richard would be a good father.

“Thanks. We’re going to call her Olivia… still discussing the middle name, though.”

“Pretty name. Yes, I would like a picture of her.”

“Okay, then I’ll make sure you get one. Thank you, Drake. It means a lot that you were willing to hear me out. If you ever need anything, or someone to talk to—”

“Take care, Richard,” he said quickly, interrupting, and effectively dismissing him. One thing he was sure of… his ex would be the last person Drake would ever turn to, or confide in. He watched as the man turned and walked away, slowly at first, before picking up the pace. He wondered again about the kiss, and what it really meant. Was Richard in denial? If he was a betting man, he’d be tempted put money on that being the case.

 

 

*

Thank you to my editor, Timothy M., for all he does. Thanks as well to all the readers for your engagement with, and support of, this story. Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this chapter if you can. Cheers... Gary....

Copyright © 2018 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



10 hours ago, mfa607 said:

Wow!!! Wow!!! WOW 😮!! That was fantastic!!! Wow!! Thank you!! Dick is a serious mess!!

Wow!!

Edited by mfa607
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33 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

Still dislike richard, as a matter of fact, more so than ever!I don't care what excuse he had Drake should've been the first to know not the last. It was a total douche canoe of a move and selfish as hell.

I don't like him either, Wes... he shows the real instincts of human nature impossible to admire. There is no exact right way in a situation like this... I think he really did love Drake... but he could have handled it better. Yeah, definitely a douche canoe, but he did face a no win situation. It seems like they all paid a price, including Bernadette, so Richard should have sucked it up and come clean long before he did. You were first in again this week... thanks for the great comment and the support, buddy... cheers... Gary....

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39 minutes ago, mfa607 said:

Wow!!! Wow!!! WOW 😮!! That was fantastic!!! Wow!! Thank you!! Dick is a serious mes!!

:D  :D  :D  Thanks, mfa!!!! I'm so stoked you appreciated this chapter. Yup, Richard would appear to be a serious mess. I know I was, for a long time. Who's to say if this talk will help him out... in my case, communication was difficult, but the key to moving past our hell. Thanks again for the 'Wows' ... they mean a lot... cheers... Gary....

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41 minutes ago, tinytoes said:

Exactly 

:D  :D  :D  Thanks, tiny! Just awesome... appreciate the support, so much... cheers... Gary....

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1 minute ago, Headstall said:

:D  :D  :D  Thanks, mfa!!!! I'm so stoked you appreciated this chapter. Yup, Richard would appear to be a serious mess. I know I was, for a long time. Who's to say if this talk will help him out... in my case, communication was difficult, but the key to moving past our hell. Thanks again for the 'Wows' ... they mean a lot... cheers... Gary....

I completely understand. Some of us deal with this better than others. Thanks again! Maybe you should post on Friday! I keep wishing it to be Monday!

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31 minutes ago, empresslovesreading said:

Yeah, I'm not at all impressed with Richard wanting to get it off his chest to make himself feel better. I'm sure he did get something out of therapy but not as much as he should have. He's gonna fook up and he better not hope Drake will be there.😡 Prick

Now hurry it up with Drake and Jimmy or Dean, or whatever the hell his name is, getting it together. Jeez!!!

 

There was no way someone wasn't going to get hurt in a situation like that, but it would have been a lot fairer to be upfront from the beginning. Unfortunately, I do get where Richard was coming from. He was a coward, and he was selfish... you can't have it all... a lesson hard to accept for some of us, and it appears Richard had difficulty. The main thing is that Drake heard Richard out... that was a victory in itself. Whether it actually helps Drake is another story. :) 

 

LOL... thanks for your eagerness, empress, but men will be men... no guarantees what will happen from here. :P  Thanks so much for the great comment and your support... see you in a week :D  Cheers... Gary....

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25 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Olivia Drakina? Olivia Drakita? Olivia Drakette? Olivia Drakesita? Olivia Dracena? Olivia DrakainaNot Olivia Dracula! Not Olivia Dracaena!  ;-)

 

Does Drake have a middle name that can be feminized easier?  ;-)

LOLOL... I don't know how Bernadette would feel about that... or Drake. Personally, I like Drakesita. :P  It's got a spicey sound. :D  Thanks for making me laugh, buddy... cheers... Gary....

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" I… I wanted us to have one last day where I could pretend I didn’t have to let you go.”

“Let me go? Fuck you, Richard. You mean dump me.”

 

And then he kisses him?!?!

I am not dismissing what's his name's journey, but the bottom line is he handled it badly and someone he "loved" got hurt because of it.  

Even if his therapist was correct and his love for Drake defied gender, all that business that went on at the end of the discussion should not have happened.  Then to ask Drake if he still had feelings for him?  Why?  Would you leave your pregnant wife to get back with Drake?

He is still confused and he is still wrong, in my opinion but I guess Drake still needed to have that discussion.  So no sympathy for Dick from me- No. Nope. Nada.

Drake is a bigger person than me to accept occasional contact from Penis, um, I mean Dick.  I think if they kept in touch he would try to get back with him again.  He may have had extensive therapy but he is still confused.

In spite of my intense dislike of Dick (well that dick, anyway) it was a marvelous chapter, Gary.  One issue down for Drake, one more to go.

Cheers, my platonic friend.  🍺 :hug:

Edited by FanLit
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28 minutes ago, Geemeedee said:

And NO, I don’t want a fucking picture of your baby to rub it in my face that you’re off having kids with the bitch you dumped me for! The hell?

 

Reason 1,863 I’m single. 

That gets a like, love and a ha ha

:great: :heart::rofl:

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