seems like an ending. So -- should I go on to Chapter 13, or continue
as 12? I know you don't know what's going to happen, but the next couple
of sections are the turning point for Shea's future. He's going to find
out something that will change everything. What's your take? (Yes, it has
to do with what his father wants to tell him.)
Sanjay drove me home, just as he had that first time. He didn't say a single word, also just like the first time, which made me wonder if he even spoke English. It made me wonder a hundred different things, but I was so tired by that time -- I'd been up since early morning to take Dad to the Clinic -- that I let them wash out of my head as I dozed.
It felt so strange to be sitting in the backseat of the BMW while he was in the front. Like I was an actor in a bad movie. That wasn't me. I wasn't born to ride in the back of a big black car while some silent guy drove. Obviously, Raj Kumar was born to do just that. For him it was as natural as breathing.
Aaron. He'd feel at home in this car, I thought. He'd love it. We'd had a limo to take us to the Academy Award ceremony when his film was up for Best Documentary and Aaron had been in his element. "I could get used to this!" he'd crowed.
I was still thinking about Aaron. Every fucking memory, every reference I had in my adult life involved Aaron. There was no escaping him -- even if I'd wanted to escape him.
The car pulled up in front of the house and Sanjay opened the door for me. "Thanks," I said. But he only nodded, his hooded eyes invisible in the dark.
The house was dark, too, except for the television, aglow in the corner.
"You're out late," said the old man. It was after 2:00 a.m.
"Yeah." I didn't feel like having this little chat, but it was his house.
"How's my doctor?"
My father made an ambivalent noise in his throat, a cross between a cough and a sputter. What did he really think of what I was doing? Of my dubious -- to him -- sex life? Except for the tete-a-tete that day at the Clinic, we'd never discussed it, rarely even alluded to it. What Aaron and I did together as queers was one of those unpleasant things never to be spoken of, like a disfiguring birthmark or a fatal disease. I doubted that my father and mother had ever talked about it, even in their most private moments; I tried to imagine that conversation and couldn't, never in a million years.
"Your friend called again tonight." This was in the first week I'd been in Cleveland, when Aaron was still calling twice a day. And the old man was still referring to Aaron as my friend. Never as my lover, or partner, or husband. Or now my ex.
"So what else is new?" I sighed.
"Your mother spoke to him. She feels sorry for the guy."
I swallowed something that was choking me. I tried picturing Aaron on the phone to her. Aaron sitting in that battered house in Hastings, pleading. Aaron trying to enlist her to his cause. But was he sincere? Or was loathsome Lowell lurking in the background, listening to every hypocritical word?
"I feel sorry for him, too. But not enough to go back to him." I stifled a yawn. "I need to get to sleep. I promised Mom I'd drive her and Danny to the mall to go shopping tomorrow."
The old man snorted. "Good luck with that!" I turned to go upstairs, but then he said, "Listen, Shea... I need to tell you something."
I stopped. "Yeah?"
"I..." My father hesitated. "Never mind. It's late. Good night."
I was glad he didn't want to talk anymore. "Right. Good night."
I went to bed and had dreams about limos, telephones, and dark, seductive men all night long.