Tyler got to the gate and pulled out his boarding pass. He glanced at it and saw that he was in Zone 1 for boarding, seat 3A. This was a first class ticket! He hadn't expected that, since his first flight was not purchased as first class, even though the flight attendant had moved him into that section of the aircraft. Tyler joined the short line and moments later he was seated in the plane. He had pulled a notepad from his backpack before he shoved it into the overhead bin, and had stuck it into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him. His talk with Melissa had gotten him thinking about his long-lost Oliver. It had been a while since he had thought of the boy who he believed had loved him more than anyone else he had ever met.
A flight attendant stopped to ask him if he would like anything to drink before the flight. He considered it for a moment, then asked for a Jack Daniels and Coke. The woman eyed him suspiciously, wondering if he were old enough to be drinking a mixed drink, so Tyler just smiled and handed her his passport. She glanced at his picture and date of birth, folded it shut and handed the document back to him. When she returned with his drink, she told him that if he might want any more, he would have to finish them before the plane crossed into U.S. air space, since he wasn't old enough to consume alcohol in that country.
Tyler nodded that he understood, then took a large swallow. "Maybe just one more before we take off, please?" he asked.
The flight attendant smiled and told him that would be fine. By the time she returned with his second beverage, Tyler had finished the first. The second didn't last much longer, and Tyler was feeling light headed when he handed the lady his empty glass. "No, thanks anyway," was his answer when she asked if he wanted another. Her face seemed to show some relief at his answer.
By the time the plane pushed back from the gate and started to taxi, Tyler had dozed off. At first his sleep was dreamless, at least so far as he could remember when he woke a little while later. But Tyler did clearly remember the dream that had finally caused him to wake suddenly. He hadn't had that dream for a long time. Maybe it was thinking about Oliver again today that had caused it. It was the dream where he had followed Jesse and Trevor into the drain pipe in the park. Only this time it was different. This time, as he rounded the bend in the pipe, he didn't see Jesse and Trevor there - this time it was Ollie.
Ollie looked up at him, smiled and said "Everything will be alright."
And that's when Tyler woke up. The images from the dream were vivid in his conscious mind, as if they had actually happened just a few moments before. Tyler pulled the notepad out of the seat pocket, flipped it open and began to write. He wasn't even thinking about what he wrote; he just let the pen move where it wanted to. When it stopped, he looked at the paper, and this is what he saw:
A pain never felt,
A past never realized,
A future not possible to see,
A love never known,
My heart aches for your embrace.
I see it in your eyes,
The pain you have been through,
The sorrow you've seen,
The suffering you can't forget,
My heart aches for your trust.
Do you see the truth?
The pain you cause me?
It can never be understood,
I love you,
My heart aches for your passion.
How could you know?
I act as though nothing is wrong,
I tell myself life will go on,
That I don't need you,
My heart aches for your touch.
Tyler looked at the words he had written. He read and reread them. It was almost surreal. Tyler had never written anything even slightly poetic before. He didn't know where the words had come from, but they described the way he had felt just after Oliver's death so well. Tyler had been upset that Oliver been taken from him.
There had been a short period after Oliver's funeral when Tyler had blamed him for what had happened, for allowing someone to give him drugs that he wasn't used to taking, even though Tyler knew that there was no way Ollie would ever have taken them on his own. These words he had written just now described so well the way he had felt then. He did finally realize that Ollie wasn't at fault, but that had taken him a while. Tyler began to sob quietly.
He hadn't even realized that someone else had taken the seat next to him in the plane until he felt a hand cover the one he had placed on the armrest between the seats. "Are you alright, Sweetheart?" he heard a woman's voice ask. Her accent was pronounced, and it told Tyler that she was from the southeastern United States.
Tyler looked at the hand that covered his first. It was wrinkled and old. Then he looked further to his right and saw the rest of the person it belonged to. The lady's face was very beautiful, despite her age - he was sure that she had been quite stunning in her youth. Tyler guessed that she must be at least 80 now. She wore a plain white blouse with long sleeves, a dark blue skirt that covered her knees and a plain string of pearls around her neck. Her hair was nicely styled and pure white.
"Uh, yes... Yes Ma'am, I'm okay," Tyler choked out. "I was just thinking of an old friend. A friend who... Well, um, he died." Tyler felt strangely tongue tied talking with this elderly lady. She reminded him slightly of his grandmother from his father's side, and her smile showed kindness and concern.
She sensed this and tried to put him at ease. "So where are you going young man?" she asked him.
"Atlanta... I'm going to meet a friend. We'll spend the night there, and then we're going up to the mountains for a long weekend. After that we're going to go to his house in Savannah."
She patted his hand again. "That's wonderful dear. It will be beautiful at this time of year in the mountains - everything will be in bloom. You really must go in the fall sometime too. It's very nice when the leaves are turning. And Savannah is so wonderful, that's where my son, his wife and my grandchildren live. It's a beautiful city, but awfully decadent."
Tyler looked over at her and she smiled at him again. When she did, Tyler gave her a wide grin as well. 'This is a lot better than my neighbor on the last flight,' he thought, then he chuckled a little as he thought of the man being hauled away by the police.
"Well, I'm glad to see your mood has improved," the old woman told him. "That was quick, and it's a good thing - you have a very nice smile. It would have been a shame to have missed that."
This caused Tyler to blush very deeply, but he chuckled again. "I was actually thinking that it was much nicer to have you sitting beside me than the guy on my last flight. Just before I got in this plane, I saw him getting arrested after he started a fight or something in one of the bars at the airport."
"Oh my," she was feigning shock, and Tyler was able to tell. "I should certainly hope that I'm a better seat mate than that."
Tyler giggled a little at the way she had said that and played along with her. "Well, by default you'd just about have to be."
Now it was her turn to smile and chuckle a little. She extended her hand to him and said "My name is Abigail, but my friends call me Abby."
Tyler took he hand and they shook gently. "I'm Tyler," he told her. "It's very nice to meet you Abigail."
"Abby," she corrected. "We are friends aren't we?"
"Sure we are, Abby," he replied, "so long as you don't go busting up any bars."
"It's a deal, dear" she told him."
Tyler had gone to bed in his own bed that night, and despite Drake having gotten very drunk again, this evening he didn't bother Tyler at all. Tyler woke early the next morning. He was very sore where the jocks had kicked him the day before, so he got up and went into the bathroom. He examined himself in the mirror and saw that the bruises had turned to very dark black and blue colors. 'There's no way I can go dance looking like this,' he thought. 'Even if the pain subsides, I'm not getting up in front of any crowd looking like this.' Then he remembered that it was Sunday anyway. Drag night. Tyler didn't like the drag shows and he didn't like the people that participated in them - especially after the first interaction he'd had with one of the drag queens. He had sensed that they didn't like him, and he disliked them back. He also didn't understand why if men were gay, they would want to look at other men dressed up to look like women. It just didn't make any sense to him.
Tyler didn't know what he was going to do today. Maybe he could hang out with Jesse and Trevor. He really didn't feel like staying around the apartment with Drake today - and since it was Drake's day off, he was pretty sure that he would be home most of the day.
Tyler hadn't finished the last half joint the night before, but he had brought it with him when he went to bed. He picked it up from the nightstand and carried it downstairs with him when he left his bedroom. Tyler started a pot of coffee, then opened the refrigerator and grabbed the jug of orange juice. He started to pour a glass, but stopped and thought for a moment. Finally, 'Fuck it,' he decided, grabbed the vodka bottle and poured a heavy shot into the glass. He finished filling the glass with orange juice, took the drink and plopped down on one of the sofas in the living room. Tyler took a deep pull from the glass and set it down on the table in front of him.
Tyler studied the half joint he held in his fingers. There was a gooey brown resin on the paper from the half he had smoked last night. He knew that this would add to the high he would get when he smoked the last half in a few minutes. Tyler attached a clip to the roach, and lit it up. He inhaled deeply, savoring the flavor of the marijuana. It had a taste that was almost sweet, and the smoke's aroma was much more pungent than it normally would have been because of the resin that had accumulated on the paper. Tyler held the smoke in as long as he could, and coughed a little when he finally exhaled.
He finished smoking the rest of the joint and lay back into the cushions of the sofa, sipping his drink every so often. He had been staring at a blank TV screen the entire time, and somehow it just now hit him. He picked up the remote, turned on the TV and started flipping through stations. He finally settled on cartoons once again. There were old cartoons though, Looney Tunes - Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Roadrunner, Speedy Gonzalez and the like. Their antics soon had Tyler giggling and in a much better mood than he had been in since he'd found out that Oliver had been killed.
Tyler had his bare feet up on the coffee table, and was still chuckling at the animations on the TV screen when Drake came downstairs a little while later. Drake had his bathrobe and slippers on, and his hair was wet from having just been in the shower. "Did you make coffee?" he asked drowsily as he came down the stairs.
"Yeah, there's a pot ready," Tyler answered, looking up at Drake as he came down the stairs. Tyler was wearing a fairly tight-fitting pair of boxers, which caused the fly to spread open as there was no snap or button midway down, so he looked to make sure he wasn't exposed. He was, just barely, but he didn't think Drake could have seen. The last thing Tyler wanted to do right now was offer Drake any encouragement of a sexual nature, so he adjusted himself a little once Drake's back was to him as he headed for the kitchen. Tyler knew that eventually he was going to pop back out - it always happened when he wore this particular pair of boxers, so he thought maybe it was about time to go shower and actually get dressed for the day.
Drake came back into the living room, carrying his cup of coffee - heavily laden with Frangelico - just in time to see the bottom of Tyler's legs disappearing at the top of the stairs. He shook his head. He had gotten very drunk the last two nights, and this morning he wasn't hung over so much as still drunk. 'Those cute little legs of his sure are a turn on,' Drake thought. From the distance he was looking, especially with the added blur in his vision from the alcohol still in his system, he was unable to see the bruises on Tyler's legs - the ones caused by his hands two nights before. But these were faint compared to the ones caused by the kicks Tyler had received in the park the previous day. Tyler hadn't really noticed the ones Drake had left, as they were on the backs of his thighs.
The shower sobered Tyler a little - at least to him it seemed that way. Some of the effects of the alcohol had diminished, but not so the effect of the marijuana. Tyler dressed - he was going to be wandering around, with no place in particular in mind to go, so he chose jeans, a t-shirt, a long sleeved flannel shirt above that, and his thick down filled coat. Since there had been a fresh snowfall during the night, rather than his sneakers, he pulled on a pair of hiking boots over thick, wool socks.
When he came back down into the living room, it was obvious to Drake that Tyler intended to go out. This wasn't exactly in line with the plans he had for the day. "Where are you going?" he questioned Tyler as he headed toward the door. Drake's tone reminded him a little of his father, but there was a tinge of something else in his voice, jealousy maybe?
"I thought maybe I'd try to get some sort of real job, like weekends or something. That way I know I've got some money coming, ya know?" It was a lie, and he figured that Drake probably knew as much.
"I'll put you to work in the store on the weekends if you want," Drake countered.
Tyler wasn't sure how he could get out of this. He hadn't really intended to look for a job, and Drake could easily give him one. He didn't want to stay in the apartment right now though. Then it came to him... "Thanks, but I want to see if I can do it on my own first," he replied. He didn't consider that he may have to accept the job from Drake at the sporting goods store if he didn't find one on his own.
Tyler walked aimlessly for about two hours before boarding a city bus just to get out of the cold and sit for a while. It had been purely a subconscious decision, but the bus he had boarded took him to his parents' neighborhood. When he looked up and realized where he was, Tyler pressed the pressure strip to signal the driver that he wanted off at the next stop. He took a stocking cap out of his coat pocket and pulled it down over his head. He made sure it was low on his forehead, trying to hide his appearance more than to keep warm. He didn't want anyone he knew to recognize him and stop him for any reason. He especially didn't want to be spotted by his parents if they should happen to drive by.
Tyler wandered his old neighborhood without direction. He was almost surprised when he found himself in a playground where he and Corey had played as children, then hung out in and talked - even made out a few times at night when all the surrounding area was dark in more recent times. He sat on a swing and pushed himself back and forth idly. He thought about Corey, the times they had had together, both good and bad. Then he thought about his parents... He knew what Thomas had been telling him was right. They loved him. They wanted the best for him. He was finally looking at it objectively as Thomas had encouraged him to do many times. He pulled his cell out, flipped it open and punched in his parents' phone number.
There wasn't any answer. After four rings the answering machine picked up and Tyler heard his mother's voice for the first time in months, though it was only a recording. When the machine beeped, Tyler left a very short message. "Mom, I want to come home, please call me," he left the number for the new pre-paid cell phone he'd gotten, then closed the phone and shoved it back into his pocket.
Tyler sat on the swing for a long time. A gentle snow had begun to fall again, but still he sat there. He was vaguely aware of movement beside him, but he didn't look. Then he heard a voice. "What are you doing here?" it asked.
Tyler knew the voice, he knew it very well. "Free country still, isn't it?" he answered. He didn't feel like being at ease with the voice's owner.
It continued. "That's not what I meant. Why aren't you with that guy... the one you've been living with?"
"I just needed to think I guess," Tyler answered, "and this seemed like a good place."
There were a few moments of silence before Tyler asked, "So now you're willing to talk to me? Why is that?"
"I'm sorry about that... I just didn't know how to deal with everything... I'm still not sure if I do now. But I saw you sitting here and I just thought I should say something. I mean, you did save my life and all."
Tyler looked finally over and saw that there was a tear making its way slowly down Corey's cheek. "You hurt me, you know? I thought that we were friends - but you won't even look at me or acknowledge me or anything at school. Why?"
Corey didn't know how to answer. The truth was, he wasn't ready to let everyone else know that he was gay, and he thought that with Tyler living with that man - well everyone had pretty much figured out that Tyler was. "I'm sorry, I was wrong," was all he could think of to say.
Corey started to get up, but Tyler caught his arm. "Just sit here with me for a while then... please?"
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead