You Don’t See Me - 5. Chapter 5
“Where do you go, when you leave?”
Patrick tentatively opened the dreaded screenplay once again. This time he decided to read it downstairs, at the grand living room table. He wasn’t taking any chances at feeling frightened inside of his very own home. It was funny that a stack of white papers with printed words on them could make him feel so unsettled at his core. Maybe that’s what you were supposed to feel while reading a great potential horror script, he wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he didn’t want to risk getting freaked out in the bedroom by words on a piece of paper, like he had last time.
The downstairs area of the house was a large open floor plan, with the living room table located in the middle, facing another huge glass door that gave a breathtaking view of the Hollywood hills. The massive rectangle table was made out of glass, and surrounded by 10 white canvas chairs. Silk and Satin both took up the two chairs adjacent to Patrick, and he felt comfort knowing they were nearby. In the middle stood a large vase with perfectly styled hydrangeas. Patrick was his mother’s child, after all.
He opened his laptop to take notes, looked at the front page and the PO box address once again, then flipped to the page where the couple heard the sudden noise downstairs. There was an intruder, or so they thought at first. But later on it turned out that one of the men knew the intruder— knew them intimately. It was a twisty story, and midway through Patrick went to the kitchen to brew some coffee and give his head a rest. He didn’t understand why the screenplay was having such an effect on him. Maybe because it dealt with two married men going through issues, which is something he himself was grappling with. Whatever it was, it made him feel uneasy in his skin. Yet he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He wondered whether he should recommend it to Ford or toss it. He felt like the screenplay was cursed, and that the curse had somehow bled onto him.
He added some honey to his coffee, then thought about his husband, who was once again in Miami, most likely cavorting with his flavor of the month—Jude. Patrick tried to force himself to make some type of decision. If he could just confront his husband, face whatever was going on, head on. If he could just take a step in some kind of direction, whether it was to leave or to try to reconcile. If he could do more than just wait. Because what exactly was he waiting for? Did he hope that Ford would simply come to his senses, appreciate what he had, and cease all of his cheating ways? Rationally, there was no way that was going to happen. His addiction was far too advanced. It wasn’t a one time thing, he was a chronic cheater. He’d probably need a heap of professional help to break his destructive habits. And then what? The best Patrick could hope for was that he wouldn’t ever give in to his temptations again. But it would lead to a life of constantly looking over his shoulder, checking his phone, and second guessing his whereabouts, not to mention all the feelings of not being good enough. Patrick knew why he was so terrified of making a step, because any step he’d take would ultimately lead to him and Ford splitting up, and for some reason he couldn’t stomach the idea, couldn’t imagine life without the man whom he loved so much.
But he also knew himself, and understood that he had limits, and when those limits would reach a certain level, there would be no turning back. That was the thing with Ford, he had always underestimated Patrick. Always assumed him to be the nice and good boy who wouldn’t make any trouble. Kind, nurturing, sweet and good-hearted. Those almost seemed like insults to him now. Clearly what Ford really wanted was a good slap in the face.
He tried to imagine living on his own again and felt an emptiness inside his stomach. Who would help Ford find his car keys? The man could never find anything on his own. “Honey, have you seen my *insert object*?” was pretty much his catchphrase. And Patrick didn’t mind mothering him, in fact he found it kind of charming. But now, just like with the mushy text messages, he understood the deeper meaning behind it. Creating a false sense of someone needing you, of you being indispensable to them, lull them into security. Ford was a master at doing all the right things. Was he a sociopath, or was he just a sex addict? Patrick couldn’t figure it out.
“Tell me your fantasies,” he had once asked his husband.
“You’re my fantasy,” Ford replied smoothly, then kissed Patrick on the forehead, as if he were a sweet puppy and not a naked man in his bed.
And when Patrick would ask him if he had noticed his weight gain, he would get the usual, “I haven’t noticed honey.” Of course he hadn’t. He wouldn’t have noticed if Patrick shaved his head and bleached his pubic hair pink. He was oblivious. Patrick was a ghost to him. Or maybe more of a maid.
He picked up his phone and dialed Chloe, one of his best friends. Chloe spoke with a delightful French accent that his mother Eloise adored, and worked at a fancy hotel spa. She had seen her fair share of men bringing in mistresses and stepping out on their wives. Maybe she could understand Patrick’s current situation.
“Patty!” she squealed on the other end. Patrick walked up the floating staircase and into the upstairs bathroom.
“Hey Chloe girl, how are you?” he asked, taking in his appearance in the mirror. He was gaining weight by the minute, and his face was now breaking out in acne from all the junk he was consuming.
“How are you?” she asked. He couldn’t think of anyone else he could tell.
“Not so great. So you know how sometimes in movies a character might start doing something a little unhinged, but it starts off kind of cute and quirky, but then it turns into a bizarre and weird obsession that maybe ends in someone else’s death?” he asked.
“Uhh, yeah, what about it?” she replied right away.
“I, well…I might be in the middle of that, right now,” he confessed. To his surprise, she laughed.
“You’re too cute Patty. What’s on your mind, what’s going on?” she asked, her hoarse voice sounding curious. He opened the bathroom cabinet, and took out a yellow bottle of his mother’s pain killers.
“Have you ever wanted to hurt someone you love, just so they could feel the pain that you’re feeling?” he asked.
“Uh ah, marriage troubles?”
“Yeah,” he finally admitted out loud, “Marriage troubles.” He walked back downstairs, pill bottle in hand, and approached Ford’s beloved wine wall. He picked a red at random, and with malicious glee hoped it was an expensive vintage that Ford was saving for some special occasion, then went into the kitchen and poured himself a glass. He popped a pill in his mouth, then chased it down with the expensive tasting wine.
“You want me to come over?” she asked, “I’ve got chocolate.” He laughed, thankful for the fact that he had a friend who wouldn’t judge his marriage, his weight gain, or his overall miserable mood.
“I’ve got wine. Can’t wait to see you.”
“Hang tight, I’ll be there in thirty,” she replied and hung up. Patrick walked to the living room where the screenplay sat ominously on top of the large table. He picked it up, then threw it in the trash. It was just words, words on a page. Anyone could have written in. People experienced similar things all the time. His situation wasn’t unique. The words on the pages weren’t unique.
Suddenly, the doorbell connected to the front gate rang. It was too early for it to be Chloe, so Patrick approached the door cautiously, Satin following closely behind him, while Silk stayed safely tucked away on he window perch. He looked at the camera and saw a huge bouquet of flowers on the screen.
“Who is it?” he asked through the speaker.
“Flower delivery,” the man replied.
Patrick buzzed the man in, then signed for the rose and lily arrangement. It was elegant and made him think of a wedding. The note on the flowers read, “Miss you - F.” He wanted to throw them out but didn’t want to waste a perfectly nice arrangement. He took out the note and decided to give them to Chloe for her quaint one-bedroom apartment.
Then, out of nowhere, he felt the urge to hear his husband’s voice. He picked up the phone and dialed. It would be late in Miami, and he wasn't sure if the man would even pick up. But surely enough, a groggy voice answered the phone.
“Everything okay baby?” Ford asked, and Patrick wondered if he was in his room alone, or with a fling.
“Everything’s fine, I just wanted to hear your voice,” he said, finishing off his glass of wine, then swiftly pouring another.
“Mmm, I’ll be home tomorrow,” Ford replied. Patrick swirled the wine in his mouth. Did Ford’s lovers know he was married? Would they care if they did? What would it matter to beautiful Jude to know that there was a sad middle aged man gaining weight and stalking his every move as he compared and contrasted himself to the perfect blonde.
“Where do you go, when you leave?” Patrick asked, his skin feeling warm from the wine rush. His head light, the room revolving around him slowly. Memories with Ford floating by like paper planes. The day they met, the day they got married, the day they moved into this house. This house that now felt like a golden cage.
“I’m in Miami honey,” Ford replied, not understanding the real question. “Are you sure everything is alright?” he asked, suddenly sounding more awake.
“Everything’s fine, Chloe’s here and I just had too much wine. Silly me,” Patrick replied.
“Are you two having fun?” he asked, his curiosity sparked. Patrick could sense that note of uncertainty, that tinge of jealousy on the tip of his tongue. It was so irrational and so ironic that he almost laughed out loud.
“So much fun,” he replied, refusing to put his husband’s mind at ease right away. Ford was silent. “But I’m cutting it short and heading to sleep now. I proooomise,” he added, slightly slurring.
“Good,” his husband replied, pleased. “Say hi to Chloe. I’ll be back tomorrow. I love you,” he said, and Patrick hung up the phone instantly, not wanting to have to answer back. He fed Silk and Satin their dinner, then poured himself another glass. By the time Chloe rang the doorbell to the house, he was fast asleep.
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