Thursday, May 1, 2014

Return to Winthrop St. - Part 12

The next day Atwood wanted to talk to Bobby—needed to was more accurate. He needed a moment alone with him to thank him for what he’d done—his kindness, his generosity, his friendship. Even though he didn’t remember making the call somewhere within him he must have known he could count on Bobby, trust Bobby. That must have been why he chose to call him instead of one of his fraternity brothers. He also felt the connection he and Bobby shared was still there even if it was harder to feel than before. 

Atwood made a choice. He decided instead of calling Bobby he would make a visit to his dormitory and thank him in person. He was nervous before knocking on the door. He stood in the hallway taking deep breaths through his nose exhaling them slowly through his mouth. He read somewhere how this was supposed to calm a person down when they were walking the high wire between fear and courage. He still felt the weight of anxiety in his chest as he finally knocked on the door.

“What do you want?” 

He hadn’t even considered that Clancy might be at Bobby’s.

“Hi, Clancy.” He hesitated, gnawing on the inside of his bottom lip, fidgeting outside the door. The look on her face was not inviting and her eyes couldn’t hide the animosity she felt toward him. Yet another example of sex killing a friendship.

“What do you want?” she asked again. The frustration in her voice so present that it was an invisible force.

“I’m sorry to bother you, and I know you don’t want to see me, but could I please talk to Bobby? Just for a second.”

She pursed her lips as she stared at him. He felt like a child. He was reminded of a time when his aunt had stared him down after church one Sunday afternoon because she thought he’d been disruptive and disrespectful. She held him tightly by the arm and scolded him. She said he’d been laughing too loudly and walking up and down the center aisle too many times. The service hadn’t even begun when he was committing his acts of villainy, and he hadn’t seen the harm in doing what he was doing. Truthfully, he was trying to get attention. He was a child acting like a child doing something a child would do. But that something was not something that deserved a scolding in his opinion.

Clancy’s eyes staring at him made him feel belittled and small just like the scolding from his aunt. He remembered the anger he felt toward her that Sunday afternoon but out of respect didn’t ask her why she had been so bothered by his attempt at attention. Clancy, however, was not his aunt and he owed her no respect. He’d done nothing wrong no matter what she thought.

“Look, I get it that you’re angry with me. But you should be honest with yourself. Your anger is more at Bobby. I didn’t know you two were a couple. So you can continue to be pissed at me all you want, but I want to see Bobby so get the fuck out of my way or I’m going to push past you.”

Atwood had never been so defiant before. His heart was pounding in his chest. Clancy was unmoving. He made a move toward her. She inhaled and released a deep breath, rolling her eyes, trying to show no intimidation as she moved her former-teenage-mean-girl-now-scorned-sorority-sister self to the side and opened the door further allowing him to pass.

He stopped just inside the door and jumped like a startled cat when she slammed it behind him.

“Bobby,” she yelled, “your little boy toy is here to see you.” Her words were spiteful and more than slightly vicious. She was nothing like the girl he’d had a three way with just a couple months before. He couldn’t help but wonder what Bobby saw in her and why he continued to stay with her. She
leered at Atwood as she walked past him into the bathroom. She slammed that door as well. 

Bobby appeared in the door of his bedroom. He was tentative and shy, his shoulders tensed up to his ears yet somehow slouchy. His hair was tousled like he’d just gotten out of bed. When he looked at Atwood the beautiful smile that Atwood so loved broke across his face. At that moment Atwood relaxed as did Bobby’s shoulders.

Atwood took a step toward Bobby, but Bobby gestured for him to stay where he was. He shot his eyes in the direction of the bathroom door. It was then that Atwood could see it was ajar. Clancy had opened it just a crack. For all her dramatic door slamming she was sneakily trying to listen to whatever it was Atwood wanted to say to Bobby.

“Hi,” was all Atwood managed.

“Hi,” Bobby repeated back to him. He put his hands in his pockets and leaned up against the door jamb.

Finding himself back in Bobby’s dorm room made him realize how much he missed him. He wanted to touch him. He wanted to reach out and feel his skin. He wanted to be touched. He wanted Bobby’s body to press against his in the melding embrace that always made him feel like they fit.

With Clancy in the next room listening there would be no embrace, there would be no touch, there would be no kiss.

“Listen, I’m sorry to just show up like this, but I really wanted to say thank you for last night. What you did for me really means a lot.”

“You’re welcome, Atwood.” Bobby responded. He looked toward the floor, embarrassed. “Honestly, I’m glad you called me. It made me feeling like a knight in shining armor sweeping in to save the day.”

Clancy cleared her throat in the bathroom.

Atwood attempted a step in Bobby’s direction, but Bobby’s body language all but pleaded that he stay put. 

“I wish we could get a drink sometime.” Atwood asked. A fly on the wall would have thought these two men were strangers instead of former lovers broken apart by fear and jealously.

“As nice as that sounds I don’t think I can.”

Atwood turned toward the bathroom and saw Clancy quickly move herself from his vision. He didn’t know what Bobby saw in her or what her hold over him was, but he sensed that he would never again feel Bobby inside of him or lay in Bobby’s arms. He couldn’t walk out of Bobby’s life without at least kissing him one more time. With purpose he walked toward Bobby without giving anyone a chance to stop him, placed his lips on Bobby’s and kissed him hard and deep. Bobby returned the kiss—their last one.

Atwood released Bobby from the kiss then turned and walked toward the door. Before walking out of the room he turned back toward Bobby. He took one moment to try and memorize Bobby’s features, be pierced by his blue/green eyes; one moment to see Bobby’s lips form the smile that he so loved.

Atwood smiled.

“Fuck you, Clancy,” he said as he walked out the door letting it slam shut behind him. 

∆∆∆

Solitude can be peaceful, but it can also be lonely. Solitude and a bag of marijuana can be a combination that makes one do stupid things. 

After the door slammed on his relationship, friendship, whatever it was with Bobby, Atwood couldn’t get back to his own dorm room fast enough. He was sad, miserable. He was racked with guilt and fear over his arrest. He was aching with loss over the fact that he would probably never see Bobby again. He was lonely. Sad and lonely. The blinds were closed. The curtains were drawn. The only light in his room was from the flame of his lighter. He sat on his bed leaning against the wall and held his pipe—a gift from Ronnie. He smoked enough weed to make the loneliness take root deep within his heart and mind. He wasn’t thinking clearly, couldn’t think clearly. He was back in the blurry haze he’d been inside the night before. He wanted to be numb, but his mind wouldn’t black out. He reached for his phone.

Atwood: Hi

He pressed send and waited. Time moved slowly when marijuana impaired one’s judgment. He felt like an hour had passed when his phone finally lit up and vibrated. In reality it had taken only 10 minutes for the response to come back.

Kinlin: Hi

Atwood: Hi

Kinlin: We already covered that. What’s up?

Atwood: I miss u

Kinlin: I miss u 2. What’s wrong?

Atwood: y does something have to be wrong

Kinlin: bcause u haven’t talked 2 me in weeks

Atwood: u haven’t talked to me either

Kinlin: I thought u didn’t want 2 talk 2 me

Atwood: I always want 2 talk 2 u

Kinlin: r u drunk

Atwood: no, but i’m high. LOL

Kinlin: what’s going on, A?

Atwood: remember in the monument that night you loved me? I wish u loved me like that all the time.

Kinlin: Atwood don’t do this.

Atwood: don’t do what? 

Kinlin: don’t bring up that night.

Atwood: don’t tell me what to do, Kinlin. I want to matter to u. Why can’t I just matter 2 u. y can’t u just love me. y can’t anybody just love me.

Kinlin: Atwood, I do love u just not like that. 
Kinlin: What happened? did something happen?

Atwood didn’t write back immediately. He sat staring at the words on the screen of his phone. Kinlin didn’t love him. Bobby didn’t love him. He was fucked up—on pot and mentally. He felt like a fool. He felt out of control. He felt like he was spiraling out of control and didn’t know how to stop it, didn’t know if he wanted to stop it.

Atwood: I wish u had fucked me that night

Now it was Atwood’s turn to wait. He didn’t know if the marijuana was giving him the courage he needed to say the things he often felt he couldn’t say or if it was preventing him from thinking too deeply about what he was saying. He never seemed to realize that maybe by not saying the words (asking the questions) he was protecting his heart from the hurt the answers could inflict.

Finally his phone vibrated again.

Kinlin: I don’t want to do this over text, Atwood. 
Kinlin: There’s 2 much 2 say

Atwood: fuck u, Kinlin

Kinlin: stop it, A. u have 2 get it thru ur head that I don’t want 2 b with u like that.

Atwood: I get it!!!!! ur an asshole and u used me. I get it!!!!! FUCK U!!

Kinlin: I’m sorry, Atwood. I don’t know what else 2 say.

Atwood stared at the apology. Kinlin’s use of the phrase, ‘I’m sorry, Atwood,’ wasn’t new to him. He picked up the pipe from between his legs and put it on the nightstand beside his bed. When the light of his phone screen went out he was plunged into the darkness of his room. He let the phone rest loosely in his hand and leaned his head up against the wall. He felt the vibration of another text and could see his phone’s glowing brightness behind his closed eyelids. He knew it was from Kinlin, but he refused to look at it. He let his body slump onto the bed, his head finding the pillow.

Two hours later he woke up feeling relaxed and less anxious. Sleep had lately been the only thing that kept him from thinking about how he was twisting further and further away from the life he had envisioned for himself at UCLA. He was becoming one of those characters that lurked in the shadows in a noir film. More often than not he was blowing off his classes. He was using anything he could for distraction: alcohol, drugs, frat parties, sex. 

He looked down at his phone and saw the unopened text message from Kinlin.

Kinlin: please call ur mom…or somebody. I’m worried about u.

The text from Kinlin returned their earlier text conversation to the focus of his thoughts. He looked up from the phone and stared into the blackness of his room. He couldn’t sit there. Wouldn’t sit there. He was leaving that room. He wanted to be around people. Being alone was not the answer. He needed mindless distraction


He didn’t want to go to the frat house. He would have to find somewhere else. A gay bar that wouldn’t card him. Something. He got up and got dressed and left with no real direction, just a purpose.

© 2014 Michael Rohrer