When I next emailed Gary, I told him that I wished I could say I was OK, but I wasn't. I'd been on a serious downer. "I'm sorry to you and to Code and to Wingnut and Mark and Steph and Paul. You don't know me too well, and probably don't like what you do know. So I'm gonna tell you what a fucked up cunt I am." Then I told him about some bad shit that I'd done with one of my cousins. "When I got back to Cape Town, I went on the worst possible [drug] binge. I wanted to kill myself 'cause I knew there was something seriously wrong with me. But I couldn't speak to anyone."
"The same thing almost happened the other night with Wingnut, but it's different with him. I think I'm in love with him. It's like he's taken Cody's place, and I want him so badly. But I screwed up."
"No, I don't see what Cody saw [in me]. I know that I'm good looking, and that I've got a good body. But not from hard work, though. I'm just lucky. I've never had a responsibility before like the one you and Cody have given me. And I'm fucking terrified. Wingnut is such a nice kid. He even looks like Cody 'cause he's got the same kinda lips that Code had."
Then I went on to tell Gary about Steph phoning me. She said she never wanted to see me again, and that she didn't know what Cody saw in me. I cussed at her, and told her that she was a fucking whore. So she slammed the phone down on me.
The following night, Mark phoned and told me to stay away from Steph or he'd come over to Cape Town and deal with me himself. "Yeah? Well fucking come then! I'm ready for you!" Hahaha. Yeah, right. I'd run a fucking mile if I thought that dude was gonna come here. The only time he ever got beaten up was when he was seriously outnumbered.
Next morning, I phoned Wingnut, but he'd already gone surfing with a few of his grommet buddies. I was being deserted big time.
I explained to Gary that the reason I'd told him all the bad stuff about me wasn't to get him to hate me. Fucking hell. I had enough people who felt that way about me already. I was screaming for help, but no one was listening 'cept for Cody. Anyway, I told Gary that I was sorry for what I'd done to Wingnut and Steph. "I don't know how, but I'll stay away from Wingnut. I do love him, though, and I wish I could make love to him like Cody did."
I was in a much better mood the following Monday. I wrote Gary and told him that my folks would be returning from Europe in a few days, and that I was actually looking forward to them being home again. Initially, they'd wanted me to go with them to Europe, but I thought I could do more good here. Yeah, like that happened. Hahahaha!
I'd been thinking of going into a rehab tank, or maybe just going away for a while 'til school started again. I'd be doing grade 12 again 'cause, with Code's death and other things [like being smashed outa my brain], I didn't write last year's final exams. I would have preferred going to a college in the city, which would mean taking the train. I didn't have a car, and my dad refused to get me one. "You're not getting a car until you pull yourself right and show some responsibility, or you'll end up like your friend." He didn't even fucking remember Cody's name! IT'S CODY DAD! IT'S FUCKING CODY AND HE WAS MY LOVER! Yeah, right. Like I'd say that to my father? That would score me big brownie points in the parental stakes.
Dad also wanted me to do a business degree when I went to university. Cody used to tell me that he couldn't visualize me working in an office. I belonged in boardies, and looking like a bronzed god as far as he was concerned. Then one day he saw me dressed in a tux, going to one of my parents' dos. He laughed and said, "OK, I can see it now." When I think of him laughing, I miss him sooooo badly. Sometimes I think he's gonna come knocking on my door, and tell me the surf is outasight and to move my ass.
"You would have loved him, Gary. No, I know you do, but if you'd met him. He used to light up every place he went. Sure, there were guys who never got along with him, and he never got along with them. But what the fuck? That's normal, right? I used to fantasize about him all the time, even when I was screwing my girlfriend."
"Cody's eyes used to screw up when he laughed. I remember one afternoon when the two of us were sitting on the back line for what it was worth. The sea was flat. So we started to tell jokes. We ended up laughing so much, our stomachs were hurting."
"My house is almost always empty, 'cept for the staff. But it was no problem for Cody to walk through the house with his skin-splitting, shiny erection pointing skywards, and then dive into the pool."
"I have a lot of mending to do. I wanna go around to Code's folks house this afternoon, just to say hi and to check out Cody's room. I might even ask his folks if there's anything they want done around the house. But I need to check the vibe first. I was never as close to Code's folks as his other buds were. I think they always knew I was trashed."
"I've made a list of people I've hurt in my life, and it's long, so it's gonna take some time. My first challenge is to contact my [drug] boss and tell him that I'm not gonna be selling for him any more. That could be pretty painful, but I probably deserve what I get as long as I can cut the ties. I never say prayers. It's not that I'm a non-believer, but there's another word for it. I spoke to Cody and asked him to please help me get through this. I promised to get his site up and running once I've got all the bits and pieces together. I told him how much I miss him and how sorry I am for all the hurt I caused him. Told him to leave all the boy angels alone :) He won't listen, though. That's not his style. I told him that the surf has been good but he already knows that. So why aren't you down surfing with Wingnut? Because I hurt him like I hurt you so many times and I dont want to hurt him again. He never answered that one. He just shook his head at me."
OK. So this was the first day of the rest of my life. First job. Phone Mark.
"I've actually got nothing to say to you, Steve."
"I'm just phoning to say that I'm sorry. OK?"
"Hey, tell that to Steph. But I doubt if she'll even take your call."
"This is already hard. OK? So don't give me a hard time, Mark. I'm sorry for being such a dick over the years."
"What do you want, Steve? Huh?"
"I just wanna talk."
"About?" Mark was being very abrupt and non-communicative, but I was determined to break through his iron fortress.
"I wish you were still here in Cape Town. It's hard not having you or Cody around."
"You've got a lotta friends. Give them a call."
"I'm on a downer, and I just need to talk to someone."
"You're going to kill yourself [with those drugs]."
"I'm going on three days now, 'cept for a joint."
"Not for three days now."
"That's not bad for you."
"Stay busy. Go for a surf or something."
Suddenly, a thought entered my head. Was it Cody's doing? "Mark? Can I come up to Joburg and stay with you for a few days? Please?" Dead silence on the phone. "Mark?"
"I'm here. But I don't think that will work out."
"Hey, I can give you a hand with what you're doing [with the yacht]. I'm desperate. There's stuff I need to tell you about as well, and I'd rather see you and tell you to your face. What's a few days? Four maybe five days? I won't get in the way with you and Candy. Promise."
"You any fucking good at sanding? You any fucking good at anything?"
"Can I come up?"
"When I can get an air ticket. I'll phone you. Is it OK?"
"Yeah, you'll save me the trip down there, and I can give you a beating up here. You'll be sleeping on the couch."
Woohoo! I hadn't gotten around to visiting Code's folks that arvie 'cause I was too busy organizing the air ticket and getting other stuff sorted out. Phoned my dad [in Europe], and he wasn't happy. Said I must be back by the weekend. "And where are you getting the money from?"
"Mark's paying for the ticket," I lied. Mark pay for the ticket? Yeah, right. I was using money I'd made selling drugs, but at least I was putting it to good use - this time.
I was totally amped about going to see Mark in Joburg. If anyone could help me, he could. Besides, I needed to apologize to him for all the shit I'd caused. I wanted to confess. I wanted to finally have a clear conscience. Well, clearing my conscience would take a while, but Mark was a start in the right direction, and I had to start somewhere.
Next job - phone the boss. It was a good thing I'd be outa town for a few days. You didn't mess with those syndicate guys and get off lightly. No fucking way, Jose.
"By the way, Gary, when I said I was a fucked up cunt, I didn't need you to tell me that every fucking aspect of my life is like that. Wear my fucking shoes first. I'm not Cody. Yes I know I'll never be but for fuck sake I didn't ask to be rich or like I am the same as I didn't ask to be bi. I know I need a rocket up my ass a lot of the time and I've done some stupid... okay a lot of stupid things but Im going to work at it. I've tried before and failed but at least I do try. Were you this hard on Cody when he first became honest with you or is it just me? I needed to say this because it's easy for me to lie to you and get you to like me but I'll try it Cody's way. So expect a rocket up your ass from me too, Gary. But thanks for at least reading my mail."
Once I'd made all the plans to fly to Joburg the next morning, I thought about phoning Wingnut and asking him if he wanted to go for a surf. Nope. That wouldn't do. It was still early days yet, and I wasn't sure if he wanted to see me after I'd behaved the way I had when he slept over.
Once I'd arrived at Johannesburg airport, I headed straight for a pay phone and called Mark. "Hey, Steve, if you're so fucking desperate to get here, you can hitch a ride."
Hitch a ride? What kinda fucking welcome was that? Cody was killed hitching a ride for fuck sake! Anyway, he gave me the directions to his house. It was fucking miles outa the city, and it took me four rides to get there. I guessed being a blonde looker had its advantages when it came to thumbing rides. But being a blonde looker didn't cut any ice with Mark. No way. That dude could be as hard as fucking nails when he wanted to be, and I got the impression that he wasn't about to do me any favors. Maybe he'd regretted his decision to invite me over.
I eventually arrived at the house late at night. Mark must've been looking out for me, 'cause he opened the door almost as soon as I'd knocked. Before he'd said a word, he flathanded me across the face. "That's for what you said to Steph."
I was stunned. I wasn't sure if I should cry or hitch the next ride back to the airport. But while my mind was still reeling, and my cheek was still stinging, he grabbed my bag and headed into the house. I followed blindly, not knowing how to react.
The house was huge! Mark had a suite near the back of the house, with a sleeper couch in it. That was gonna be my bed for the next few days.
"Have you eaten anything?" he asked as he dropped my bag on the couch. "I've made some pasta. I've only just finished working and showering, so your timing was cool."
"Thanks. I could eat the back end out of a low flying elephant."
Despite the welcoming - albeit unexpected - flathander across my face, I felt glad to be there. I was a long way from the problems back home, and I would get a chance to speak to Mark about a whole bunch of stuff that was bothering me.
As my eyes took note of his suite, I couldn't help noticing that everything was neatly stowed away where it should be. I remembered Cody telling me about how neat Mark was. Fastidious even. He was also that way about his bod. Every muscle was perfectly positioned and honed.
We didn't really speak until we sat at a small table, where he placed the food. It was good, and so was the beer. It had been a long day, so the sight of Mark's strong handsome face, as well as the taste of his pasta and the beer, were extremely welcome. I was in the company of someone I could trust, and who I respected.
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