some major changes -- just to alert you.
After the incident with the crazed Christian, things got better between Aaron and me. It was us versus them -- The Boys Against The Cruel Straight World -- in a way it hadn't since very early in our relationship, before we were out to Aaron's family. Or maybe even during those few weeks in the winter of 1988 when Aaron was trying to rescue me from the streets and it had seemed that the universe really had been conspiring against us.
It was almost as if we were on honeymoon. Aaron didn't make demands that I do any home improvement projects; in fact, he actually hired people who knew what they were doing, starting with the painters. And because the house was often full of men working, we'd go places together to get out of the way: Indianapolis, Columbus, Bloomington, Cincinnati, Chicago. These were just two or three day excursions, but considering that Aaron was a guy who rarely did vacations, they signaled to me his willingness to make some changes to please me. For once we had money to spare and Aaron made certain that we stayed in good hotels, even -- dare I say it? -- romantic inns that were gay-owned, or at least gay-friendly. No chance of any nasty confrontations to ruin things. The entire month of July I was so happy I thought I'd burst.
At the beginning of August we went car-shopping. The new semester was due to start in a couple of weeks and we'd both need our own transportation. Of course, Aaron got the new car, a Honda Civic, but I was perfectly happy to take the old Toyota.
"Oh, joy! Now I'll be able to explore the outer reaches of Hastings!" I gave Aaron a kiss as he handed over the keys.
"You'll thank me when we have two feet of snow here in January," said Aaron. "Just try to drive carefully."
"I took Driver's Ed and passed at the top of my class, just like all my other classes!"
"But you haven't driven all that much, Shea. Don't go hot-rodding up and down the street."
"Oh, hot-rodding? That's exactly what I was planning. Next I'll join a motorcycle gang: Hell's Homos!"
"Get in," I said. "And we can go cruising!"
Aaron got in, reluctantly. He was right -- I didn't drive a lot, mainly because he always insisted on controlling the wheels. But he gritted his teeth and off we went.
"I'm doing great!" I said as we passed the university and headed downtown. "You can unclench now, Aar."
"Not so fast! Careful! There's a stoplight!"
"I know." I stopped at the red light. "I'm not a moron."
"I didn't say you were. You're just not used to doing this."
"That's why this is good practice. See? I used my turn signal!"
"Good. Just watch where you're going."
We reached the outskirts of town and Aaron relaxed -- a little -- as we turned onto a quieter country road.
"What did your mother say this morning?"
Mom had called to talk about the old man. "They're doing something called 'watchful waiting.' In other words, they're monitoring his cancer."
"Is that good or bad?"
"I don't know. She doesn't seem to know, either, but I can tell she's worried."
"Maybe you should call his oncologist yourself. Didn't you meet him when you were in Cleveland?"
I nodded. I'd never told Aaron about my dinner with Raj Kumar, let alone anything else. But the last thing I wanted to do was talk to the man I'd cheated on my partner with. I just wanted to forget it had ever happened. I touched my ring for luck.
"Shea! Keep both hands on the wheel, for God's sake!"
"Why don't you call that doctor and get some information? Obviously your mother isn't capable of understanding what's happening. I think you all need a little clarification."
"Okay," I sighed. "I'll call his office tomorrow."
"Watch it!" Aaron gasped. "That mailbox was awfully close!"
I slowed down. "This road is narrow, but I can't drive in the middle of it, Aar!"
"Why not? I don't see any other cars!"
Two minutes later a huge tractor came down the other side, bellowing smoke. The sight of it totally freaked Aaron out. "Jesus! Are those things allowed on a public road?"
"This is farm country," I reminded him.
"Then let's go back to civilization."
I turned around in a dirt driveway and headed back, to Aaron's relief.
"It's been a nice summer, hasn't it, Baby?"
"Yes," I agreed. "It has."
"We should go back to Chicago for a long weekend in the fall. Take a nice break."
"You won't be too busy?" Once the semester began I knew Aaron's workaholic gene would kick in. And with the 'Red Shirt' DVD coming out, there would be promotions to do. Interviews with the gay media. Maybe even some mainstream press.
"I'll make time." He looked out the window. "I'm trying, Shea. I really am."
"I know you are. And I appreciate it."
He turned and looked at me. "I love you, Baby. I don't want you to forget that."
"I know." I kept my eyes on the road. "But we both have a lot of things on our minds."
"Your father is going to be fine, you know. He's too mean to die. That's what you always say."
I swallowed. "That's what I always say."
"We'll be in Cleveland for Christmas. And in Florida for Thanksgiving to see my folks. And next summer -- we might be in California. Who knows?"
Hastings was up ahead. But Aaron had already left town, at least in his head. And me? Where did that leave me? Or us?
"Yes," I said. "Who knows?"