What the fuck was going on in my life? The first words I'd ever spoken to Kyle were, "Hey, gay boy!" Closely followed by, "You're a fucking faggot!" And now? Now I loved him. I'd had sex with him. Me, the quintessential homophobe was in love with another guy! How could it be? And what about Carol? I loved her, too. None of it made any sense, and the more I tried to make sense of it, the more confused I'd become.
When I met up with Kyle next morning on the way to work, I was deep in thought.
"Hey, you OK?" he asked with a worried look on his face.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"You look a million miles away. You thinking about last night?"
"No. And I'm not in the mood for your crap this morning, Kyle."
So that was it. Nothing more was said until it was time for me to head off to the harbor. "Cheers."
One of the great things about building yachts was the hard work. It forced me to think about things other than what was troubling me. But after work, it was a different story.
That night, all fucking hell broke loose at home. Years of anger, frustration, and having to put up with shitforbrains' bullying crap finally came to a head. For the first time, I saw a look of absolute terror in his eyes... fear of imminent death. Mom was hysterical. I was screaming. He was pleading for his life.
There was nothing I could do to hide the cuts to my ear and cheek, so Kyle was bound to notice them next morning as we travelled to our respective jobs.
"He doesn't like me drinking his beer and smoking his stash."
"Look, Kyle... I think I'm gonna go to Johannesburg."
"I almost killed him last night. My mom was in tears and screaming at me. If she hadn't been there, I would've put a carving knife through him."
"It was intense. I lost my head completely. I had him over the kitchen sink with a knife to his throat. We were screaming at each other."
"That why you're leaving?" he asked with his eyes full of tears.
"I think last night just made up my mind. You know I've been thinking about it." I waited for a response, but there was none. Kyle was totally choked up. "That guy who offered me the job in Joburg will be back in Cape Town, probably next week. I phoned my dad at about 3 o'clock this morning, and he says if it doesn't work out, I can stay with them for as long as I need to, or I can get my own digs and he'll help me out." Still no response except for the saddest look I'd ever seen. "Don't put me on a fucking guilt trip, Kyle!"
"I'm not... I can't help it. But I know you need to go."
"I'm probably gonna be moving in to Carol's house this weekend if her folks say it's OK."
"You could move in with me if it's for a short time."
"I can't do that."
"I just can't."
"You can... my folks would be cool about it."
"And you'd be all over me like a fucking rash every minute I was there. You're my friend, Kyle, and the other night was special, but I can't do that all the time. It drives me fucking crazy."
"I won't. You can sleep in the spare room, or in the den."
"It won't work. You'll be watching every move I make. Told ya... check out your mirror instead."
"C'mon, Mark. Fuck! We're friends!" he pleaded. "And it'll be a short while, and I won't hassle you."
"Stop it! It's not gonna happen."
"Maybe Carol's folks won't let you stay there."
"Then I'll make a plan."
"Then think about staying at my place."
"No," I insisted. "Listen up, dumbass. You've taken me on a fucking journey I wouldn't have believed could ever happen. I'm not gonna say I didn't like it... 'cause I did. But I can not do that all the time. I'm not you, Kyle. I'm fucking madly in love with Carol, and I can't afford to fuck it up."
"But the other night?"
"Was fucking wrong! And I shouldn't have done what I did. It was my fault 'cause I wanted it to happen. I needed to see what made you tick."
"You've lost me. I'm not understanding anything here."
"Just gimme a break. My mind's fucking swimming, Kyle. I don't wanna hurt you. OK? You don't deserve that."
"When are you going?"
"It depends on this other dude."
"Maybe he's gay and he wants you."
"He's not. I would've picked it up. Don't think that that hadn't occurred to me. So what? Gay's a dirty word now? With you? Fuck, that's a turnup for the books."
"Oh, yeah... I'm forgetting... you've got a gay girlfriend."
I hit Kyle so hard on the jaw that he must've been seeing stars. The people around us were bug-eyed from shock, but I didn't care. Kyle had tipped me over the edge with that fuckwit comment. I was tempted to hit him again, but if I had, I'd have knocked him clear into the next world.
"Fuck you, Kyle!" I raged as I spat out the words. "Fucking stay away from me!"
As I stormed off toward the harbor, leaving Kyle standing there like a stunned fish, I could feel the veins in my forehead pulsating.
[This next section is told by Kyle]
Friday night, I tried to phone Mark, but he wasn't home. So then I phoned Carol. Mark was there.
"He said he doesn't wanna speak to you, Kyle. What's going on?"
"Hey, ask him."
My folks were out, so I stayed home. I got out some disks and tried to put a [Cody] news page together, but nothing. My brain felt fried. Tried to get TJ online but he wasn't on. I got naked and jacked off in front of the comp, looking at some pics. And, for the first time, I felt like a total fucking idiot when I imagined what it would look like to Mark. So I crapped out, went to bed, and jacked there. My folks came home about 1am. Good ol' mom.
"Hey! What's the matter?"
"I'm cool, mom. Just having a quiet one at home for a change."
"You don't feel ill," she commented after she'd placed her hand on my forehead.
"I'm fine, mom," I laughed. "Really."
"Great. So you've got something in both eyes, then. They're watering."
"I had a helluva fight with Mark."
"Hmmm... so let me count which one this is. And that explains the cut and bruise."
"This was different."
"Wanna speak about it? Or maybe to dad?"
"Nah... it'll be cool... really."
After mom had left my room, dad came in and sat on the edge of my bed. We chatted about how the surf had been crapping out, the weather, and stuff, and then...
"I had a friend when I was about your age. We were tight. So tight, I'm sure some people must've had strange thoughts about us. We argued about something really stupid. I said something -- I can't even remember what it was now -- and we've never spoken a word to each other since. I went into a depression, and I was being stubborn. So was he."
"So you've never ever seen him again?"
"Nope. And I suspect that you and Mark have hurt each other with words... and that the bruise on your cheek doesn't bother you at all. You guys suit each other as friends, and I think Mark is pretty much a no-bullshit person... and you can be stubborn. Don't throw it away, Kyle. Even if you don't see each other for a while, get the words going. If you throw it away, all the good memories will go with it."
I felt better after my dad had spoken to me.
[And now back to Mark]
"Mark!" my boss's wife yelled from the office. "It's Kyle for you."
"Tell him I'm busy, and can't get to the phone."
When I got home, I sat at my desk and wrote Kyle a note. And as the words appeared on the page in blue ink, I couldn't believe what I was writing. Or why.
Please don't show this to anyone. Get rid of it when you've read it.
By the time you get this I will be out of my house. My boss and his wife have given me their small garden flat at their house. He'll take the rent out of my wages - so it's not for free - but he says that it wont be that expensive.
I can't suss out what's going on in my head right now, so it may be best we don't see each other for a while. There are a lot of things I want to say but can't. I thought that it may be easier to write it down.
I've met a lot of guys and thought they were friends - but I never really knew what a real friend was until I met you. You're a pain in the ass sometimes but I know that I can be as well. You've shown me what real friendship is all about and now I've gone and screwed that up. I hope that one day we can get it back together again. I realised the other night that you were like no other person that I've ever met or will ever meet in my whole life. I want you to know something. I loved the night we had together - every special moment of it. I can't describe exactly what I felt. I would never have believed that I could have such strong feelings - and still have.
I need to sort myself out Kyle. I need some space to think things through. You know how I feel about certain things and they haven't changed. I am having feelings for you that I am having difficulty in coping with.
I know that you are not going to be happy about me having gone without letting you know but it's better for both of us. Look after yourself buddy. I'm sorry for the things we said to each other.
Later that night, after I'd put the note in an envelope, and sealed it, the phone rang at home. My mom answered it. "It's Kyle."
"Tell him I'm showering." I was pretty close to the phone, so he could have easily heard me. I didn't care. As it turned out, he had heard me, and rocked over to my place.
I was in the middle of packing when he knocked on my door. But at the time, I didn't know it was him. "Yes?"
"Mark... it's me."
Fuck! I'd been crying, and Kyle had NEVER seen me like that before. I grabbed a tissue, blew my nose, and dried my eyes as best I could. But when I checked my face in the mirror, my eyes were still red.
I opened the door, turned my back on Kyle, and continued packing stuff into two sports bags, which were open on my bed. Normally, I was a neat person, but I was throwing clothes into the bags like they were destined for the washing machine.
After a few moments, I realized that it was pointless to ignore Kyle any longer, so I turned to face him with my eyes full of tears.
"What the fuck do you want, Kyle?"
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