Rating : NC17 (overall) This chapter: R for language.
Pairing : Adam Lazzara/Jesse Lacey
Summary : You are 20 years old and live and study in NYC, you are an insomniac and you have a crush the size of Texas for a sharp tongued DJ. Your name is Adam Lazzara and you are about to meet the larger than life Jesse Lacey.
And your life will never be the same.
Dedication : to badaddiction because I had promised her a fic LONG time ago and to lestat_manson for being such an AMAZING writer and to cloaked_lace, forever my Adam.
Beta Credit and my eternal gratitude to schlaegt_links and convex_concave who nit picked, gave suggestions, corrected my atrocious grammar and made this chapter readable.
Disclaimer :This is a work of fiction, not written for profit. I claim no connection with any member of TBS/BN, their families or friends. The events hereby narrated are absolutely false and are not meant to reflect the person's private life. No harm, misrepresentation, libel, malice or copyright infringement is intended. At no time is this meant to be construed as reality.
Tell me what you think.
Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7
It’s a quarter past eleven at night; the subway is filled with tired looking girls with greasy hair and big bags filled with too many things. Outside it’s freezing, and I’m sure there was a reason I decided to abandon the comfort of my home and venture into this recreation of the ice age, but now, I forget. Only I haven’t.
I left the house because I couldn’t stand it and all the memories locked inside and on my way here I finally realised that there are no fucking streets left for me to avoid (plus I ran out of cigarettes). After six months of hiding and finding ways to lie to myself, I have arrived at the conclusion that I am still a prisoner of feelings I hadn’t allowed myself for a lifetime. And because I am a stupid fag, I spilled my guts to the worst person imaginable.
How stupid is that?
I am fully aware that this is pathetic to the nth degree and believe me when I say that I would gladly kick my own ass for acting like this, but I seem unable to do anything else.
So here I am and it’s winter again, it’s the darkest of Decembers and there is so much snow that my tiny jacket is justifiable only in view of a possible self-sought death from hypothermia or a pornographic desire of displaying myself (I do look hot as fuck in it, let’s face it).
I walk down Amsterdam Avenue and shiver uncontrollably, the sluggish, grey snow seeping into my shoes and (unbidden, as always) and out of the recesses of my memory, comes his voice. Still honeyed and sharp, rolling Zs and Rs with a prelude to a burning desire.
”Lazzara, your vanity will kill you one day…”
I mutter to myself and my own words are so pathetic that I’m not even going to elaborate on my musings. It’s bad enough that after all this time, I still let myself think about him this much, that I let him run free inside my head.
I arrive at the hotel and there are a couple of tourists with big suitcases in front of the dingy entrance, a look of utter disappointment on their European faces.
Well dolls, life is never as good as it is in the brochure. Deal with it.
I press the buzzer and let the bewildered couple (I think they’re German) in. I follow suit, wondering when I turned so bitter, but I stop myself before I start reliving that fateful night. (Melodrama galore. As always.)
When I reach the lobby he’s explaining the details of the hotel to Fritz and Helga (or some names like that, not really sure), in fluent German (or at least I think is fluent) and they seem much more relaxed. After few more minutes they leave for their room with a cheerful “gute Nacht” and we are left alone.
I wave at him and he opens the door for me to join him behind the counter. He looks worn out and pale, his long bangs are oily and stick to his forehead in messy strands.
He looks like this city, tired and cold and dangerously beautiful.
His voice is brittle with fatigue and soft, nothing of the chipper, sharp Teutonic argot he used not more than five minutes ago. I sit in front of the small heater and look out of the window, the snow blizzard is still trying to clean the dirt of this city and I am enchanted (yes, enchanté. Fag anyone?) It’s so fucking sad and so impossibly annoying.
“I didn’t know you spoke German.”
He sits back, fills the register and then speaks very quietly.
“Cool. I mean, that’s really neat. Did you learn in school?”
“My grandmother was German”
And that’s how it is with us. He is sparse and collected, deep and meaningful and I’m all about surfaces (albeit very pretty surfaces), superfluous like a pair of flip-flops and a toy Chihuahua. (Honestly, if I see another socialite clip cloppeting, with little dog in tow, I’m going to bite them. The socialite, not the dog).
Conor has been working here for the past three months; I remember it was few weeks after he moved in: he came back one night with a bottle of whiskey and the news that he had found a job. We sat on the couch and started drinking directly from the bottle. I asked why a guy like him, with his Latin poems and a lifetime of philosophy books in his head was settling for a lousy job like that. He just shrugged, took a sip of the liquor and said:
“Money is just money. I don’t need much and twelve-year Glenlivet gets me drunk as well as my unidentified bourbon. Everything is about labels, the best jobs, the best malt whiskey. I have decided to not read the labels and drink whatever gets me drunk.”
He paused and swallowed another long mouthful, his lips wrapped around the neck bottle with the tenderness of a lover.
“Sometimes I wish I had not learnt how to read or write.”
“Because that way, words would have no meaning. They would be just sounds.”
What was I supposed to say after that kind of statement? I felt, once again, completely inadequate, no matter how many times I had kissed that mouth, the words that escaped the confined of his lips were still beyond my grasp.
Conor was and still is a mystery to me; so I said the first thing that came to mind, because I was confused and sad and fucking lonely.
He put down the half-drunk bottle and started undressing on the way to my bedroom. His words got caught within the fabric of his shirt and I heard the rustling of cotton and a lazy whisper that sounded like: ”Sure…”
It was brief and quiet; there were no orgasmic thrills or loud moans. I pushed into him and his face was seraphic and placid, a skinny St. Gabriel getting fucked up the ass.
He emitted the tiniest of sighs and wound his arms behind my neck.
Afterwards we laid there in silence, his hair was plastered on the pillow and there was a faint, earthy smell around him, something that reminded me of autumn leaves and small animals getting ready to hibernate. I pressed my nose into the hollow of his armpit and he kissed my head before standing up and retrieving his bottle.
The vertebrae in his tiny body popped loudly when he bent down and I remember thinking how his back was washed in pure white. A blank, perfect canvas.
He came back to the bed, passed me the bottle and then kissed me with lips wet with liquor and spit and I swallowed them both.
“Stop thinking about him.”
“I’m not thinking about him…”
“Stop trying to forget.”
“I have nothing to forget.”
“Then, try to forgive.”
I tried to say something else but he silenced me, pressing an elegant finger on my lips, he took another long swig from his bottle and then he fucked me.
I turn around and his eyes are melted hazelnut and dusty incense, the snow outside has turned into a sludgy sleet and I am just grateful that I can finally feel my fingers. He hasn’t said another word and he keeps looking at me and at the wet patch on the well-worn carpet where I left my shoes to dry.
I look up and our eyes meet and I have this sense of complete and utter loneliness washing over us. I can feel it spreading its tendrils across the room. Reaching out to grab at our limbs, one by one, until it reaches our mouths and I have to speak before I suffocate.
I wanna say something intelligent, profound, Conor-like.
“I’m fucking freezing.”
Way to go Adam.
He walks close to me and turns the heating up a notch, kisses my throat and the sits back, his longs, skinny legs neatly folded under his body.
“What are you doing here, Adam?”
“The house was too quiet…”
I smirk a little and, immediately, I feel like an idiot.
He smiles a fraction and I can see his chipped tooth, the one that is rough and ragged against my tongue when we kiss.
Conor and I are not in love and never will be.
I don’t really know what brought us together, fate, destiny, the cheap rent, Gina’s gaydar or maybe it was just a fluke that we met and there really is no hidden meaning behind it and somehow, somehow we’re good for each other. If you ignore the fact that we drink each other stupid on a regular basis, but that’s a detail of no importance, much more worthy of ignorance. It’s easier this way. I don’t have to question why I feel what I feel and he doesn’t feel at all.
I think too much when I’m with him and it’s scary to know that there’s so much going on inside my head. I am terrified that soon I will run out of space and what the hell am I am going to do then? You can’t buy storage for your thoughts, can you? Not even in New York.
Maybe that’s why we drink, maybe we have just decided to destroy the few remaining brain cells and make space for a little more numbness with fewer questions, fewer emotions.
“Why are we so miserable?”
“I am not miserable. What is it that defines misery anyway? Is it the lack of money? Family? Love life? Good job? Great personality? In one way or another every person on this planet lacks one of the above, so are we all miserable?”
I cock an eyebrow and, as I do, I catch my reflection in the garish, faux tiffany mirror on the opposite wall and my gesture of bewildered and sardonic amazement has Jesse Lacey written all over it and I can’t help gasping and smoothing my brow with nervous fingers, as if I can erase (once and for all) all the traces that man has left on my body.
Conor doesn’t lose his composure (does he ever?) and just keep looking at me with the question written on his dark, tired eyes, but no words leave his mouth. He knows that I am going to answer anyway; he knows I can’t help it. He sees it in my face, in the way I crumple and the way I have his name brimming on my lips like a taste you keep searching for hours after you finished kissing, after you finish puking. With the same relentless desire to touch something pure and something filthy, because sometimes they’re just the same.
And maybe now I know why I left the house.
I pull my knees up and the sodden ends of my jeans (the kidney shredding type) seep coldness onto my thighs and I shiver, the deeply ingrained fear of loneliness spreads with the same precise and incongruent ease and I close my eyes and I wish I was drunk with Conor in my bed, fucking each other out of desperation, boredom, solitude or plain, stupid horniness.
“His name is Jesse. Jesse Lacey.”
Conor isn’t going to interrupt, it’s not his style, and he doesn’t speak unless it is absolutely necessary (or until he’s blind drunk, and that takes a while considering his tolerance to hard liquor) and so I continue my sorrowful tale. (Always fancied to be Juliet. Doesn’t every little fairy dream that?) I spill my little, stupid soul on this dirty carpet, on a cheap night, just two weeks before Christmas, in a city with no compassion, in front of a boy with no emotions and a heart filled with bourbon and visions of perfect clarity.
“I had a crush on him for almost two years before I could gather the courage to meet him. He’s beautiful. I mean, he has the worst taste in clothing ever and has hideous curly hair, but he is still beautiful. His eyes are fucking gorgeous and I fell for him like fourteen year-old schoolboy, all the names and hearts doodled in the margins of a calculus textbook.”
I lift my eyes and he is still looking at me and I only wish I could fall for this boy, because I know he would never love me back and I will never dream of being happy with him and I would share a dose of misery laced with resignation and finally fucking accept reality.
But I can’t.
He won’t let me.
And I’m not sure who the “he” is I’m referring to. Right now, I am not sure of anything except this fucking longing, this pain and this pathetic heartache.
“Do you know why there are no radios in the flat?”
He shakes his head and I am pretty sure that it isn’t a question that has been wreaking havoc on his mind. Conor doesn’t question futility and apathetic reality, he glides through it all, with his own personal visions to keep him company and tell him what is necessary and what is not.
“He works for WKRC. He is their main asset and best investment; he is a sort of radio celebrity and I… I always loved listening to the radio, listening to incorporeal voices that were still able to fill my imagination and feed my need for words in the dead of an insomniac night. And with him it was also a case of unmitigated lust. I fucking spent night after night jerking off listening to him, just the sound of his voice used to make cum.”
I sweep a bit of my long mane off my eyes and look, resolutely, at the carpet, I am not sure I can face him while I spill my guts about the love of my life being a complete and utter moronic asshole.
I tell him everything. The first time Jesse took the piss out of me (you think that I should taken a mental note and not trust him, but this is me. Adam Lazzara, king of all idiots), the first time we kissed, the first time we fucked and the last. I talk for more than an hour and he breathes softly, a quiet of tar-filled lungs and infinite patience. I talk and talk and I am the stereotype of every emo reject that clog those stupid online journals and I know it. I fucking do. I am a joke.
“So, there you have it, my tale of sex and woes and immense stupidity and I can’t forget him. Even now I keep thinking about him and what he is doing and what he is saying and to whom he is saying it to. I’ve pictured his girlfriend in compromising, fatal situations a million times. Sometime I spear her with a pointy hairbrush, but mostly it’s just me beating the shit out of her.”
He raises the corner of his mouth a tiny bit and now I know that the little flask he keeps drinking from is not filled with coffee alone. I bet my (tight) ass that it’s 40% java and 60% whiskey, because Conor does not smile unless he is drunk. I throw around my smiles like unmarked cashmere at a sale in Macy’s, but he’s like an Armani boutique -- never on sale.
And yes, I am drunk myself, I polished off a bottle of red wine before leaving the house, hence the cheap philosophy and the shitty analogies.
“There is an easy way to know what he is saying at the moment, Adam. We just have to turn the radio on.”
I don’t even have to look at the clock, it’s like my body and my brain still know exactly what time of the night is and for how long he has been on air. I watch him moving to the little, rickety radio that is nested in a dusty corner of the cluttered desk and I almost lounge to stop him, my voice is a strangled whisper in my throat and I try to tell him to stop, but reality is that I don’t want him to. Reality is that if he turns the radio on, I am dispensed from being the weak one that has finally caved in and listened to Jesse’s voice again. I am innocent and still strong in my resolution and he is the evil roommate/fuck buddy that is subjecting me to painful memories.
“… And that would be what? I mean Fred? Your name is Fred, right? So you feel inadequate and unappreciated and you think that she keeps making comparisons with her ex when you two fuck? And that she’s still secretly in love with this mythical figure of the perfect boyfriend, the beautiful, smart college boy that you never were, right? Well, I’m not sure if she’s fucking someone else, Fred, because I’m not a private detective and, frankly? Not too keen on imagining someone else’s wife fucking her lover, but if she does have something on the side, I can’t fucking blame her! You’re a fucking wet rag! How would you like it if your wife was always thinking ’Oh I am not good enough… oh, I wish I was more beautiful, smarter, with a tighter ass… oh, my husband is with me out of pity…’? You dickface, she chose you! I have no idea why, but she’s with you! Stops being all miserable and shit and just try to be happy she’s with you and try to make her happy. Nobody likes a wimpy partner who thinks they’re second best to some stupid high school/college dream. Just fucking enjoy it! And man, you call me again in fucking tears, I am going to rip you a new asshole. I am not fucking Oprah and I don’t need to listen to a grown man whimpering, okay? Next caller!”
I’m not sure I am breathing right now, I mean, I know I am or I would be dying of asphyxiation, but I feel like my entire body has been caved hollow by his voice, by the way he is so clear in my head, by the way he is still able to carve paths of desire across the expanse of my pain and the memories and lies of his story with me.
I am still curled on this chair and Conor takes another sip of his brew and I don’t know what to do.
He’s stopped using voice filters because I can recognise the voice he used to yell at me with, the voice he used to drag me into bed, the voice that was absinthe and sex, the voice that told me I was beautiful and I am rooted here, staring at the radio, waiting for him to make another New Yorker cry or yell or both and to make me fully aware (as if I wasn’t already) that I am far, far away from being over him.
“Alright, people the topic is adultery, because you’re all seedy bastards and I don’t give a fuck about your lives anyway, but it helps the ratings if we talk about shit like this. So, who’s next? “
I’ve never heard him like this. Yes, he’s still vitriolic, unpleasant and (sexy and gorgeous and his lips curve just slightly when he sips his coffee and pronounces my last name) downright nasty, but there is something more, some sort of resentment and darkened refusal that emerges through his jabs and that cannot help seeping into his words. And part of me rejoices in thinking he is finally having it hard, but part of me is still so incredibly stupid that it’s pondering about what happened to make him even more of a heartless bastard, even more of a self centred, cynical fuckhead, even angrier and even more detached.
He was never an empathetic kind of person, but no matter what, even with insults and nasty remarks, you could still hear it that he did (in his own way) care about his listeners, but now, now he just sounds irritated, short-tempered, nasty just for the sake of it. Like an actor cast to play the same part over and over and over again, because it brought the money and was what the public wanted.
Conor seems enthralled by my reaction to his voice and if I had any decency left I would blush at my utter lack of restraint, but I have none left and so I hug my legs and bang my head on my sharp, pointy (fucking painful) knees and Conor’s drunk laughter slides rancid and soft down my spine.
“… He’s married and thirty-nine. He’s your biology teacher and you’re sixteen. Okay Michelle, how fucking dumb are you? There is no talk about love here. Let’s start with the fact that you’re a stupid teenager and he is a fucking bastard that is using his position of power to actually prey on his students, to have a cheap thrill on the side and then go back to his pregnant wife that is too fat and too tired to let him fuck her. Listen to me kiddo, Lolita ended in tragedy, like every other fucking story before that. Try to grow up, report him to your principal or just fucking end it, because he doesn’t love you. He never will, he is probably fucking some other student as well and you are just another tight pussy that he makes him feel younger and strong, not a pathetic little man that teaches high school kids and has no other prospective in life than a five bedroom house out of the city.”
The girl is sobbing hysterically and Jesse is still ranting and this is nothing unusual, I used to love when he made stupid girls cry just by telling them the truth, but this hits too close to home and after all his lies, I’m not so forgiving about him being this much of a hard ass. Sure the kid is dumb, but how much of a hypocrite is he? Talking about her teacher cheating on his wife when he did the same to his girlfriend with me (and god knows how many others… but let’s not go down that road Adam.) I want to turn this radio off, I really, really do.
“He has… ha-has three kids that’s why he can’t leave her and be with me yet…”
“Michelle, what the fuck? Have you listened to a word I’ve said so far? The guy is a scumbag, he has three kids! And you’re the fourth. I bet you watch lots of TV right? I bet you do, god forbid you read any books. Anyway, have you ever seen, in any of your stupid TV shows any student/teacher relationship end in marriage and happily ever after?”
“Oh… like Paige in Degrassi…that was so sad. But he loved her you know? He even lost his job for her. That was just so cute. Don’t you think that the same thing could happen to us?”
She sounds so much chirpier now that TV has granted her the possibility of a soap opera-like romance.
Jesse is gonna kill her. Christ, I would kill her.
“You made my point exactly. You’re a dumb fucking cheerleader and you know what? Go on and fuck your teacher for all I care. I mean, I tried to actually have a serious conversation with sixteen-year old. I should’ve just told you that you’re a fucking moron and honey? Wait, lemme spell it out for you: you are a moron and this is the end of the call. “
And there goes another young life totally shredded by the ever-so-evil Jesse Lacey. Only I know that, few months ago he would have, somehow, helped her. Don’t get me wrong, he would have been the same cold-hearted bastard, but he wouldn’t have given up, or maybe, now that I know the real Jesse (or a more realistic version of my masturbatory dreams), I can see him for what he is. A petty man with a sharp tongue.
Or perhaps there’s something off with him, because there’s a darker shade of cynicism and less enjoyment in being who he is, or better, in pretending to be who he is. I don’t know. The only thing I know is that it was a year ago, it’s like all these months have passed and I am still completely under his spell. I am still hanging on every word he says and I am still impossibly in love or whatever it is that I am feeling for him.
I think I am gonna cry. You know? Just to reiterate how much of a pansy I really am.
He goes into commercial and I am staring at the radio, my eyes are trained on it and I cannot bear to see the look in Conor’s eyes and I don’t want him to see the look in mine. Because I look like a manic emo boy that cannot forget his biggest mistake.
I stand up and turn the radio off and then I put my shoes back on, even if they’re still wet and the cold immediately clings to my feet, but I don’t care, too scared by the fact that I’m not sure I will ever forget Jesse and if I can’t forget him, what the fuck am I going to do?
“Where are you going?”
Conor’s voice is dusty and so tired, filled by too much alcohol and too little sleep and I want him to fuck me and make me forget.
“Home. I think.”
“I don’t know where I’m going, okay? I don’t have all the answers.”
I am defensive and catty and I don’t really give a shit now, I am not in the mood for Conor’s philosophy, no matter how right he is.
“Adam, there are no broken hearts, there are only different degrees of disappointment.”
I am walk toward the door and clench my fingers around the worn out brass handle and just step away from the cold nihilism of his truth.
“Then mine is a big fucking disappointment.”
He looks at me with his placid eyes and for once he really irritates me. I wish he could just show some emotions, I wish he could be something more than this perfect, pristine figurine, this Buddha of urban boredom.
I fasten up my jacket (as if that’ll prevent pneumonia) and march resolutely (or so I hope) out of the hotel. Conor doesn’t try to stop me or tell me what to do; he’s probably back to his flask of cheap whiskey and the resolute languor of his mind.
Outside the snow has finally stopped falling and I stand by the street for god knows how long, the lights of too many cars painting my skin a sickening shade of yellow; until a cab stops in front of me and again, the choice is (almost) taken from me. At the taxi driver’s request, I climb into the smelly car and give him an address I had sworn to forget forever.
I don’t really want to go there and please, refrain from telling me I am a moron, I know that already, I don’t know why, but something or someone (it’s never my fault, of course) has driven my thoughts and myself to this place.
The radio building looms grey and decrepit upon the littered back street and the diner still shines like a greasy beacon across the road and, before I know it, I am greeted by the familiar smell of refried eggs and bitter coffee and an immense sense of loss grips at my guts.
This was a seriously bad idea. Even by my standards.
I am about to leave when Edna’s familiar drawl calls out my name and I am enveloped in a soft (grease smelling) embrace and she is petting my hair like a disobedient puppy that has finally come home after wandering away.
I wish I could say it makes me happy, that, somehow, it makes this (colossal) mistake better, but it doesn’t. She doesn’t. No matter how good her intentions and maternal affection.
She tries to usher me toward our booth, but someone is already seated there and, as a testament to my stupidity, I feel deprived of my right to sit on the faux red leather seat, where we spent many nights, with me trying not to hump his leg and him firing out insults for my personal benefit.
Looking back, what is it that we had? He said it wasn't love and now, after all these months, I am scared that maybe, maybe he was right.
But then, why does it still hurt so much? Why is it that after being humiliated insulted and ridiculed, after months of separations and even after Conor, I’m back here?
It's one thing trying to achieve closure, but this is absolutely ridiculous.
This is cheap gay melodrama, this is me being confused.
This is Adam Lazzara fucking up again, even when he tries to make things right.
"He hasn't been here in a long time."
I sit down on another booth and when I look up Edna's eyes are big and watery, like a big, sad Labrador and please, don't cry, because right now I am not prepared to deal with a weepy female.
"He... he hasn't been here in months."
Her voice is resentful, like a mother talking about the slut that has broken her little boy's heart and I fucking hate that tone of voice. Don’t get me wrong, I like Edna, but I don't need any more protectors, Gina was more than enough and I let her be my crutch for way too long.
"He stopped coming after a couple of weeks. I think he waited for you to come back, darling."
She keeps talking to me in between serving other customers (who are these people? Why aren't they home at this time of the night?) and pouring my coffee. I barely listen; I don't want to know, I don't want my heart festering with rage or (god forbid) hope.
He waited for me to come back...
I fucking hate being like this, I swear.
She throws an insignificant detail at me and my mind starts building an entire story around it.
The intelligent part of my brain (as little as it is) knows that he wasn't waiting for me out of more than habit and self assurance, but then you have the
Scenario Number One:
He realised that he had made the biggest mistake of his life and came back to “our place” hoping for a karmic turn of events in which I was going to come back demanding his heart, eternal devotion (his delicious body) and commitment and he, of course, would have given it to me. Proposing on one knee and a Tiffany’s ring. (My fantasy, my ring okay?)
Scenario Number Two:
Destroyed by guilt (and devoured by desire for my obscene prettiness) he kept returning to the birthplace of our “love” (I am clearly delirious. That’s rather obvious), reminiscing about my skimpy t-shirts, my shameless attempts at getting into his pants and all those hours we spent talking (and saying nothing of real meaning to both of us).
I am halfway through scenario number three when something (God? Fate? Really bad timing?) makes me look out of the window and there he is.
Standing on the other side of the street.
And I can’t tear my eyes away.
I cannot stop staring at him, and I swear I can feel my entire body seizing up, every muscle (the few I have) bunching under my clothes, every drop of blood rushing faster and faster.
My heart is a sledgehammer in my chest, a loud arrhythmic banging between the thin walls of my ribcage. He crossed the road with a self-assured stride and that fluid elegance that makes my mouth water and my stomach clench.
Then it stops completely.
I can’t hide and even if I could, what would the point be? I’m sure he’s seen me (well, I did everything except pressing my nose against the dirty window, so yes, I am pretty sure he’s seen me) and I know, I know that no matter all the scenarios I can come up with, he is just going to walk over to me with a smirk on his face, saying something incredibly insulting about my sense of style, my hair, or my stupidity in general and above all my (evident) lack of any self respect, demonstrated by my presence here after the way we parted.
My hands shake and I hold tightly onto my cup of coffee, to try and keep a façade of cool, in the face of my disgraceful display of a lack of backbone. He spins the door open and the tiny chiming bell is deafening. It’s as if my entire field of vision (and of hearing, apparently) is completely focused on him. (Nothing’s changed since then).
He speaks briefly with Edna and she has a murderous look on her face, but then she just nods and he walks straight toward the booth I am sitting in.
The cup is still scolding hot and my fingertips are ten points of red discomfort.
He slides in the booth in front of me and his knee brushes mine and I am burnt.
I am turned to ashes.
“You should really try to sleep sometime, you know?”
I can’t even breathe properly and the first thing he says after we haven’t seen each other for months, it’s something about my insomnia? What the fuck is wrong with him? And what the fuck is wrong with me? Why am I here? Why am I trembling like a goddamn virgin? Why does his voice still manage to find all the pressure points of my body, where I store away my fears and my desires?
God, grant me the gift of a fucking comeback, a witty remark, anything. I am begging you here.
“What are you doing here, Adam?”
Thank you God, I mean, let him ask the only other question I cannot answer now. Let him ask me why I still love him.
My name on his lips again and I am a statue of stupidity and big, brown eyes lost into this fucking moment that could not be less movie-like if we tried and that it’s stretching and stretching, like the skin across my bones and the syrupy quality of his kisses in my mouth.
“I don’t know.”
Way to go Lazzara. Always the smart one. My intellect amazes me. He used to say that a lot, another “endearing” insult to add to the list and another reason why I should have stayed with Conor, wait for his shift to be over and walked across town, risking hypothermia, searching his cold mouth with drunken kisses and let him bring me to bed.
Bed, bed, bring me to bed…
Make me feel something, give me back my stupid grin, fuck me into tomorrow.
I can’t be thinking like this, I must not.
I am sure he can hear my thoughts wrapping themselves around the white, white skin of his wrists and I need to run away and lose the last token of my dignity or I am going to lose the last shred of my heart.
How can he still have this kind of power over me? How can he still drive all my words out my chest? How can he still be the only man I’ve really wanted? Heart, body and stupid soul?
He takes the cup from my hands and a bolt of electricity runs through the tip of my fingers down to the bottom of my rotten heart and I dig my nails into my palm. (I am the image of composed calm, of course).
“It was going to shatter if you kept holding it that tight.”
And I can hear the smile of derision seeping into his mellifluous tone.
“Scared that it was going to stain your $300 shirt?”
“$475, actually. And yes, among other things.”
“You’ve been robbed, that’s one fucking, hideous shirt.”
He raises his bloody, fucking eyebrow and I am going to break his head open on the edge of this table, just to see what lies inside.
“It’s a Valentino’s shirt.”
“No shit. It still looks like crap. Now that I think about it, it’s not the shirt, it’s you. You definitely cannot wear it without making it look like something from the bargain bin.”
“Says the guy with a faux Crosby, Still, Nash and Young shirt. Are we robbing the 70’s now? Got bored with the plastic easiness of the 80’s?”
And this is easy. This is what we are right?
Nothing more than a pair of sparring partners with sharp tongues and a masquerade of feelings that neither of us can really decode. Because maybe I am here because I am in love and maybe I am here because I wish I was in love, but he is here as well.
He is here, with me.
Are we doomed by our stupidity or is this another of his games to pass the time and am I just wishing that him being here, were more than some ill fated coincidence?
I really don’t know, but his voice washes over me and it’s a poisonous caress, it’s a cankerous pollution and I stand still, taking everything in, expecting an epiphany that will not happen.
“Do you ever think about me? About us?”
Shoot me now. Really. Fucking do it. What the fuck am I doing? Why am I asking questions like these? I sound even more of a fag than I already am and that’s exactly what he tells me. His mouth is stretched thin over the words and the insult is smooth and effortless, as if he was born to make me look like an idiot, every time.
“Drama queen much? Oh Adam, grow up.”
“I think I have. Have you?”
I don’t know how I manage to sound so calm and (almost) collected, because inside I am a mess of contradicting feelings. Inside I am still the stupid boy of almost a year ago. Inside I am still in love with him.
“I was pretty much grown up when we met. I am not the one that throws tantrums, dresses like a thirteen year-old girl and cannot separate fantasy and reality, desires and duty, wants and needs.”
“You are so full of it, Jesse. For all your words, all your intelligent observations of life and all its characters, you’re still unable to fucking be yourself, be who you really are. “
He smirks cruelly and his eyes are cerulean and gelid, fixed on my face and I remember the way they turn dark and deep when he is excited, when he is flushed and he is pressing me down on the bed.
I remember but I don’t let the memory cut me open. I try not to. I try not to let him hurt me again.
I try, desperately, to find a way into his heart.
I want to be missed, I want to be a memory burning inside his chest, and I want him to want me still.
I want to be someone he cannot forget, because I cannot forget him and if he doesn’t either, then, then there is a chance, we have a chance, and I have a chance. And I fucking want that chance. More than anything.
I wait for his reply and it comes in the form of his hand on the narrow circumference of my wrist and his skin is burning cold, hot, and he can see the goose bumps rising on the surface of my skin with humiliating clarity.
“Please Adam, this is really stupid, even by your standards. We already had this conversation and you know that your I’m proud and queer speech does nothing for me. Drop it.”
And the last words are uttered with a deep-seated anger and his fingers dig into my skin and (god how sick am I?) I hope that it’s going to leave a mark.
“Truth hurts, huh?”
And I know I am treading a very dangerous path here, aware that he could snap my wrist in two without even trying hard, but that’s not what worries me (he is too gentlemanly to do something so vile).
What worries me is the fact that he could so easily break my heart and my will again.
He could say a word or do something and I would be there, all over him, forgetting all the fucking heartache I put myself through.
I hold my breath and he doesn’t let go of my wrist. His eyes are a pointed laser beams of hatred, but I don’t give up and we keep staring at each other’s as if trying to win a stupid contest.
“Adam, give it up. You don’t have the eloquence or the intelligence to insult me.”
He slides his hand away and my skin is red and clammy, the imprints of his fingers littering my pale flesh and it’s happening all over again.
I can feel the threads of desire enveloping me; tracing lines and shapes on the back of my spine, making my stomach, ache with need. I can feel the pain of rejection and the realisation of another broken illusion taking place inside my belly, making my whole body hurt.
“I wasn’t trying to insult you, if that was the case, I would be calling you a conceited bastard by now.”
“What are you trying to do then?”
“I’m not sure. Do you want me to do something?”
My voice is suggestive and for a fleeting second I have the almighty satisfaction to see a glimmer of desire in his eyes. It could have been wishful thinking, but I know it wasn’t.
I thought I was going to feel elated, triumphant even, but what I feel is a deeper sense of defeat, because if he wants me, if I love him, why are we fighting? Why does tonight feel like the end?
He is about to say something and Edna chooses this precise moment to bring him his order and I swear is like a fucking bad movie, or worse, it’s like a demented soap opera.
I convince myself to finally get up and leave when I see a plate being pushed in front of me and, yes, you got it right, it’s a fucking slice of cheesecake.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
He sips his coffee and slowly chews through a forkful of eggs before he replies and his voice is somehow warmer and softer.
It makes me want to stab him with my fork. Repeatedly.
“Eat a little. You’re all skin and bones.”
“Such a grown up. I’m impressed.”
“Fuck you again, then. You know? Just to reiterate how fucking much I have grown up since you acted like a complete and utter bastard.”
His fork clanks loudly against the cheap porcelain plate and his omelette has been shredded to pieces.
“What do you want from me, Adam? Really. What the fuck do you want? Did you come here tonight to ask for my undying love and a fairy tale ending for your gay melodrama? Or are you here just because you have an itch you cannot scratch and you need me to fuck you into the mattress?”
I’ve never seen him losing his control. Even when he rants on the radio he always manages to keep his cool and sounds indignant, but never upset or exasperated. I look at his fiery eyes and there is something inside that I cannot read, but that has the potential to destroy me completely, to destroy him completely.
“I don’t know why I’m here, but the question is, why are you here?”
“Don’t start with the psychoanalysis bullshit Adam, it doesn’t suit you and I fucking hate it.”
“Jesse, for fuck’s sake! Just tell me what you want. Can you? In all honesty, can you tell me that?”
He sits the cup on the Formica table with a loud thud and I watch the coffee splashing over his hand, making him flinch a little, tiny drops staining the cuffs of the overpriced shirt. He passes a hand through his hair and he looks a little less immaculate all of a sudden. Less perfect, more human, incredibly tired.
“I want you to fucking shut up. Just eat the fucking cake okay?”
“Adam, please… just eat the goddamn cake.”
I don’t know what happens inside of me in the next few seconds, his voice is almost breaking under the weight of my name and before I can even realise it I am standing up holding out a hand to him, taking the cup off his fingers and wiping away the droplets of coffee from his hand.
He looks up at me and I say something that is going to hurt us both, one way or another, regardless of his answer.
“Come home with me.”