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    Headstall
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Exes and Ohs - 9. Chapter 9 Wake-up Call

When push comes to shove.

                                                                                                                                                                  ***

 

 

The ride home was quiet. Very quiet. Drake began replaying snippets of his conversations throughout the day, mixing up Jimmy and Richard in his head as the cab traveled to his mother’s house. He felt drained, and as hopeful as his thoughts were for his parents, they paled in comparison to what else was creeping in and causing him anxiety. The other man in the backseat was not sitting as close as he normally would have, and Drake could feel the deeper distance it represented. Now that they were away from prying eyes, Jimmy had retreated from him. Drake didn’t like it, but he stayed silent.

The chasm grew exponentially with each second when, after trudging wearily up the stairs and entering their bedroom, Jimmy announced he would be sleeping in the green room. Drake, stunned, stood unmoving as he gathered up a few items. Just as his friend reached the door, he found his voice.

“Are you angry with me? Jimmy?”

Slowly turning to face him, Jimmy shook his head. “Absolutely not. This has been quite the weekend so far, as you said, and I think it’s best to have some space. We’re both tired.”

“But… I don’t need any space.”

“I’m sorry, Drake, but I do. I’ll see you in the morning. Night.” He closed the door gently behind him, leaving Drake rooted in the same spot long after he heard the click of the latch.

He thought about going after him to apologize again for what he’d said on the patio, but fear and uncertainty held him back. The man wanted space—he had his reasons—and Drake had to respect that no matter how distressed it made him feel. It’d been a weekend of mixed messages, all coming from him, and going after him would be one more.

Finally, he found the strength to move. Desolation grew as he undressed, and he found it an effort to brush his teeth and wash up. Exhausted, mentally and physically, he collapsed on the bed, pulling the covers over and burrowing in. Twenty minutes later, he turned and looked across the bed toward the door. This was going to be a long night.

Shuffling over to what had been Jimmy’s side the night before, he laid his head on the same pillow. Twisting his head and burying his nose in it, he was disappointed to find no scent of the man had lingered. Had Carla been here… had she changed the pillow cases?

He felt ridiculous, and Drake silently admonished himself for being so needy. They’d only slept in the same bed for the one night, for God’s sake. Still, he missed his presence. The charade they were playing had put them in close quarters, and with that came some confusing overlaps between past and present. Whatever he was feeling now would pass, and surely Jimmy’s disappointment would fade. It had to, because he couldn’t stand the idea of them not being friends.

He recalled Jimmy’s demeanor when they’d been talking about his parents, before they left the hall. He’d sounded apologetic when he called himself a romantic fool, but it was more than that. Drake now realized what it was as he pictured the man’s expression; he’d looked defeated. Defeated… Jimmy. A sharp pain in his gut accompanied the thought. Had he finally thrown in the towel? If that was the case, why didn’t Drake feel happy about it?

Staring at the ceiling, he waited for his mind to settle. He slowly acknowledged to himself just how important it was for him to see Jimmy each workday; to have lunch together most afternoons, either in the office or at a restaurant, and to hear his voice coming from the cubicle in front of his. To be able to count on him like he had this weekend. Despite their abrupt end, the man had never wavered as a friend, once Drake let him back into his life. Looking back, there was no way he couldn’t have. He’d cared too much for the man… the person Jimmy was.

Turning on his side, he hugged the pillow to his body. There it was. Just a hint of Jimmy invaded his nostrils. He didn’t question the fact it calmed him as he began the slow slide downward into sleep. His last thoughts were of getting his friend that Alexander McQueen tie he’d spotted at Nomad’s, on Queen St. It would go beautifully with two of his suits, and he definitely owed the man.

 

Drake was sitting up in bed when the door opened at dawn. Jimmy, wearing briefs and a tee shirt and carrying his suit on a hanger, looked tired. He supposed he looked the same.

“Hey.”

“Morning. Did you get a good sleep?”

“I’ve had better.” Jimmy stood just inside the door, studying him.

“Me too.”

“I thought I should come in here before Dot got up.”

“It doesn’t really matter.”

“Well, we’ve come this far. Do you need the bathroom?”

“Ah, no. Go ahead.”

“Are you sure? It’ll take me a while to shower.”

“Yeah, I’m sure, but what’s the rush? It’s barely daylight.”

“I thought maybe we could get an early start.”

“You want to leave?” Drake’s heart did a high dive before plunging into his stomach.

“It’s up to you, but I have stuff I need to do at home, and we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.”

“Oh… yeah we did at that. Don’t you want another dip in the pool?”

Jimmy shook his head. “Yesterday’s workout wore me out.”

Drake knew that wasn’t the reason, and he floundered, struggling with how to respond. He’d planned to visit with Callie and Luke when they got home from the wedding party brunch at their hotel, but decided not to mention it. “What… what about breakfast? I could whip us up something?”

“I’m not hungry, Drake, but if you want—”

“No, that’s fine. Go ahead and shower. I’ll just tell Mom we’re heading out, and make some coffee. We can take it with us.”

The bathroom door closed, and Drake allowed his expression to falter. There was no doubting his friend had retreated farther. Their departure hadn’t been set in stone, but they’d agreed on sometime in the early afternoon yesterday at the pool. Jimmy had wanted another swim before they left, but now he couldn’t wait to leave.

This significant change was his fault, but he really had no idea what to do about it… what he should do about it. Doing his best to push away a feeling of shame, he went about packing up his stuff. He’d shower at home.

 

He was in the kitchen when Jimmy came down, freshly showered, but unshaved, and still looking worn out. Had he slept at all?

Drake turned back to staring out over the pool and the backyard. “That’s your coffee in the travel mug on the island, black no sugar. Are you all set?”

“Yeah, I left my stuff at the front door.”

“Mine’s in the car.” Sighing to himself, he turned and claimed his own coffee from the breakfast nook table. “Might as well get going then.”

“I wanted to say goodbye to Dot first. Is she not up yet?”

“She’s not here. Turns out she didn’t come home last night.”

“What? Is she all right?”

“Yeah, she’s at my dad’s house. I called her cell and he answered.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah, something else I never expected to happen. It could be innocent, but my dad sounded awfully chipper, and I wasn’t about to ask him why. Looks like you were right.”

Jimmy gave him a strange look. “I was?”

“About love being worth fighting for.”

“Yeah, well, some love is. I hope they figure it out.”

“Me too.” Some love is? They were not even ten feet apart, but it felt like miles in that moment.

Jimmy took a sip from his mug. “That hits the spot. Shall we go?” He didn’t wait for an answer, and Drake followed him out of the kitchen, swallowing down his nervousness.

“Oh, maybe I should leave your mom a note.”

“If you want.”

“Or I could text her.”

“Or that. You want her number?”

“I have it.”

“You do?”

“Uh huh, she gave it to me last night. Your dad and Callie did too. So, I guess I’ll send them all texts, thanking them and saying goodbye.”

This weekend was one of surprising developments, but Jimmy managing to win over the whole family… almost, wasn’t really one of them. He should have expected it.

“Have you got Preston’s number too?” Drake asked with sarcasm.

Picking up his suit bag and grabbing the handle of his rolling suitcase, he turned back to Drake. “What do you think?”

Drake smiled. “You want it?”

“Fuck, no.”

Loading up Jimmy’s stuff took literally seconds, and he was already in his seat when Drake opened his door and got in. He stared at the front façade of his mother’s house, but compared to two nights ago, it didn’t look so imposing. It didn’t look like a place to be avoided anymore.

“Thank you, Jimmy.” He turned his head as he spoke. “I appreciate you coming with me.”

“No thanks necessary.”

“Look, I mean it,” he said, waiting for the man to look at him. It didn’t happen, so he gave up. “I usually leave here feeling like I never want to return, but I don’t feel that way this time.”

“I’m glad.”

“It’s all because of—”

“Just forget about it, okay. I didn’t do anything special, and we both managed to get some closure, so it’s a win win.” His gaze finally flicked over to Drake for a second.

“But you did do—”

“You’ve thanked me enough already,” Jimmy said, cutting him off. “I was glad to do it. Sorry, but I’m feeling kind of tired, Drake.”

“Oh, yeah, you look beat. Ah, lay back if you want.”

Jimmy didn’t answer, but he did recline the seat a few notches and closed his eyes, sighing audibly as he did.

Drake sighed too, but he did it quietly. He had to force his hands to unclench from the steering wheel so he could start the car. Closure, yes, but at what cost? He was pretty sure he knew the closure Jimmy was referring to for himself, but Drake wasn’t sure how he felt about it anymore.

It startled him from some confusing thoughts when Jimmy sat up and took out his phone as soon as they hit the highway. Drake had turned the radio on at low volume on to dispel the silence that resounded in the vehicle.

“I thought you were asleep. Are you texting my mom?”

Jimmy nodded. “And Lawrence and Callie.”

“Could you tell Callie I’ll call her tonight?”

“Sure.”

Drake kept his eyes on the road. He was tired, but not sleepy.

“There. All done,” Jimmy said a couple of minutes later. “Not much traffic heading for Toronto.”

“One of the advantages of leaving early.”

“You were all right with leaving, weren’t you?”

Drake hadn’t expected the question, but he was quick to answer. “Oh, yeah. We were awake anyway, and no one else was even home.”

Jimmy settled back in his seat, his head facing the side window.

“Jimmy? I’m sorry about what I said last night on the patio.”

“No reason to apologize. You were just being honest about your feelings.”

“Yes there is. I was being an ass, and—”

“I really don’t want to do this.” He turned his head to regard Drake. “You weren’t being an ass. I told you I had no expectations, and I meant it… but, I guess I got caught up in playing your boyfriend, and that’s my fault, not yours.”

“But you’re angry with me… I can feel it.”

“You’re wrong. I’m angry at me, not you. I promise, okay?”

“Okay. Are we still friends?”

“Of course. Nothing’s changed between us. I’m really tired, though, so I think I’m going to close my eyes for a bit. Are you all right to drive?”

“I’m wide awake, so yeah, I’m fine. We should be home before noon.”

“Good.”

When Drake glanced over, his eyes were closed again.

They didn’t open again until three and a half hours later, five minutes from Jimmy’s apartment building. Drake suspected he’d been awake for the last hour, because his breathing had changed, but the eyes stayed closed.

“We made it, eh? Sorry I wasn’t any company,” Jimmy said as he adjusted his seat and sat up.

“No worries. You needed sleep. Do you feel like getting breakfast now?”

“Um… not really… still not hungry. Raincheck?”

“Sure.” Raincheck? Really? All the doubts returned for Drake. He might not be angry with him, but things had definitely changed. He swallowed down the urge to keep talking, hoping Jimmy just needed time and space.

It was a long five minutes before he pulled into the complex entrance. “Here we are. Home sweet home.”

“Home and laundry,” was the man’s muttered response.

“Thanks again for coming with me.”

“I’m glad you don’t dread going home anymore. Sometimes you have to stick up for yourself.” His hand was on the door handle, and his eye contact was fleeting.

“You stuck up for me, Jimmy… I just followed your lead. I’ve thought about everything you’ve said this weekend and—”

“It’s okay, Drake. You don’t have to say anything else. Look, I have to pee… my back teeth are floating.” He followed up with an apologetic half frown, half smile before he opened his door. “I’ll just grab my stuff.”

“Ah, sure… see you tomorrow then.”

“See you tomorrow,” was followed by the door closing. Jimmy didn’t look at him or say anything as he opened up the rear lift gate to claim his luggage. He did give a quick wave, though, as Drake drove away.

 

Drake wasn’t a crier as a rule… not since his breakup with Richard. Yes, he’d shed a few tears this weekend, after his kitchen encounter with Preston, and maybe one or two out on the patio, but it surprised him when the flood gates opened on his way home to his empty condo. He experienced a sense of shame to go with feeling he’d lost something precious.

He sat in his car in the underground parking, the tears more or less ended, replaced by alternating numbness and panic. It took him what could have been ten minutes or twenty to find the desire to open his door. At the elevator, he realized he’d left his luggage in the car. His legs felt like lead as he walked back.

When he entered the condo, he stood and looked around, taking in the almost compulsive neatness of the place. Despite the furnishings, it looked like no one even lived here, and that depressed him even more than usual. Tossing his suitbag carelessly over his suitcase, he headed to the bathroom. His back teeth were floating too.

A few minutes later, after contemplating and then forgoing a hot shower, he walked into his curtain-darkened bedroom. He hated the sight of his lonely bed, but that didn’t stop him from sprawling face down on it, full clothed. He tried halfheartedly to pry his shoes off with his feet, but he didn’t have the energy, so gave up. His eyes burned, his throat hurt, and his heart ached… and there was only one escape. He managed to curl up in a ball before he gave in to his exhaustion.

 

The jarring sound of his ringtone startled him awake. It took a few seconds to realize the sound was coming from his shorts pocket.

The brightness of the screen in the dark room made it too difficult to see the name of the person calling.

“Hello?”

“I thought you were going to call me?”

Drake sighed and laid back on his bed, wincing at a protest from his back muscles. He must have slept on his stomach too long. “Callie. Hey. What time is it?”

“Ten. Are you all right?”

“Ten? Wow. Yeah, I was sleeping.”

“Oh? Where?”

“In my own bed… alone as usual.”

“Well, that’s a shame… you should do something about that.”

“Calliope, don’t even go there.” He rubbed the grit from his eyes as he listened.

“Okay, but can’t a sister want her brother to get laid? Getting an early night then?”

“Ah, no, actually, I’ve been sleeping since I got home.” Realizing his shoes were still on, he managed to push them off this time.

“When did you get home? Dean texted me early and said you were on the road already.”

“We were… is it really ten o’clock?”

“Yes. What’s wrong, Drakie? You sound awful.”

“I’m fine. I’m just… oh, Cal, I messed up big time.”

“With Dean?”

“Jimmy, yeah. I pretty sure he’s fed up with me.”

“Right, Jimmy. Is this about what you said to him last night at the reception?”

“Uh huh. He says he’s not angry with me, but he wouldn’t even sleep in the same room last night, and he hardly talked to me today, not that I can blame him.”

“What does that tell you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re feeling bad, right?”

“That’s an understatement. I think I’ve lost his friendship. He as much as said he’s given up.”

“Friendship? Who are you kidding? You love him.”

“Cal… I don’t know how I feel—”

“Bull! You’re just afraid to say it.”

“No I’m not… I don’t know what’s going on with me.”

“Want me to tell you?”

“Can I stop you?”

“No. Look, my sweet but pathetic brother, you’re scared. I don’t care what you say, I know you. You think you’ve fallen in love with another Richard, and that’s just stupid. Do you honestly believe Jimmy doesn’t know what he wants?”

“Sure, he knows what he wants now, but Callie, he sleeps with women.”

“What, regularly?”

“No. Not since before we went out.”

“Then what’s the problem… did you just hear what you said? You believe him, right? You told me you trust him.”

“About that? Yeah. I know we put on an act this past weekend, but he’s not a liar. I’m positive he wouldn’t knowingly lie to me.”

“Then why in hell don’t you trust he knows what he wants?”

“Because Richard thought he knew too.”

“Ah, there’s the rub. You’re an idiot, Drake. He’s not Richard! I’m sorry that happened—I know how much it hurt and I would never make light of it, but you have to let it go.”

“God, Cal, I have. I don’t care about Richard anymore. This weekend proved that to me in spades.”

“And I believe you, but can’t you see how it’s still affecting you? I guarantee you would feel differently about Jimmy if there had never been a Richard.”

“Ah… what?”

“You would never have been this scared of the fact he’s slept with women, and it wouldn’t have become this big stupid deal in your head. I’m sure lots of gay guys have at one time or another.”

“I haven’t.” He heard the sigh after he said it. “I don’t know… maybe you’re right.”

“I am right.”

Drake didn’t respond right away. He couldn’t argue with her. Richard had really fucked him up.

“Drake?”

“Sorry, I was thinking. Yes, Cal, you’re right. I’ve let it become too big a deal, but—”

“No, don’t do that. No buts. So, what are you going to do about it?”

No buts. Jimmy had said that to him yesterday when he’d told Drake all he wanted was a chance. He pictured the man, sitting in the water, trying to comfort him when he’d started to panic. “I… I don’t know….”

“Do you know what you want? Forget Richard… do you know how you feel, because I do?”

“Callie… you can’t just—”

“Start by saying it out loud.”

Drake groaned. “I’m still not sure.”

“Yes, you are.”

He groaned again. “Okay, yes, I am sure. I love him. God help me, I do.”

“There you go… I’m proud of you, but don’t expect God to help you. You have to help yourself.”

A smile slowly crept across his face as a heavy weight lifted. Yes, he did love the man; he didn’t think he had ever stopped, and it wasn’t as scary to admit as it had been when those feelings would occasionally poke through his guards. “When did you get so smart?”

“It’s got nothing to do with being smart, Drakie. I just know love when I see it.”

“Are we talking about Luke now?”

“Maybe.” She giggled.

“Maybe?”

“Okay, yes. It’s no big secret, but I love him… he’s the one, Drake.”

“I figured. And he’s a good one.”

“The best. I think he’s going to ask me.”

“Really?”

“Yup. He’s pretty transparent, and I know something’s up.”

“That’s awesome, sis.”

“Thanks. It’s just between you and me, though. You never know… he could change his mind.”

“He’d be a fool.”

“Yes, he would.” She giggled again. “So, what are you going to do?”

“Oh, back to me? Talk, I suppose… I hope… if he’s still willing. Jimmy’s wanted us to talk… like really talk, for a long time now, but I’ve been sidestepping because I didn’t think we had a future.”

“And now?”

“I’m ready, Cal.”

“Because?”

“I love him.”

“And?”

“And… and he isn’t Richard.”

“Say it again.”

“He isn’t Richard. I know who Jimmy is.”

“And?”

“I love him… I really love him.”

“Good boy… there’s hope for you yet.”

“Shut up, twerp,” he said, but he was grinning from ear to ear.

 

 

*

A big thank you to my editor and friend, Timothy M., and another one to all the readers who have come on this journey with me. Please leave a comment, good or bad, if you can. They keep me motivated. :) Cheers... Gary.

Copyright © 2018 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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Drake finally said out loud what he didn’t want to admit to himself, that he loves Jimmy!  ;-)

 

Hopefully, Jimmy will be willing to listen to him now. Poor Jimmy has been through the wringer just as much as Drake has over the weekend, but also since they stopped dating. Jimmy seems so defeated that he might not want to hear what Drake has to say after all this time. I’m not sure I’d blame him. Drake is very high maintenance!  ;-)

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Richard Preston, Drake, and Calliope. What a strange, mismatched set of names their parents chose. Is there a story behind the names that aren’t apparent to readers? Richard’s Preston’s name is not uncommon. But Drake and Calliope are very odd names outside TV and movies (clueless Joey Tribbiani as ‘Drake Ramore’ on Friends always pops into my mind, but Professor Ludwig Von Drake and the musician are the only others I can think of). 😉

Edited by droughtquake
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6 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Richard, Drake, and Calliope. What a strange, mismatched set of names their parents chose. Is there a story behind the names that aren’t apparent to readers? Richard’s name is not uncommon. But Drake and Calliope are very odd names outside TV and movies (clueless Joey Tribbiani as ‘Drake Ramore’ on Friends always pops into my mind, but Professor Ludwig Von Drake and the musician are the only others I can think of).  ;-)

Preston is the other brother, Richard is Drake's ex.  Preston is an older fashioned name, tho;  It lends to your original question.

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13 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Richard, Drake, and Calliope. What a strange, mismatched set of names their parents chose. Is there a story behind the names that aren’t apparent to readers? Richard’s name is not uncommon. But Drake and Calliope are very odd names outside TV and movies (clueless Joey Tribbiani as ‘Drake Ramore’ on Friends always pops into my mind, but Professor Ludwig Von Drake and the musician are the only others I can think of).  ;-)

Sir Francis Drake is another.

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18 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Richard, Drake, and Calliope. What a strange, mismatched set of names their parents chose. Is there a story behind the names that aren’t apparent to readers? Richard’s name is not uncommon. But Drake and Calliope are very odd names outside TV and movies (clueless Joey Tribbiani as ‘Drake Ramore’ on Friends always pops into my mind, but Professor Ludwig Von Drake and the musician are the only others I can think of).  ;-)

 

4 minutes ago, Drew Espinosa said:

Sir Francis Drake is another.

To go with the Drake Ramore reference-that was Joey Tribbiani's character on the soap opera "Days of Our Lives". There is a character on the show named 'John Black' who is/was portrayed by Drake Hogestyn. He might be who inspired the name.

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1 hour ago, FanLit said:

So while I was reading, Joni Mitchell was in my head:

🎤 "Don't you know it seems to go/You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone/They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"🎤

Drake, Drake, Drake....Oh and thanks for the new saying-I've never heard "my back teeth are floating" before. 😄

Next week's installment will be veeeeerrrrryyyyy interesting.

Well done, Gary. 🍺 :hug:

 

I love that song btw:yes:

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14 minutes ago, deville said:

I feel Jimmy did a great deal of soul searching in the green room instead of sleeping . The distance , silence and avoiding by Jimmy felt almost like he was mourning the end of something / a hope , I don’t believe he is going to be overly receptive to an overnight epiphany from Drake . Not when Drake has been pretty emphatic when lumping Jimmy and Richard in the same category . 

For serious. Drake didn’t make himself particularly lovable over the weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmy Dean is questioning what he ever saw in him.

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